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Becoming The Entrepreneurial Filmmaker

By Joel Valle  |  16-Feb-2012

Recently the website posted the"20 Most Useless Degrees" report. Right in the number twelfth position is Theater; which includes acting, producing, directing and communications. This number is based on the 2012 job outlook study done by the National Association of Collages and Employers which was cross referenced with the job growth and coursework information for the 2008-2018 report by the U.S. Department of Labor.

While the headline used for the article was certainly designed more for grabbing attention than show facts; the numbers projected are not encouraging. The projected creation of new jobs in theater are only of 16,900 by 2018. Total number of students awarded a degree in theater in the 2008-2009 period- 89,140. This got me curious to research the actual statistics for job prospects in Television, Video, Motion Picture Camera operator and Editors on the Bureau of labor statistics. Sure enough the average projected growth was only about 10.66%, which is as fast as the average for all occupations. Which means to no surprise, that there will be a lot of competition for positions in the film and TV industry. Also not surprising is that most of the job growth will come from video work done for internet audiences.

Furthermore, the report states that “Those who succeed in landing a salaried job or attracting enough work to earn a living by freelancing are likely to be the most creative and highly motivated people, able to adapt to rapidly changing technologies and adept at operating a business.” In other words in other to stay competitive in the film industry an aspiring filmmaker must stay in top of the game by staying motivated, constantly polishing their skills and have an entrepreneur mindset. This precisely is the reason why up and coming filmmakers must try to avoid Average Joe Jobs that minimize their competitiveness by consuming time not being used for practicing their craft.

There are two options to stay competitive in the film industry:

Have a freelance business that can somehow be connected to film or

Have some type of online business that will allow you to have enough time to concentrate more on filmmaking than overseeing the business.

Any Freelance business can be connected to the film industry. Are you good at cooking? Consider having a catering business that can be used in film sets. Are you a carpenter? Consider marketing yourself to work on constructions of film sets. The point is to stay as close as possible to the film industry in other to network and continue polishing your filmmaking skills.

As for having an online business. Today more than ever is easy to build an online store using e-commerce shopping platforms such as, ebay, etsy or building your own website from scratch. If you are unsure on how to exactly build a freelance or online business consult with others whom have done it before. Look around in your film community. Ask a videographer for tips or other local freelancers or online business owners. If you don't know any then it's an excellent opportunity to practice those networking skills that will surely come in handy to work on the next big blockbuster or indie film. Filmmaking is still an art, but at the same time it has always been a business since the early 1900's. If we want to be part of that creative and artistic world, we must acknowledge that in other to get there, we must have some business and marketing savvy and not rely solely on creative talent.

Joel Valle went to the New York Film Academy and is both a filmmaker and a freelance writer. Currently he is a member of the Austin Film Meet and is working on his own film projects and runs the blog to help all artist break into freelancing.

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