Updated: Jan 24
Today, I want to talk about the film industry. First off, yes, it’s a glamorous job, only if you have experience in it, and you have the time to mess about on set with everyone. Second, if you’re starting out, have those big dreams, but don’t expect them to find you without any effort (unless you already know someone who’s willing to get you in right off the bat, and that’s mostly for those who already have that connection).
The truth of the matter is, film production, all aspects of it, from development to exhibition, takes a lot of time, effort and people. You can see it through the rumours, interviews and stories of even big productions; making a film, let alone a TV series isn’t a one-day kind of job, especially good quality films and shows.
It Demands Effort
As a film producer myself, I’ve learned that, regardless of the production, if you are not willing to put your time and effort into it, you will not be able to make a good quality film. In fact, if you’re riding on someone else’s back (i.e. you’re not putting the work in), the piece that you make will not be to the standard that you thought it would be.
Instead, you would simply make everyone else stressed out, because the work they’d trusted you with, will be put on their shoulders, on top of everything else they’re doing. Believe me, if you’re working on a film production, you have to be willing to put the work in.
So, if you’re working on a film production, ask yourself this question:
DO YOU WANT SOCIAL MEDIA QUALITY, OR PROFESSIONAL QUALITY?
Most of the time it’s this question that defines your work ethic towards the production you’re working on. If it’s a social media quality film, for example it’s a small skit for YouTube, or Vimeo, or even Facebook and Instagram, then by all means, the less effort the easier the production will be.
However, if you want something you can be proud of, say for example, you’re going to send it to film festivals, and big named production companies, then you’re really going to have to put your heart and soul into it. That’s why great films, like Star Wars was made, or Rocky.
Take Inspiration - Star Wars
Let’s look at one of these films a little more. We’ll take a look at Star Wars, for this one. Sure the series is a household name now, but when George Lucas first came up with the idea, many of the big studios rejected it. At the time he began thinking of the concept, the film was actually meant to be a Flash Gordon adaptation, but because he wasn’t able to purchase the rights for the characters and plot, he had to make it up for himself.
This took years, literal years. In fact, Lucas worked on American Graffiti at the same time he was making up characters and plots for the film. Eventually, he finished making the whole background, prequels and sequels, to the original film, and began showing the studios he was with, the concept.
At first, he showed it to United Artists, with whom he was contracted with, but they rejected it. Next, he showed it to Universal Pictures, who took up American Graffiti, and they too rejected it. Hell, he even tried to show Disney, but guess what? He was rejected yet again. The only production company to accept the film was 20th Century Fox, and even then, it wasn’t even about the movie.
The head of 20th Century Fox had agreed to take on the film, purely because he thought Lucas had talent, and wanted at least one film from him. So, Lucas started writing Star Wars, the only problem was, he was only given $150 000 to develop and write the film.
After that, Lucas started writing. He took inspiration from so many different sources, that you probably couldn’t trace them all, and considering he called the film a fantasy, there would be hundreds, if not thousands of stories that are associated with it. For example, Lucas has claimed that he took inspiration from King Arthur and Beowulf. He also drew some examples from Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress, and Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With A Thousand Faces.
It took Lucas four drafts to finally come up with the script we know and love today, but these scripts took him years to make. If we look at the timeline: the first draft came out in 1973, and Lucas started production (or principal photography as it’s called) in 1976, that means it took three years for the final script to be made.
WRITING THE FINAL SCRIPT, ALONE, TOOK THREE YEARS.
You can now see why film making requires effort. It isn’t about just getting a production out there. While yes, the major studios would like you to think about it like that, the fact is, if you don’t believe in the production, and if you are not willing to put the work in, then your film will never be made, or at least good enough to showcase to the world.
What's The Lesson?
If you’re going to make a film, and you think the idea you have is amazing, don’t simply pitch it without substance. Make sure that your heart is in the right place for it, otherwise it’ll just be another flat production that will probably be seen by a handful of people. Good films take a lot of effort. So do your research, not just into the popular films of the day, they’re done by enough people, the same formula can be applied to any film.
Do research into the kinds of film that are similar to yours. So, if you’re doing a fantasy film, look into fantasy films, both the successful ones and the unsuccessful ones, to get an idea about the way your film should be. If you’re going to do a historical film, research films of that genre, as well as information about the time, so that your film is accurate, in terms of its themes.
It’s simple, but difficult at the same time. Especially if it’s not your film. After all, if you’re working for someone and it’s their vision, you have to make sure your vision of the film line up. Don’t simply take a job, just for the sake of taking a job. Sometimes it works, but most of the time it doesn’t and that’s where tensions and conflicts arise. So be sure that when you do take on a job, it’s something that you can get 100% behind, otherwise you’ll simply make a film that showcases other people’s talents rather than yours or the story itself.
Well, that's it from me today. I'll see you next time!