Producing : Recent Graduate by Rebecka Nejderas

Rebecka Nejderas

Recent Graduate

I recently graduated from the one year producing program at New York Film Academy. I have a roster of short films that I have written which I want to try to produce this coming year but I am feeling a bit apprehensive. The plan is to direct them myself and shoot with my DSLR camera, basically using the resources I have at hand. The purpose of these production being for me to figure out if I want to be a Writer/Producer or a Writer/Producer/Director.

I think what I am worried about is asking actors to be a part of my films because they are going to be filmed in a very amateurish way (if you get what I mean)

Does anyone have any stories to share about their experiences producing films fresh out of film school?

Doug Nelson

Never went to film school (Engineerin' school instead). What I can say is that you attended a producing program for a reason. Now follow your passion in a professional way. Don't approach it as an amateure; do your utmost to produce the very best that you can with the limited equipment you have available. Be open and honest with your cast and crew - they are likely to be just as amateure as you (maybe more so). Then do it again; learn, learn and learn...

Elena Lockleis

I didn’t go to film school. I graduated from a liberal arts college in Iowa with a degree in Creative Writing. Found a passion for screenwriting and found a way to incorporate that into my studies when no screenwriting course even existed at that college at the time. Same with filmmaking in general. Film Studies. That’s it. Nothing where you would actually go out and make films.

So when I moved to Los Angeles, I just decided to post a casting call for a play I wrote that I hired a screenwriter to help me turn into a feature. Pretty much I wore too many hats. But it was an experience I’ll never forget because I learned a lot.

I even re-cast and filmed another version of that same script that went a lot smoother (a few bumps but that’s to be expected).

But then I decided, for personal projects, to focus on bringing scripts completely my own to life. And that means to just get out there and do it. And I have.

One of my proudest moments as a writer/producer/director was looking around set for a pilot presentation short and seeing this incredible cast and crew I had managed to bring on board. Smiles and laughter over the two days despite crazy heat on the 2nd day was just really special. Especially when one of the actresses said with such assurance that we’ll all be together again.

Another proud moment as a writer/producer/director happened recently with a short jukebox musical film that was filmed remotely. Filmed on their iphones.

Casting was a whirlwind but eventually getting to the right people for the project and it’s clear how hard they worked to put on their best performances. The final product is beautiful.

Write a good script and there will be actors who will want to be a part of it. And that doesn’t mean it will be limited to actors currently in acting school. I’ve worked with someone that weren’t at the time.

You have the ability to give them an opportunity to work on their craft. Maybe even something to add to their reel. One of the projects I shot with an iPhone and recently I saw that one of the actresses added some of that footage to her reel and I was honored.

My advice is to stick to a minimal cast and just be upfront about the project when casting. Be friendly, personable and professional. Just have a vision and a plan.

I hope any of that ramble was useful in some way.

I believe in you!

Vanshdeep Singh

I can't tell you much about directing a film but I CAN tell you about what you can do to overcome the feeling that you might screw up because it will be your first film. First of all you did go to film school and that means you might have had some experience watching other people shooting theirs, you can learn from them. Secondly I would suggest try it out with some family members or some close friends who you feel comfortable sharing your feelings with. Shoot a 5-10 min home made script with your siblings or parents or friends, so even if you screw up somewhere you will know how to correct it and you won't waste a lot of time since it would be a 5-10min film.

In my personal experience with being unconfident for some time ago, I learnt that there are mainly 2 reasons for being that way- You either don't know what you do or you think too much about what other people might think of you just because they "maybe" more experienced than you.

if it's the first reason, then the answer is simple, sharpen your skills.

if it's the second reason, then also the answer is simple, choose to work with people who you feel comfortable with. it doesn't matter if they are a great actor or actress, if they can't work with you or respect your decisions and visions for your movie, they should not be working with you. Set some ground rules in the beginning. You must mention it to your team that it is your first project (DO NOT MENTION THAT YOU'RE AN AMATEUR ). Last thing you need is for your team to not have confidence in you. If you mention that it is your first project they will automatically tell you whether they feel comfortable with working with you or not and maybe they might help you as well.

The simple thing is this, if people know what kind of person you are and they are still willing to stick with you, they are worth being with and if they say "no", please don't waste your time. It doesn't mean that the person who said "no" is bad, it just means that this is not the right time.

Lastly, the director has to be a leader, and a leader is someone who doesn't know everything but is willing to learn it no matter what. Making films is a creative endeavor and creativity requires suggestions, failure, corrections, tweaks and lastly ENJOYMENT.

I'm sorry that this comment is so long, but I have personally dealt with being unconfident for a long time. Never went to film school (medical school instead), never directed a movie but I felt what you asked because I went through a similar situation last year and it was because I was trying to be someone who I'm not and was scared what people might think of me, NOT ANYOMRE :)

Enjoy making your first movie, can't wait for it. :)

Rebecka Nejderas

Thank you all for your advice, I really appreciate it and I feel more confidant now to get out and do it :)

John Ellis

Don't worry about the cast thinking this will be too "amateurish." Actors are always looking to add to their reels.

Mel Barrett

If you have several scripts you'd like to complete, my suggestion would be to try your hand at each of the roles one at a time to figure out what you'd like to do. I wouldn't try to overcomplicate the process because you'll be overwhelmed and that's not a good feeling when you're trying to make a decision like that. You can be all the things you want to be. You don't have to do it all at the same time. I made the mistake early in my career of trying to be everything (writer, director, producer, editor, etc.) and it watered down my projects. If I'd focused on just writing/directing or just producing, I feel I would have had stronger projects in the end. Regardless, good luck and try to set fear aside. We're all here for the art of it.

Doug Nelson

Hey Rebecka - remember that if your first attempt really 'sucks', that's okay. You don't have to let anyone see it (I've got a couple of those). It's priceless a opportunity to learn from your errors. It's your film - you can shoot it again & again until you feel it's 'right'.

Shadow Dragu-Mihai

Go for it, the only teacher that counts in this industry is experience. Don't consider yourself "amateurish", consider yourself aspiring. Also, don't consider that any film cannot be good just because of budget.

Karen "Kay" Ross

If you think of it as enlisting collaborators who are just as enthusiastic about the scripts as you are, then 1) you won't feel inclined to apologize, but express gratitude instead 2) be upfront about what you have and welcome what they can contribute and 3) they may want to see it be better than "amatuerish" and offer to use their equipment/resources to make it better. Be respectful of people's time - try to make the shoots over a weekend so it doesn't take away from their ability to make money during the week, feed them well, and give yourself a hard deadline for releasing the final copy so they can enjoy their work. If you treat your team like rockstars, you'd be surprised how much they can forgive.

Bill Albert

I've made quite a few short films through a local Public Access Station. Some of them worked, some of them didn't quite come together, but that's part of the process. You'll have to learn from it.

The least difficult part of what I was doing was getting actors. I contacted the local university theater department with an email introducing myself, explaining what I was doing, and asked if anyone was interested. The responses were better than I ever hoped for. In return for payment for their work I made sure that the films would have a place online and be available for them to use to promote their own talent in the audition process and portfolios. I've got dozens of them on vimeo.

This way everybody wins. You get actors to bring your work to life and they get a good way to show their talent to other producers.

Go for it.

Bill Albert

P.S. I also bought pizza for everyone when we finished the shoot. And doughnuts! Don't forget the doughnuts!

Neal Howard

If your scripts are good any other shortcomings will be forgiven. Story is what keeps audiences engaged and good words are what your actors need most to perform their magic. If you're confident in your content, the rest will fall into place. Make your first directorial decisions based on whether you're enhancing or distracting from the story. As long as it's not the latter, you'll do fine.

Dan MaxXx

I went to film school and my first paid jobs after graduating were music videos & commercials. Back then those two mediums paid well and the crews were a mix of union and nonunion. The hardest transition from school to real world jobs is working with people in different stages of their careers and age differences. Everyone's got their own agenda, in front and behind camera.

The other thing is to stay debt free. Harder to make moves if you got kids, family, bills holding you down. Produce small projects and build your confidence and experience for bigger budgets. Good Luck!

Lindbergh E Hollingsworth

Dan has good sage advice! Rebecka, you mentioned DSLR, you can also go with mobile filmmaking, i.e., using a smart phone and the FilmicPro app. Head over to Facebook and join the Mobile Filmmakers group as they have great information on how to use your mobile devices to get the bang for your buck. Both DSLRs and mobile devices are great ways to get experience and traction.

Karen "Kay" Ross

Ooo, yes, FilmicPro app is fantastic! And it forces you to practice those manual camera skills! LOL!

Audrey Webb

Do the best with what you've got and learn as you go. I've directed and produced two short films, with zero knowledge of how to do either. You've got a leg up on most people! Go in with the expectation that you'll make mistakes (ie. don't expect perfection!) and take those lessons moving forward when you start your next project.

Doug Nelson

Just go shoot the damn thing. It will be full of learning moments (mistakes) - so what.

Karen "Kay" Ross

Yep... "Shut Up and Shoot" is a fantastic motto and book for just that reason LOL!

Oscar Ordonez

Rebecka Nejderas been learning what everyone here is saying-- just do it. It's cliche, but because it's true. You'll never learn what your strengths or weaknesses are without getting in the ring. For example, I made a short series on YouTube... absolutely awful in terms of production, but I saw some nuggets of gold in there for when I want to try big things. :)

Rebecka Nejderas

Wow, I really didn't expect to get this much feedback. You are all awesome :) I am taking your advice and I will channel my inner Nike and just do it!!

Other topics in Producing:

register for stage 32 Register / Log In