With the proliferation of television and cable stations and our nations addiction to ‘all things visual’ especially movies, more and more students are choosing to attend one of the nations Film and Television schools in order to enter the world of entertainment and broadcasting. As someone who has attended both the NYU and USC film/television programs, I thought I should outline how to make the most of a structured film program to increase your chances of success in the industry after graduation.
Explore Then Specialize
One of the great things about film school is that it gives you the chance to explore different areas of film and television production. During the first year or two I always advise students to try the unfamiliar and take risks with different roles, styles and techniques. Perhaps you thought before enrolling you wanted to be a director but after you do the lighting for a film you realize you love cinematography. Or perhaps you never worked with sound before and find yourself spending hours and hours creating amazing soundscapes for something you or a friend shot. One thing to be sure you delve into is screenwriting. While a discipline in itself that is separate from production, being familiar with story and screenplay and tv structure is very important for anyone working in the film or television business.
It is through experimenting that you can see where your natural strengths and weaknesses lie. Remember, although many people are in film school have dreamed all their lives of being a great Director or Producer, the vast majority of time you must work your way up through the industry by working in a specific area. Eventually, through various ways you can make the leap to Directing or Producing your own projects. The ways to go about making that leap is complex enough for many articles so we won’t go into that here, but it is a good idea to have an idea of what kind of position you want after you graduate and hone your skills in school for that specific role while you are still a student.
The Film and Television industries are very social industries. The vast majority of people in ‘the business’ work with many of the same people over and over again and it is all based on friendships and close working relationships. Film school is your first opportunity to create a starting network that you will then leverage when out of school to make the leap into the legitimate industry. Make sure to be involved in as many clubs and go to as many functions as you can. Make your goal to meet every person in your class, as well as the classes above and below you. The larger your network of potential contacts and friends then the greater your source will be to find out about jobs in the industry. Also, it is a good idea to work on as many fellow student films as possible so you can both meet the other students as well is see who the most talented at specific roles are. This is especially useful if you plan to direct a thesis or do a production after graduation and want to hire friends that are the best at what they do for your production.
Internships can be an incredible resource for the aspiring film and television careerist. Through internships you can not only get great experience in an area you are interested in, but you can also create great relationships that often lead to your first job out of school. Also, for those thinking of moving to NY or LA that go to school outside of those areas, an internship with a recognized company is a great thing to have on your resume to stand out from the crowd and land your first gig. The more specialized your interest and the more specific you can make your internship to ‘shape’ your resume the better.
Depending on the Film and Television program you are in, you might have the opportunity to do either a Thesis or Final project. Often this involves Directing, Writing and sometimes Producing your own project along with other students as part of your ‘crew’. This project can be used for several purposes depending on how well done it is and what format and length it is in. Some use it as a chance to enter short or if long enough, feature film festivals. Still others use it as a way of showing off the particular talents that they are good at. This could be a short film that has very exquisite and complicated lighting scenarios or camera work for those trying to get into cinematography or camera operation. Or it can be a very well directed or art directed film for those careers. Just as you kept the ‘big picture’ in mind of what your intention is after graduation, the ‘Final Project’ can be a key part in your ‘portfolio’ to obtain work or a job after graduation. For more great information about film schools please visit www.USCfilmschool.com
Trailer – www.youtube.com Behind the Scenes – www.youtube.com “Crime doesn’t take a vacation. But we do.” -Created, directed, edited, and visual effects by Michael Ashton for 0. Lazy Teenage Superheroes follows Ty as he tries to get his new “super” friends, Mitch, Cal, and Rick, to put down the video games, get off the couch, and use their powers to help save the world, instead of themselves. www.LazyTeenageSuperheroes.com Cast Joseph Stricker – Ty Ellis Martin – Mitch Sean Patrick McGowan – Rick Federico Rodriguez – Cal Rafael Cebrian – Solario Julian Cihi – Laser Wing/Blood Belt Anne Costner – Mel Crew Michael Ashton – Director, Producer, Writer, VFX – www.ashtonmike.com Sean Conaty- Director of Photography – http Dave Margolius – Prod. Coordinator Danny Cannizarro – VFX – www.dannycannizzaro.net Tom Ashton – Boom Operator Adam Royster – Writer Dan Teicher – Music – http Kyle Long – Prod. Assist. James Myers – Post Consultant