I’m not really sure how people make a blog a destination site. I guess it’s got to be insightful about the process or something. Like, writing about work.
I guess I’ll just go for the light introduction. I got an MFA from FSU in Film Production in 2008. Before that, I started working on films in Atlanta as an undergrad at Emory University. The first film I worked on I volunteered for a professor and soon-to-be thesis adviser known as Evan Lieberman. He’s now in some Yankee state making movies and professing.
I applied to Film School knowing I had a lot against me. For starters, I was only 21 when I applied, making me far and away much younger than they prefer. For some reason, grad schools like people with life experience. I also knew absolutely nothing about making real movies. Everything I’d worked on up to that point had been crappy documentaries with point and shoot cameras. The only lights I knew anything about were the kind used in still photography.
But I loved editing, I loved writing, and I loved painting. I was also freakishly good as a sales person due to way too many years living in a family of Real Estate Agents. My parents were Real Estate Agents, their parents were Real Estate Agents before them. Land, Katie Scarlett O’Hara, Land is the only thing that matters, it’s the only thing that lasts. In any event, having under my belt a couple honors for writing that seemed impressive in College but have dwindled to non-entity status since, as well as a retardedly high GRE and major/senior GPA, I appealed to FSU. Though not to the Peter Stark Producing Program which liked me, but asked me to apply when I was 25, or AFI, which would have been too expensive for me to attend.
While in film school I learned, well a lot of awful things that you can e-mail me if you really want to know, but I also learned a hell of a lot about filmmaking. I’d already learned the basics of editing and story, but I had the opportunity to spend more time honing the craft. I really learned a lot about cinematography. Not to toot my own horn too much, but my graphic design background makes shot design a snap and it felt like painting with light. Unfortunately, it’s such a boys club out in LA that I ultimately decided against pursuing DPing. I simply don’t have the personality for pursuing it as a career.
I got to direct, which I enjoyed, I got to produce, which I only enjoyed if I cared about the project. I got to be the Casting Director for the thesis films, going to LA and NY to run casting sessions. I had a great time, and learned a lot about getting performance. I learned that I like to collaborate on projects. So, I decided against pursuing directing because, much as I enjoyed it, I was never going to be the best at it and I didn’t enjoy it so much that it was worth the sacrifices. I get much more pleasure at seeing my writing come to life than seeing the performance I’ve gotten. And I made some really fantastic connections with fellow filmmakers, which, I think, is the main reason to go to Film School. I learned cinematography by reading the ASC manual, anyone can do that, but it’s really hard to form a bond with others in your field.
I moved to LA, pretty immediately found myself in an internship at a little producing/developing outfit on the Warner Bros. lot. I loved the people there, though they didn’t give me much to do. I was lucky that they made the kind of films I’m interested in, children’s films, and I got to read a lot of wonderful children’s books while I was there, Friendle, but I didn’t get to spend much time with the execs and they never expressed any interest in who I was or where I wanted to go.
I also managed to get some jobs! I worked a weekend as a “Hey, copy this card onto the computer” on a little documentary for a small production company. I worked for the HRC campaign, trying to raise money, and with the promise of great things if I stayed. And I got a job logging reality footage for a Reality TV company. For a couple months I was interning 8 hours/day, 3 days/week and logging from 6pm-2am 5 days/week.
That winter I had a pitch that did very well at the reality company, but was ultimately dropped, I was offered a job as the development assistant that was yanked out from under me because they hired a friend who needed work, I was laid off, I was a PA intern for a week, I was re-hired, I was moved to days. I was also volunteering my time on any project I could outside of work. I worked on a web series for a while called Gold and another web series called Miss Mah Poo. Both of these will hopefully get going again this year.
I also applied where I could afford for script contests. My Mad Men spec placed well at a contest and my feature Bible Con did well in a few places and is currently a semi-finalist at Nicholl Fellowship, the most prestigious script contest in the world TM. I have, with that notoriety, managed to get friends of friends who are agents, managers, or soon-to-bes to read it. And when I say read, I mean, I sent it to them weeks and weeks ago and no one’s read it. I don’t mean that bitterly, it’s just I want to give an accurate portrait of how long things take out here.
In the spring, I taught myself the color correction program Color and added After Effects to the list of things to learn. In the summer, I got to go to Comic Con to speak on a panel about a film I edited and Cam Oped on the RED. I also heard about the Nicholls and assistant edited a program for the Africa Channel. I was also asked to cut a pitch for the Development side of the company where I work as a logger as an audition for a job. They loved the cut, but hired someone they’d worked with before. They’re using my cut without paying me, which once again, not bitterness, just a typical series of events in this town.
So, currently I’m working on about 3 scripts in various stages of development. One is an idea I wrote as a novel for NaNoWriMo one year, one is a short film I worked on, and one is the current Nicholl semi-finalist. My creative partner, F, is helping me work through those ideas and also talking me into trying to actually get Bible Con produced. Perhaps I’ll put up a site with loglines, though I’m hesitant to do that without copyright or WGA registration. I’m also working a job that the head of the department acknowledges as having no opportunities for advancement in a place where I am skilled enough to do any number of other jobs that no one will give me the opportunity to do. Coming up on having been there a year.
So, there are a lot of positive things I’ve had. I’ve had great interviews with companies that really wanted to hire me until the head of the company had an out-of-work friend. And I’ve had responses to just flat out sending a resume to ads online, which is a good thing. I’ve added a lot to my resume, I’ve performed well in fellowships, so there’s a lot good. It’s just that the day to day of it can feel like a bit of a non-starter.