Jun 5, 2012

Film School and the Real World

After recently saving my film school notes from a leaking pipe I couldn't help but muse over what I'd written and how so much had changed since I was a student.  At the same time, I realized that I wasn't entirely oblivious throughout university and actually made some smart decisions.  For any of my aspiring filmmaker/student readers, here are a few things I'm now certain of.

1.  The time to pursue your creativity is now.

I mean this regardless of your age, but especially if you're a student.  When you're in school it's easy to coast on the promise of your potential and believe that just being in a creative program is enough to get you where you want to go.  The reality is that it's the films you make to amuse yourself and the experimenting you do when you're younger that actually make those dream projects possible down the road.  University and film school aren't about giant leaps forward, they're training grounds to help you make steps.  
In my experience it was this blog, film festivals, competitive video contests, and the random content that I continued to create throughout university that helped me build a meager reputation.  That translated into connections though, and those translated into jobs.  Find ways of targeting your energy into the field that you really want to get involved in.  Trust me, persistence speaks volumes.

2.  Criticism never stops.

I have never worked on a project that didn't involve taking others viewpoints into account.  There is no golden rule here, but knowing when to stand your ground is best when it comes from experience and not from ego.  The creative process can be a balancing act at times, and criticism should always be constructive and used as a way to present alternatives to achieve a particular vision.  Whether or not you act on criticism is your call, but being able to discuss what works, what doesn't, and why, goes a long way in creative meetings.

Student life in Regina.

3.  Your experiences are worth more than your grades.

In my post-uni job interviews and in creative meetings with clients, my experiences have always carried far more weight than what marks I got or where I went to school.  Keep in mind that people like good stories.  They also like people who can back up their passions with real life applications.  It goes back to my first point.

4. It's easy to be a one-trick pony.

If you always do one thing really well it's easy to fall into a rut where that's all anyone will ever want or ask from you.  Instead, develop consistency in your work, but continually take risks to show that you're approach is varied.  Or don't.  Some people like routine - I am not one of them.

5. If you don't hold yourself accountable you'll never do the work you want.

Once you're out of film school there are no assignments, no teachers, and no classmates to encourage (or force) you to create another short film or participate in a new project.  If you weren't motivated to create before, welcome to the real world where it's more challenging to find the time (or excuse) to make something.

You might wonder what the point is, but depending on what you're doing, new projects (especially when shared online) become links to new people and contacts.  I've been contacted for work and festivals as a result of this site, and that's the thing - you never know who might stumble along.  No one will hand you your dream job if you're not willing to play a role in earning or creating it for yourself.  

In the dorms in 2007.

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