Director Frank Darabont Offers Insight into Starting a Film Career

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 RedemptionThrough 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.

[via Cinephilia and Beyond & filmschoolthrucommentaries]

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Your Comment


YES! It IS possible. It depends on YOU. Best answer.

September 30, 2013 at 2:36PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Excellent advice. Film school is the route for me, just started two weeks ago. However, I making an experience out of it here in Europe. Completely believe it is a bespoke process for everyone. Awesome!

September 30, 2013 at 2:56PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Which film school in Europe?

June 16, 2015 at 7:18AM

Coen Leuven
Director/DOP/Script writer

lovely words from an amazing film maker .. he said what i really believe in :)

September 30, 2013 at 3:58PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Love this site. That is the best advice...MANUFACTURE YOU OWN LUCK BY WORKING YOUR ASS OFF FOR IT!!!

October 2, 2013 at 1:22AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Wow, what a great message! It really is so true in all of life. You get out of life what you put into it. I think the ultimate deciding factor, though, is talent. It's the difference between "making it" and truly succeeding. In this industry (and many others) all of the hard work in the world is going to get you nowhere without a spectacular result.

October 2, 2013 at 4:36AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


NFS needs more posts like this !!!
Thanks Renee !

October 2, 2013 at 4:48AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

You voted '+1'.

Imagination is key to great story and cinematography.

October 3, 2013 at 2:39PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


To best quote Training Day, "It's not what you know... It's what you can prove." Great advice by Darabondt.

October 3, 2013 at 3:37PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


He couldn't be more right.

October 3, 2013 at 5:15PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Sounds about right to me!

October 4, 2013 at 8:36AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


I'm glad my commentary selections inspire your articles, V Renée

October 5, 2013 at 2:22PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


i told my coworker that over the weekend... if you aint got zilch to show then your ass is grounded....

July 8, 2014 at 8:03PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


I think line came from A Few Good Men

July 8, 2014 at 8:36PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Jack Marchetti

Could you please re-link the Cinephilia and Beyond hyperlink? seem to be broken.

July 8, 2014 at 10:01PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Ritesh Jeswani

truly inspiring.

July 9, 2014 at 1:58AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

sudesh kagda

yes i agree!!! i m going through the same thing!!!

July 9, 2014 at 3:09AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Agreed. It is absolutely possible to become a filmmaker; it's just damnably difficult. If you could perform X, Y and Z and be assured of a filmmaking career, we'd have fifty million directors in Hollywood.

July 9, 2014 at 6:05AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Logic Ninja