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  • Writer's pictureGabriel Rhenals

Blog Post #33: 'Foundations of College Success' Interview

I was recently interviewed by a 15-year-old high school student currently dual-enrolled in college. He had a project for his class, Foundations of College Success, in which he was required to conduct a quick interview with someone in the career field chosen. The young man tells me he has always enjoyed making films and has a great interest in the field of filmmaking. Here is our 20-question interview:

1. What is the nature of the work?

Writing, producing, directing, shooting and editing motion pictures.

2. What are the major duties of workers in this occupation?

Writing scripts, managing finances, directing cast and crew and using a video camera and editing software to produce film content.

3. What are the entry-level positions in the field?

Entry-level positions in the industry vary widely. It can mean being a PA (production assistant) on set to working with editors as an assistant in a post-production office.

4. What is the next rung to which I can aspire?

After an entry-level position, there are many jobs (too many to list here) that can allow you to flex both practical and creative skills. Follow-ups to an entry-level position range from playing a larger role on the film crew on set to being a part of the core post-production team. They may also include being involved in the conceptual or writing phase of the creative process that takes place before any form of production.

5. How long should I anticipate it will take to reach that level?

It varies greatly. This field is unpredictable.

6. What training or other qualifications do I need for entry into this field?

Either strong storytelling skills for the more creative aspects or familiarity with camera, lighting and editing technology for more technical work.

7. Is on-the-job training or a formal training program available?

Yes, but it’s easier to get your bearings in filmmaking from your own independent practice of the art and craft.

8. What are the characteristics or traits one should have in order to enter this field?

Persistence and a love of ideas!

9. What will I need to do in order to advance?

Build a strong network and always be working on something – even if it’s just a script.

10. Do you feel it is more beneficial to graduate school first or to obtain work experience before entering graduate school?

It’s easier and more advantageous to get experience making your own films before you attempt to enter the professional realm.

11. What graduate level program do you feel is best in order to enhance one’s ability to advance in this field?

Any educational program that allows you to make films and, as importantly, puts you in the presence of other like-minded, passionate, aspiring filmmakers.

12. What are criteria on which performance in this field is evaluated?

Difficult to say. Whether audiences respond positively to your completed work is probably the best criteria to rely on.

13. What are the advantages of working for a small rather than large firm or vice versa?

Smaller filmmaking outfits are usually more independent and less controlled by larger, more moneyed firms. Independence usually allows a greater ferment of ideas and experimentation. That’s always more exciting and rewarding.

14. What are the entry level salaries in this field? What can established professionals earn?

I have no idea. You don’t make movies to make money. If you do, you’re in it for the wrong reason.

15. What are the conditions like? Are they likely to be long hours, physical demands, etc?

Filmmaking requires a consummate commitment. There’s never a shortage of things to learn and apply yourself toward. If you wish to succeed and excel, you must see it like being a priest in a seminary. All in.

16. Will I be required to travel or relocate?

No, Miami has plenty of opportunities, especially the ones you make for yourself.

17. What are the most frequent or reoccurring problems? What experiences do employers in this field find valuable? How can I get these experiences?

The most frequent and reoccurring problems have to do with finding a reliable crew to work with and funding for projects. That’s where the practical and creative problem-solving skills come into play. If you can find ways to attract good people and do a lot with very little, you’re going to be seen as valuable to employers and others.

18. What do you perceive to be major rewards in this field? Major frustrations?

If you truly love filmmaking, the reward is a good film you’ve sunk your heart and soul into. The major frustrations are all the inevitable challenges that will appear in between you and that result.

19. Is this field different from what it was in the past? What changes do you anticipate for the future?

Very different. There are no excuses to being a filmmaker. The technology is cheap and easy to attain, there’s willing talent all over and the internet can teach you anything required on the technical side. The sky is the limit. The future sees this trend continuing and growing.

20. What is the employment outlook for this field?

Promising if you consistently work to become a better filmmaker. This means, as I mentioned before, being able to attract good people and make good films resourcefully.

For more interviews with Gabriel Rhenals, please visit the Press & Media section.

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