The movie business has always been a romantic and glamorous career choice. It’s also an extremely difficult and competitive field. In order to succeed, you need a combination of talent, creativity and persistence. Whether your goal is to become an actor, director, writer or cinematographer, you will have to spend years developing your skills and pursuing opportunities. The following are five of the best ways to get started in the movie business.
1. Study Film at College
One way to get your start in the film industry is to gain skills and experience in college. You could go to a film school, such as the American Film Institute. There are also many colleges and universities where you can choose film studies, screenwriting or other aspects of film as a major. During the course of your studies, you’ll learn many different areas relevant to the movie business, such as acting, computer graphics, photography and screenwriting. You can also make valuable industry contacts while you’re studying.
2. Work as an Extra
If you’re interested in becoming an actor, you might get started by working as an extra. These are small, usually non-speaking roles in movies that are fairly easy to obtain. While movies hire extras in all locations, it’s easier to find these roles in large cities where many movies are shot, such as Los Angeles, New York and Toronto. You earn some money as an extra, you gain experience and you may be able to network and find out about larger roles. Films often advertise for extras in local publications. You can also read industry websites and subscribe to magazines that advertise these positions.
3. Study and Write Screenplays
If your goal is to become a Hollywood screenwriter, you should certainly get all the practice you can writing scripts. However, this is something worth doing even if you want another type of position in the movies. Writing screenplays gives you valuable insight into the structure of movies. This is helpful whether you want to write, act, direct or produce. You can start by reading screenplays for movies you’ve already seen. You can then begin writing your own. Many screenwriters, such as Gary Young, also act and direct.
4. Produce Your Own Independent Film
With today’s technology, it’s easier than ever to create your own movie, even with a very limited budget. Even if all you have is a smartphone or cheap digital camcorder, you can create and edit your own movies. You will have to find others with whom you can collaborate, but there is usually no shortage of people who want to make a movie. Whether it’s a short film or a full length feature, you can submit the finished product to film festivals.
5. Get an Internship or Entry Level Job at a Studio
Many actors, screenwriters and other movie professionals began by working as interns or production assistants for movie studios. This type of position pays very little, if anything, but can provide you with valuable experience in the industry. Even more importantly, it puts you in an environment where you’ll meet people who do the hiring for more significant jobs. You can find such entry level positions listed on job websites as well as industry publications such as Variety and Hollywood Reporter.
The movie business is not the easiest career to pursue. If, however, it’s something you are passionate about, you should do whatever it takes to get started. The above tips are some of the best ways to begin a career in film. More than anything else, you must be determined and willing to keep trying until you make progress. You have a better chance at success if you try several different strategies at once.