January 30, 2015 at 10:46PM

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Gaining Experience With No Experience. The Ultimate Challenge.

Real quick questions you guys!

I am currently living in Los Angeles with the obvious goal of breaking into the film industry. The dream? To be the next Scorsese, of course! In the mean-time, I just want to gain any and all knowledge of every aspect in the filmmaking process. The problem? I have 0.00 experience in any department.

How does someone like me? (the newbies of all newbies) (...did I mention the no schooling bit?) get a job or internship and some real on-set experience?

16 Comments

Connect with Indie film-makers and work on their projects in your spare time. Every Indie film-maker needs people to fill crew position, even if at first all you are doing is running errands and taking care of feeding the rest of the crew.

Get enough Indie experience under your belt and you may be able to land a PA or intern job. A friend of mine spent two years working as a producer for Indie film projects ( she had no experience at the start, but damn she was organized and knew how to organize the rest of the crew ), and then got herself a fulltime producer job based upon her Indie experience.

January 30, 2015 at 11:35PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32099

As a person who has hired several PAs into their first jobs in TV, I can tell you that just being smart, positive, and expressing your enthusiasm and willingness to work hard without EVER complaining helps a lot.

Networking and being social helps tremendously. Make friends in the business. Inevitably one of them will know someone who knows about a job. Having a name to go with your introduction. Then when you get a shot, don't screw it up. Work hard, learn, don't feel entitled and most importantly make your boss' life easier not harder.

Just my opinion.

February 1, 2015 at 5:23AM

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This is a great answer as I think it's important to go into filmmaking with the mindset of walking into a creative community working towards a common goal.. so the last thing a crew needs is someone who doesn't pull their weight or complains.

Liam Gilroy

February 5, 2015 at 10:13AM

Do you have a smartphone?
Go film. Film little visual stories.
Or copy a (simple) scene from a series, commercial or movie to learn to understand how it was put together and to understand what it takes to put it together in the first place.
Do you have a computer?
Get some editing software. You can try Adobe CC and if you don't like editing after a few months, you can stop the subscription.

This way you can get a little experience while you work on getting to know more people.
Try to assist on other people's projects. Even if it's just making lunch, taking notes or holding a diffusion screen.
This way you'll get to know people and see what is going on.

In this day and age it really easy to start getting experience.
In 2000 it was still pretty expensive to edit on a computer and you needed a camera.
Now the hardware is cheap, the software is stable and most people have a camera on their phone...

Good luck and have fun!

February 2, 2015 at 2:19PM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
8821

The best to do is educate your self. Try to practice with each part of the cinema to gain experience.

February 3, 2015 at 2:11PM, Edited February 3, 2:11PM

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Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director
7554

I'm almost in your same situation. I moved out here (to LA) about six months ago without knowing anyone. However, back in Michigan I had recently won a student Emmy and a few shorts I did were pretty well received at a small film festival near Detroit.

Now I'm out here and I have zero connections. My plan is to possibly join Film Independent and go to some of their networking events and also start offering my assistance to posts on Mandy.com. My hope is that after maybe six more months I'll have a small network of people that I can ask to help me out on my projects.

February 3, 2015 at 2:59PM, Edited February 3, 2:59PM

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Brad Tennant
Director / Cinematographer
310

A bold step and I hope you succeed, but what did you do the first 6 months?

WalterBrokx

February 4, 2015 at 5:33AM, Edited February 4, 5:33AM

Studying, watching tutorials and films of other filmmakers; FILMING (over all, its the best way for learning, by my own opinion); and step by step you will be meeting (luckly) the correct people who will help you to gain experience and filming "better". Before you realise it, other filmmakers will be calling you to work with them. Good luck!!!

February 4, 2015 at 4:12AM

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Tico Rodríguez
Filmmaker
93

Search Craigslist and Mandy.com for the next gig and start there! Or do what I did (after a few years of practice video editing) and take out an ad advertising your expertise (whatever that may be). Work will come to you so long as you put the time and effort into the search, because indie productions of all sorts will need people of every experience level (even starters like you) to man their crews. Part/full-time jobs can come out of these postings. Eventually, with enough time and connections, you run into someone who will refer you to the next big thing. But the biggest thing, man: whatever job you fill in any production, do it well. People remember a job well done.

February 4, 2015 at 4:57AM

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Luis Lagera
Lead Dailies Technician
1

I moved to LA 8 years ago after finishing film school on the east coast. I didn't know anyone and just wanted to make movies. I would just search craigslist all day and submit to anything, PA, camera op, editing, whatever. This led to meeting some people on sets who were also just starting out and we all kind of banded together and grew together in our careers. Now we all work constantly and hire each other on various gigs from TV shows to films to commercials to web content. Next month I'm finally going to be directing my first feature and will be working with some of those same people I met PAing with 8 years ago. My best advice is to just get out there and get on as many sets doing anything you can to make contacts. Work for free or cheap when you have to. Build up a reel over time. If you're going to be a director, DP, editor, etc having a website is a must. Work hard and be personable. In the end it is a lot about who you know but your work will also speak for itself.

February 4, 2015 at 10:57AM

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Matt Devino
Freelance Director/Editor/Cinematographer
100

If you're keen to get editing experience from scratch, rip some clips off of YouTube and make something. I used to hold these big monthly movie nights when I was at University and make trailers for all of them (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eo5vxC2WDME) because of the nature of working with source material like that you won't have the glossiest product but you'll learn a lot about timing, and more importantly, cutting in situations that aren't ideal and how to make something work that in theory, shouldn't.

I also recommend rippomatics. If you've got some projects that you know you won't get to make for some time, source some materials and cut a pitch trailer.

February 4, 2015 at 2:44PM

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Dan Berghofer
Editor
13

Jessica Lee, as much as I agree with a lot of what everyone has to say here, I feel like I must share that if you want to be the next Scorsese -- you should be writing. Most people I've come across that want to make movies one day try to focus more on what camera to buy or getting productions jobs. That's great and all, get a production job if you can. But start writing and dreaming up a story. Then worry about the technical side. Fall in love with writing something truly worthy of putting on screen. I love movies. Today's and yesterday's. And right now, in my opinion, I feel something special is missing from movies. It's heart. I wouldn't trouble myself with learning everything there is to know about every aspect of the movie making process in the beginning. Just find a story within yourself. If you can do that, the right path with surely reveal itself to you. You know, people say it's about who you know or you don't have chance without some connections, but I don't believe that and never will. Write.

February 4, 2015 at 7:42PM, Edited February 4, 7:42PM

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Good point. Well put.

Torsten Pearson

February 4, 2015 at 9:07PM, Edited February 4, 9:07PM

There's been tons of films posted on NFS that have taken people years to make. Think about Chris Nolan's Following. He shot that on weekends for about a year. The trick is, they do it on the side. You can do the same. That equates to experience. The more you do, the more you will learn. Like the saying goes: Fail, fail again, fail better. You will get better and that experience will translate to the option of acquiring more experience in another way.

If you can get an internship, go for it. If you're cool, and do your work, and pick things up fast, you might get offered a job down the line. It's all relative experience, you'll be working alongside people who do it for a living. And people want to work with people they like. People become interns, assistants, and then execs the next day. Happens all the time. Buff up that resume and lie your way into the internship if you have to.

So my advice to you is pursue jobs like others said. If you're lucky enough to get a great career-type job or successive jobs on sets, that's awesome. You can use that to build up. But always be making something yourself. Why not try to write something? There's literally nothing stopping you. Everyone is a first-time filmmaker sometime, if you research all the greats you will find the same thing: they started, they tried again and again. So always have that thing you can do by yourself even if it is only achievable in small increments or maybe it's a comedic short film that revolves around a single joke/situation/location/scenario, and it's the writing and characters that shine. You won't need a huge budget or equipment that way. If you get a ton of views online or get the film to the right person or get your film in a festival you can make moves for yourself that way.

All the things you do otherwise (assistant job, working on sets, internship, etc) will all connect given the right time and effort. Keep trying to make your own projects too. You never know what will take off, so do both. And each one affects the other, and the next.

February 5, 2015 at 11:54AM, Edited February 5, 11:54AM

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Anthony P
Producer
72

The equipment I'm starting out with is a Kodak Zi8 that I bought on ebay for 46 bucks video editing I'm using windows live movie maker seeing as I'm not planing as sfx I also bought movies like the King's Speech and watch them over and over if an idea pop's into my head I type it into my computer I agree with most of the other posters when they say work on a production of some sort even if it's not a paying gig

April 11, 2015 at 5:59PM

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Paul Valley
Student of film making
74

All of the above are great advice, but why you want to be the next Scorsese?
Try to be the first Jessica Lee.

January 19, 2016 at 7:55PM

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Stel Kouk
Filmmaker
3173

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