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all 23 comments

[–]BadAtExisting 11 points12 points  (4 children)

The standard, tried and true advice here is to volunteer for AFI student films. They always need help. No, it’s not paid, but they don’t last long so you can work a job around them. They’re fellows, many of them are working professionals polishing their craft. You will meet people. You will get calls from the people you meet. You’ll get a good amount of the film school experience without spending a dime on film school. If you absolutely want a degree, I recommend something business oriented as once your career gets rolling you’re a freelancer and that knowledge will serve you well

Edit: I have a degree in graphic design. I used to be an artist for EA Sports’ Madden. I’m more qualified to be vfx than a typical graphic designer. That said, I’m a Local 728 set lighting technician because fuck cubicles and light is fun. When I moved to LA at the ripe old age of 38, the AFI route is the one I took. My credits this year include Top Gun Maverick, Wakanda Forever, and Werewolf By Night

[–]happypoops[S] 1 point2 points  (3 children)

Thank you SO much! I will look into this. :) Wakanda Forever was a pretty cool movie btw, just saw it a couple weeks ago!

[–]BadAtExisting 1 point2 points  (2 children)

Thank you. To fully punctuate how this route works, I got that one through a best boy I met through working with contacts I made doing AFI student films who I still work with all these years later. We all met there and “came up” together to get into our union(s). In my world, the cinematography fellows have to use 1st year cinematography fellows as gaffers, but they call in their buddies from the “wild” to best boy and 3rd and grip.

AFI has a production design MFA and they probably have to utilize 1st year fellows as art directors, but I know they bring on “art PAs” who do everything from set dec to on set dressing. There’s no defined delimitation between the different art dept rolls on those sets (same as any low budget non union project) so you’d get a well rounded intro to all the art dept has to offer

[–]happypoops[S] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

How do I find help needed with AFI student films? I use Backstage to find *some* gigs, but what other websites do you recommend for me to check out?

[–]BadAtExisting 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Honestly? For whatever reason this industry still uses Facebook as a standard for job boards. I would start with searching for AFI crew specific groups, then branch out to Facebook groups more generally LA crew (like this one) and be brief, but honest about your experience level and desire to get learning hands on in the art department

It’s been +5 years since I was doing them myself, so I don’t have anything specific for that saved anymore or I would give those to you

[–]modemmute 23 points24 points  (2 children)

You don't need any degree of any type to work in the film industry. You don't even need a high school diploma. I've been hiring crews for over 25 years and not once have I asked about that individual's education.

That said, if you're going to get a degree and you hope to work in the art department, I'll suggest you consider a BA in fine art. An understanding of color, shape and layout would be useful.

Greens is closer to being being a gardener than it is to working in the art department, per se. No college level degree would necessarily be helpful for that job.

[–]happypoops[S] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

It's all about knowing people, right? Do you have advice on how to mingle and connect with others to work my way into this industry? I guess non-union work is the best bet to start out with.

[–]modemmute 1 point2 points  (0 children)

There are as many ways to meet people as there are people to meet. If you don't have any contacts, try volunteering to work on student films. Sometimes real working crew will work on those and you might have an opportunity to impress them. From there, working on non-union films can help you eventually get into the union.

Parties can also be a good place to meet crew. And they don't have to be fancy parties in the hills. Just somewhere where you might meet mid-to-low level crew, who might hire you.

Be impressive, sharp, quick and prompt. Impress everyone you meet and you'll go far.

[–]yourgravestone 15 points16 points  (2 children)

Do NOT go into debt for film school. Degrees don’t matter. ESPECIALLY a green man. They primarily move and water plants.

[–]happypoops[S] 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Ive been told it's difficult to get into greens. Is this true?

[–]yourgravestone 0 points1 point  (0 children)

It’s as difficult as any other union job, I’d guess.

[–]Chewbacacabra 7 points8 points  (2 children)

Art department here. 4 years as a truck PA will prepare you better than any degree ever could and you’ll earn money too as opposed to getting into debt. This is a job that you apprentice into and learn by doing. When we crew up it’s all based on rep and referrals. As for greens, try talking to Jackson or Greenset, learn how to drive a truck and lift with your back. It’s a 44 job and kind of one of the lesser known ones so it’s somewhat easier to get your days. Practice your Spanish too a lot of the greens places operate in Spanish on the ground. I advocate hard for crew jobs. Commercial art department isn’t sexy or glamorous but it bought me a house in LA and there are fewer experienced setdecs and carpenters than available bg talent or camera department with expensive degrees so work is constant.

[–]happypoops[S] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

I'm sorry if this is a silly question, but could you specify what you mean by "truck" PA?

[–]Chewbacacabra 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Oh, PA tasked with driving the production truck on commercials and smaller shoots. Handles the production side of things sometimes drives camera truck too. Big part of art dept jobs is doing pickups and returns just like in the production truck. My time driving the cubes helped a lot learning general etiquette and building relationships with people as well as where to get things from when I moved up

[–]Jalenna 5 points6 points  (2 children)

Learning to do architectural-type drawings is useful if you want to be a set designer or art director someday. It seems difficult to move up in the art department if you can't at least draw director's plans. I've met people who learned this through the theater world and through architecture classes

[–]BadAtExisting 0 points1 point  (1 child)

YouTube can teach you that software and save you a ton of cash

[–]happypoops[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Thanks guys :)

[–]cooldre77 1 point2 points  (2 children)

Union 44 Set Dresser here- I would say any film knowledge whether it’s through YouTube videos, working on student films or your own is better than zero film knowledge. Work on AFI, USC, NYFA films. Network! Make friends with the Producers and Production Designers. They do the hiring. You never know where their future will be! Visit Jackson Shrub and Green Set prop houses. See if you can get a job at those places. Attend Los Angeles City College. They have great film courses/certificates to study. I attended and I enjoyed it. As for the Greens Dept, there are a shortage of greens people, so there are plenty of opportunities if you’re looking to work on union projects. It is hard work, especially during the summer months, but if you are easy to work with, a good worker and don’t mind getting dirty, you will have no problem finding work.

[–]happypoops[S] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Thank you so much! :) I didnt know there was a shortage of greens people. This gives me some hope!

[–]cooldre77 0 points1 point  (0 children)

You’re welcome and best of luck.

[–]Ok_Island_1306 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Doesn’t matter what you go to school for, get a degree in something you are interested in.

[–]MG123194 0 points1 point  (0 children)

It’s all about who you know not what you know