To Whom it May Concern,
I hear you are eagerly ready to dive into the great depths of the film industry. I salute your avidity. I remember my first year out of college; having to navigate and explore the complex paths this industry has to offer. Was it easy? Hardly. What I learned in college were merely the options that lay ahead. The journey to getting there was grossly omitted in each lesson plan; of which, I will discuss openly and honestly based off my experiences. I will try to speak in general terms as my path is and will be different from yours and others in the industry.
- Long hours. I thrive off of controlled-chaos. I enjoy being busy; juggling multiple projects at once all while taking lead. That’s why I was especially attracted to being a producer. It is an above-the-line roll that carries great responsibility and importance in ensuring a production gets done on time and in budget. With the pressures of juggling multiple time-sensitive and highly important tasks, producers work long hours. A 9 to 5 work day typically doesn’t suffice as a “work day.” Shoot days can range from 8 to 14 hour days.One day you are shooting for 8 hours followed by a two week shoot, clocking in 12 hours a day. Typically, the larger the production the amount of shoot days and hours increase. If this is something that excites you, then you’re looking at the right industry.
- Freelance or not to freelance. I am not a freelancer. I work at a small creative agency that produces commercials, short films, documentaries and corporate videos. I have a salary and receive biweekly paychecks. I have set work hours, though typically I work a lot outside of those hours. I produce for a company and its brand. I am not my own brand. I chose this route because at this point in my life, I am someone who needs certainty, especially when it comes to job security. In order to better understand what lifestyle/job is best for you, ask yourself these questions:
- How much do I value stability and predictability?
- How hard am I willing to work?
- Do I want to control my own hours?
- Do I want to be my own boss?
- How well are my networking skills?
- How well do I deal with being alone?
When I first graduated college, my answers indicated that I needed to find a salary-based, full time job. Since I highly value stability and predictability and I do not prefer to work alone, the remaining questions didn’t really matter how I answered. My goal out of college was to have job security, so that’s what I pursued. I also did not have a network large enough to freelance full-time. Though I love the idea of being my own boss and controlling my own hours, I wasn’t ready to have the responsibility of finding and keeping my own clients. Freelancers have to work 5x harder because they aren’t given the clients and jobs that an agency, production house or network TV have. You need to go out and hustle; curate relationships and network constantly in hopes to create a lead that will hopefully land you a job. Once you get that foot in the door, it should get a little easier though.
- Women are a minority. It is unfortunate, but it is very much true. This is a male-dominated industry. Though we are in a time that is beginning to encourage a diverse voice and challenging the old ways and mindsets towards women standards and their roles in the workforce, the change isn’t going to happen over night. I had this basic understanding prior to graduating college. That’s why I decided to pursue producing versus writing and directing. I knew I would have a better chance at securing a job as a producer [Editor's note: It's also important to remember where you want to go. The chances that you start out of college as a director are like winning the lottery. BUT, now that Madalina's been with us a few years we've gotten projects that we trust her to start co-directing or directing]. Here's a great article
that outlines the 2018 statics of women in TV and film.Regardless of what the stats say, don’t let the numbers discourage you. In fact, let it motivate you.If you are truly serious and passionate about stepping into this industry, a number shouldn’t stop you from pursuing what you love. I knew I wanted to be in this industry for several reasons. The main reason being that I wanted to use film as a medium for my voice to creatively tell stories that are ultimately inspiring and thought- provoking. I refuse to let my gender stop me from doing so.
This is an industry that provides an incredibly high reward, but it’s the process that can be grueling, tedious, and demanding. Is that worth it for you?
Check out this project that Madalina wrote and co-directed!