8 Tips To Growing Your Filmmaking Career

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While the term ‘making it’ in the filmmaking industry is somewhat controversial, these are the insights on how to get going towards your goal.

Embrace the fact we are humans

Everything in involving human beings is about relationships. The word of mouth, the reputation, and the reliability you show in every single interaction is your best asset and it remains with you every single day of your life. That being said, let’s look at the tips on how great relationships can make you achieve your dreams.

The trip seen from an insider

In order to shed some light on the relationship side of the filmmaking industry, we’re going to be driven by an insider, who truly believes every positive thing that happened in his professional life is related to establishing great relationships with the right people. We are talking about David C, Weldon Jr. a renowned creative director, director of photography, and a Los Angeles movie scene insider.

#1 Be true to your truth and walk the line

The journey to making it (if such a thing exists) is usually referred to as a slow and steady walk, made of micro achievements that will lead to a qualitative change of life position and goals. Most people refer to it as the path, and due to its intricate nature it will have ups and downs, great moments, and some tedious hours of work. As David himself recalls, his first trip to L.A. when he was very young and full of hope ended in major disillusion. In his own words: “My expectations were too high. I needed to be real with myself and hunker down for some hard work.” He recalls burning out really fast, running out of money, and going back home heartbroken. Despite all this, he was determined and stood by his truth. He walked the line slowly, went home, gathered strength and returned to L.A. rejuvenated, more mature, and more determined to succeed.

#2 Tenacity is the key to success

So, David was denied his journey to success. He was told he couldn’t make it in the city, but he carried on and went back. He was tenacious as well as being talented, and it is a fact that nine out of ten times willpower beats talent. When both merge, that’s when true magic happens.

Back to David, he wanted  an internship with Shane Hurlbut, a cinematographer with participation in 20+ films, a Los Angeles personality, and someone who could show him the path that leads to the heart of the industry. He was looking for a position (there were ten vacancies for thousands of people) and approached him at an event where he ws giving a speech. He felt the impression he made wasn’t enough, so went back, walked up to him and said, “what do I have to do to be in the internship?” From then on, everything unfolded and tenacity won!

#3 Make friends with industry people

Making friends is always the best decision in life, for they help you during tough times and are there to celebrate achievements with you. Once you start making friends, you’ll realize the most natural thing to happen is that common interests introduce you to people in the same situation. You’ll soon be surrounded by a circle of people who talk about the same things you do. If you don’t know how to get started, technology can help you out. David recommends you to go to these great communities online: Shane’s Inner Circle and Stage32. They are big forums for people in the filmmaking industry to get to know each other - as the last one states, “Stage 32 is Lynda Meets LinkedIn for film, television, and theater creatives.”

#4 Reach one step higher

While making friends with industry people is a great way to get started, the best bet is to reach out boldly into the unknown and go for people that are on the next level. It might sound scary at first, but remember that if it scares and excites you, then it is the correct path. How to do it? It’s fairly simple and has to do with Instagram. The method has been popularized by entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk. The basic idea is - search through hashtags (#filmmaking, #camera or #film) and reach out to people you find that have lots of followers. DM them, trying to add some kind of value to the interaction on your side. For example, if you look at their account and they are filming near you, you can offer your assistance for free for a day. Don’t be afraid to take the leap, because regretting something you did is better than regretting  something you didn’t do.

#5 Make the most of social media

This is a golden age for networking and making new friends. The ability to reach out to anybody, anywhere in the world through these platforms is amazing. For example, the story about David’s internship was born on Twitter, and the vacancies were announced through Shane’s account.

Yet, there’s an enormous catch when we talk about social media. It should only be a kickstarter, because it never overrides the impact of face-to-face interaction. It wasn’t until David reached out and talked to Shane, shaking his hand, that a real opportunity opened up. So, to break it down -


#6 Bring value to every relationship

This comes straight from the last tip. Don’t be voracious and empty handed; bring something of value to everybody you meet. In many cases, roles are crystallized the moment you meet someone, and if you end up on the “wanting” side of the bond, that may never change. This is never a good spot to be in for a long period as it will break the relationship sooner or later. If you bring something on your side, then it will be as equals - or you’ll be on the giving side, and that can last a lifetime. Don’t forget that your reputation is your most valuable asset. As David himself says, sometimes just offering your hard work and an open mind will be enough. It just depends.

#7 Relationships go far

The filmmaking industry, as well as the music industry, is very popular for having great duos and groups. They go a long way, and end up nourishing each other’s career. Most actors, directors, crew, producers, and everybody involved in a production end up spending eight, ten, twelve hours together a day, so you might as well spend that time with people you like. Another view on this is the fact that when casting for a crew, your reputation can decides whether you get you the job, or get left out.

#8 Be the positive force

Last but definitely not least, positive energy is a true talent - an often underrated component in personality. If you are able to see the positive side in every situation and don’t verbalize negative thoughts out loud, then you are definitely on the winning side. As David says, “no one likes a Negative Nancy on the set.”

As much as everybody wants to make it in the filmmaking industry, it is the trip to that destination which you should focus on enjoying. After all, making friends, enjoying good work, and establishing long-term relationships are what many people call happiness. Once that comes, the rest will unfold on its own.

We hope you enjoyed these tips! Let us know if they worked and if we are missing something through the comments section below.



Posted 15 August, 2017


Freelance Journalist & Reporter

Alice is a Community Correspondent at Freelancer.com. She drifts between London & Sydney.

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