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The Director's Chair Issue #31 – Nov. 30, 2002 (Making a Living in Video and Film)

Free Monthly Ezine for Film and Television Directors

November 30, 2002          Scene 3 – Take 11

Published once a month.

Publisher: Peter D. Marshall
Email: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com
Web Site: http://www.actioncutprint.com


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1.  Introduction
2.  FREE Bonus for Subscribers
3.  Action-Cut-Print!
4.  Feature Article – Making a Living in Video and Film
5.  Back Issues of The Director’s Chair
6.  Quote of the Month
7.  Out Takes –  Movie Cliches – Injuries
8.  Share This Ezine
9.  Suggestions & Comments
10. Subscribe & Unsubscribe Information
11. Copyright Information


Welcome to Issue #31 of The Director’s Chair (November 30, 2002).

1) This month’s article, “How to REALLY Make a Living in Video,
Television and Film” is from Greg Coon, owner of Eyecon Video
Productions of Dallas, Texas.  Greg realized the need for
straight forward information not usually given to those trying to
get into the video, television and film industry. This book
describes in detail what you need to know.

2) 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


If you are a subscriber to The Director’s Chair, you are entitled
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3. ACTION-CUT-PRINT! –  A Website for Filmmakers

If you are a Film or TV Director; a working professional who
wants to Direct; a film student who wants to learn more about
Directing; or a “student of film” who just wants to know more
about Filmmaking from the pros, Action-Cut-Print! is for you!

Take a moment now to visit http://www.actioncutprint.com where
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4. FEATURE ARTICLE – Making a Living in Video and Film

“How to REALLY Make a Living in Video, Television and Film”


What you need to know. What you don’t need to know. This book
will teach you what school didn’t teach you.

This is “How to REALLY Make a Living in Video, Television and

First of all, this is not going to be glamorous work. This is not
easy work. It’s extremely rewarding, but if you think for a
minute that all you do is eat grapes in your trailer and show up
to oversee the shooting of a scene, get out now.

If you think for a second that when you graduate from school, you
will be able to move to Los Angeles and start directing music
videos, let me get my “reality stick” and smack you really hard.
You don’t have a clue.

You will have to work very hard to get your first job with no pay
(your internship). You will probably need to get another job to
help supplement the minimal amount of money you make when you do
finally get a paycheck.

The work you do will be irregular at best. If you want to work in
television news, be prepared to shoot in small markets with even
smaller salaries until you can move up to a medium to small
market with a medium to small salary (and so on). Working in
news, you will shoot endless city council meetings about nothing,
then get a page that United States is under attack and within 2
hours, you are headed away from your home for weeks at a time.

If you want to work in film, be ready for the 6 a.m. (or earlier)
call times or the shoots that last until 4 o’clock in the
morning. And your job is to pull cables, keep your mouth shut,
and do what you’re told.

Have I talked you out of being in this business yet? If you have
even had a glimmer of a second thought, save yourself the hassle
and go in a different career direction now.

Now for the up side. Do you love being on location at 6 a.m. to
be a part of something big? Are you excited to work until 4 a.m.,
no matter what you are paid?

Will you get a charge seeing your work on television even if it’s
just endless city council meetings? Will you love having a chance
to be part of the most important news stories of the time make
you excited?

Does seeing a final product you were part of give you a personal
reward whether it is seen by a small group of company executives
or on television or screen and seen by possibly millions of

If your answers are “yes”, then this career is for you. Yes, the
work is very hard, but the rewards are immeasurable. Persistence,
personality, skill and business knowledge are essential.

Contact List

Maintaining a contact list is essential. I knew I was starting to
lose a grip on things when I started losing the sticky notes for
people and call backs. I knew I needed to have a central location
where I could keep the information for all my contacts as well as
keeping track of when to do follow ups.

I use a software program called Sharkware. It has been the single
most valuable and most important tool I use. (I currently have
over 3000 contacts.) Sharkware was bought out by another company
so I’m kinda stuck with what I have. It is excellent software,
though, and I’ll keep it until I can find an effective way to
transfer ALL the information on my contacts to another software

ACT! is one of the most popular. There are others out there. Just
be sure they have the following features:

Obviously, it needs to have the ability to enter your contacts’
information. This includes their full name, company, title,
multiple addresses and the ability to enter multiple contact
phone numbers like their office, home, cell, pager, fax, etc. You
should be able to categorize your contacts as well. It is also
important to be able to make notes on your contact. Also be sure
your software program has a calendar feature.

Another essential feature would be the To Do List and Phone Call
list. You have to have the ability to add things to each list.
When you complete each one, you check it off. If you don’t check
it off, it automatically moves to the next day, and so on, until
you complete the job.

Let me give you an example of how this should work: You call a
company looking for freelance opportunities. On January 1st, you
speak with John Smith who is receptive to you. He says he is not
looking for anyone right now; he’s more concerned about the
vacation he is taking to Cancun with his wife and 2 year old son,
Michael. However, by mid February, he’s got a production that he
will be shooting and might possibly need some help then. He asks
you to call him the first part of February.

As soon as you get off the phone, you enter all of the contact
information you have for him including his complete address,
phone and fax number and anything else you are able to get.
Equally important is to write a couple sentences in the Notes
section of his entry. Type in there that he has a 2 year old son
named Michael and that he took a vacation to Cancun in early
January with him and his wife. Do I do this? You bet. Every time
I get off the phone with someone like that.

Next, go ahead in your calendar on the computer to February 1. On
that date, enter that you need to call John Smith.

February 1 comes around and as you do every day, you check your
To Do List and Phone Call list. Up comes: “Call John Smith”.
You’re thinking, who in the world is John Smith? You check out
the notes and it all comes back to you. You pick up the phone and
call John Smith. You remind him who you are that he asked you to
call him early February. You also ask him how his 2 year old son,
Michael, enjoyed Cancun. I will tell you that John Smith will be
so impressed that you remembered those details. You will stand
out among the others with that kind of effort.

The other things you can do with your contact software other than
keep track of your contacts, and keep a To Do and Phone Call list
is to create a personalized mailing list. I use this feature
about twice a year. (There are others that that use it about once
a month.) I will send out a mass mailing to keep me in people’s
minds. There is usually some reason for me to send a letter. Some
of them have been about me winning an award, or growth in
business. I always thank them for their part, no matter how big
or small, in my success. I personally sign each one. A sample
copy of the letter is on the following page.

The other time each year I send something is a Christmas card
during the holidays. Almost everyone puts up their Christmas
cards on a wall in their office. It is essential to have these
Christmas cards ready to be mailed by Thanksgiving. Monday after
Thanksgiving, put all the cards in the mail. Your card will be up
for everyone to see for over a month.

This book is written by Greg Coon, owner of Eyecon Video
Productions in Dallas, Texas.
The complete book can be purchased on-line at


To read back issues of The Director’s Chair, visit:


“We didn’t exactly believe your story, Miss O’Shea, we believed
your 200 dollars.”
Humphrey Bogart to Mary Astor in The Maltese Falcon, 1941

7. OUT TAKES – Movie Cliches – Injuries

When the hero is knocked out, he won’t get a concussion or brain
damage. People hit on the head will not throw up.

When a hero gets a bloody nose, he’ll stop bleeding almost

When a hero suffers through car chases and crashes, he never has
to worry about unfelt spinal injury from impact.

A slight blow to the head is usually enough to cause total

Characters that get shot will never go into shock.

The hero will always get shot in the shoulder, yet will be able
to use his arm.

A facial scar is likely to make you go insane and seek revenge
for the rest of your life.

If you lose a hand, it causes the stump of your arm to grow by
six inches.

A lost hand either comes crawling back, or a mad surgeon will
replace it with one transplanted from an executed strangler.

If a person gets shot they have plenty of time to tell all kinds
of things except the most important information (like the name of
the murderer).


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Peter D. Marshall
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