We just wanted to take a moment to thank our public beta users for all your feedback, and the more than 2,200 amazing projects added so far to Creative District!
Last Wednesday we launched in public beta and frankly we’re inspired by the warm welcome and ongoing support we continue to receive from the creative community!
Well over 6,500 strong and growing, the CD community has posted over 2,200 projects and 240+ open collaborator positions in our first week alone!
"I received so many applications for my DP position, I haven’t even had time to look through them all yet! I’m shocked that an Oscar winner applied!" - Lena Khan, Writer/Director, The Tiger Hunter
We took the team trip to Knott’s Berry Farm to celebrate the launch, and wanted to share an extended THANK YOU to the entire CD community.
Please keep the questions and feedback coming, and thank you for your support.
-Creative District Team
An oscar winner literally applied to our open DP position. Amazing.
When people refer to making sacrifices in order to sustain a filmmaking career, what are they referring to exactly? The sacrifices they mention is so vague, and the vagueness makes it seem so scary - as if I'll have to give up everything and anything to love movies. I think I'd be more apt to understand if it was clearly explained. Thank you!
Good question, and unfortunately I may have to be a little vague as well since I’m not sure which area of filmmaking you are referring to. Just as a guess, I’m going to assume you’re referring to the conventional understanding of “filmmaker” and not somebody specialized in one aspect like a production designer. I’ll also assume you’re not referring to those on purely the business side (like becoming a talent agent). So, to answer:
The sacrifices are many. For one, filmmaking is an intensely competitive field — it’s more competitive than most fields I know. That means that it’s hard to make a living. You have to work harder than certain other fields, you have spend a lot of time and effort and money fighting to get noticed. For example, let’s say you want to be a cinematographer and you have some talent. Just because you’re talented, you’re not necessarily going to get hired. At the beginning, you’re probably going to have to do a lot of jobs that are FAR below the pay level you deserve. Maybe you’ll do a lot of them for almost nothing. And then even after you do an excellent job, it may be hard for you to get another job easily. First, people will think you’re a DP who can do a great job for low pay and word will spread — that may mean people won’t want to pay you more than before because you’re a great deal. Then, people may not want to take a risk on you because your body of work may show some promise, but you haven’t yet shot a film on film, or on a Red or Alexa yet. During all this time, you’re not getting paid much so you probably need another way to make money. This means you’re effectively working two jobs — that’s all part of the sacrifice. Actually, the vast majority of filmmakers I know don’t make much money so I’m sure that is the overwhelmingly largest part of the sacrifice — figuring out how to keep their filmmaking ambitions alive while staying afloat.
Secondly, part of the fight is that it will take up a large part of your life. I work on my film day and night. I’ve worked on it for the past many years of my life. We spend time chasing after actors or other talent with no idea what will work or what won’t because everything is such an uphill battle that you have to try everything. There’s always more to do because films are so risky, and it’s so hard to get one made. It takes years upon years to raise the money for a film — it’s not as easy as Zach Braff makes it seem when he raises millions on Kickstarter. Our Kickstarter campaign took up months and months of every waking moment of my life. Then, to get investors, you need to build a reliable team and I literally had to fly around the country fighting to get people to hear my pitch. And even then all I think about in a day is what more I can do to try to deliver to my investors.
Another sacrifice that is entailed is the fact that, like an actor or other artist, your work is very public so there is an emotional aspect to the sacrifice. I suppose we can call that sacrificing the emotional security people who don’t have public work are allowed? A lot of filmmakers, for example, make a lot of mediocre films before a really great one. In some ways, that can make some sense — it’s hard to “practice” making a movie without, well, making one. Short films are very different. But everyone will see that first feature film, and they’ll judge you for it. And that is perfectly in the realm of what’s appropriate for them because you’re the one who decided to put your work out there. If you want to stay in the business and make a living and be respected, you have to be great filmmaker (unless perhaps you’re making lower budget genre films like horror and really know the business). You can be a pretty good doctor and be respected and earn a good living — but to even sustain a career as a filmmaker and be respected, you have to be the equivalent of a nationally renowned neurosurgeon.
That aspect will also run into the process of making a movie. Every quest in a career entails rejection, but in film this is especially so. Even good scripts get rejected dozens of times. Really important people will say they don’t like your work. It’s all incredibly crushing to your spirit. Sometimes filmmakers just get bad reviews on their script or idea until they make it, and then everyone praises it. That filmmaker sacrificed time, money, sweat and tears as they fought to get that film made anyway. And then sometimes even after all that effort, the film did in fact end up being not that great. And that’s a risk that filmmaker has to decide whether or not they want to take.
Yet another sacrifice isn’t on your part at all, but from those who support you — friends or family. At some point you’ve put so much into your career and ambitions that they just feel terrible about you failing or having to give up — so they may end up sacrificing time and effort to help you that ordinarily they shouldn’t have to do. It’s one thing to keep in mind.
The above part, by the way, is incredibly humbling. Sometimes it is embarrassing. This is probably also a good time to mention that just because you ‘sacrifice’ in all these ways doesn’t make you much cooler than people with more “normal” jobs — you’re the one who chose to do it.
Also, a large part of the sacrifice of course is in the huge risk of failure. I’ve seen many filmmakers and actors work for years and years — spending time away from family, spending a lot of money on their work and equipment and travel — only to end up not getting where they wanted. Some keep going. Some give up. But, even some of the ones I know who gave up were happy that they tried. Some weren’t.
I guess the biggest sacrifice outside of money and all these other factors is the fact that filmmaking takes a 500% commitment. You have to give everything of yourself to it, and you have to love doing it. They are labors of love. I’ve given everything I can to my film, THE TIGER HUNTER, and in a few months I’ll see how it turned out. But, I’m one of those people who will be glad they did it. I guess you can try to guess what type of person you are, and proceed accordingly.
Best of luck. We all need it.
Any filmmakers reading? How about helping out and sharing what sacrifices you feel are needed for a filmmaking career in the comments?
WANNA SEE HOW OUR FILM TURNS OUT? Sign up for our mailing list by visiting our WEBSITE.
HOW CAN FINDING A DP BE SO COMPLICATED?
These days, we are DP hunting. A DP (Director of Photography), otherwise known as the cinematographer, is one of the most important people on set. Painters with light, they oversee the camera and lighting. They execute the ‘look’ of the film. They are far and away the person on set I am in the most awe of.
For us, there are a lot of factors to consider — it’s not just about finding a good one. For example, we have had a lot of interest from DPs who are now a bit more well known, having shot films that sold at Sundance recently for upward of $2M.
I thought that was fantastic, but a lot of producers are warning me that as a “first-time director,” it may not be a good fit. According to them, some of these DPs are just as talented as a lot of other DPs who didn’t get ‘discovered’ yet in that way, but because of their recent success they feel some of them become a bit harder to work with on smaller projects. The producers told me they have had bad experiences in those situations, and those DPs sometimes were a bit condescending of the new directors on future projects.
I don’t know how much I think that’s all true — I feel like a nice DP (and most DPs I know have been wonderful people) would be nice regardless, but of course I did take the caution to heart as well. As it is, I’m leaning right now toward a few fabulously talented DPs who don’t happen to have that $2-$3M sundance sale under their belt yet — but not for lack of talent.
That said, choosing the DP always goes back to a gut instinct. How can I know whether those beautiful shots were more their doing, or the director’s idea? Further, it’s hard to find a DP who has shot something that looks similar to what I’m envisioning for THE TIGER HUNTER, so I ultimately have to go off of gut to guess whether or not they can pull off my vision.
But then again, half of making a good movie goes off of gut instinct anyway. Since I’m technically a “first-time director” (for a movie anyway), those DPs will be going off of that gut instinct for me, too! Here’s to finding the perfect DP to collaborate with!
LOOKING FOR A CINEMATOGRAPHER…IS HARD
A lot of people don’t realize how important the cinematographer is. You know how THE GODFATHER has a distinct type of lighting, or how ROAD TO PERDITION looks like an Edward Hopper painting? The cinematographer did that. Aka, the DP (Director of Photography).
Right now, we are looking for a cinematographer. I have one in mind who I really like, but as I’m not sure schedules or the like will work out, I’m still looking.
Every producer and mentor I’ve asked tells me the same thing: “I know a lot of DPs…but not very many really good ones.”
Do you all know any? Contact me. Would love the reference. Till then, we are asking previous mentors, colleagues, and just looking through folks who shot some Sundance titles in the past some years.
Any cinematographer you especially liked that shot a film under $5M (our film isn’t that big, but a lot of DPS are flexible a bit)? Let me know.
At UCLA Film School, our very experienced acting teacher, Delia Salvi, told us that it’s always possible that something could unexpectedly fall through with our actors and we would be left crying on set that day. Her suggestion: cast TWO actors, rehearse with both of them, go as far as you can without contracts penalizing you, and just don’t let them know that only one of them is the one you really want.
Not letting a back-up actor know they are a stand-in seemed really mean, and I have never followed that suggestion.
So, why was I reminded of all this? This week, we can’t find our line producer. He’s MIA, non-reachable by any of his colleagues. We heard rumors a family member was sick.
The question: should I already go searching for a “back-up” line producer? I’ll wait a little…but I do see why Delia gave that advice!
Dear investors of mine who read this blog: movies have dozens of huge “oh no!” obstacles that come up all the time, and all filmmakers know that the final product is just a product of how we deal with them. Don’t be scared.
My producer and I have been trying to get a hold of an actor that we want for a featured role. After a bit of trying, she came up with his cell phone number.
I said, “Great! Let’s call him!”
Her: “Are you crazy? We can’t just cold call _____ him out of the blue! You don’t do that!”
Me: “Then what?”
We haven’t come up with that part.
Among my new year’s resolutions: only spend one day a week attempting to fundraise. Why? We’re filming a MOVIE this year. I really wish I could spend more time working on that.
Here’s an idea of how things have been going:
- Last year: we raised more than 90% of our budget through investment and partial donation! We had a great Kickstarter campaign…until it was so successful that one of our major donors pulled out, leaving us with an important gap in our budget. After our campaign, everyone thought we had all our money, nobody wanted to donate again, and it was too hard to launch another crowd-funding campaign without people understanding what happened. Plus, I have no plans to launch another social media barrage and lose all my friends…
- Late last year: three donors promised to fill our gap in funding, then pulled out. Hopes go up every time, then get crushed.
- We tried a fundraising event in another city. Paid for food. Tried our best to outreach. Hired entertainment. Worked hard for weeks. Very few people came (even though over 100 confirmed their attendance — don’t neglect your RSVP!). Sad times.
- We tried getting a booth at a convention in Chicago. Lots of work. Very, very, very, very, very cold. Lots of standing and begging. Didn’t make much.
So, I think I need to move forward. I need to spend more time on the movie, and just hope somehow our gap in funding will come from somewhere during that one day a week so that we can afford a certain pretty cool actor who already wants to be in our movie (if we can afford him). As for the other six days of the week…you get to hear updates about the movie that don’t have to do with funding! Yaaay!
CAN YOU HELP? HAVE IDEAS?
That said, if you are moved to help us fill our shortfall, we do have an under-the-radar crowdfunding page set up. Please donate or spread the word to help us reach our goal by clicking HERE. Donations are now TAX DEDUCTIBLE!
Have ideas on how we can raise money? Contact me.