Monday Prescriptions – Filmmaking, Career or Hobby?

Hi Film Folk!

The Film Doctor Team is having a few busy weeks, whizzing around countries and cities, but Monday Prescriptions is here as usual.

How are you getting along with your projects? Is it 24/7 work and dedication or do you open that movie folder on your laptop once in a blue moon? Time and time again, The Film Doctor Team have heard people say that they want to be part of the film industry only to continue their film-related work “when they get time” rather than properly “getting into it”. They are genuinely enthusiastic about all things film and frequently get involved with various projects, but when it comes to truly dedicating themselves to the work – i.e. viewing it as any other business / job position – quite often these people find an excuse not to do so.

There’s nothing wrong with this, but Film Doctor would advise that in this case you are more of a ‘film hobbyist” rather than a ‘film professional’. 

FD - Hammock

Film Hobbyist vs. Film Professional. Which one are you?

What separates a ‘film hobbyist’ from a ‘film professional’? Simply the attitude to their projects and the industry.

To succeed in any kind of industry, you need to treat your work exactly as that – work.  Something that you do 9-to-5, 5 days a week plus any required overtime. Something that you call your profession and put on a business card. Something that results in marketable products, done according to the target audience and present demand. Only this way can you hope for industry recognition and projects that cross markets.  In addition, in the film industry, you should not only dedicate adequate amounts of time to your projects but also be prepared to take substantial risks. Only once you’ve considered the above can you claim to be building a film-related career.


5 Signs You Are Treading ‘The Hobbyist’ Path:

  1. Not one short film screened at an industry-recognised festival – If you are serious about becoming a name in the industry, you won’t be satisfied with a one-off screening at your local bar.  So, after a few shorts “for practice” comes the short film that you might be particularly proud of and will not rest over until it finds a wider (ideally, international) audience. So you’d submit it to bona fide meaningful festivals.  In addition, “The Professional” would even go further and seek to secure some sort of distribution, with potential financial returns.
  2. Not one feature film made/written/planned– No writer can expect representation or commissioning opportunities, if there is not one single feature-length screenplay in his/her portfolio. In fact, in the industry’s eyes he/she won’t even be considered a writer.  Directors and Producers have more chance in this respect, provided they’ve got a distributed and/or award-winning (or at least “official selection” in a prestigious festival) – as per point 1. But even with successful shorts under his/her belt, ‘The Professional’ eventually attempts marketable features.
  1. Style over substance – Someone who cares too much about the shot composition/lens effect/colour saturation and making “cool funky stuff in post” might be a great videographer or editor, but is not offering marketable stories, suitable for a wider audience. ‘The Professional’ knows his/her craft as well as business (making a career with films is a business, as much as it is an art form) and prioritises great performances/narration/plot over swaying camera movements & unusual angles. The really skilful ‘Professional’ manages to master both.
  2.  Weekend projects – A hobby is something you do now and then, to fill in spare time, e.g. on a Saturday. So if the film projects you take up are strictly subject to extra time availability – and you wait  for that time rather than make time – there’s a long way to go until you can be called a ‘film professional’.
  3. No business cards with a film industry-related position – Serious filmmaking is business and every business person has some cards to give out for useful contacts. And the cards don’t read “Filmmaker”. We are all filmmakers in the larger sense, but each of us has a specific job(s) in this industry. You won’t know what that is unless you have decided to dedicate  x amount of years to being a film professional.


‘Monday Prescription’ No.33 – If you really want to establish your name in the industry and realise your project beyond the friends & family circle, filmmaking simply cannot be a hobby.

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Any questions/thoughts/experiences of your own??? Leave a comment below!
Have a great week!
The Film Doctor Team
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