In this filmmaking question, a prospective film school student asks what he can do before going to film school.
I have not made any films but I am planning to attend film school in two years. In the meantime what are some things I can do to prepare myself? For example, I am watching and studying films. I usually watch one movie per day. Additionally, I am reading about filmmaking and writing every day. Is this beneficial or are there other things I can do also?
I would like to start filmmaking without film school.
As a budding filmmaker, there are dozens of activities you can carry out that will teach you the basics of how to make a movie. Reading about filmmaking and writing are essential. And before I provide some additional exercises, let me first address your desire to attend film school.
I have been in Hollywood for close to a decade. During this time, I have met countless film school graduates who carry thousands of dollars in student loan debt – many of whom have never actually made a movie. The reason for this is simple, debt kills dreams dead. And if you have a heavy debt burden, your focus will not be making movies… Your focus will be taking any job you can get to pay down your debt.
Unless someone else is paying for your education, my suggestion is to hold off on film school for just a little longer. Instead, I suggest you explore taking a week-long filmmaking workshop. From there, you will learn the basics of filmmaking have enough knowledge to get an entry level job as production assistant. And because you won’t have a ton of debt, you can afford to intern on a few projects.
Heck, even without experience, you can always intern on someone’s project. And this is my first tip. Find a local movie project and contact the production manager or production coordinator and ask to speak to the person in charge of interns.
Outside of participating in other people’s movie projects, you need to create your own. To do this, I suggest you grab a camera and start making 30 second, funny skits for YouTube. This will do two things – You will keep active and keep moving in the direction of your goals. And feedback from the YouTube audience will provide you with tips on how to improve your craft.
Your goal is to make 50 short skits for YouTube over the next year. When you accomplish this goal, you will have more practical experience than most film school graduates. And if you were successful in building an audience for your work, you will have a great starting point when it comes to crowdfunding your first movie.
The truth is, most would-be filmmakers waste countless years dreaming when they should be doing. I don’t believe in waiting for permission. Keep watching every movie you can. And likewise, start producing your own movies.
[Please note, I am a firm believer that all filmmakers should strive to live a debt free lifestyle. If you are having trouble getting out of debt, I encourage you to read The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.]