August 18, 2018 at 1:59AM

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I am a noob in my mid 20s? Is it too late for me to start?

A quick backstory. I have always wanted to shoot film but I never had money to buy a camera when I was young and I did not have many friends to shoot with anyway. Eventually I was able to buy a camera and I started taking film classes at school and I was able to do SOME shooting but I had to quit before I really started because I needed a higher paying job to help out my family more and I have been stuck working in an office since then. I have done almost nothing for this dream and I am approaching the age when some of my favorite directors finally started to direct features. I find it even harder to get into this field now because even though I have enough saved to buy some adequate gear I have no one to shoot with because I work full-time and anyone who is willing to work with me does not have a schedule that works with mine. The only solution is to quit my job but even then I have no connections to work with and I will be starting over. And then there is the huge risk of failure which I can't afford because I can't go back home because I am already here and they need me to pay rent. Me sacrificing for a career would become their sacrifice. I am scared that this will be my life: a guy too scared to live or do anything that makes me happy. Is there anything I can do or should I just keep this a daydream?

7 Comments

It's never too late.
Never compare yourself to others.
Age is irrelative.

Everything comes down to how bad you want something.
It's harder than ever these days so, you're gonna need to want it pretty bad.
How much is 'bad enough'? That's a difficult thing to quantify.
If you want it bad enough, you will get it done.

August 19, 2018 at 7:01PM, Edited August 19, 7:03PM

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Richard Krall
richardkrall.com
1576

Hey Alberto. I guess I'm not in the best position to advise you, being stiil an almost-graduate of a film shool myself, but I'll try.

First thing, don't think about your age, it's bullshit. Being 20-something is still young and unless you have a very early onset of dementia, your age is not a problem. Actually, the fact that you're not a teenage kid anymore might be a plus - you've gained some life experience and hopefully can transfer it to your stories. In my country (Poland), the best schools rarely admit very young people (<22), finding them too immature.

What you didn't specify was the kind of work you want to do, and it matters - even at such early stage. Talking about gear I assume you don't want to be a screenwriter. What is it then? A director? Cinematographer? As an amateur you'd probably be willing to do everything but it's a short term strategy. Decide and follow your decision.

Even if your goal is to become a DP, gear isn't that important. Many DPs don't even own a good camera, renting each time. Sure, starting out you want to practise, but there's no need to do this on an expensive gear. Maybe it'd be wiser to spend the money you've saved on trips to meet other people in your position to collaborate with.

I don't know where you live and what your circumstances are but the fact that you need to keep earning money to support your family IS a problem. Unless you get super lucky or have some great contacts in the industry (which, as you mentioned, you don't) you probably can't simply switch carriers and start earning decent buck. It takes time and work.

This whole thing seems delicate and only you can be the judge. Explore your options, talk to your family about your dreams. If you really can't even lower these allowances, make the best use of your weekends - find some local beginning actors, create a script, do something together.

I'd recommend a film school, but don't know if it possible for you at all. School would instantly give you people to collaborate with and hopefully some deeper insights into the craft.

If you really want it, make it happen - againts all ods. Even a semi-decent first short will taste great then - and hopefully you'll progress further. Dreams we didn't even try to make true will someday give us cancer, watch out for that.

All the best, PM me if you'd like.

August 20, 2018 at 8:16AM, Edited August 20, 8:17AM

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Janek Ku┼║nik
student / director
24

Alberto, you are definitely not too old! I started filming professionally 15 years ago at age 44, doing corporate stuff for more than 10 years. The last 3 years I have been doing TV shows (a lot) and will be DP on my first feature early next year. So it can take time but as one of the other posters said, age is irrelevant. I work with some 'kids' still at college who are great, some in their 40s who are supposedly experienced but are terrible. The guy who assists me most often is 70 (although your wouldn't know it to look at him, and with his energy). Whatever role you have whether starting out as a runner or DP or director, what matters is that you do it 'well' and are useful on-set (anticipate what is needed, be sure you are prepared, be 100% reliable), get on well with folks, and don't have an ego.

August 21, 2018 at 4:13AM

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Thomas Dove
DoP
279

Hi Alberto,

Just wanted to agree wholeheartedly with Thomas above. When I was 28 I was unemployed and looking for work and although I had a degree I had only ever worked in retail stores, cafe's and call centres. I had always done creative stuff in my spare time, playing in bands and recording my own music but never anything for work purposes. I tentatively approached a production company who made educational material to do some freelance assistant editing on FCP7 before desperately taking a job in another call centre. From those first few days I was asked to go back, and back again and again, and then found a couple of other clients in the area and it snowballed from there.

I owned absolutely none of my own equipment for the first 3 years apart from a computer I could practice editing on. I used some in house cameras and learned some of the more solid basics, and eventually bought myself a DSLR and started messing around at home in my spare time to boost my skills. I made music videos for friends and got better at it. Seven years later I've been all over the world shooting promotional material, documentaries and commercial stuff, I just got back from a trip to Mexico yesterday.

I do feel lucky, and it was quite an organic process for me so I have immense gratitude to that first company who took a chance with me and taught me how to be a freelancer out in the world. I suppose if I were to offer a solid piece of advice it would be to stop worrying too much about gear, and never to worry about directors who did their first feature at your age. You are not them, you can only be yourself.

Think small, go for the low hanging fruit and you might find that a seed starts to grow. If you're scared to quit your job, maybe you could keep a strong eye out for freelance gigs that come up on weekends or evenings? See if you can do one or two of those with established people who won't expect you to own any kit. You won't have to spend loads of money in the first place. Again, Thomas' advice above I definitely agree with...anticipate what needs to be done, be nice, get on well with people and keep an open mind. Something I also found beneficial (which is in my nature anyway) is to admit it if I don't know what someone is talking about. There's nothing worse than pretending you know what a C-stand is and going and grabbing them a tripod. Just say with a wry smile and a sense of humour..."can you remind me what a C-stand is??"

August 23, 2018 at 5:15AM

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Liam Martin
DP, editor, part time director
802

Cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, DFF, ASC, BSC, didn't enroll in Film School until he was 30. And didn't shoot his first film until he was 36.
The important thing is to Learn and Keep Learning.

I've met so many clueless people wanting to work in film - They all call themselves "Filmmakers", their favorite movie is Rocky or The Godfather, and they always shoot with terrible zoom lenses because "Why not?" (They have no idea and no interest in finding out).
The Film Industry has so many different branches - The more fringe a branch you choose the more likely you are to succeed (make a living out of it), and it's all a balancing act. I know a woman who worked in the costume department for 15 years and only a few years ago launched a Kickstarter for her first feature film; One she was able to pull off thanks to all the connections she's made during the years and the acclaimed projects she's worked on.

I mean, it's almost difficult to find an occupation that isn't also somehow needed in film as well. If you paint houses for a living; It's probably not that big of a leap going from that to painting sets for movies or TV-shows. You just need to get a foot in. Same goes for people in construction, food (Catering is a big one in film/tv), accounting, scheduling.. List goes on and on

August 23, 2018 at 9:58AM, Edited August 23, 10:03AM

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Tobias N
Director of Photography
1318

Good points. That's why I didn't feel like I could call myself a filmmaker until last year, when I actually directed my first short. It's kind of amazing how many people dub themselves 'filmmakers' because they have gone on holiday and made a montage of it.

Liam Martin

August 23, 2018 at 10:39AM

Hi Alberto, We answered your question on Indie FIlm Weekly this week! Best of luck,
Liz https://nofilmschool.com/2018/08/indie-film-weekly-082318-podcast

August 25, 2018 at 2:27PM

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Liz Nord
Documentary Filmmaker/Multi-platform Producer

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