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There’s No One Way to Make It

C.J. tweeted at me:

Film school is a topic that comes up often on this blog. There are some good reasons to go to film school,1 but a degree isn’t one of them. As the OG TAPA put it:

Being a filmmaker, from the biggest producer to the lowliest PA, is not like being a doctor or engineer.  If we screw up, nobody dies.2  You’ll just end up with a bad movie or TV show.

Because of this, there’s no need for a film board or cinematic bar association that certifies you as a filmmaker.

There is, unfortunately, no clear path to becoming a producer. I often refer to PAing as the bottom rung on the Hollywood ladder, but really, it’s the first step on a long, winding hike that could lead to a tangle of brambles or a beautiful vista.

Because I like looking down on people.
My current favorite spot in L.A.

The only sure-fire way to become a writer, director, producer, or actor, to get above-the-line, in other words, is to just do it. The trick is, getting someone to pay you for it.

This involves not just creating a quality project, but getting people to actually see it. That’s where networking comes in. Networking can begin in film school, it’s true; but it can also happen on set, at film festivals, or just any random coffee shop or bar in L.A.

The truth is, you never know. You need to recognize that there’s really no advice I, or anyone else, can really give you about how to reach your career goal. There’s too many factors. Film school might help you; it might not. Whatever your situation, don’t worry about it. Just keep plugging away.

Eventually, if you’re talented, hard-working, friendly, and a little lucky, you’ll probably make it as a producer. Maybe.

I hope.

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. Click on any of the preceding links to read them.
  2. Nobody dies on a responsible set, anyway. There are dangers, and dangerous people, in this business.
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2 Responses

  1. You can bust your ass and do a perfect job as a P.A. on 5 straight movies – but when it is all said and done, those could end up being 5 shitty movies. You contribute nothing to the product. It’s like taking credit for a healthy 30 year marriage because you helped plan the wedding. Many PAs like to bang the drum (especially on facebook) of “Come on, guys! Remember, we’re trying to make a movie here!” as if that sentiment cuts through the tedious day to day stress. It doesn’t. At the end of the day, you’ve worked for your own checkbook. You could have done a shitty, average or amazing job but the show’s end result won’t reflect that. Sorry!

    That goes for a lot of departments. I’ve never seen an idiot costume department derail an entire show and every show has an idiot costume department.

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