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So, You Want to be a Filmmaker? Essential Tips for Aspiring Filmmakers

What does it take to succeed in the film, television, and media industry? What does it take to succeed in any field for that matter?  Mark Prasuhn, a veteran in the industry, interviewed Ron Craig, who talked about making it in the industry – the subject of his soon-to-be-released book, Making It: How to Succeed in Film and TV.

As an outsider attending the Media Business Institute’s networking event for young filmmakers, the advice Craig dispensed, sounded eerily familiar to what any professional in any field needed to hear. You could replace film with any other field and the advice would hold up. And that’s why it is important to heed the advice that Ron Craig delivered at the networking event.

Although I own and operate my own business, The Invisible Mentor, a poignant moment for me was when Craig mentioned the common mistakes that job seekers make on their cover letter and resumes. In an industry such as film, television, and media, technical skills matter. Yet job candidates often forget to include that information.

If you are a job seeker, and you write on your cover letter that you are a people person, what does that mean? And does it really matter? A prospective employer does not care. When an organization advertises a position, it has a problem that it needs to solve. The organization is looking for a problem solver. And that’s what you have to show on your resume and cover letter. You have to show and don’t tell in the process. What kinds of projects – both volunteer and paid – have you worked on that show that you get along with other. A good rule is to use the CAR Model: Challenge, Action, and Results.

What Challenge was the organization facing? What Action did you take to solve the challenge? What were the results. When you follow this formula, the information on your resume and conver letter is concrete, so hiring managers can better assess your fit for the advertised role.

Ron Craig repeated several times during the interview that if you want to succeed in the film, television, and film industry, you have to set goals, create a plan to achieve your goals, then implement the plan. Your goals have to be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achieveable, Realistic and Time-based. I have heard it said countless times that a goal without a timeline attached is just a dream.

Having SMART goals are important when you are mapping your career path. Craig mentioned that if you want to become a producer, don’t apply for that role when you just graduate. You do not have the skills and the experience necessary to perform effectively. A better option is to apply to work in the production department. And do not consider certain activities to be beneath you. If you have to make and serve coffee to get access to the role you aspire for, then so be it. If you are serious about becoming a producer, you will do what’s necessary to get there.

To succeed in any industry, requires that you understand how the industry works. Take the time to gain some foundational knowledge to develop a deeper understanding of the industry. The information you learn in school may not be enough. For instance, unions are a part of the film, television, and media industry, so you have to understand how they work. Additionally, you have to know which unions operate in the film industry, and learn about their history.

A question that aspiring filmmakers often ask, “Should I work for free?” Craig was very vocal about this and he doesn’t agree with unpaid internships. The reality is that you have bills that you have to pay, and more than likely you have student loans to repay, so how will working for free help your situation? Of course, Craig made a distinction when it comes to who you are doing the work for. Obviously, if you are working with George Lucas, Martin Scorsese, and others of that same ilk, using their name, would be a calling card for you.

When you graduate from film school, sadly you do not have all the skills needed to succeed in the industry. Media Business Institute is an extension of film school. The organization offers practical courses that teach you the business side of the film, television, and media industry. Additionally, MBI holds workshops that teach you how to craft effective resumes and cover letters that will get you an interview. Sign-up for the next workshop on June 24th, 2017.

Related Books to Buy

Working in the Global Film and Television Industries: Creativity, Systems, Space, Patronage

Dealmaking in the Film & Television Industry, 4th edition: From Negotiations to Final Contracts

This Business of Television

The Economics of the Audiovisual Industry: Financing TV, Film and Web

About Avil Beckford

Avil Beckford, the founder of The Invisible Mentor is an expert interviewer, published author, and writer. I conduct interviews to capture stories about your organization that you can use as a marketing tool, to profile employees on your website, or in a newsletter, or as the basis for a memoir. Additionally, clients hire me to interview their clients to craft success stories. I also created the Strategic Reading Challenge, to enable professionals to develop the skills necessary to thrive in the future in an increasingly global workplace.

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