Being an artist is a strange thing. There are many who simply don't have the same mind and thinking, which is awesome! I have chosen a life where I love being creative, especially when it comes to film making. This life in film making, I know to many seems too risky, unreachable. How can someone pursue such a career in a small town like St George, which, trust me, I know, does not have a market or industry whatsoever when it comes to making films. Along with this pursuit comes many different tastes and people, which is what makes this industry so peculiar and satisfying. When it comes to making a movie, especially a feature film, it is a lot like building a house. The market in St George for building homes is booming, there are many contractors, brokers and real estate agents. Simply put, a home is built and then put into the market for someone to buy. A film, now days, is produced and put into the market for someone to buy or your do your own groundwork of marketing your feature to theater chains which then fulfills a requirement for Redbox, Netflix, Hulu or Amazon to pick it up. Great movies are made when a collaborative spirit ensues through the project and people are working on something because their passions are aligning and people love just being creative. Honestly, those are the types of people I would rather work with over when someone immediately throws the "how much does it pay"card, I question if they are really passionate about what they want to do or if they are just worried about their paycheck to paycheck status. I would rather work with someone who is willing to give their time and talents to a project rather than their time in order for a monetary gain. Their desire and motivation is only for money rather than the satisfaction of seeing the project made and completed.
It is rare but possible for an artist to actually make a living with what they are doing. But the main investment in such projects is not money but time. Time is much more valuable than money. There are so many instances when you want to do a project and the first thing people ask before they want to help is, "How much does it pay?" As much as it would be nice to get paid on everything you do, this statement is so limiting that many will forgo a chance to develop, learn and progress because they are only thinking about money. The film industry as I stated before is very peculiar. Getting into an industry that is wanting to please the masses. Well, you just never know what is going to be big and widely accepted by the masses. There is no formula to it. There is only technicalities. You can learn technically how to make a film but you really never know how it is going to be accepted or rejected. Look at the many movies that have been made with 20+ million dollars only to see them flop at the box office. Because this is has happened more than once, it does not matter how much money you put into a project, so why is it such a problem if you were to work on a feature film only based on the time you were able to give to that project? What is there to lose?
There is such a rampant entitlement now days when it comes to money. I have seen it with Film Schools. I have seen many go through film schools with the only desire to make money at doing what they "love" to do. Although you can learn technicalities of making a film, why is there no education on how to distribute your work, making deals, learning about the business side of the show? There seems to be this rule book now days that all you have to do is follow it and success will just be entitled to you. But that is not how life goes, as far as I know it to be. If you want to be a doctor, you go to Medical School, if you want to be a Lawyer you go to Law School, if you want to be a film maker you go to film school.... Wait, I thought you just took a jab at film schools? When I talk about film school I admire a quote by Quentin Tarantino "When people ask me if I went to film school, I say, I went to films." What better way to learn to make movies than actually studying the multiply library already available to you? Tuition free? I believe if you want to make films, the best thing you can start with watching is "The Story of Film: An Odyssey" it is a documentary that has 15, 1 hour chapters spanning from early silent films to 2010's film making. This is such an immersed look at film making that it gives many great references to learn and be inspired, to help tell those stories that exist within you.
Peter Jackson spent over a year working on his first feature film, even though he was able to acquire a very low low budget. Peter Jackson cemented his passion by simply producing what he loves. I bet you anything that making the Lord of the Rings was an awesome idea of his that he would love to do, but when he was making his first feature, I bet he couldn't fathom at the time where his groundwork and efforts would take him to where he is today. So the story goes with countless other directors working in the industry today. Yes, there are times where a project will have a budget to afford to pay for your time. There are also many other times where not even the director is getting paid, simply because they are working based off their drive and passion, so if a director is not getting paid for a project, why in the hell should you? So, before you ask "the" question regarding a project, do some research on the project, the director. I think a good rule of thumb is, if the director is getting paid, then you most definitely should. If the director is not getting paid, then look at the project as maybe something a little bit more than just brushing it off as something petty and low. A project with little or no budget absolutely has the chance of going a long way. Value your time more than money.
I know some out there might think or say. But, Dan... you haven't made a feature film or built a house so how would you know? Well, I ain't dead yet. :)
"Story of Film : An Odyssey" Trailer