Tag Archives: work

The One Reason to Attend Film School

Film school touts many benefits for those willing to enroll and pay to work instead of work for pay. Learn how to make films and tell stories is one of the supposed benefits, along with access to equipment and a respected credential, not to mention the great people you’ll meet along the way.

When it comes to graduate film school, unless you know you want to teach and get that terminal degree, there’s only one benefit that could possibly be worth the cost of attendance: the Network. The people you meet, work with, and establish a rapport with are your keys to the industry. The degree means next to nothing if your work doesn’t speak for itself—in fact, there’s a decent chance the degree will work against you, showing that you’re overqualified for the entry level positions you need in order to get your foot in the door of the industry. Chances are you’ll still have to start as a PA anyway, whether you’re fresh out of graduate film school, undergraduate film school, or an accomplished filmmaker with a high school degree.

The equipment is something you can get yourself. The money you pour into film school could have got you tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment. That said, forget equipment! No one needs fancy gear to make good movies. You need to be able to tell stories, and that’s something you learn from reading, writing, watching movies, and paying attention in general, whether you’re in film school or not.

Film school is for those who have money and want a structure that will keep them focused on (somebody else’s version of) their craft. You could save thousands by being unemployed and just focusing on your craft without being attached to any one school, but your resume might take a hit when there’s gaps without an official employer or school attendance. The best route for anyone who wants to get into the industry is to just start working in the industry. Work your way up. Skip the schooling. You’ll make connections like you would in film school, and have to fund yourself like in film school, but you’ll probably spend less and have a better chance at getting paid sooner. And before long, your film school peers will be coming to you looking for work.

Make no mistake, I highly respect the work and devotion to craft I see in my film school peers. These people are passionate about film and highly talented. I think they’d be better off blessing the industry with their abilities rather than hanging around, paying tens of thousands of dollars, for a behind-walls education in the hands-on blue-collar people-centered industry of film.

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Missing Something

I walked up to the documentary filmmaker after her presentation at my school.

“I’m a filmmaker too,” I said. “Well… it’s more of a hobby.”

She smiled and nodded encouragingly. “That’s how it starts.”

She’s right.

What’s the difference between a hobby and a career? And how do you differentiate your serious professional passion from your serious personal hobby?

This is what I think: No matter how talented you are in a certain area, if you don’t mind letting somebody else do it, let somebody else do it. Example. My major included a heavy-handed serving of design, and I impressed a professional designer whom I deeply respect with my emerging design skills. Though I have above average ability in design, I’m totally happy leaving it to others. Design is not my calling.

Instead, pursue subjects that you’re not only talented in, but that you feel shouldn’t be happening without you. Example. In summer of 2016 I was a tour guide in Admissions when I found out last minute that a video crew was coming to campus to film. I could feel myself getting antsy as minutes ticked by that morning. I was missing something. Something big. I was in the wrong place. I plucked up my courage and asked my boss if I could go, and was greatly relieved to hear the gracious yes.

This is the difference between a hobby that stays a hobby and a hobby that becomes a professional passion. If you can tolerate other folks doing it for you, if you don’t feel possessive about it, then it’s not really your passion after all. If, however, you feel you’re truly missing something when the work is being done without you, that you’ve just got to be in the fray, you’ve found your niche. Chase it. Catch it. And take the time to encourage wannabes.

The Introvert at Work

Keyboards click all around me. I’m blissfully unaware. It’s 3pm on a sunny September afternoon, and this is my freshman composition class. We’ve been instructed to free write, individually, as a class. Alone together. My fingers punch the keys like a madwoman until the girl behind me growls, “Do you think you could type a little quieter?”

Oh. Sorry.

The spell broken, I try not to pester my classmates with frenzied keystrokes. I tiptoe along on the same thought train, and think to myself how happy I am.

Introverts don’t hate people. Introverts are sensitive to people. Introverts need walls to protect them from people and at the same time can only find so much happiness alone. As an introverted college grad and professional, I know there’s a sweet spot when it comes to social interaction and the ideal work environment, and it all boils down to the recipe discovered in English 101.

1. A lone worker is a lonely worker.

This is something I never would have believed even a few short months ago, having had to put up with arbitrary team projects for too long. But as a working professional who is able to spend some time in-office and some time working remotely, I’ve experienced firsthand that positive social motivation occurs when working in close proximity with others.

2. Alone Together

This is this introvert’s ideal work environment. Being in fairly close proximity with peers who are working on related projects, whether it’s their own creative writing or a client’s new website, provides both social motivation and the mental space needed for an introvert to get to work.

3. The Team

A sure way to destroy an introvert’s ability to be productive is to ask them to think fast in actively social situations. Brainstorm sessions always get me, because interacting with teammates usually takes all my brainpower. This isn’t to say introverts can’t handle teamwork; rather, introverts shine when allowed to do their own thing, and love to see their work helping to further a greater cause.

It’s a sunny summer afternoon in the office, and I’m hearing keyboards in surround sound. Behind me on the right is Web Dev. On my left is Marketing. They each have distinct sounds. Tap-tap-tap, fast and furious: email being sent to client. Swish, swish: mouse being dragged across screen, designing an ad. Bang bdang bang: code being typed on full-size keyboards, not these flat newfangled Mac things. And then there’s me, left mentally alone to complete my tasks, yet furthering the project we’re all working on in different specialized ways.

I’m the introvert at work. This is my ideal.

The Tragedy of Life

Are you waiting? Waiting for inspiration, for experience, for the life you want to come to you? I think we all are, at least a little bit.

I’m in college, still a freshman. I can’t help dreaming about the future. And yet, dreaming is only good for so long. I had aspirations of getting published when I was 11. Now, I have novels, poetry, short stories and a novella to my name, but none are published. What I do have published are some articles in the school newspaper, a few award-winning poems, and my blog. I think it’s a good start; yet on some days all I can think of is what I haven’t written and the things I haven’t done.

Go for it now. The future is promised to no one. ~Wayne Dyer

Expect an early death — it will keep you busier. ~Martin H. Fischer

I’ve lived these quotes. Some days I’ve tried to accomplish everything I possibly can, with the idea that by the day I die, I’ll have missed nothing, done everything, completely used myself up in life so that there will be nothing wasted in death.

But you know what? After a long day of work, just before I’d go to sleep, I’d know that even though I did so much, accomplished bazillions of things, there were always more things to be done. And all I could see were those remaining tasks on my endless mental list.

Live every day as if it were going to be your last; for one day you’re sure to be right. ~Harry “Breaker” Harbord Morant

I’d never be ready to die at this rate. There would always be more to do. Not to mention that it’s terribly difficult to plan for the future with this mentality. What’s a mortal to do?

Workaholism is one extreme. There is another extreme that many more of us are guilty of, especially when it comes to writing.

We wait.

The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it. ~Author unknown.

That’s a quote I can live with.

Before I discovered NaNoWriMo, I was actually waiting to live life so I’d have enough experience to write something good. What did I, a mere youngster, have to contribute to the world anyway?

How wrong that mentality was. Isaac Asimov began selling his science fiction stories when he was 19. Mary Shelley published Frankenstein at age 21. Helen Keller published her autobiography when she was 22. I look at these authors, and glimpse what I can be if I choose to act, instead of wait.

Enjoy yourself. It’s later than you think. -Chinese Proverb

Life is not about doing everything you possibly can. It’s also not about waiting. I’ve found that doing something, joyfully and perhaps slowly, and growing in that experience, is more important than doing just the right thing at the right time and doing it perfectly.

Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand—and melting like a snowflake…” –Francis Bacon

What’s holding you back?

Wordplay

I have a knack for turning play into work. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could switch that around? Earlier in my life, writing was play, but now that I think of myself as an author, writing and editing have become a burden. This is not as it should be.

In my high school speech & debate years, one of the important lessons I learned was that if you want to give your best performance, don’t try to. Consciously trying to perform well takes away the joy and experience of the performance itself, for both performer and audience. If you want to perform well, the key is to forget you’re performing. You’re playing. If you’re having the time of your life, or simply enjoying yourself and reveling in your activity, your audience will be able to share.

The same is true of writing. Consciously try to do your best, and you cripple yourself. The key to excellence is a willingness to experiment and play and enjoy your work. Remember how your writing was once play, not a chore, and make it into play again.

I’m doing this by setting aside 15 minutes a day, no more nor less, to play with words. No expectations, no word count, nothing but freedom to enjoy myself and remember how wonderful writing once was to me, and still is.

“Yes, I’ve made a great deal of dough from my fiction, but I never set a single word down on paper with the thought of being paid for it … I have written because it fulfilled me … I did it for the buzz. I did it for the pure joy of the thing. And if you can do it for joy, you can do it forever.”

-Stephen King