There are a lot of kids out there that have dreams of becoming the next Steven Spielberg, George Lucas or Quentin Tarantino. They spend their childhoods watching, studying and dreaming of movies. Many make small films and videos when in high school and can’t wait till they can show the world what they’re capable of. When it comes to college they major in film or cinema at any of a myriad number of schools from the famous such as NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and USC’s School of Cinematic Arts to smaller quality programs at universities and specialized schools around the country. I attended two of these schools and through the years there is one theme that has run through my conversations with just about all of my film school alumni: Why didn’t anyone ever teach us what to do AFTER film school?
When I look back at the many talented and ambitious people I went to school with at both USC and NYU’s film programs I see two distinct groups of people. Despite the good intentions, youthful vigor, fearlessness and unquestionable talent that many of these people possessed, the vast majority of alumni have not accomplished what they hoped to in the film and television industry. In fact ten years or more after graduation many aren’t even working in the film field with many having long ago given up their dreams or pursued different paths by going back to grad school in other professions or making careers in areas completely away from the film world red rock entertainment testimonials.
However, a small, distinct group differs from this majority. This group has succeeded in different areas of the film industry and if not having accomplished all of their dreams they at least have been part of the industry and are on their way. When I compare these two groups and compare them I have looked to see what has set this small, successful group apart from the others. They were all talented, ambitious, bright and motivated. In fact during school there really was no difference between those that succeeded and didn’t and in some cases some of the most talented didn’t succeed while some of what I would consider the less talented did. So what made the difference? Why were some able to figure out a path in the industry and some others weren’t? The answer lies in the information that those that did succeed were able to get about what to do after they graduated.
The biggest common ingredient that I see in those that have been successful is that they had somebody whether a parent, a friend, older sibling or relative or perhaps even a mentor in the industry that had the knowledge and was able to show the ‘big picture’ of how the industry works to the young person just coming out of school. Depending on what you want to accomplish there are specific career paths and career strategies that one must know if one wants to succeed in the entertainment industry. If nobody tells you this information then you are in effect going in blind.