Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Top 5 Jobs To Do As A Filmmaker

Here's my list of the top 5 things to do if you want to pay the bills and continue your life as a filmmaker. I mean, you can do any job and still make films if you have the passion and determination. But it you're a borderline slacker like me, you want the job to have at least some, if not all, of these attributes:

* Relatively good pay and relatively short hours. Or at least, a lot of flexbility.
* Won't wipe you out creatively.
* Exposure to information and/or resources and/or people that can help you make your film.
* Exposure to creatively inspiring work.

None of the jobs below meet all of these criteria. And these may or may not be able to pay for your films, depending on the length and budget of the films you are trying to make. But they will put food on the table without sapping your precious bodily fluids while you do your hustle. These are just mine, by the way, based on my own experience. I challenge you all out there to come up with better alternatives....

1. A Dogwalker. Low barrier of entry. Have legs, can walk dogs. Just put up some flyers and the calls will come. I love dogs, so of course, this is at the top of my list. But it also demanded little of me and gave me time to think, plan, etc. I was able to start Filmmakers Alliance AND make films. Oh, and did I mention the dogs were fabulous?

2. A Bartender. Somewhat low barrier of entry - gotta compete with a lot of actors in LA and NY. Did this for 10 years. Can be a fun job - not nearly as horrendously miserable as waiting tables. Good pay for the amount of hours. Lots of people, lots of stories. And the job stays behind when you walk out the door.

3. Festival Work. Moderate barrier of entry as festivals always need volunteers. Great work can move you into a paid gig. Then, you can work at numerous festivals throughout the year without having to work every day. Not much pay, but you can get by and it offers great exposure to other filmmakers and potentially great films (depending on the programming). And if you never make a film, it's a really fun lifestyle, nonetheless.

4. Any industry job with reasonable hours that doesn't follow you home. Moderate barrier of entry. Could be a straight 8 hour day, could be freelance work, could be seasonal. It never hurts to work in an environment that gives you exposure to the people and resources that can help you make your film. But, be careful. Many industry jobs are all-consuming..even PA work (at least it is freelance).

5. Teaching, consulting or part-time professional work. High barrier of entry. You'll need to be educated and/or have practiced your area of expertise for a number of years before you can get away with this. I lumped these three together because they are similar in that way. But if you are truly skilled/experienced you have value - meaning information/skill that people are willing to pay for. Sometimes pay a lot. If you are a lawyer or doctor, your per hour charges can be ridiculously excessive - allowing you to make a lot of money in short periods of time, thereby freeing you to pursue your filmmaking life.

And, of course, there's always...

....Independent Wealth. This can happen by birth, inheritance, insane luck or homicidal greed. Every once in awhile it happens to guys named Ben and Jerry who just happen to make good stuff and do nice things.

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