Last summer, I graduated with a BA Honours Degree in Film, and since have spent most of my time as a production runner, a photographer and an intern. To say the least, it hasn’t been easy, and isn’t likely to get any easier in the near future.
While studying for my degree, I was met with the usual questions thrown at students, my favourite being the inevitable “What are you studying?”, that is spoken with such an air of expectancy and temporary interest, that would then quickly be replaced with mildly patronising tones and hesitant facial expressions. For example:
Distant relative whose name I never remember: “Oh you’re at University now? Fantastic! What are you studying?”
Distant relative whose name I never remember: “Oh. How… lovely!”
In her head: “Ohhh, one of those degrees.”
Oh, I heard your judging all right.
And I’m sure that 90% of my fellow Film Graduates/Current Film Students will have heard it too.
The thing with doing a degree in Film, or even pursuing a career in Film is that, yeah, it’s not rocket science. It’s not Law, or Medicine, and it’s nowhere NEAR the realms of academia that other subjects delve into. However,
It. Is. Bloody. Hard. Work.
Filmmaking isn’t difficult. It is just hard work.
The reason so many people never make it, isn’t because they’ve failed a course, or a degree. It’s because they’ve given up. Half the time, successful filmmakers don’t even have those credentials. You don’t really need a degree, or any kind of other certification in film to make it.
What you need is balls, and persistence.
Anyway, for all my filmmaking friends, and friends of filmmaking friends out there, here are fifteen fail-safe signs that you studied film at University.
1. When you left University, you felt incredibly motivated and 110% ready to take on the world.
2. This quickly changed as you started looking for jobs and realised that job hunting is possibly the most depressing thing on the entire planet.
3. You’re signed up to MyFirstJobInFilm, ProductionBase and countless other jobsites that give promise of a ‘break’ into the industry, slowly drowning your CV and Showreel into a pool of unwanted and unread CVs and Showreels…
4. You are currently working several jobs, both full-time and part-time, while simultaneously attempting to kick-start your own project(s).
5. Hearing about your one friend finally getting the funding for her PhD, and your other friend looking into putting a mortgage down on a house, makes you want to curl up into the fetal position and die.
6. Whenever you meet someone new, you dread the question, “So, what do you do?”
7. Your “weekly” life-update phone call with your parents is rife with reassuring adjectives and positive thinking, when you actually feel like this:
8. You see lots of opportunities online in the form of short-courses, film-related competitions, or even Master Degrees, and wish you had your Student Loan again, or essentially a ‘Free Money Service’.
9. You watch endless amounts of TV and Film to “get ideas”.
10. You buy a notebook that you promise yourself will be full of brilliant and award-winning ideas, but instead, ends up amounting to nothing more than the likes of your grocery list and the fiftieth draft of your New Years Resolution.
11. You attempt to network and force yourself into situations you aren’t used to.
12. You contemplate the idea of getting a “normal” job, but then are immediately shut down by your fears of failure and the inability to follow your dreams.
13. But then, alas, a glimmer of hope when you bag your first film related job, and it feels like a complete success. The sun is shining, the grass is green and your life is now (temporarily) made.
14. You turn up to your new job and feel the need to come across as professional, yet enthusiastic at the same time, but end up spending most of your time feeling like this:
15. And finally, after your first string of successful film jobs, you realise that you need to do the entire process again.
Then, the cycle repeats.
Stay strong, my fellow Film Grads!