Question by Xaya Greenleaf: How can I prepare for a possible career in film directing?
I’m 14 years old, I’ve just finished my freshman year, and I’m also taking college classes. I really like making movies (like with Windows Movie Maker) and everyone who watches them really likes them. I’m interested in a career in directing, or really any career in film production. What can I do right now to get a good head start in such a career? Are there any subjects I should really focus on?
Answer by MrSandman
Most of the successful film directors I have met are intelligent individuals with good communication and leadership skills. They are passionate people, with a wide range of interests and very well read in a variety of literature. The important thing is to become a well rounded individual. These qualities are often ignored during film school but they are essential for getting ahead of the competition. A good idea is to take lots of art classes, including acting and photography. Read plenty of books whilst you are at school and think critically about them.
The top film directors also have an extensive knowledge of movies, not just the recent blockbusters, but all the major releases that have come out in the last 70 years, including the foreign ones. Even the latest bunch of directors to emerge in Hollywood still find inspiration from the majestic works of directors like Akira Kurosawa or Ingmar Bergman.
Many film makers attend ivy league schools, where they meet other like minded individuals, which starts them off on the important process of networking with potential colleagues. They can help you climb the ladder of success. e.g Before either of them became famous, Oliver Stone shared a room with Tommy Lee Jones during his time at Yale University; Francis Ford Coppola was George Lucas’s mentor at film school; Christopher Reeve and Robin Williams were best friends at university and shared a flat together. So I cannot overestimate the important of networking. You just never know who is going to become the next big thing in Hollywood so be nice and friendly to everybody. Spielberg was considered a nerd at school, relatively unpopular with his class mates but he is now making $ 400,000 dollars a day, has his own successful film studio and is married to a beautiful actress. I bet people are kicking themselves for not making friends with him when they had the chance.
Most important of all get plenty of life experience – travel to exotic places, meet interesting people, open your mind to new experiences, learn everything you can about technical subjects such as cinematography, special effects. You are very lucky because you are growing up in an age where computers have gotten so powerful that you can now recreate many of the special effects seen in the movies using programs like Aftershock. Do well at school and get into an Ivy league college.
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