View Full Version : Will I be successful if...
06-27-2004, 11:11 AM
I've been writing specifically for screen for four years now and have so far had no success (signed with an agent a couple years ago, but let it go after a few months)... I didn't really stick with it as I was more into directing.
I now have 2 short films under my belt, an extreme sports dvd (that's on sale in shops in the UK and on the internet worldwide), 2 feature scripts and shortly a follow up to the first extreme sports dvd (currently in production). I'm totally interested in feature directing... Now, will I have success if I high tale it to LA with my arsenal and distribute my work? I've already had two very well known agencies (equal credibility of CAA, UTA etc.) ask for both my short films, I've been a bit slow on submitting because I'm still trying to get them p-e-r-f-e-c-t (colour correction, spot on editing, reshooting a few shots etc.). My question is this:
Will I get work as a director based on these two short films alone? Assuming they are very high quality (Two of my university lecturers were very impressed with them).
I know, beyond all doubt that this is what I'm aiming for as a living, just need to know if this is a good approach? I should enter into competitions to get exposure, but I just want to go straight for the people that matter!
Thanks for any advice you guys can give. I AM still writing so I haven't given up there... My goal is actually to be a writer/director.
06-27-2004, 03:19 PM
I've already had two very well known agencies (equal credibility of CAA, UTA
which means either ICM, WMA, Endeavor? Hard to keep secrets around here if you give us so many clues.
I'm not a working/writer director but I'll give you my two cents. It's unlikely that a short or two will get you studio work, but it's unlikely that anyone will get the opportunity to direct features anyway so who's to say what the best way to reach your goals might be.
Here are several case studies for your consideration.
Bryan Singer made a short film, The Lions Den, while in graduate school at USC. He organized an event, found two other shorts to screen with his, got Sam Raimi to host it, and from that got what was basically a half-million dollar grant from a Japanese entity to make PUBLIC ACCESS. It won the audience award at Sundance and from there, with THE USUAL SUSPECTS script in his hands (which was a hell of a read) - a German company put up about five million to make the next movie. (I think they might have dropped out and then someone else stepped in, but you get the picture) At that point he got offers to direct studio movies.
Wes Anderson and his troupe of Owens made a short called Bottle Rocket (i've never seen it and would really love to) that I believe was very well received at Sundance. James L. Brooks apparently thought enough of it to mentor them through the making of the feature BOTTLE ROCKET at Columbia, a rare studio investment of only five million (usually movies like that are too small for them to even bother with, but he's James L. Brooks). Just like that he was in.
David Fincher directed videos for Propaganda and would get four out five nominations at the Music Video awards, demonstrating that he was head and shoulders above the rest. Eventually he was offered Alien 3.
If I've gotten my facts wrong anywhere above please forgive me, my memory isn't what it used to be, and remember I'm only trying to illustrate a point - even if i'm not sure what it is. Maybe it's that the first two guys succeeded at Sundance - the most high profile American festival, but that's a common factor, not the underlying cause. Maybe it's that they succeeded on a smaller platform before they were able to grab the brass ring.
So dude, send your stuff to those agents, see what they say, send your films into festivals, see if you get in, and if you want to be a writer/director. write a script and find someone who's going to give you the money to do it. good luck
06-27-2004, 04:09 PM
This is sorta like asking, "If I sit in a chair, will my feet touch the ground?"
How high is the chair? How long are your legs? What color is the sky? What was your childhood pet's name?
You want to know if you're going to be successful getting work in Hollywood. From what you've said here, there's no way to even guess.
Well, that's not totally true. I can make some guesses -- remembering that it's called guessing because it's based on not much at all.
Guess #1 -- Since most people don't have what it takes to be a successful writer-director, and since I know nothing about you, I will assume that you are not an exception to the vast majority and guess that you will not find work.
Guess #2 -- Since you have two major agencies interested in seeing your work, you will have two major agencies look at your work as soon as you are ready to show it to them. As long as your efforts to make the work "perfect" don't outlast the tenure -- or attention span -- of the agents who are interested in your work.
Generally, getting director work is one of the toughest things to do in the film business. Some short films and an extreme sports piece are probably not enough to get major studio or television work.
If you have a good indie movie under your belt, even if it's low-budget, you'd have a better shot.
Try to enter and win Project Greenlight directing. I'm not kidding. To win a Sundance lab would be helpful too.
06-28-2004, 01:42 PM
This is just my opinion. Again, there are just too many variables out there to give you an exact answer. Short is a very different medium. If one writes a good short, it doesn't mean he/she can write a good feature (and the other way around). Same goes for directing shorts.
When we were looking for a director for our feature (studio funded) we rejected samples that were shorts but did consider MOWs... But that's just us...
06-28-2004, 06:44 PM
which means either ICM, WMA, Endeavor? Hard to keep secrets around here if you give us so many clues.
Thanks for the advice and information people... I guess I'm just like every other wannabe director out there; I see the same crap churned out every other day from Hollywood... There's no variation to story and directing style, with the odd exception of 'Lost In Translation' (by the far the best film I've seen for many years... Well, since '99 with 'The Insider'), a film like this comes out every 5 or so years.
I have the belief that I can make a difference. I mean, I'm not expecting to climb to the top straight off the back of two shorts, two scripts and a dvd... I'd just like to get some work re-writing, assistant directing/2nd unit directing etc etc. I would never have expected to jump straight to a feature directing position straight off the mark. I know my life is heading for Hollywood, it's just a case of getting off my butt and buying the tickets!
I am reluctant to go to film school as I've heard bad things from British directors saying "going to film school will only teach you to make films that other people want you to make"... I think that's pretty good advice, as I believe he's now in LA making films... I can't for the life of me remember his name though... Oops.
Well, I'll send my shorts to the agents and pray (oh I'll pray) that they love them... They'll probably just tell me to enter them into a festival though.
06-29-2004, 03:58 PM
Hollywood is about money. If they smell money, they'll call you. Pure and simple. I believe.
I have no real interest in shorts. Some are fun to watch, but I don't have any plans to make one. There's simply no/very little money in them.
I wanted to make a feature, so I did. And I learned an incredible amount along the way. Will Hollywood be calling me after it comes out? Who's to say, but if I sell enough dvds of it, I can make another movie.
If you can scape up some money, you can make a feature length movie without Hollywood. And if that's what you want to do with your life, go for it.
07-01-2004, 10:22 AM
how many times must one be a AD or 2nd AD before they can become the Director?
07-01-2004, 08:07 PM
Being and Assistant Director has nothing to do with being a Director. it's a different ladder. from bottom to top you're looking at
2nd 2nd AD
Those are the DGA positions that studios are required to fill on DGA signatory movies. Climbing that ladder can eventually get into producing Like Barry Osborne (LOR) or Jon Landau (Titanic)
Getting a shot at Directing has nothing to do with these production positions. -
FYI - there are a lot of other people who work on the production end: PA's, Associate Producers, Production Supervisors - but these are not DGA positions though many of their responsibilities overlap the positions listed above.
07-02-2004, 07:27 AM
I am reluctant to go to film school as I've heard bad things from British directors saying "going to film school will only teach you to make films that other people want you to make"... I think that's pretty good advice....
I don't think that advice is sound at all. Film school will teach you the basics, technical stuff, the rudiments of story structure, etc. Whether you turn into a cookie-cutter director with no distinguishing style or world view has more to do with who you are as a person/artist regardless if you go to film school or not. Maybe the best thing about film school is that it actually allows you to make films, for many who attend, it'll be the only films they ever have any meaningful creative involvement in.
Look at the alumni of NYU Film School and the National Film and Television School in the UK.
You still think film school turns out bad directors?
Anyway, I take issue with your point about there being so many bad directors in Hollywood. I think it's a little unfair. To get a directing gig you must have a profound knowledge of film-making and somewhat of a track record, which indicates that these people are fairly competent at what they do. I think there are many bland directors. Ones who take no risks and who operate within a very narrow field of vision. Who may know the mechanics of the film-making process, but lack the real skills of storytelling from a writer's perspective. Perhaps they come from a background of music videos or commercials. Sure, they have a visual sense of what the film should look like and how to put together an action sequence, but that is entirely separate from building the emotional story. Hence we increasingly see a lot of flash on the screen with minimal emotional resonance. But more than ever, it must be seen that there is less room for artistry amongst HW directors anyway. New directors have less script control, work under the 'aegis' of a star, or some other more powerful entity, and the studio demands a certain kind of product, so, self-expression is limited. And that's the reason why a lot of HW product looks uniformly similar. Bland. "Bad."
But let's not confuse directors for hire with Filmmakers. Many of who have success in the HW system.
Which one do you want to be?
My advice: As a new director you are better off writing and directing your own indie feature if you want a shot at a serious HW directing gig. Why? Because that's what every Joe Schmo with access to a camera is doing. With dv you can make it with profit participation, deferred salaries, and a couple of credit cards. What's stopping you?
Scorsese went to NYU Film School. He's a filmmaker.
07-03-2004, 07:33 AM
To get a directing gig you must have a profound knowledge of film-making and somewhat of a track record, which indicates that these people are fairly competent at what they do.
I totally agree with you here, all HW directors do know how to make a film, 100%... They just don't know how to make a film with layered emotional content... Sorry, that's a bit of a sweeping comment, I should have said, a lot of them don't know how to make a film with layered emotional content.
I see formulaic, "star system" films come out every week! One of my film studies lecturers told me that Hollywood will probably collapse on itself in a few decades. What she was saying is that the same stuff is coming out week after week after week and a couple years down the line, that same movie is recycled with new "up and coming actors" to fill the void and thus, at some point, it will run out of steam! I want to make a difference, I want to be the next Mann, Scorcese or Coppola etc. I want to make films that actually mean something more than the clothes or hair products the cast are wearing!
I'd love to make a feature film, I really would, but none of my friends are interested, they even reluctantly help me out with short films... I can't stand it! So my approach to the Hollywood system is through short films, but hopefully at some point someone will give me a feature gig, give me the money to do it and give me the cast who can pull it off. That's how I want to make my entrance!
So, what are the chances? I mean, armed with two short films and the determination to make feature films, will I get attention? I know I sound like someone who might think "I've got my short films, now it's off to Hollywood to make millions of bucks!", but I'm not, I just want to know if people will give me the opportunity to shine based upon what I've got to show.
As for the technicalities of film making (cameras, lighting, sound, film stock, developing, mastering, cinematography etc) that one can learn in a film school... I've pretty much learnt over the past 3 years I've been working on films. I shoot on 16mm film as well as dv.
07-03-2004, 02:40 PM
Are your two short films narrative? I don't know how much credit you will get for an "extreme sports" DVD, which I assume are more like music videos than narrative films. If you show that, people may assume you want to go into music video directing (which has become a route into feature film directing for some directors recetnly, but that doesn't sound like what you want to do.)
Have you entered your short film in festivals? They're an excellent route for getting exposure.
So, basically, go win Sundance and you've got a career! It worked for the "Napoleon Dynamite" guy.
"I want to make films that actually mean something more than the clothes or hair products the cast are wearing!...
... So my approach to the Hollywood system is through short films, but hopefully at some point someone will give me a feature gig, give me the money to do it and give me the cast who can pull it off. That's how I want to make my entrance!"
The deal is that if even somebody believes in you enough to hire you as a director, most likely you'll be given the same formulaic script to shoot and the producer will be in the full control. And pray the movie makes some money so you can get another gig. :D
07-04-2004, 08:31 PM
Even though an 'attitude' is probably required, I don't think you should approach Hollywood with the idea that they suck and you are going to show them how it's done.
Even if that's not the attitude you meant to communicate, that's how it came across to me. And it's a classic mistake.
Instead of ranting on the bad movies 'they' make, just think about the good ones. And then wonder how you could ever get to that level. That would put you in a better frame of mind for learning (and approaching people).
07-07-2004, 09:29 AM
You might want to get into one of the reputable stables for commercial directors (propaganda, HSI) - you'll make good money while gaining experience doing something pretty close to your goals. You'll build money and connections that could finance your own first project (most commercials houses have feature film arms - I know HSI does and Propaganda used to).
07-10-2004, 06:03 PM
Oops, yeah, sorry... I didn't mean to come across as the same old guy saying "Hollywood is @#%$, I want to make it better", I mean, I see so many bad films go through the cinemas, I'd just like to make something of my own and make it good... Much like NoozYooz said
"Instead of ranting on the bad movies 'they' make, just think about the good ones. And then wonder how you could ever get to that level."
That's kinda what I was trying to get across. Yeah, I was told by one of the agencies I'm submitting to that using my dvd as part of my showcase might give people the impression that I want to go into music videos... That's an avenue I could explore at the moment, but not what I'm ultimately into. So I guess I'll leave that out. I just felt that if people knew that I'd released it and sought out my own distribution from my own pocket that it would make people understand that I'm serious etc.
I'm trying to sort out a few more shorts over the summer to add to my reel. I'll also enter into a lot of festivals. I've got a documentary idea that I want to shoot; it's just a "day in the life" of my dad. He has Parkinsons and suffers heavily from it, so I wanted to make something that informs the audience.
07-10-2004, 09:19 PM
"make people understand that I'm serious."
But the thing is, lots of would-be writers and directors are serious... but a lot of them don't have any talent, craft, etc. When someone is looking for a director, they assume you're serious. They're not interested in whether you're going to give up and do something else next year, they're interested in how you're going to do their film if you shoot it now.
Might you find some writers starting out -- perhaps right out of film school, who have written feature scripts and are looking for directors? Not studio films, but something feature length that could make the festivals?
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