September 5, 2014

FILMMAKER PASS: Working Directors Weigh-in on The State of Cinema and Making a Living

Fernando Frias in No Film School's FILMMAKER PASS
In June I went to New York when my film was playing a festival in Brooklyn. While I was there, I hand picked four filmmakers to sit down with me to talk about the craft. FILMMAKER PASS was born out of these conversations.
Waiting for a Train in Brooklyn

During the course of my 11 days in New York I was able to have some spirited, entertaining and relevant conversations with 4 working directors about the state of the industry, personal philosophies and pragmatic insights. It was really interesting to see how different minds work, and it just reminds me that there are infinite paths to making films. I learned something from each and every one of these directors during the course of our interviews and I hope you do too.

What do you think about the state of things -- the state of cinema? Where are we at as a culture of cinema?

How much time out of your day do you spending worrying about money and how you're going to make a living as a filmmaker?

I'm looking to do more interviews in this and other formats for this series, so any feedback you have is appreciated. What topics would you like to see covered? What festivals should we visit? How do you feel about the issues these filmmakers brought up? Let us know in the comments and stay tuned for future installments of FILMMAKER PASS    

A big thanks to the filmmakers involved:

Fernando Frias
T.J. Misny
Leah Meyerhoff
Jack Lewars

music by Coma Cinema
interviews by Micah Van Hove

Your Comment

17 Comments

I liked the format. Thanks

September 5, 2014 at 8:14PM, Edited September 5, 8:14PM

1
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Moar.

September 5, 2014 at 9:57PM

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Derik Savage
Producer / Director / Editor / Camera / Colorist / Audio Engineer / Sales / Marketing
204

Thanks Derik, there will be 5 moar videos from this batch of filmmakers. Looking to improve and expand as I do more interviews too. Any feedback is appreciated!

September 5, 2014 at 10:34PM

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Micah Van Hove
Writer
director, producer, dp

Great interviews, I would love to see more of this is the future.

September 5, 2014 at 10:35PM

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Gvickie Xiong
Editor/Cinematographer/Director
695

Great interviews. Absolutely LOVED this format. Please continue onward with this series. I feel the financial aspect is not touched upon enough. And I mean of making a living, not of financing a film.

September 5, 2014 at 11:13PM, Edited September 5, 11:13PM

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Jorge L. Molinari
Mechanical Engineer / Family Man / Video Producer
183

this is a great reality check...if you are not in the top 10 director on hollywood list it is very hard to make a decent living as an indie film maker...keep those coming...very good stuff!

September 6, 2014 at 6:14AM

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Drazen Stader
Director, director of photography
216

This place is pretty good for that kinda stuff too: https://www.youtube.com/user/filmcourage/videos

September 6, 2014 at 6:31AM

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Pip S.S. Watkins
Wannabe editor
79

It's very nice. I would like to watch the movies which are discussed about in the interview.

September 6, 2014 at 9:22AM

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Fantastic series!

September 6, 2014 at 4:22PM, Edited September 6, 4:22PM

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James Lafortezza
Student of Film
88

I really value these questions as they are exactly what I would have asked. The future and financial aspect can be very scary, and what's even more nerve-wracking is when I wonder if I should be doing something "more important" with my life. Should I really be so focused on making movies when I could have been a doctor, scientist, activist, etc? While I believe that film has the power to bring about change, there's still a big difference between that and developing new forms of sustainable energy or "building that school in Honduras," for example. How should filmmakers approach this conflict of wanting to pursue your passion versus the feeling that you should be doing something more immediately valuable to the world?

September 7, 2014 at 12:15AM

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Brett Allbritton
Cinematographer
303

There are countless ways to make a difference in this world. If bringing about positive change or making an impact is important to you then there are plenty of ways to do that while still making videos. Making videos also doesn't prevent you from volunteering your time or splitting your focus across multiple careers.

Many of the social causes you mentioned could benefit from talented filmmakers for the purpose of communication. Find a non-profit that focuses on building schools and see if you can work with them to create a video to help with fundraising and outreach. Produce a movie that showcases the need for sustainable development and energy. These are as essential as any role that is maybe more direct.

If you can bring a unique point of view, credibility or expert insight to any of these topics and present them to the world then there's no reason to feel like you're making any less of an impact than someone who is working directly in the field.

September 8, 2014 at 8:15PM

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This is really a great thing, Micah! And I´m thrilled to read that more will come.

As Jorge mentioned more about this specific topic would be wonderful. It´s a big topic that is rarely talked about, other that in whispers. Maybe because not making a living from it sounds like you´ve somehow failed, when you tell others about what you do.
And to hear other filmmakers talk about the specific details on how they approach the "But I have to make a living too"-aspect of it all would be great and inspirational.

A few ideas for future topics:
- Generally: They can easily be muuuch longer. I personally wanted them to be at least 15-20 minutes longer. Kinda like DP30, with no cuts. Just honest talk.
- The Failures. Since we´re all independent filmmakers we learn mostly from our mistakes and our careers are depending on us to get better all the time. Either in writing, directing, marketing, whatever. So there are a lot to talk about here, especially in how each one used their knowledge later on.
- Being Noticed. Everyone is making short films and independent features these days, because the equipment allows us to just go nuts with it. But what are their thoughts on how to stand out among the crowd and what kind of pressure it puts on them.
- Being Stuck. Writers block or when things just wasn´t going well. The many times they thought "I should stop kidding myself" but kept going and how they went about turning it around.
- Short Films vs. Feature Films. So often filmmakers makes short films in order to make feature films down the road. But is that the right approach? Can you make a good feature film just because you´ve made 20 well made short films? Should one make feature films earlier, so you can learn to deal with the size of it?
- Being Social. On how they have created their network. How do they make sure to meet new people? On introducing themselves to everyone. Business cards or no business cards?
- Daily Routine. How do they keep warm as writer/directors on a daily basis? Do they turn to books, movies, something completely different? How many hours are spend working with a film vs. making-a-living hours?
- Past vs. Present Knowledge. What did they think about "In order to break into the business..." then and what is their approach now, after hard earned facts?

September 8, 2014 at 8:55AM, Edited September 8, 8:55AM

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Jonas Thorbjoern
Writer/Director
154

I think most of us are on the film business not by obligation but by choice. And I think worrying about all this is kind of stuff is a sacrifice we have to pay in order to pursue this "passion", or this "love" we have for cinematography. I believe there's no "easy" or "secure" path in life, no matter what you study or what path you choose. I think at the end, we're all heading the same place anyway, and what matters the most, is what we leave here before we go away forever.

September 8, 2014 at 12:39PM, Edited September 8, 12:39PM

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Tommy Plesky
Director / D.P / Editor
1936

Good stuff. My comments are from the perspective of a new student. First, Why do so many people still call it "film making" when few are using "film"? Or watching "films", when they are watching "recorded images" or "captured images" or "video"? Is there another word that can take "films" place? Seems like an antiquated term that people can't let go of.

Second, in watching the videos, several times mention is made of " learning to watch films ". I think that is one of my pet peeves. No one should have to learn to watch "films", videos, photos, or anything else. Music too. You shouldn't have to "learn" to listen to music. Both should be accessible to just enjoy, simply by watching and/or listening.

My brothers kids, 20 YO's, don't care about learning watch or listen to anything. They watch/listen to what's in front of them, if there's no connection, they push a button and they are gone. The attention span is in groups of 15 seconds. If it doesn't have something new, exciting, interesting, they switch off. And they are both working on Masters Degrees.

Like the new format. You did a great job. There should be lots' of activity here. Can't wait to see what comes up.

September 11, 2014 at 6:43PM

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Anthony Wade
Old Guy Student
74

I think of video as recording the world around you and events such as a birthday party or wedding. My definition of a film is creating something entirely new - characters, universe, story. Film is an art project that truly shows the creativity of the people making it.

September 13, 2014 at 12:34AM, Edited September 13, 12:34AM

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Ryan Gudmunson
Recreational Filmmaker
331

I think the point made about 'learning' to watch films is that the more you expose yourself to it and keep expanding how you experience it, the better you become at understanding the visual language filmmakers use in creating it.

I just finished watching 'Mystic River' again and realised the subtle visual language designed by Clint Eastwood of staging action on different levels, which is a commentary of the characters' relationships to one another. Being able to spot, understand/ask questions about such things is immensely satisfying. It's possible to watch a film as complex and beautiful as that and miss it or even think of it as boring. Where I come from, many people would call that film boring, and 'Mystic River' hardly belongs on a list of intellectually challenging films, like say 'Citizen Kane' or 'La Dolce Vita'. Why would they find it boring? Because they haven't yet 'learned' the joys of really listening to the way a film breathes; all they probably know is bombs and gunshots and physical violence from 'Expendables' and Co...

September 16, 2014 at 6:34PM

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Umar Turaki
Writer/Director
81

Love this! Hope to see it expanded to Cinematographers!

September 11, 2014 at 7:07PM

17
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I love the point Leah makes about sustaining space/time for your creativity to continue to exist. I feel the same way: overwhelmed. I'm personally in a position where many things in my life need attention, everyday, and most of those things have nothing to do with film. This is because I'm also starting a completely different business, which I guess is like having a full-time job while trying to be a filmmaker at the same time. And as much as I hate regimen, I realised quite recently that I practically have to become a very disciplined machine in order to achieve all the things I have achieve in a given day, which includes writing, running two businesses, running a home etc...

September 16, 2014 at 6:40PM

2
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Umar Turaki
Writer/Director
81