Monday Prescription – 8 Signs You Should Not Be In The Movie Business

Hello, Film Doctor friends.
As another week begins, another Monday Prescription  springs into your inbox! Today the Film Doctor team are going to suggest a scenario where the film industry and you do not have a future together…

Here we go:
1. You’re not a team player / Hate making new contacts / Hate networking (and associated events) – No movie can be made without the involvement of other people – from your crew and cast to editors, distributors and further supporters. If you prefer to be a “lone ranger”, then the few film-rated jobs that you could consider are a). a storyboard artist or b). a screenwriter. However, in either case there’s a certain degree of self-promotion to be done (some word argue LOTS). You must meet people and seek out work. So even the biggest misanthropes, introverts and wallflowers sometimes need to network and build contacts.
2. You’re not a gambler – Making films is sometimes akin to playing the lottery – get a lucky break and you could end up with a substantial amount of cash. Otherwise, go broke trying. It comes with risk and no guarantees and if you’re not willing to accept this, then this industry is simply not right for you. We mean taking calculated risks, of course, but the film’s reception is always unpredictable.

3. You like to have a certain routine / You prefer to work 9-to-5 – Filmmakers, serious about their career, don’t really get to have the work life/private life divide. Furthermore, jobs like directing, shooting, coordinating and all the camera/electric/production design department roles are often done on a freelance basis. For 3-4 months you might find yourself solidly booked, then have a ‘dry spell’ for weeks on end. In a nutshell, when working in the film industry it is rare to have a fixed routine. Production (on set) and post-production often brings “anti-social” working hours. Even the rather “office-based” film-related jobs – e.g. film publicist, PR, marketing exec, sales agent – don’t always have a straight ‘cut-off’ point: you might be working till crazy late trying to meet a deadline, have to fly around the globe for festivals and markets, have an exclusive Sunday interview/photoshoot with an actor, etc. If you want your work to really finish at 5 PM on a Friday, then the creative industries might not be the most accommodating choice.
Alternatively, if working as a freelance screenwriter, you could set the working hours yourself (within reason) and arrange things into a routine that suits you.
4. You like to see immediate results – Unlike many other art forms,  film productions do not present you with immediate results: the time lapse between idea generation and cinema screening/DVD/VOD release could be well over two years (for ESTABLISHED folk) and even decades in some cases. Monetising films can also take longer than other creative products. So, if you’re motivated only by work with immediate outcome/results, making films might prove rather painful at times.
5. You crumble under pressure – Making a film can be stressful and demanding, often with several issues to resolve at once and tight deadlines to meet. Thinking on your feet and remaining cool-headed is an essential skill if you want to succeed as a Director/Producer/Crew (esp. Production Manager/Coordinator/1st AD),  Cinematography, Sound, Production Design.

6. You don’t adapt well / Hate change –  As with any creative industry (or business in general), the film world is fluctuating and rather unstable. Imagine a day on set. The plan for the day is going to change at least twice from the first shot; one piece of equipment might prove faulty; a star might be late, etc. – you cannot predict how each day will go, but should be ready for anything. The work processes change due to new technologies, distribution models and channels develop, with online services and mobile devices influencing viewing habits, etc. Execs change places, companies cease to exist, re-group, merge, contacts are lost and acquired. If you are not able to keep up with the industry’s pace, you’ll soon find yourself on the sidelines.
7. You’re easily disappointed / let down / Don’t have enough self-motivation – On your way to successful filmmaking, there will be some moments of self-doubt, despair and discontent – when you struggle for production money, when you fail to secure a location, when you don’t get that coveted festival award. But there’s no room for self-doubt, despair and discontent. If you’re serious about making it in the movie business, you need to be confident and bold enough to pursue your projects, while suppressing any ego, greed or unrealistic expectations of overnight fame.

8. You can go without it – And that’s that – if you can live without it, then do. If you can go through days/weeks/months without feeling a burning desire to direct/write/act/produce/create in general,  then you’ll be fine doing anything else in the world. Don’t put yourself through the pains of the movie business, just because being a filmmaker might’ve once sounded appealing/glamorous/fun.
Still game? Then, welcome to the wonderful world of filmmaking.

‘Monday Prescription’ No.68 – As appealing as it may seem, film-making is not for everyone. Established and happy? Ignore this. Aspiring and unsure? Consider, very carefully, if you have what it takes to be in the film business.

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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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4 thoughts on “Monday Prescription – 8 Signs You Should Not Be In The Movie Business

  • June 19, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    Really interesting post and very true. I think a lot of people study film or are very focused on following that career path and then really don’t like being on set, or the freelance lifestyle. A while back I was finding it really difficult to cope with freelancing and the lack of stability, a colleague told me simply ‘Adjust or quit’ and he was right.

    • June 19, 2013 at 11:23 pm

      Hi Danny,

      A great addition to our post. Thanks!
      We hope, whether adjusting or quitting, everybody does what they want and enjoys it.

      The Film Doctor Team

  • June 25, 2013 at 3:07 am

    I’ve been “unstable” my entire life so…….no worries here ! 🙂


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