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Film director: How I got my job and where I'm going

Chasing artistic dreams, a filmmaker shares her journey from intern to director. Encouraged by parents, she pursued her passion for film, enduring grueling tasks and learning from industry veterans. Her advice? Shoot your own movies, find your unique voice, and learn languages to broaden opportunities.

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  • starky ultimate style avatar for user AivilaCarson
    So, I want to make movies, but I don't have a camera, just an iPhone, and I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so just having simple tools bugs me, like, A LOT. And I know its not a big deal, but I DO NOT want to be making a not-the-best film, even though its my first time, and i really just need the experience. This is really not the right mindset to have coming in to this. Any advice?
    (4 votes)
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Video transcript

My parents didn't have the luxury of getting to pursue their artistic dreams. My mom is an incredible writer, my dad was always a musician, but my mom is an attorney and my dad was a car mechanic when we first moved to the United States. She was in law school, he's fixing cars, and it was really wonderful when I mentioned that I was interested in film. They were the ones that really pushed me to go forward with, you know, it wasn't even a dream at the time, it was just something I was interested in and they're the ones that encouraged me to go try it out, at, you know, summer camp, and then when time came to apply to colleges, they asked, okay, what major do you think you want, and I was thinking, okay, I need to make money, I need to be a successful person just like my parents and I said, maybe I'll go into international relations. I really like traveling. We speak a couple languages at home. I feel like that'd be an easy transition, and they turned to me and they were like, that's ridiculous. You're going to be miserable doing that. You love film, why don't you go out for film? And my parents encouraged me to apply to NYU film school, and they were the ones that really pushed me. And there's a saying that it takes three generations to be an artist, and I feel like I am the generation that gets to reap from the rewards that my ancestors have paved for me. I've had 10 internships, and I have been working in this industry for 10 years, and this is now my first full paying job where I actually have benefits and I know when my next paycheck is going to come in. I have worked very hard to get to where I am, because I said yes to just about everything. You need a coffee, I would grab it. You need somebody to convert your hundred page PDF into a Word doc before there were actual converters, I have been the one typing it all out by hand over and over again. I have copied reels of directors who to this day are just... Are directing like the next Spider-Man movie, and just rewatched so many of them to make sure there weren't errors in the DVDs. I cannot even tell you the amount of thankless grubby jobs I've done to get to where I am now, and I think it's important to remember that whoever you're working for, or if you're just starting out, the person who's maybe in charge of your project has also paid those same dues, and now that it's a little easier to maybe get equipment and start on your own, I think it's still important to approach everything really humbly and not come off with a huge ego. Once again, you want to create an open and safe environment on your shoot, but you also just want to remember that the people who might be a little higher up than you have had a lot of experience doing these things, and it's important to just learn from them, and instead of talking so much just remember to listen first and foremost. My long term goals are to get signed with a larger production company where I am just working whenever I win a bid, and that would mean probably working less hours, but the stakes are so much higher because that's maybe my only job for the month, and then my goal is to have a job like that where I may be working one out of every four weeks a month that lets me focus on my own projects. My ultimate plan is to take all of these work opportunities and positions to get better at being a director, and ultimately create my first feature film. If you're interested in being a film director, then my first piece of advice is going to be just shoot, just shoot your own movies. There is no reason why you can't make a film with the tools that you have. There are so many wonderful films now being shot on an iPhone, and if you have an iPhone or a smartphone, that means that you have what it takes equipment-wise to make a feature film. So grab your friends, find a weekend and just make stuff happen, because you won't learn as much about directing from a book or from a website as you will than just being on a shoot and trying to make your dream come true. I will say some of the pitfalls, though, are that it's hard to get validation. It's hard to get recognition because there are so many other filmmakers out there, and you really just have to find your own voice. In the beginning you might be trying to copy other artists, and that's understandable because you're trying to figure out your style, but I would say find your voice, find the movie that you want to watch, and make sure that you're the one who makes it. And I would say if you are just starting out and you know you want to be a film director, and you might be in high school or middle school and you have an elective, make sure that elective is a language, because that opens your whole career up to tons of possibilities. You get to travel a lot more, and you get to say yes to a lot of cooler things.