How to Become a Successful Filmmaker

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When I was sixteen, I jumped into the film festival circuit. I had no idea of what to expect as a young filmmaker in a group of other talented film directors that have pushed their films for several years. Not only was I the youngest filmmaker in some festivals, but I would be the only Latina and the only WOMAN in the Youth Categories with young men that planned on becoming the next Steven Spielberg. And now, as a retired youth filmmaker with 40 and counting official selections in film festivals in the US and internationally, do I rarely find any Latina or Latino filmmakers within various film panels. Even female CEO from Dreamworks Studios, Stacey Snider agrees: I’m still confounded by how few female directors there are. I don’t get it.”

There should be more female filmmakers in the film industry now.

Whether you are in middle school or high school, there is still a way to start your film career! There are many resources available to jumpstart your path toward the big screen. But, to become a filmmaker, you need the time, dedication, and a strong support system.

Whether it’s a relative, friend, or mentor, you need someone to continue pushing you and making sure that you aren’t going to fall through the cracks and abandon your projects midway.  And if you can’t find someone to support you: I’ll be the Latina that will! 

HIGH SCHOOL OF THE ARTS:

You don’t have to wait until college to start studying to become a great filmmaker. In middle school  don’t be afraid of picking up a camera and directing your own film in middle school. If you want to take your filmmaking education to the next level, there are some High Schools that have film departments to get you started with editing programs like Final Cut Pro, the basics of Screenwriting and a lot of very useful elements that you will learn about in your first year of college.

Tip: Research and tour schools within your community that support the arts and have film departments – see what they can offer you as an aspiring filmmaker.

YOUR FILM :

To expose yourself as a filmmaker in the film festival world, you need a great film. These films can range from a Narrative Drama or Comedy, etc. If you think your film can entertain audiences around the world and the judges, then you should definitely enter it  in film festivals! Research youth film festivals and start planning your film debut!

FILM FESTIVALS:

Film Festivals are meant for exposing films and filmmakers. This helps to find the right filmmakers and connections from people in the industry to connect and invest in you. Film Festivals are truly an experience that you will never forget. But in order for all this to happen, you must go through the online process of applying to these film festivals and creating “press kits” to have your film be considered.

HOW TO SUBMIT:

Withoutabox is film festival engine used by many independent filmmakers to enter their submission easily into hundreds of film festivals, including festivals with youth categories with little or no cost for submission!On Withoutabox, you will have to create a project page for your film and create a press kit. The press kit includes production stills (photographs) of your film, biographies of your cast/crew, a biography of yourself and poster/artwork. Once you have completed your press kit, the next thing to do is find your film festivals, send your packages of DVDs and WAIT. When you receive your first confirmation email, CELEBRATE! From there, you will be getting ready to make flyers and start generating attention for people in the film fest to see your film and talent as a filmmaker.

But as a young filmmaker, you will soon realize that you will have to pay to be in some of the best film festivals and the prices to submit start to become more expensive. Paying submission fees may not sound appealing, but it’s a part of filmmaking that every filmmaker has to overcome in order to invest in their future. The more exposure your film gets increases your chances of filmmakers and investors wanting to meet you and get involved with your future.

COLLEGE:

There are many great film colleges that you can attend but it all depends on what you study within the film department. Do you want to be a screenplay writer , director, or cinematographer? Do research to find the best career and schools for you.

THE FUTURE:

There is a rise of female power in the film industry and females are becoming a very powerful group within the industry. Nina Jacobson, a former female president of Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group, states, ”The most powerful decision-making part of the audience is women. Boys have a lot of impact on the industry, but it’s often women who impact what stories get made.”  However, it will take awhile to have a equal ratio of men and women in the film industry. And it will take awhile for the men of this industry to take female directors seriously. Debra Chase Martin, a producer of motion pictures and television shows for Walt Disney Studios agrees: “It’s not a level playing field [for women].” However she continues to say that female filmmaker shouldn’t call off their dreams by knowing this and says, get over it. Just believe in yourself and get it done!”

Don’t let false hope and negative thoughts stop you from achieving your dreams in the film industry. As long as you have the confidence and the persistence to continue fighting to the top, you will succeed in this amazing industry.

*If you ladies would love some help with your journey to the top, please feel free to email me at saracelestemartin@gmail.com!

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