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View Full Version : Office job vs. Movie thing - need advice!


MPrince
08-12-2006, 02:25 PM
:confused:

I feel that I must be honest here.

I came across this forum because it gave me a valuable insight into screenwriting and I appreciate the responses to my threads. But, here's the reality:

My situation is that I'm in my early-twenties, living in the UK, and being pretty "disappointed" (could use stronger words!), with big-budget American studio stuff that clogs up our multiplexes, I thought 'well, there's a lot of stories about the UK that could and need to be told. How do I make them?'

I came here and everyone advised me to work on scripts, well I worked on three, I bought several film books, wrote down everone film idea I have and I'm none the wiser.

What I want to say, is that I started I a new office job in March 06. Now, I live at home, and I've got to pay my way as well as afford 'nice things' for myself. But at one point in my twenties I'd like to pursue the film thing full time.

I have mentioned somewhere round that I would like to become a Producer, but it was explained that I'd need bucketloads of money and/or access to stars and directors. So no, I don't have these, back to square 1.

My options are:

a) Keep working, write out loglines, synopsis & treatments for FIVE different ideas I have and stay in the job for at least another 18 months (or my parents would kill me)?

b) Quit the job and try to become a runner/production (office?) assistant?

c) Sign up with a filmmaking course full-time and college or university? (they are expensive)

I really would like to work in film and TV, because it would help towards my goal of setting up a Production company, but am I being misguided?

All responses are welcome, especially from UK members.

jimjimgrande
08-12-2006, 04:12 PM
I vote you keep the office job while you look for work as a PA in film or television in the UK. Land the gig, work hard, and see what new opportunities come from there.

odriftwood
08-12-2006, 04:16 PM
I vote you keep the office job while you look for work as a PA in film or television in the UK. Land the gig, work hard, and see what new opportunities come from there.

Bingo. You want in the game, get in the game.

captain bligh
08-12-2006, 04:35 PM
I have mentioned somewhere round that I would like to become a Producer, but it was explained that I'd need bucketloads of money and/or access to stars and directors.

The other way to become a producer is to actually produce something. Get a script, yours or someone else's, convince someone to invest money to make it into a movie (or have some money yourself), cast it, hire a director.

A good script and motivation can get you money and money and a good script will get you access to directors and actors.

Produce a short film to see what's involved, spend a couple hundred bucks of your own money to do it. Pay crew in sandwiches and credit. I've written, directed and produced short films just for the experience. It's well worth it. It's a film course in and of itself.

You know, Scott Mosier produced CLERKS, which cost him and Kevin Smith $23,000 between them. He's produced sixteen movies since.

You can keep your job and still work to do any and all of the above. Shoot a short on a Saturday. Option a script for cheap. Throw an investor's party on a weekend. Have a business plan, be professional, be determined, invite people with money. Convince them to invest.

You have more options than you seem to realize.

elephant1978
08-12-2006, 05:21 PM
Well, I wouldn't write anymore. Seems like the passion you have for the business is in the producing end. Any script you write will probably just be half-assed without the heart behind it.

To be honest, the path to becoming a producer is quite simple. Just very long and hard. You get a job at the bottom of the ladder in a production company, work your ass off, make no money for the first few years, make personal sacrifices to support yourself while you do this, and eventually you will get promoted and move up in or find a better job at another company. The reason people think it doesn't work is because they're not willing to put the effort into it, so they get nothing out. They also don't stick it out long enough. Expect to be at the bottom for years. But eventually it works...you become somebody's assistant...then move up to development...or story editor...or associate producer...all the while making the contacts and getting the experience you need.

I would do that. Especially in the UK where you have access to production companies and while you can still live off your parents.

Ele...

yvonnjanae
08-12-2006, 11:54 PM
Seems like you have been given some excellent advice. I wish Done Deal had been around when I was in my early 20s.

I just want to add this: Don't let your parents or anyone else persuade you that it is more important to have a steady job than to pursue your dream. You are still young enough to start over many, many times.

Make sure you never get to a point where you look back and think: "I didn't really want to do that. I wish I had gone with my gut feeling."

elephant1978
08-13-2006, 11:57 AM
Make sure you never get to a point where you look back and think: "I didn't really want to do that. I wish I had gone with my gut feeling."

No kiddin. My parents wanted me to be a lawyer. And we already got a jkk on this board. :eek:

Ele...

qualitycontrol
08-13-2006, 10:43 PM
I have to say, guys. I mean there's SOME connections you can make off of being a PA, you might get a read here and there, but it isn't that common. I've worked as a PA for five years and I'm sorry but I don't recommend it. Although, it is good to do a couple times to know more about the business.

I vote any office over any production. It is hell.

elephant1978
08-13-2006, 11:00 PM
I have to say, guys. I mean there's SOME connections you can make off of being a PA, you might get a read here and there, but it isn't that common. I've worked as a PA for five years and I'm sorry but I don't recommend it. Although, it is good to do a couple times to know more about the business.

I vote any office over any production. It is hell.

I wouldn't necessarily recommend being a PA either. But being an assistant to a producer or to anybody...yes. It helps. And it puts you in the pecking order. For some reason, PA jobs don't seem to have that kind of result.

Ele...

Totiwos
08-13-2006, 11:15 PM
Doing something part time in the industry while holding an outside job would be a great situation if you can swing it. You may like the idea of producing but get into it and find out that you actually hate film work. Meanwhile, you'd still have the office job as an option. You never know until you try. Good luck!

Hairy Lime
08-14-2006, 12:05 AM
I work a full time job and manage to produce, write, and direct in my spare time. But I don't have much of a social ife unless networking with filmmakers and actors counts. Then I'm prolific.

Scoretzoff
08-14-2006, 12:39 AM
I also have a full time job + another one at home: a family J. I try to allocate time specifically to script writing. Say, I set a goal to write a couple of pages a day after work.
Do you all think that we, the ones with full-time jobs, are at a disadvantage since we canít spend the same time the professional screenplay writers do? But then again, who is a professional script writer?

scrub 9x
08-14-2006, 12:28 PM
Working as a PA is crap. Unless you want to work your ass off doing mind-numbing work for long hours and little pay, for a couple of years. The only place to go from there is then to Assistant Production Coordinator (another year or years +), then Production Coordinator (at least a couple more years), then Production Supervisor (tack on many more years), and then just maybe you can make the leap and become a producer.

A better way (imho) would be to get work as either a producer's assistant (either in the office, or on set) and learn from them. Getting a mentor would be ideal, but if you are that interested you will be able to pick up things on your own. This way you learn the ropes, and make connections.

A second way would be work for an agent. Same thing, you would learn some in's and out's of the business and make connections at the same time. These connections would be on both sides--filmmakers/writers/directors as well as producers, studio contacts and financiers.

My best advice would be to be patient once you get either of these jobs. Don't go in thinking you will work for 1 year and then making your own movies. If you are smart and dedicated, you can make these gigs pay off for you down the road.


(Edit to add) : By embarking on this path you are taking a leap of faith, and part of that usually entails not making much money for quite a while. If you want this badly enough, then you will suck it up and make it work. If this doesn't appeal to you as you strive towards your goal, it probably wasn't meant to be.

scrub 9x
08-14-2006, 03:02 PM
A lot of people who produce movies already have made their money in the film industry or elsewhere before they produced anything.

:confused: I'm not too sure what this means. Are you telling the poster to work in another industry first, make a lot of money, and then become a movie producer?

I think that goes back to what most people look for in a novice producer--money and/or contacts. Since he obviously doesn't have the money or experience yet, but still professes an interest in working in the film industry, then contacts would be the way to go.

So then the question becomes, how do you make legitimate contacts that will help you as you move forward in your career.

I think most posters were saying not to toil in a job that won't pay off, but to choose wisely and pick something where the ends justify the means.

Hairy Lime
08-14-2006, 09:10 PM
JohnDoe your advice is nonsensical.

warrenP
08-14-2006, 09:25 PM
...

I have mentioned somewhere round that I would like to become a Producer, but it was explained that I'd need bucketloads of money and/or access to stars and directors. So no, I don't have these, back to square 1.

My options are:

...

Next option: Get the money or the contacts. At the end of the day, all advice will fall into one of these two, or a blend. You don't have the money? Go find someone who does, and make him believe that you can give a good return on investment. If you're not ready to do that, then use your ability to do so as a measuring stick of your progress.

warrenP
08-14-2006, 09:26 PM
I work a full time job and manage to produce, write, and direct in my spare time. But I don't have much of a social ife unless networking with filmmakers and actors counts. Then I'm prolific.

You are also very prolific at message board posting! :)

elephant1978
08-15-2006, 12:04 AM
Doing anything in this business is about risk and sacrifice. But in deciding to enter this business, the aspiring producer has two options, one riskier than the other:

1. Gain experience and direction by assisting professionals for awhile. Downside is no pay, but it's a clear path and there's no risk of you blowing some investor douchebag's life savings on a movie that you failed to produce correctly.

2. Find investors and produce your own film. This is a lot of work. Even harder without experience or connections. Other people's money (not studios or other large financiers who understand the risks) is in your hands. Now if your film hits it big, you're set. But many, many indie films are made that end up going nowhere -- and that's if your lucky enough to get it completed. Definitely the riskier choice.

So, I think the first choice is the smarter one. And when you do that for a while it makes exploring that second option easier. But the point is, if you're not willing to put in the sacrifice you shouldn't be pursuing this career.

Ele...

Biohazard
08-15-2006, 01:02 AM
I have a full-time job where I also work a lot of overtime. I also have a part-time job. So far this year, I have written two complete screenplays (ok, so I started one in December), outlined a third almost entirely, written a few shorts, read over a dozen screenplays and three or four books, and I watch about 5-10 movies a week.

Luckily my full-time job is totally non-thinking, and that's where I do most of my thinking. I don't think there is such a thing as not having enough time to write. Just do 5 pages a day. Hell, even one page a day means 3 scripts a year (or 3 drafts of one script).

So if you want to write, you can still keep your job so you have gas and electricity in your house and a car and all that. If you want to produce, you can work on films in your spare time. I know someone who does this, but also works on theater pieces, too...while working two (sometimes three) jobs and writing.

rhett_butler
08-15-2006, 04:25 PM
I have to say, guys. I mean there's SOME connections you can make off of being a PA, you might get a read here and there, but it isn't that common. I've worked as a PA for five years and I'm sorry but I don't recommend it. Although, it is good to do a couple times to know more about the business.

I vote any office over any production. It is hell.

Exactly. Working in the office at least allows you SOME time to write before or after work.

If you work 12 hours/day at a prodco or agency, when will you write? That's why you never hear of writers doing that...

scrub 9x
08-15-2006, 05:58 PM
I think MPrince is more interested in producing than in writing.

elephant1978
08-15-2006, 07:58 PM
Exactly. Working in the office at least allows you SOME time to write before or after work.

If you work 12 hours/day at a prodco or agency, when will you write? That's why you never hear of writers doing that...

I have a pretty busy job as an associate producer in entertainment marketing and I still find the time to write. I pretty much burn every minute of the weekend. You can do it, but it's a sacrifice. I haven't had a sun tan in 5 years.

Ele...

Hairy Lime
08-16-2006, 11:25 AM
The OP is also in his 20s and living at home. He's in a perfect position to get some film-related experience no matter what the pay.

elephant1978
08-16-2006, 11:34 AM
So you have rent that is $1000/month. Well, part of this is sucking it up and paying $400/month by living with 2 psycho roommates off Hollywood Blvd. Everything I said on this thread lies in that -- you need to be willing to sacrifice and sacrifice a lot for this. It usually takes that much dedication. And why shouldn't it? I wouldn't want to see a movie made by somebody who wasn't so passionate that he'd sacrifice these things to get it made.

Ele...

Hamboogul
08-16-2006, 11:34 AM
Later this week, I'm going to PA for free! Just to get the experience. And I'm going to abuse that privilege by having Hairy Lime visit the set, hang with the actors, and eat from the craft services table.

Wee!

Hairy Lime
08-16-2006, 11:36 AM
Fixed it for you, ham. Later next week, I'm going to PA for free! Just to get the experience. And I'm going to abuse that privilege by having Hairy Lime visit the set to eat from the craft services table and bang the actresses.

Hamboogul
08-16-2006, 11:38 AM
Yeah, that sounds about right.

scrub 9x
08-16-2006, 12:01 PM
/hushed voice off-camera:

"What Hairy Lime doesn't know is that we've replaced all the actresses on set with midget transvestites."