We all know the rewards of a making a movie. Wrap parties, red carpets, and film festivals are just a few of the happenings that come along with the completion of a good film. But, do you really know what it took to get to that point?  Watching the movie out-takes, as the credits roll at the end of a film, gives the impression that it is all fun and games.  Someone goofs a line and we all laugh and try it again. Not a care in the world. What great times.

Well, let me just say that a little more happens between the funny out-takes.  Moviemaking is a complex and structured process with many moving parts.  At times, hundreds of individuals come together to produce a single story.  Even the simplest of projects take a handful of skills to execute.  From writing the screenplay through editing and figuring out the best way to present your movie, all need to be understood in order to choreograph and work your way through the gauntlet of the filmmaking process.

Every job, on a film set, is important and necessary to getting the film done.  For me, as a film program director, at the start of the process, the most important element is getting the story right.  Once the story is done and we turn to making the film, in the trenches, my focus changes to good craft services – “the food”. Did you know that a well-fed crew team will produce a better movie? Once the film is shot, my focus goes to a great editor. As the filmmaking process moves along I adjust my attention along the way. As a Producer your job is to know these little, seemingly, non-essential facts to get it done.

The ups and downs of the process, dealing with the unexpected complication, the broken piece of equipment, the missing talent, the loss of a location, the broken down transportation system, or the sudden weather change will all be processed better if you know and understand that filmmaking is an art form wrapped in a business.  You will have all of the structure and responsibilities of a corporation with the open framework of the individual artist.  The trick will be balancing the two and finding the right blend between order and chaos.

When considering film school make an effort to explore everything that goes into the process.  We all have our main interest. Whether it be writing, directing, producing, camera, lighting, sound, or editing, filmmakers that have a basic understanding of all the moving parts will, as a part of the creative team, make a better film. Every film project will be different. No two projects will ever be made in the exact same way.  But, the more you understand the mechanics of the industry the better you will do at getting yourself to the Red Carpet.

Misael Sanchez
IFI Director

Do you need to go to film school to get a job?

A common question I get asked is, Do you need to go to film school to get a job?
That is the question of the ages. It is the first question on an applicants mind as they decide what program would be best for them. It’s actually not a simple question to answer. Working in film and television is a complicated endeavor. There are jobs out there that require experience and there are jobs that you might be able to jump right into. How much time do you have and what do you want to do?

Schools do provide a clear advantage. They give the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals that might have already been through the first steps in getting a job. Filmmaking is a collaborative process. The relationships you develop along the way go a long way toward helping you get the next job. Schools give you the opportunity to build a network right out of the starting gate.

School is not the only way to get work. With no structured education in film you will have to start at an entry-level position and learn your way up the ladder. This is how jobs were found in the film industry before the proliferation of film schools. It still is a viable option but you will need to really put in the time and effort to find your way.

Know what you want to do, get a job that will give you access to film sets, and do your best at that entry level job. If your job is to keep the coffee warm make sure it is always at perfect temperature all the time. Trust me, you will be noticed. But also know that you will be noticed if the coffee gets cold.

There is no sure way to get a job. School or no school it is up to the individual person, and not so much the level of education, that will lead to a job. Be humble, always be prepared to learn, and take advantage of every opportunity, no matter how small. And once you are on the inside remember to look back every once in a while to help the next.