by Soroush Afyouni
I’m asked this question often. The most important is to always keep your shingle hanging out, saying “I am a freelance director.” Never say, “Ah, I gave that up,” even if you have other jobs, never tear up your business card.
Keep in contact with active filmmakers from college and work on their films. It’s a business of showing up. Show up to shoots, in any capacity. Show up enough, do a good job, be an ambassador of good will and you have a good chance of being invited to work on other films.
Be courteous and respectful to everyone. The extra or stunt man of today’s shoot could be the producer of tomorrow’s shoot. This happened to me. One of the swords women from my film, Weapons of Death, hired me to do a travelogue in Phuket, Thailand. Actress Barbara Leigh, who I hired for a role in my audio book Rock Star Rising, hired me to direct her audio-book The King, McQueen and the Love Machine.
My life changed when I realized that I was not only in the Feature Film Business, but also in the Communication Business. Not unlike the United States train companies from the 40′s and 50′s that thought they were only in the train business and didn’t invest in trucks or airplanes – a lost opportunity.
Be a soundman, an extra, an actor, a novelist, a speaker or a film teacher. I’d pass on being a stuntman, too dangerous. Just don’t get stuck in a dead end job. Think of those positions as freelance. Yes, you will direct, but be in the Communication Business.
Start to develop your own projects that you feel passionate about. You never know when someone with money will ask you if you have a project. Instantly give them a script with a budget, location plan and schedule. Continue reading books written by directors and watching your favorite films on DVD in addition to their bonus programs and commentary tracks. This is an incredible teaching device that will help program your subconscious to keep you on the right track.
If you are passionately in it for the long run, join and actively maintain social web sites such as quarterlife.com for artists. They have a great artist ‘photo show’ application for your main page where you can display your writing, art photos and films. As of this writing, there are about 4,000 young artists showing their art in addition to connecting and sharing information. Start networking with them, as the ones that continue, will be coming out strong.
Another web site is LinkedIn.com. That site is 100% business with many clubs for scriptwriters, directors and movie financing. Use the drop down window to search for groups such as movies, financing and screenplay. It’s a free site, no need to upgrade. All the Fortune 500 companies and Hollywood Studios are there. You don’t post photos of your art, just one photo of yourself, but you connect to people and have your page of past work. It’s not MySpace or Facebook, so put your business hat on when you go there.
To repeat, work on everyone’s film. Yes, some will not appreciate your help, some will not pay you what they promised, but others will. You must have some kind of short film or video to show when you get an opportunity. I’ve directed six feature films, completed post-production on many more and I’m ready for more work. That’s why I produced Rock Star Rising, an audio-book with my favorite actors that I always dreamed of working with. Maybe a producer, who is also a fan of those actors, will see it and ask for a script which I have waiting. Additionally, I’m having my agent submit it to producers.
Beware, age 26. That’s when all my movie friends gave up, four years after college. Their wives, girlfriends or parents said, “Well, you gave it a shot, now you have to get a real job.” Get freelance jobs. I always worked so at night I’d be available to screen my first feature to buyers and future investors. Always work, but work freelance to be available for other film jobs.
If you are interested in directing for the creative expression and lifestyle, or to do that one great story you have in your heart, you’ll stay in it. However, if you only have the dream of fame, fortune and money, it’s hard to stay motivated and you’ll seek other paths.
You can’t imagine the surprises that come when you follow your dreams. I have too many personal examples to list here, but it’s amazing what comes and how it comes. When you’re getting paid for what you love to do, you’ll know that the price of perseverance was well worth it.
I wrote my novels in hopes of getting them produced as movies, opening up another enjoyable creative outlet. After being asked so many times: “how do you survive as a freelancer,” I wrote How To Live The James Bond Lifestyle. This way I don’t have to spend hours explaining it, I just hand them the audio-book. And the main thing about James Bond……. He never stops until the mission is accomplished.
“Please Help the World”, film from the opening ceremony of the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 (COP15) in Copenhagen from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. Shown on December 7, 2009 at COP15. Director: Mikkel Blaabjerg Poulsen, producers: Stefan Fjeldmark and Marie Peuliche, cinematographer: Dan Laustsen, production designer: Peter de Neergaard, editor: Morten Giese, composer: Davide Rossi, sound design: Carl Plesner, production company: Zentropa RamBuk, advisory consultants: Mogens Holbøll, Bysted A/S and Christian Søndergaard, Attention Film ApS.
Video Rating: 3 / 5
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