The Director’s Chair Issue #27 – July 29, 2002 (Finding Work in the Film & TV Business)
THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR
Free Monthly Ezine for Film and Television Directors
July 29, 2002 Scene 3 – Take 7
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Publisher: Peter D. Marshall
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2. The Busy Person’s Guide to Directing
3. FREE Bonus for Subscribers
5. Feature Article – “Finding work in the film & TV business”
6. Back Issues of The Director’s Chair
7. Tips for Young Filmmakers
8. Share This Ezine
9. Suggestions & Comments
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11. Copyright Information
Welcome to Issue #27 of The Director’s Chair (July 27, 2002).
1) THE FEATURE ARTICLE – This month’s SPECIAL FEATURE is Part One
of a series of responses to a question asked by a subscriber:
“… the industry has changed so much considering September 11th
and the horrible economy and poor job market. Most of us would
LOVE to be busy working on films but a lot of us aren’t. I’d love
to see an article dealing with these issues. There are SO MANY
out of work production people… it is extra difficult to find
work and compete. I’d love some information on the best ways of
finding jobs in this market… how can we market ourselves better
(whats the most effective type of demo reel to display your work,
such as montage version short scenes, etc.) and how to keep up
2) TIPS FOR YOUNG FILMMAKERS – “I’m here. Now what?”
3) VOLUNTEERS NEEDED – If you would like to contribute articles,
tips, links of interest, industry news, interviews, special event
dates or other resources to The Director’s Chair please email:
Peter D. Marshall
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5. FEATURE ARTICLE – “Finding work in the film & TV business”
The following responses are from subscribers who answered the
question: How do we find the best ways of finding jobs and how
can we market ourselves better since September 11?
I received the mail to your subscribers about the poor
marketplace right now.
The only thing I can suggest is our referral program, designed to
help spread the word about a new low-cost service for filmmakers,
and put some money into filmmakers pockets. We send trailers of
undistributed films and videos to distribution companies. Our
submissions fee for 150 distributors is $297. We’ll offer your
subscribers $50 for each filmmaker who submits through this plan
on TAPELIST. It’s a bit of advertising for us, and it can add up
to the months rent for an out-of work production person. Hope
this helps – I have friends in this bind and feel this person’s
struggle. If you have any other questions please let me know.
Connecting Filmmakers and Distributors
1) There is no one set way for everyone to ‘make it’ in the film
industry (read – ‘communications’ [radio, TV, film, etc]). You
must search until you find the one way that will work for you.
2) Depending on your previous ‘communications’ work experience
(who you know), it’s all a matter of being the right person, in
the right place, at the right time.
3) If you really want to ‘make it’, I go with some advice I
received many, many, many years ago – keep knocking, knocking,
knocking, knocking on doors. Don’t ever quit. One is sure to
4) I advise my students (high school, college) to major in a
‘real’ job – something you can fall back on such as accounting,
medical, etc. – and pursue your career in the communications
field on the side. At least you’ll have a steady income.
5) You’re in a catch-22 – if you don’t pursue a communications
career full time you may miss out on some big opportunities. But
since the field is so ‘tight’ right now (through cutbacks,
consolidations, etc.) if you pursue it full time and your
opportunities don’t appear soon enough, you’ll be broke.
6) Apprentice – if you can. Call an agency or company and ask if
you can ‘job shadow’. Say you’re interested in the field and
want to get a first-hand view of it – information gathering. Of
course, if you do a good job of ‘shadowing’ (asking the right
questions, making a good impression) you start building your base
of contacts in the industry (remember – it’s most often who you
7) work on lots of small things if the big things don’t come
along. Check with your local college or broadcast/film school.
Students, independent producers are always looking for help. Of
course, it’s usually for no pay and maybe just a free lunch, but
it’s experience which looks good on a resume.
Boy, that’s a tough one. I can certainly empathize as I have
been challenged by an underemployment situation all year and yet
feel very fortunate as many are unemployed. Unending, relentless
and persistent (without being unprofessional of course)
networking is crucial. Face to face meetings as opposed to
resumes is key. Being resourceful is critical – meaning coming
up with new ideas for projects, new clients to approach,
different facets of work to consider other than your normal area,
etc. And though it may seem trite to some, I really believe that
good karma, kindness and compassion go a looooooong way. I know
when I get a kind response to an inquiry it makes me feel great.
Hope this helps in some small way.
Yes it’s definitely tougher times out there. I work at a CGI
studio in Vancouver and saw many of my work mates laid off since
September. But I feel optimistic about the industry. We’re down
but never out, the economy will recover but slowly. We all have
to be patient and work harder for those rare opportunities to get
jobs. One way is to use the internet to have your demo reel seen
easily. Some people might have web sites already and have there
demos up on them but not everyone can get a site. A website
called www.demoreels.com allows you to post your demo reel and
resume for free. There are hundreds of people on it including me.
An interested party can log in and check through many
professions from actors to special effect artists to directors.
There are some size restrictions on the length of the demo, like
5 mins or something but a demo shouldn’t be longer than that
anyway, especially when viewing it through the net. It’s just
another way to give a potential employer a taste of your work
nice and easily with out the wait for a VHS tape to arrive. Hope
this helps someone, good luck to all involved in the film
If you’re looking for production work, there are always low
budget and student projects which could benefit from an
experienced crew; remember, we all started at the bottom! I know
this doesn’t provide income, but it does offer a sense of
accomplishment, a feeling that you’re contributing to a
worthwhile project,that you’re giving something back.
If you’re looking to direct (or shoot, or produce, etc), now is
the time to look at the no-budget alternatives: buy or rent a
little DV camera and make a movie. Plenty of actors and crew (see
my above comment) are in the same position as you; they want to
work. So get your own film off the ground. Shoot handheld, shoot
guerilla, shoot in the streets and back alleys, make it gritty.
Again, the sense of accomplishment will provide nourishment when
you realize there’s no craft truck on site…
My suggestion is “CREATE, CREATE, CREATE!!!”
I know this sounds contrite when one is looking for jobs in the
market but look around – it seems as if we are in a “dark age” as
far as creativity is concerned. We need more people to use their
abilities to create worthy projects. Call your resource of
friends in the business and get together to produce your own low
budget indie – or produce a quality show for public access to
display your skills. The best way to market yourself is by
working – even if you have to create the project yourself. Don’t
be fearful. Concentrate on your hopes – not your fears.
And the best way to keep your morale up is by offering your
services to help the community through public access – bring the
quality of programming up.
DO NOT WAIT FOR WORK TO COME TO YOU – CREATE WORK FOR
YOURSELF!!! The best way to market yourself is by showing what
you can do with your own imagination and creativity.
Write your own script, rely on your friends and network for help,
shoot your film on DV. that’s what we did, and we’re shooting.
I’ve never really had legit work in the Film Industry. I was
always an Independent Filmmaker, with my own crew. We never made
movies for anyone, nor got paid for making our movies. Our
funding always came out of our own pockets.
All I can say is this…We use our local public access channel to
keep showing our work. Under the guidelines of our public access
station, we have to be a non-profit organization…
I can only wish to have a job in the film industry in Hawaii. To
be able to get paid for making movies is always a dream. But,
I’m already making movies, so half of that dream has been
In Hawaii, the impact of September 11th, hasn’t really changed.
The only difference for filmmakers now are: its harder to get a
location, security is tighter (for those stealth type shoots),
and people are quicker to jump the gun when they see an action
scene being filmed.
The only real thing I can say is this. The industry is hard, and
will always be. I’ve been lucky, by being able to work a
flexible side job to pay my bills, and continue filmmaking on my
own terms on the side. I can only wish everyone else, the best
of luck in getting through this tuff time this summer (with or
If anyone is interested in what our production is like in Hawaii,
they can e-mail questions to me at
Lets start from the beginning i.e.the era when motion picture
actually started. Even then people were innocent about the motion
picture being made. The directors were completely involved in
making the best picture with good script in hand. People got new
media of entertainment and enjoyment.
The process of making good films progressed so rapidly that
nowadays films are being made with special effects without making
extra efforts for the creation of expensive sets. People from
every society started thinking from every angle about the film
being made. Every 8 out of 10 men can make good film as far as I
think without taking any basic knowledge about the film and I am
one of them. Because films are made on various subjects, people
see themselves as one of the character of the film because life
is all about that.
According to me God is a big producer, director, scriptwriter, or
all in one in making our film, for He has all our recording right
from the birth to death or from cradle to grave. So, don’t be
dejected about the current crisis, it has come and it will go
definitely. Believe in yourself and make good decision in right
time,that’s all. Always try to give new look and ideas to your
film with totally different subject or topic. According to me
making films on children will do great business in the film
industry. To add more, the Director holds an important position
in making the film however the script may be, he brings out best
from the weak script itself.
As I write this I am waiting for word on financing for a film. I
am going to produce a screenplay written by a friend of mine. He
is close to getting $10M from private investors. We should know
this week. There is money out there.
When I’m ready to hire, I will be looking at SAG lists and
talking to people I know for recommendations (I used to work at
Disney Studios). If someone wanted to get my attention above all
the others on a list, get creative. If someone has an ad with
the film commission (we’re in Denver), or if a listing led me to
a web page, I would definitely check it out. If I had two people
to choose from and one went out of his way to market himself a
little more than the other, I would talk to that person first.
Talk to a marketing person and come up with a great advertisement
campaign for yourself. I would be intrigued. At least enough to
talk to the person and then experience/cost would factor in.
Put the advertisement in this newsletter and every newsletter of
this type. You have to get noticed above all the competition.
Tough times call for heavier marketing.
Or, find a writer, get a good screenplay and hook up together.
Make it happen!
Regarding your request: I am a film student studying in Wales in
Great Britain. Actually I am from Austria, but as the film
industry is much more developed in GB, and thus the uni courses
are much better. For someone to get in the industry I noticed
that first he has to get experience. Many production companies
offer un- or low-paid experience (mostly runners and
receptionists). It is essential to have a showreel, but
experience is always required for higher posts like editing
assistant. To get your hands on a production the best way is to
subscribe to online services (like shooting people, or
mandy.com). There many film productions ask for runners. It can
be just for some days, but it offers valuable experience.
Moreover, try to do as much as possible in your free time: buy a
camera, shoot and edit it. Be a guerilla filmmaker. Quality is
not important at the beginning (unless for your showreel). Your
There are also several grants and schemes for people to become
freelancers. In GB it is called f2. However, they are very
competitive, and again, admission depends on experience.
My best advice is to try to get something in filmmaking, but to
be reasonable. Take a day job, where you can earn enough money to
live, and in the free time make your own films, or write scripts,
send them to companies, to festivals etc.
Good luck. I will need it next year once I graduate as well.
6. BACK ISSUES OF “THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR”
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7. TIPS FOR YOUNG FILMMAKERS – by Cody Agenten
“I’m here. Now what?”
If you’re anything like me, you want to make the Film Industry a
large part of your life, both in work and lifestyle. Many young
filmmakers start this progression by actually moving out to LA,
and if not going to a film school, just start looking for jobs to
get their foots in the door. But, a lot of them don’t know what
to do when they get out here. They don’t know where to go, who
to see, and how to start their career. I thought I might give
some tips on how to start looking, and finding, your niche in a
very competitive field.
First and foremost, you need to decide what area of filmmaking
you want to specialize in. Don’t decide on something narrow,
like SOLELY acting, but instead, be broad in you desicion. You
can narrow it down later. You’ve made a huge step just by
deciding this. But allow it to be fluid and allow it to change
if you need to. If not, you could get stuck somewhere you hate.
Next, get a resume and pitch video together, (if appilcable).
The resume is NEEDED to show a studio what you can speicalize in,
how well you work, and how much worth you’ll be to the filmmaking
process. A pitch video is also VERY good to have, depending on
what you want to go into. If you want to get into directing, for
example, you NEED to have a portfolio of your work that you can
show a perspective studio before they even think about hiring
you. This will show them originality and passion for your work.
Remember, people get paid a lot of money to deduce what they see
from filmwork, so they know what they’re doing.
Once you have these things together, make some phone calls! Find
the phone numbers of the studios you want to submit to, (numbers
you need to find are for the PR or hiring centers of the studio).
Get an appointment with a hiring expert or just set up a time
you can come in and pitch/drop off your resume/video. If you’re
lucky, you may just get the job!
Now, what I’ve outlined here is a VERY simple path for finding
your niche in Hollywood. There are many different ways to go
about this, and many different paths to take. And the main rule
is this: Don’t get discouraged. One studio may hate your work.
They’d much rather have their eyes dug out with red-hot pokers
than hire you. But another studio may LOVE your work and sign
you on the spot. Hey, it’s happened before.
Remember, this is your dream. Live it.
Cody is a young filmmaker from Northern Wisconsin who has just
moved to Los Angeles to persue his film career.
To contact Cody, email: email@example.com
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11. COPYRIGHT INFORMATION
Copyright (c) 2000-2002
Peter D. Marshall
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