Monday, June 8, 2015

Now what do I do?

I get some emails from people I know or people who think I might help them find a job in the movie business. And some of them are parents, friends of mine, who ask me if I can do anything to get them in "the Business."

Since I taught screenwriting at UCLA extension classes tend to ask me "I finished film school so what now?"

What now.

I can use a line from Robert De Niro who was addressing the graduating students at NYU with two words; "You're f--cked."

Two simple words, Bob. But you're right.

And if you follow my blog way back, you'll know I took a film course and failed. And my best friend failed the same course. And you know what happened.

My friend and I made a short film that was a finalist in the 1976 Academy Awards. The other students never really had the "passion" that we had for movies. 

So much for film school.

If some of you out there are students or wanting to write or direct or whatever, this will be invaluable.

In the beginning, as the tv bible says; there was movies and for the most part it was a learning industry, silent movies got longer and then sound came and then 4K came which already is being passed by 6K.

It's a little joke, refers to the quality of digital images. Every year the industry seems to create an even sharper image on the screen or your TV.

Back to the old days. 

Way back in the 1920's and 30's, a wannabe writer or wannabe director had a chance at getting a job. There was no film schools, you would get a job carrying water or something and move up the ladder.

As the industry grew, crew people would bring in their sons and daughters, and there were a lot of women screenwriters then too. I'm talking 1920-1940. But very few of the early writers rarely brought in family. And it's kind of the same even now.

Then WW2 came and a lot of soldiers who survived found the GI Bill which entitled writers to get some schooling. But they also found that they had stories from the horrors of war and thus you got great movies made from stories that were real. But again, there were no film schools.

The big change happened in the early 1970's when U. Of Southern California created their film courses. And suddenly there was Francis Coppola and George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, Brian DePalma, Martin Scorsese and John Milius and John Cassavettes as well as foreign writers and directors like Lindsay Anderson and Roman Polanski and many more.

But what was different now is that almost all of them came from newly created film schools and who knew each other. Remember that point - they knew each other.

There were books published about these new kids, The Movie Brats and The Film Director as Superstar and many other books about these new kids on the blog who never really had to fight a war.

These were my generation, and even though I didn't know any of them, (I lived two thousand miles away in a small town of 539 people), I shared one single thing with all of them.

A movie called The Searchers.

A John Wayne movie, although it was realistically a John Ford movie. Ford was a legend in the film industry, he won 6 Academy Awards, still never beaten.

For some reason, The Searchers was one of the best westerns ever made. Our sci-fi stories were more westerns and they were everywhere. But The Searchers had something else to it, there are many articles about the movie, even a remake of sorts but whatever it was, I wanted to be part of it.

I wanted to be in Hollywood.

And so did those other names up there. 

And from now on the film schools were mostly becoming writers and directors, without the war stories we watched as kids.

And it wasn't long before other universities saw the money they could make by offering film courses. Now America was spitting out new screenwriters and directors at a very fast pace.

But I didn't go the university way because I got a job at a TV station in the photo department where I learned how to shoot and process 16mm film for our newscasts. I did everything there, photographs, film, shooting rock concerts and models.

It was about this time that I went to the film school with my then-wife and I took the infamous class and she took photography. And that's where I met my friend who also failed.  But in truth, I knew more than the instructors and it was mostly for the adventure of hanging around an art school in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

I then proceeded to work at a half dozen TV stations where I got more experienced and then finally I made Ghostkeeper, (I think you can see it on the Materials).

So I came up, like many more writers and directors, through all the stages, I was a production assistant, a location manager, a soundman and a dozen other jobs. So my way was a little different.

So much for now, don't want to make this too long to read. 

The next blog will be about the kids going to school now and what they need and what they're lacking. 

Remember Robert De Niro.

BTW I'm the bearded one who looks like Charles Manson, my fried Phil with the shaggy hair.

More of "What Do I Do now" Friday.

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