Ally sent the following question:
Hi Ally, thank you so much for your message. Let’s see if I can answer your questions:
1) I understand career anxiety. My wife and my brother — even me at times — feel a lot of it! I would say that most careers have to deal with some kind of anxiety. Definitely, being a lawyer or a doctor is NOT any easier in this respect. Especially if you are a director, you have to deal with a lot of pressure and deadlines, but this is true for any facet of filmmaking. From writing to editing, everyone has to deal with anxiety. If you really love movies and see yourself as a part of the process, my suggestion is that you take steps towards managing anxiety as much as you can, for this will help you regardless of the career path you take.
2) You know, when I first fell in love for the movies and filmmaking, I was very focused on older classics, anything from the 1920s to 1980s. For some reason, I had the desire to know, understand, research and love the movies that came before me. At some point, however, I realized it could mean trouble for me. I’m not gonna lie to you, knowing and ENJOYING recent movies is probably mandatory because you have to know what everyone else is doing. Not only for the story in these movies, but also for the techniques being used. Also, you should know how the market works. Once you establish yourself, you can then try to make the movies you want, even if they defy common sense.
3) Make no mistake, there are moments of grief and struggle when everything goes to hell. The actor is late, the camera is acting up, the location manager wants you out by 5pm, a production assistant tripped on a cable and injured himself. And then, it starts raining! It happens. It can be soul-sucking at times. But the people that persevere and continue working on films do so because, at the end of the day, the joys and fun outweigh the heartache and the pains. It can be especially hard when you are starting out, and you have to climb the rungs of the industry till you find yourself in that dream job. But people still do it. So yeah, it is worth trying!
4. Screenwriting is NOT necessary. But a sense of good storytelling is. Films are narratives, and if you can’t distinguish a great story from a bad one, you’re in trouble. I definitely recommend you read books on screenwriting, but also read movie reviews and join discussions about the craft of storytelling. Ask yourself why does this work or doesn’t, and debate it with friends. You’ll see everyone has a different opinion and interpretation. Even if you don’t wanna be a screenwriter, you still need to understand screenwriting, so read screenplays. Probably start with the scripts from movies you like. Here’s a bunch of them: http://gointothestory.blcklst.com/free-script-downloads/ (Sorry these are mostly recent movies.)
As for inspiration for coming up with your own stuff, know that it’s always a challenge. One technique that works for me is this: every time you have a movie idea, write it down. Don’t over analyze it. Sometimes the wackiest ideas are the best ones! Think of BACK TO THE FUTURE or JURASSIC PARK. In my head, they are almost laughable as concepts, but they work fantastically well on the screen because their execution is top-notch. The other side of this is is when ideas don’t feel complete or coherent. Even if they are fragments, write them down. Make that a habit! Get a notebook or a binder just for ideas. Later you will combine stuff and make two little ideas into a big one. Believe me: it happens. But first, you must. Write. It. Down!
Did I answer everything?
By the way, it’s awesome that you already started working on commercials at age 15. To answer your other question regarding what you can do at 15:
My suggestion is to continue filming as much as you can. Acquire (or borrow) a camera and start shooting. Do as many projects as you can and focus on completing them. It’s easy to, say, lose motivation after recording something. But, unless you have a good reason, you must force yourself to edit each project to completion. Learn from your mistakes. If you can’t finish a movie for whatever reason, understand what went wrong and do what you can to prevent that from happening again.
I’m not sure where you live, but some high schools have media programs that give you access to some equipment like cameras and editing suites. It’s always a good idea to look into it. If your school offers no such program, I also recommend you look into a local TV station, inquire if they have internships or courses you take. These are usually inexpensive (or free) if you can find a public program or institution. Be sure to ask around! Yet another option is to attend a community college in the summer. Because you are young and not really a full-time college student, you can just take whichever fun classes you want.
Thank you again, Ally! Comment below if you have any questions! Have a great day!
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