Note to self: bring a notebook around so that you can take notes on things people say that shake you to your ~core~
This past year, I decided to challenge myself: by talking to adults. Yes, I’m an adult as are all other college students. But by “adult,” I mean people who are at least in their 30s, who I wouldn’t find myself talking to at midnight in the dorms. I wanted to do this because for the past 4 or so years, I’ve always been talking to people who are going through life in the same stages as me: figuring out what to do post-grad, trying to apply for internships, etc. And I realized that what I really needed was some new perspective, maybe from seasoned people who have gained wisdom from their years of experience.
I also had another motivation behind doing this: I literally know no one in film. Film is becoming something I want to make more than just a hobby. It’s becoming something I want to keep myself accountable in pushing myself to find stories and document them into something beautiful and relatable. I’ve been able to exercise those muscles more, but I know that it can’t just be in a void of my own room.
I was lucky enough to reconnect with one of my d.school professors in Movie Design, and I finally got the chance to sit down with him on the last day I was on campus actually. (PSA: Scott Doorley is one of the kindest and most affable professors ever!) Here are some thoughts I came out of the conversation with:
- Film schools have only really been a thing since the 70s-80s. They’re still quite relatively new, so contrary to popular belief, the majority of people in the film industry do NOT have a film education background.
- The top film schools are USC, NYU, and UCLA. USC is in the heart of Hollywood and tends to focus on funneling people into the mainstream industry. NYU has a greater focus on independent filmmakers, and UCLA is a good mix of both. UCLA being a public school, tends to be underresourced compared to USC and NYU.
- Networking is key. I’ve gotten this advice from a lot of people affiliated with the film industry, actually. I used to abhor the word, BUT now I do think there are genuine and authentic ways to build relationships around your career. Doorley had a great way of putting it: “Networking doesn’t have to feel like a relationship where you only take. Networking can simply be approaching someone and expressing genuine interest in their work. A simple ‘Hi, I’d love to learn more about what you do, can I come by your desk sometime when you’re not busy to see what you’re up to?’ can suffice. And in fact, you’re helping them by giving them the space to express their passion wholeheartedly, something you can’t always do when your passion is your 9-5 job.”
- Response to my question “How do you make sure your film/video is able to stay true to your original intent?”: In the d.school, we talk a lot about embracing change and letting the process guide us through. While being malleable is important, it’s also important for you to deliver on your intent. But it’s the balance of being able to adapt and to always have an intent in mind. It may not be the original intent, but as long as you are grounded in an intent, your product will ring true.
- This quote by Ira Glass is life:
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”