As I reach the end of high school and will graduate in only a couple months I am faced with the difficult decision of... What's next?
As an aspiring filmmaker I need to find out how to become a filmmaker and I think I've found out the solution. Now of course I could be wrong and these steps are very vague so it could or could not work but hey it's worth a shot.
So you have three options, get schooling/training, get work, or create your own content. Now they work best when combined but you'll have to figure out what combination works best for you.
Schooling and training
Now training doesn't necessarily mean going to film school, although it can. Training can also be watching every episode of film riot(which I suggest doing). This a very important part because you need to learn how to technically make a film and people's advice is always helpful.
There are many ways to learn such as simply watching films, tutorials and cinematography reels. This may even include making some short films and test videos.
Some people like film school, and others are strongly against. I am slightly against however it can be beneficial in several aspects. If you have trouble motivating and learning yourself it might be a good idea but even more so it helps you find a crew of friends that can help you make movies. Training's most important goal is to help improve your own work.
Now getting work may seem like an obvious step for a filmmaker but it is a lot easier yet harder than it seems. Work can come in two types, one in on film sets and the second is videography work such as weddings. One great to find work is Craigslist for both types of work. Often times a large amount of people email people who post on craigslist, so it's important to stand out. One easy way to do this is to put together a video reel such as mine:
Another place to find work is on a local film website that posts jobs. One example of this is in the Philadelphia area is Film.org. Film.org offers festival information and job postings around Philly.
Getting work will help you with finances and give you more experience, but more importantly, it will help you connect with local filmmakers which is important to create your own content.
Make Your Own Content
This is obviously the most important part of becoming a filmmaker. (unless you wish to be a cinematographer, then you just need to work on Getting Work, but it's still a good idea to shoot stuff constantly as a DP, even if it's by yourself) As a filmmaker the only way you can become a director is to...well.... direct a movie. Which requires you to put up some money and create some movies. Now first I'd start with short films and practice on close to zero budget. Post them on YouTube get some criticism from friends (great way to also get more people on your "crew"). You could also try a Web Series or something.
Next you'll want to make the feature, don't expect someone to come and give you a script and money to make a movie, You have to do that yourself. Also you can't ever expect your first feature to be in the IMDb top 250. It takes time to make a film like that. Why make a bad feature and not just some more good short films? Because you'll never make decent money from short films, even a bad feature will get you more respect, money and in a better position to make another feature. Hollywood wants to reduce risk because it's a business and because of this it will never hire a first time filmmaker.
So to start You'll want to create a feature on the lowest budget possible probably under $5,000. A DSLR will always be enough for a first feature film. You don't need to buy or rent some fancy equipment. When you work on this feature you'll want to think cheap and smart. Film in locations you can get for free or very low cost, your house, friend's apartment, local restaurant. It's also better to stay local than go to a big city to make it. Local films get a better audience due to better press coverage. It's common for a movie to be made in Hollywood, in the middle of nowhere, not so much. A local premiere will be a town event and get plenty of people to come. To keep cost down you'll also have to rely on your friends and people you know which is where your past work and training can help. Training will introduce you to new people to help as will work.
I hope this has been some help to someone. If you have any good advice just place a comment bellow.
Zachary Will is an Award-Winning Filmmaker creating short films and content for the Internet as the owner of Riverside Studios. He has a Bachelor's in Film from Full Sail University. He has worked on productions for companies like Webmd, Sears, Home Depot, Six Flags and more!
"the trick is to never give up... I think the secret of success is not how little you get knocked down but how often you get back up." - Gareth Edwards