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Filmmaking / Directing : Young Directors: Building A Body of Work by Dylan Kress

Dylan Kress

Young Directors: Building A Body of Work

Hey guys, I've been thinking about this a lot recently and wanted to see if you guys have any advise. I'm working to build up a body of work as a director so I can sell myself as such, but I'm not really sure what kind of project will give me the best return on investment. Do I spend my energy doing a great short that showcases my style and can act as a calling card for more potential work? Or, do I focus on building my reel, in which case I could just focus on smaller scenes that don't necessarily tell a whole story but give me a chance to work on varying styles with a range of different actors? I can see the benefit of both but what's more important when going out for jobs? A great short or a great reel? Or something else that I'm totally overlooking? Any help here is greatly appreciated. Cheers, Dylan

D Marcus

It isn't a sprint. So I don't see why you can't work on both. As you look for that great script that will allow you to make that great short you can shoot smaller scenes. Think in the long term; by January 2015 if you have five or six smaller scenes that show your varying styles with a range of different actors AND a great short you will have one hell of a reel. If in the next 6 months you still haven't found the perfect script or you are gearing up for production you will still have five or six smaller scenes for your reel.

Ed Spangler

D Marcus makes some good points. Don't know how much experience you have but I'd second starting small. You'll learn a lot from doing some quick scenes, and any friends you get to help you won't burn out as fast if they're just helping you out for a few hours or a day or 2 instead of the multiple days/weeks it might take you to do a short, especially if you are giving them no/low pay. Learn to crawl, then walk, then run. I've been too busy/procrastinating forever about cutting together reels for myself but get work based off past small things I've shot and word-of-mouth. Oh, speaking of word-of-mouth, good recommendations from friends and people you've worked with goes a looong way towards getting jobs.

Joel Irwin

I can tell you that from my vantage point, as a composer, I often work with filmmakers that have been using public domain music and have never worked with someone who can write customized music for them. As a composer, I am more likely to work on shorts and not on a reel since I look to score something that will be a complete entity that will be seen by an audience. So I started my career working here in shorts - they come in two varieties - low or no budget shorts where the filmmaker needs to make the film and then market the film - typically via festivals or through a competition. I was skeptical at first but now having done it (not all the same one) for 5 years, I can tell you that outside of the major hubs of NY, LA, and perhaps Austin - a competition is the best way to get practical experience in all facets of filmmaking and to get to collaborate with local talent. This then becomes an excellent springboard for larger projects. While not the only competition, from my vantage point, by far the most popular competition is "The 48 Hour Film Project". Back when we had our weekend in May, there were over 60 teams competing - and they all needed the various talent - actors, PAs, cinematographers. Post editors, etc. 3 of my 4 IMDB shorts in 2013 were part of competitions - one of them was a spinoff of 48hr called 48hr mvp - my film won Houston and went on to compete internationally at Filmapalooza and place 2nd to Paris (total of 12 awards). I learnt a lot and made valuable collaborative connections. http://youtu.be/jXfajMVeT54 Turned out, after I scored a film in June, I found out it was part of a christian-based competition called 168 film festival (168film.com). The film was named one of two finalists in its category and I will be headed to LA next month to participate in the festival. Hope the above gives you some ideas.

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