5 Ways You Can Break into the Film Industry
Art and Experience: Gatekeepers don’t hold the key to the film industry; they hold the lock. You have the key; you just don’t know it yet.
Oh, gawwwwddddd! How do you get into the film industry, you guys? It’s exhausting to even think about because it just seems like such an impossible goal, right?
What do you gotta do? Move to LA and pay $3000+ to live in a 7×7 space in someone’s eat-in kitchen so you can compete with hundreds if not thousands of other aspiring filmmakers for a PA gig you’re not getting paid for because art is life and life isn’t monetary?
I mean, not always.
Unless nepotism buys you a first-class ticket to Hollywood, we all have to skunk our way from the bottom of the creative food chain. Maybe we go to film school, maybe we go straight to work on a no-budget indie flick. There are many, many ways to get your foot in the door and Ted Sim of Indy Mogul goes over five of them with filmmakers and creators of the Just Shoot It podcast Matt Enlow and Oren Kaplan in the video below.
Method #1: The Lottery Ticket
Going to film school is a major dream for a lot of aspiring filmmakers and for good reason; it can help you learn your craft and make valuable connections that may eventually help you get noticed or discovered. (I know…semi-ironic coming from us.)
But what does it take to be discovered? Be original, make a unique indie feature or short film, get it into festivals, get it in front of as many eyeballs as you can, and hope that someone, somewhere out there in the film industry likes it, likes you, and decides to take a chance on you.
Method #2: Be in the Building
If film school isn’t your cup of tea, you can always try getting a job working on a film set. Maybe you start out as a lowly PA delivering coffee or working in a department that you’re not particularly fond of. That’s okay.
Get through the door. Rise up through the ranks. Climb the ladder. Pay your dues.
How to do you do that? Make yourself available. Be willing to do any job. Prepare yourself to fill a need where it arises by honing your skills, learning from those better and more experienced than you, studying and experimenting on the weekends. As Enlow says, “make yourself the easy choice.”
Method #3: DIY
Are you a lone wolf? Don’t live in a filmmaking hub? Work a normal 9-5 and don’t want to wait for the go-ahead to make a film? Then the DIY approach to breaking into the industry is probably golden for you.
Just go out with the tiny bit of money you have and make a movie. It’s that simple. Make as many movies as you can and eventually, hopefully, someone in the industry will take notice and want to pay you to make movies.
The best part of this approach, though, is that because no one knows you or your work, your failures don’t become public spectacles. You can just make movie after movie without anyone either telling you how to do it or telling you how much it sucks. Bonus!
Method #4: Hey, Look What I Can Do!
Do you have a special skill, like VFX, animation, or timelapse photography? Do you have a weird artistic sensibility that people take notice of? Are you just a very…special individual that cannot be described with human words? Then you’d be wise to infuse those things into your work because originality gets people’s attention.
You see this with music video directors. Because their medium encourages risktaking and experimentation and weirdness, people like THE DANIELS with their video for “Turn Down for What” and Spike Jonze with his for “Praise You” can’t help but get their very strange but very awesome work noticed.
Method #5: Go Digital
The times, they are a-changin’, honey. If you want to get your work in front of the people who can take your career to the next level, online content is where it’s at right now. YouTube’s online influencers who are making digital short-form media are getting snatched up by agencies like they’re going out of style. (Please, don’t go out of style.)
So…start a YouTube channel. Make some quality/funny/entertaining/unique/interesting/thought-provoking/weird af content. Gain followers. That might be your ticket to success.
You know, it’s difficult to give out advice like this because the fact of the matter is this: not everyone who tries to break into the Hollywood film industry is going to be successful at doing so.
That’s why you need to take a long hard look at your career and your desired trajectory and make it really clear to yourself that filmmaking is a thing you should do to express yourself and be happy…not to find fame, money, and hotties.
And if you get the latter while getting the former, more power to you! Tell us how you did it/plan on doing it down in the comments.