The film industry is famously hard to get into. If you have aspirations of having a career as a director, producer, or something else, it can feel a bit confusing as to how you become these things. It’s true that there isn’t a blueprint to follow to get into the film industry. Even after a person attends film school, the next steps aren’t necessarily laid out. Thankfully, James Velissaris of Finch Fortress Films has spoken out about this very subject.
Get an Education
The first thing to know about getting into the film industry is that education is still key. Just because it’s entertainment and you’re creative doesn’t mean you can sidestep the technical aspect. James Velissaris, who founded Finch Fortress Films, graduated from Harvard University with a degree in economics. He then went on to obtain a master’s degree from Columbia. A career in the film industry necessitates a basic understanding of economics and finances, especially if your sites are set on producing.
Learn How to Focus
As you learn and grow, there will be many distractions along the way. If you don’t focus, your vision may fizzle out. You need to know how to stay focused to get into the film industry. Films typically take a year or more to complete. All this time, the film’s producers, director, and cast have to keep their passion for the project and keep moving it forward.
Develop Your Vision
Once you get going a little, don’t be afraid to develop your vision. The film industry has room for improvement, just like other industries. James Velissaris recognized an inherent problem with how diversity is represented in film. He struck out to change that with his film company’s films, such as Seeds of Change, The Dropout, and My Divorce Party. Velissaris explains it this way: “I felt the film industry portrayals across race, gender and sexual orientation can be, at times, stereotypical representations that don’t allow a diverse set of viewers to see themselves in film. One of our firm’s core missions is to help produce films and television shows that challenge these conventional portrayals.”
Be Willing to Put in the Hours
No one is going to hand you a career in the film industry. There may be the odd story of actors being discovered. But the vast majority of success stories came about because of old-fashioned hard work; people are putting in the hours. James Velissaris wasn’t born with a silver spoon. As a biracial child growing up in Chicago, he had his share of challenges. Odd jobs partly paid his tenure at Harvard he took on while studying for his degree. He also obtained scholarships, again due to recognition of his hard work and dedication. If you can follow those kinds of footsteps, a film career will be more likely to happen for you.
Network With the Right People
To get into film, you need to be where films are made. That includes Los Angeles, but it also includes Atlanta, Savannah, and more. Independent film studios are more common, and it’s a little easier to break into a smaller studio. Get to know your fellow film enthusiasts. Your career network is essential and might lead to a job offer or a chance to work on a special project someday.
When you look at James Velissaris’ career, you can see that it is possible to make a difference in the film. Use these tips to get into the film industry so your voice can be heard, too.