One of the most pressing questions when filmmakers first get started, the one that seems to always be at the forefront of the mind is, "How do I get into this business? How do I get started?" There are plenty of stock answers, too, like enrolling in film school, studying films and screenplays, moving to LA or New York, buying a bunch of gear and shoot a movie. The list goes on. Writer/Director Frank Darabont offers up his own response, which may leave you frustrated, but may also inspire you to discover your own path to becoming a working filmmaker.
Darabont has written and directed many films and TV shows in throughout his career, including The Shawshank Redemption. Through some film commentary, he offers some words of wisdom to new filmmakers who are feeling their way through the darkness, not knowing where to go or what to do. And the great thing about what he tells us is that it's honest and it's not what we want to hear: There is no one way to get into the film business. You must find your own way.
In this digital age, where information is so readily available to us, where if I'm wondering which house Vlad the Impaler belonged to, or how string theory works, then I can get an answer instantly. We don't like to be unsure for too long, and in the film business, even the road to becoming a filmmaker is fraught with uncertainty.
Take a look, or rather, give a listen to Darabont's message to new filmmakers below:
According to Darabont, it's not a matter of going out and doing X, Y, and Z, and then all of a sudden you're a filmmaker. He says it takes "instinct, talent, effort, persistence, and a belief in yourself" -- intangible things that either can't be learned or aren't as straightforward as walking up on a stage and receiving a piece of paper that will get you where you want to go.
A film career is not necessarily something you earn with your diploma at film school. A career is built on an endless chain of flugey circumstances generated by your efforts and your persistence. Luck has a lot to do with it, but you manufacture your own luck by working your ass off for it.
The moral of the story: do what you have to do in order to become a filmmaker. If that means you go to film school, do it. If that means you write your screenplay on your smoke breaks at work, do it. Don't let anyone look down on your journey, because there isn't one right way to do this -- in fact, there is no "right" way to do this. Each step is different for everyone -- it's just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other.
What do you think about Darabont's advice? Let us know in the comments.