Thursday, 7 November 2019

I've Graduated Film School: Now What?




Graduated film school: Now what?

Here it is. 

The certificate, bachelor, master. 

The paper you’ve been working toward for months or years. It’s finally handed to you. You’re smiling for the photos, celebrating with your film school friends and if you’re lucky, your family travelled all the way down to wherever you’re studying. It’s a perfect night. 

And well deserved. 

Next morning you wake up, get your coffee ready, look outside and it hits you: what now?

Everyone who went to film school knows it’s a very intense and challenging process. If you’re lucky your school preached a hands-on teaching style, you graduate with a bunch of projects (some you learn to laugh at, you have to). As anything that is time and energy consuming, when it’s “gone”, it leaves a very scary void. 


Since I’ve graduated six weeks ago, I’m pitching a TV Drama, have been hired to write a feature that will start production late 2020 and am rewriting my own feature that has been requested by two agencies. 

I will share my experience and ways I made sure the “after film school” void wasn’t going to take over and how I’m making sure I’ll get closer to my goals.

Take a week but not more


When I graduated, I celebrated like you should (I hope everyone erased evidence from their phones) and I took a week off. Seven days. 

In those seven days I did a situation plan: what did I learn from film school, what did I learn about myself, what are my strong skills, what makes me different, how can I market myself (more on BRANDING here!), what is the job I’m looking for, what is my dream, my goals, and every step to get closer. 

I made sure I knew where I was heading before I made the first move.


The power of deadlines


Scheduling is your best friend. 

I create deadlines for all my projects. I start with setting a date in a year. 

I’m giving myself a year to achieve a certain amount of “bigger” goals and then break them down into steps that start with today. 

These two steps are mostly meant to make sure that you don’t let yourself off the hook. They’re essential steps. You’ve been in a very intense environment, it’s up to you to keep yourself in it. 

I can’t even count the number of people I’ve seen graduating with the highest motivation and dreams and spend the next six months scrolling through their streaming accounts while eating popcorns and hoping for the phone to ring. 

It’s very easy to get stuck and let yourself off the hook if you don’t plan clearly.

Now, how do you land that dream job, how do you get on a set, how do you get into that writer’s room and further your career?


Keep creating (festivals and contests)


You probably know that your degree doesn’t matter much in Hollywood unless you want to teach in film school one day. 

You can’t just go around town and tell everyone you have this or that degree. What they want to see is actual projects. 

When you start, you have to be your own producer: short films and webseries are a fantastic way to land a job and get your name in festivals. 

An additional way is to write scripts that you can put in contests.


Film School Friends


Being done with Film School doesn’t mean being done with the people you met there. Hang on to your film school friends. 

Actually, the biggest asset of film school isn’t the degree, it’s the connections. 

Your film school friends are the only ones that can understand exactly what you’re going through, they face the same challenges and they work towards a goal similar to yours. 

They’re not your competition, they’re your support system. 

It only takes one of you to make it and that opens doors for all of you. 

The amount of support, love, and understanding they can give you is priceless (or should I say pricy? Film school is not cheap). 

Often do I hear stories of people who still see their film school friends twenty, thirty years after graduating. 


Writing groups


Often your school will have amazing alumni offers. If you’re not sure they do, ask. One thing they might offer are writing groups. 

Alumni get to be back together once a week and workshop projects. 

This is an amazing way to make sure you keep writing (or acting if it’s an acting workshop) and keep yourself on deadlines and accountable. 

You get notes on what you’re doing in a healthy environment. I’m saying healthy because writing groups can be absolutely amazing and supporting but if they’re not regulated or if it’s not the right creative people together, it can totally kill your voice as a writer. 

If you feel like your writing group is limiting you and cuts your aspiration, learn to walk away.


Mentorship


There’s plenty of opportunities to find a mentor. 

It’s so important when you start to have someone to look up to, someone accessible. Mentorship opportunities are everywhere. 

Show you’re motivated, let people know you just graduated, show your personality and… ask! 

Nothing will come to you if you don’t ask. Very often people will say yes. 

I know asking is scary but it’s time you apply this rule: The worst thing that can happen is someone saying no. 

And if you don’t ask, it’s already a no.


Events


If you’re lucky to live in a city like Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, and probably many many others, there’s plenty of filmmaking events. 

Attend as many as you can (have a specific monthly budget for events). You will meet so many people, some at your level, some higher, and some lower. 

There’s one rule I apply: Do not try to network with everybody in the room. 

Less is more. Set yourself the goal to connect with 2-5 people but do it for real. 

Talk and share, create a connection, a deeper connection. 

Make sure they know who you are and what you can do, make sure to leave a business card. 3-5 real connections will get your further than 15 quick “just saying hi”.


Don’t despair. Work will get you work 


You might not start where you wished. That’s okay. Do not despair. Do not give up. 

You will get there. Work gets your work. 

Through one job that might not have been on your list of jobs you’d like to do; you can meet someone that can lead to another job that can lead to another. Work gets you work. 

Put your name out there, show work ethic, be passionate, be kind. Smile. 

It will pay eventually. 


Reward yourself and get a close circle of believers 


And when you get that big news. The one that furthers your career, do not forget to reward yourself. This is a though industry and the amount of work you have to put in is enormous.

When you get great news, celebrate. 

Having fun in the process is how you’ll last in the game. 

Take your close circle out for drinks or dinner. Don’t call everyone that didn’t believe in you to let them know they were wrong all along. They’ll find out in the headlines. 

Celebrate with your support system. 

These are the people that matter and the people you want to be surrounded with when you get a step closer to your dream.

Best of Luck my film school graduates.

Hold on, we’re going strong!

Lena Murisier speaks and writes in four languages. She’s originally from Switzerland and graduated the New York Film Academy of Los Angeles in September 2019. 

She’s been crewing (DP, PA, 1st AD) on many short films and has directed several times. Don’t be surprised if you turn on the TV and see her play extras once or twice (like in the upcoming independent TV show Everyone is Doing Great).

What she loves most is writing. Features and TV.

Currently, she’s pitching a Female Driven police drama pilot she wrote during her time in film school. Hit her up on Instagram: @lenamurisier (tip: send her a meme, she’ll answer immediately).


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