A look into the reasons why there are fewer female directors than male. There are many factors that crop up when you try to find out why there are fewer female film directors, which makes the solution hard to establish.Read More
This post has been a long time coming. I have found leaving the film industry very hard to talk about in the past. Talking about giving up on my dream career, admitting that I failed to achieve what I set out to do. These thoughts used to fill me with guilt.Read More
I have worked on 10 feature films, many more shorts, a few commercials and one TV show. In this post I am going to go through these feature length productions and show how I found work on each one.Read More
This is a post looking at my current efforts to make blogging and the online world pay for all of my bills. In brief I started blogging back in 2011 whilst at university. I started to consider blogging as a way of making additional income towards the end of 2015 when a blog post I wrote attracted a lot of attention. At the start of this year 2017 I started to take this blog super seriously.
My goal at the start of this year was to leave my full time job and make this blog my sole source of income. I quit my job in July and whilst living off savings I tried to make this blog pay. Currently this blog makes myself a part-time income (which is OK for 6 months of trying). I have lived off some savings and also I am lucky enough to share my household bills so my expenses are not too heavy. It’s a half achievement and my goal for new year is to double my blogs monthly income.
I am planning on getting a part time job to help out with my bills until my income doubles. (seeing as my savings are all used up - these saving where created especially to help me during the full-time job to freelance blogger transition). In other words I am doing OK, several times my blog income alone has paid for all of my monthly outgoings. Its not perfect but I know this career move is now very possible.
Most of my income has come from my 1-1 CV services and I have made a little more through online courses and affiliate links. Setting up services on my blog was the easiest and fastest was to make money. Simply my idea for the CV service came from looking at the blogs most popular posts topics and paying attention to questions I receive via email. The topic of filmmaker CV design kept showing up and so I created a service around this demand.
I have 10K unique blog readers a month. Which is a lot for someone who only posts weekly, this is due to SEO keywords ranking high on Google. Learning SEO has helped me a lot in finding an audience for this blog. It’s not so obvious that my blog is popular as readers in my niche are not the type to excessively leave comments. I am finding it hard to get sponsored content as my social media numbers are low. The social media will build up in time however sponsorship's where never part of my original business plan.
The best advice I read online about blogging was to only focus on one number - the profit. If you want this to make you money you need to think of it as a business. Treating my blog as a business and not comparing myself to others in my niche has helped greatly in making this blog profitable. My plans for new year as I say is to double this blogs monthly income. I am going to do this through creating more quality posts and videos, better content marketing, improved services and a new online course.
Here is some of the best advice I have heard and found useful and true to making an income from online –
- Treat your blog / YouTube channel / podcast whatever you do like a professional business
- The only number to focus on is your profit
- Services are the easiest and fasted way to make money
- Start growing your email list as soon as you begin
- Before buying something most people need to have heard about it seven times before they hand over their money
So right now in all fairness this blog is a part time income stream however I believe I can make this blog double its income next year. If you have any questions on online income or any thoughts on how this blog should develop this new year let me know below.
I used to want to be a film director and maybe I still do
I am going to start this by saying that this is not a pity post. This sort of personal post can attract comments reminding me I am young and that everything will work itself out. I know life has a way of working out but I am writing this to share where I am in my life right now and perhaps some filmmakers out there can relate.
I am deeply ambitious and at the age of 15 I knew wanted to be a film director. Shortly after I read Robert Rodriguez's book ‘Rebel without a crew’ I was convinced this was the life for me. I have navigated my entire life around film, I believed that if I just kept going forwards I would reach my dream. In many ways this is not a bad idea, doing something, going forwards is always better than standing still.
A lack of money
Having a financial safety net at the start of your creative career only makes life easier. I have noticed that most people who have successful careers in there twenties either lived with their parents so they did not have to worry about rent or had complete financial support. Its easier to work on your own creative projects when you don’t have to additionally allocate 40 hours week towards a day job.
I made a few mistakes I didn’t get the best education which left me with no real plan or knowledge on how the film industry worked. When I graduated I jumped straight in, I found work but I was still clueless on how to make directing a career.
I know people who have been lucky to find professional film trainee apprenticeships. They where just in the right place at the right time. I have no doubt my career would have gone a lot better if I had a mentor to guide me through the first years. Finding professional training is no guarantee in film and a lot of us will simple have to learn how to do our job on the job.
I have a terrible personality, OK it not that bad, I am head strong, ambitious, friendly and some what lack the social skills to work with people. I have got so much better now that I am older but as a 22 year working on film sets my social skills where not finely tuned, I was not mature enough for the work when I had it.
I found it hard to work with people , I thought I knew more than them and I was arrogant. With better social skills and a more humble attitude I would have not been fired from my first few jobs. This is something I was clueless about when I was starting out, and no doubt with better people skills you can improve faster and make more contracts and friends within the industry.
Arrogance is bad in the long run. However it was this boost of energy and confidence when I was young that got me hired on big projects. It is shame this original energy dried up.
What happens to you at the start of your career is sometimes down to luck. This can be bitter to learn when you believed at one point success was defined from hard work and enthusiasm. I could be working on major film sets right now but that route was not for me. I have not found success at the start of my career but there is still plenty of time left for me to find my way.
It has been almost 5 years since I graduated. That is at least I think it was 5 years ago I cant quite figure out the dates but it has gone fast. I wrote a little more on film schools and how to find a good place to study film here.
Technically I did not go to film school but a university with a film production course. I graduated with a BA in Film and TV production. I can now say with confidence that my higher education has been of no use to me with finding work. I wish I had chosen a better course.
However at the time when I was applying to university at age 18, I did not know any better and can not regret a decision that was the best decision I could have made at the time with the knowledge I had. If you are reading this and thinking maybe I wont go to university to study film, all I can say is that everyone’s experience and take away is different and if you do wish to go make sure you pick the best course you can.
I was a very young 21 year old when I graduated, a lot of time has passed and a lot has happened. Here are some things I wish I had known when I graduated.
The Money gap
I feel that the post university life you hear about online mostly comes from middle class students 'gap years and living with back with their parents rent free'.
When I graduated I quickly moved in with my boyfriend and I had to make money straight away. I did not save up enough to properly meet the transition stage between student and worker.
It took me only two months to get my first job but more money was needed. A deposit for rent, clothing for work and money to last until your first paycheck.
If I had known now I would have of saved more money. but its hard to say that to a student who is only focusing on getting through education.
A Change of Plans
Someone from my audience (you know who you are) called me a failure this week because my film plans have changed widely and I have not had any major success in my career.
I am nearly 27 years old and most 20 – 50 year old filmmakers have not had any major success. Film is a long game. I thought film work was for me when I graduated, I didn’t consider my first career plan to not work out I never considered a plan B.
My life has in many ways stayed the same. I am with the same bf, we live in the same house I rented when I left university but my career has been twisting and turning around. I doubt you will be able to avoid those twists and turns in such a creative industry like film. It is unlikely that your first plan will work out as you expect it to. When things change don't panic.
Being called Crazy
I was being questioned at age 19, on why I wasn’t married with kids. So if that is anything to go by some people out there consider an unmarried 27 years old with no safe day job to be unfathomable.
I have not gone down the typical housewife route because I would truly hate that life, I am very ambtious and a risk taker so in past 5 years, I have had roughly 18 months of self employment, 6 months of unemployment, 3 years of employed in 3 different types of day jobs, and now I am back to self employed once again.
I have been all over the place but it was good to try out different things and see how I felt with work. It turns out I hate having a day job I dislike working with people and strongly desire to be my own boss.
Rant aside, if you have a dream, it is unlikely that you will get the support you would get if you were toeing the line, it is to be expected that this road will be a little tricky to navigate.
This is something that all 20 somethings do, we set ourselves goals to reach by certain age points - can you relate. It is likely I will live a long life so why do I feel the need to meet so many personal targets in my twenties.
It is likely that it will take a handful of years to feel truely comfortable within your career - and make your creative job stable. It is unlikely that I will be a successful auteur in my twenties, or own a house.
It is likely that life's success points will be spread out from now to age eighty. My career highlights will be when I am middle aged or even in my sixties. So why did I place so much pressure on myself when I graduated. Que sera sera.
Throughout my twenties I have had this thought in my head that I must prove my worth as a filmmaker and that I must do this before the age of thirty. I feel as if there is a literal sand timer, if the age thirty comes and I have not achieved success in my career will I be too old to keep dreaming.
I know some people reading this will scream no and you're never too old to make films. The struggle is real, and I hope some of you reading this will understand where I am coming from. I know you can not be too old to make films but when considerable time has passed and you have had no real results then how do you keep convincing yourself that feature films, budgets and awards are just around the corner.
By choosing a creative life you have took the hard path and I find in a sense I must prove it to myself and others that it was a good decision. As the years go by the Pressure starts setting in, people around you seem to be doing a better job at life which has become a competition of who moves forwards the fastest. People are constantly asking me what my job is, it is as though I am made to feel inferior if my job role isn’t impressive enough.
I know when I worked in a bar last year I would often be asked if I was a student and if not what am I going to do with my life, because working in a bar is seen as a fail. You are looked down upon for having a service job, despite there only being service jobs available. It has become a problem in England that service based jobs are looked down upon and not seen as a career but a stop off point to something better.
I don’t know why thirty feels like a cut off point, and I know from talking to other creative people that the age thirty feels like the age you should be where you want to be. You are expected to be settled by then career, married, house, kids. A creative career brings uncertainty, a film job requires a lot of time and perhaps a lot of travel that conflicts with a normal life.
Throughout the media you see people who appear have it all sorted in their twenties and you begin to wonder what did you do wrong. Maybe I lack the intelligence for success. In the past I have found it hard to get a basic job, what hope do I have of climbing ladders if I can't even get a minimum wage job, this makes you depressed and you start to doubt yourself.
I am nearly 27 years old, in my earlier twenties I worried very much about keeping up with others. I have been telling people that I will be film director since the age of 15, it is hard to convince people you are trying when there is no proof. I used to compare myself unknowingly to others who had more money, the right kind of luck and connections to be successful when they are young. The biggest lesson of my twenties so far has been that life is unfair.
When thirty comes I know there will be pressure from those around me to give up and I feel it already. Yet I know I will always regret it if I live someone else’s life. And the past years of the creative road have been hard but I wouldn’t of had it any other way, my brain is hardwired to be ambitious and creative.
I get emails from people still teenagers asking me if they are too old to make films and I get emails from those middle aged trying to forge a new career. Of course none of us is too old, we are never too old but that doesn’t make it any less hard. Every step I have made in my life since the age of 15 has in someway been defined by filmmaking.
All I know is that if you have that longing for something you just keep doing it regardless of what is in your way, you cant stop. It is like you have no free will, with strong ambition there is no other way to live.
When I was 14 years old I overheard a conversation about Film Directors on the school playground. I remember the moment well, my friend Rachel was walking ahead of me talking about how she and her dad where going to attend a film festival. I had never thought about how films were made before this moment. I just took it for granted that they were made. It started to play on my mind, I started to wonder who where the people who made films.
and so by the age of 14 I had decided that I was going to be a filmmaker.
By this point I had never made a film before. It was not like the dreamy stories you hear making super 8mm animations with friends or memories of sneaking into movie theatres. It was not how your typical film director recalls their zeal for filmmaking. I just decided somewhere on a grey concrete playground that I was going to be a filmmaker.
I was always creative, as a child I thought about being an artist of some sort, at one point a Blue Peter presenter, another time an inventor. I liked the idea of ambition, having a life purpose to pursue. The dream of filmmaking was my escape.
That year for my 15th Christmas I got a hand held camera and started to make short films.
I pushed and pulled people from school to act out crazy stories for me, at one point I got a class of twenty students to act out a gangster fight scene.
Like many filmmakers my age I read Robert Rodriguez's book Rebel Without A Crew and I started to immerse myself additively into filmmaking. In my head I dreamt up vast exterior shots of armies clashing - in reality a group of school friends shot each other with plastic guns inside of a school gym.
I entered a short film I made into a local cinema’s film festival and it was chosen to be screened.
I was ecstatic to have my film shown on the big screen. I felt a weight on my heart that night when I didn’t win the prize. Not because I wanted to win but I thoroughly thought there were no prizes being given out, I naively thought we were all winners.
I observed at the festival that my film was not very good. The other “children’s” films had budgets and all round better quality. I didn’t understand it at the time but everyone else had adults help them make the films and mine was just me, my friend and my little brother playing with a camera in the back garden.
I judged my ability heavily and realised I needed more real life experience.
My school held a work experience week later on in the year. luckily someone took notice of my desire to work in film and I got an extended two week placement at a local production company.
I was a shy teenager at 15, everyone at the company was much older than me, I carried out admin work, I was too shy to eat with the others so I ate my sandwiches at my desk alone. My shyness faded as the days went on, I helped out on a location shoot capturing some behind the scenes footage. The next week a short film was being made. I was insulted when the actors looked down on my runner position and called me ‘coat lady’ as it was my job to hold their coats for them during takes.
At the end of the work experience, I decided to get editing software for my 16 birthday (nothing special but it allowed me to edit my short films on something slightly more advanced than windows movie maker and it's use of star wipes). I spoke to the director on my last day of work experience, he was dismissive of me and impolite. I was enthusiastic about filmmaking, perhaps too much enthusiasm for others to handle. On the last night I felt dishearten again as a fake award ceremony was held and everyone cast and crew was thanked for their work apart from me.
I passed my GCSE’s at age 16 despite sitting at the back of classrooms drawing storyboards and daydreaming.
I enrolled in college sixth form and spent three years studying film studies English language and art. I had a messy fun few years, of drinking and partying. I still made short films, they slowly started to improve in quality. I enrolled in a summer film school, that although fun, it had far too many rules for myself. Naturally I am bad with authority, fiercely independent and too enthusiastic, my naïve enthusiasm rubbed off badly with others. Adult Bullies keep propping up throughout my later teenage years, perhaps the jealousy of seeing someone do what they want and living care free. It seems like when you're on a high there will always be people around to push you down.
When I was aged 19-21 I studied film and TV production at university.
The university dropped the course after its first year. The class protested, but we were ignored, the last two years where carried out with less enthusiasm from substitute teachers, the course felt broken and pointless, my grades dropped from As to Cs. Seeing as my university study years could not be saved, I enjoyed my time with drinking and dancing.
I graduated at age 21 and jumped flying head first into film crew work. My enthusiasm had so far surprisingly ‘despite the efforts of many’ not been killed. I had by now some experience on low budget sets.
I narrowed my job role down to Script Supervisor and I pushed, applying like crazy to any job I could find.
Bit by bit I found the work. The first 6 months went well, if I made a mistake I tried not to beat myself up over it, sure the mistakes I made would cost money , but I had already saved the production countless errors.
I pushed onwards, but then suddenly the work took its toll. On feature film shoots I was working 6 day, 70-90 hour work weeks. I done this for 3 months solid and by the end felt rightfully exhausted and mentally broken. I had been trying my very best working for every director I met, but most were not what I had hoped for. My logic was simple I wanted to be a film director, as a Script Supervisor I got to sit next to the director all day.
even on the most professional of film shoots the director never met my romantic expectations.
The director was supposed to be sure of themselves, assertive, logical, honest, rational, powerful. But I found myself sitting next to directors who where far too interested in Twitter to pay attention to an actor's performance , or not putting the care or thought into their crews safety. I lasted 18 months before I decided that film set work was not for me. And I say this to not put you off, a lot of people like the work, the travel, the hours, the teamwork they like it all. But I could not hack it, I romanticised the idea of filmmaking so much that when I saw it as it was I could not bear to see it torn up like that. I started making films for the escapism, and working on film sets took that away.
My last job was a commercial, the director a young hipster fancied himself the next big thing, screamed orders at crew, told me he didn’t understand what my job was, told me to join the art dept instead. He didn’t like the set already built so demanded that a new one was found, when I realised that the 8 hour work day was going to turn into 20 hours I walked out. The experience and disbelief of film sets caused a major problem.
I thought that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, I was wrong.
It wasn’t long before I was in debt and depressed. I worked many low paid jobs to get by, feeling lost, hopeless, I couldn’t see the future, the ambition and dream had finally died.
A year later things got a little better, a better job kept me at the same level but allowed me the time to clear my mind and think. There is a problem when you spend 10 years of your life working towards something, only for it to not be what you first thought it was. I had a messy breakup from film.
You learn more from bad times than you do with the good. Last year I tried to make a short film. I shot it but I have been unable to finish it. Working full time gave me no free time to edit, and having no plans for the future left me feeling low. I need plans and creativity in my life which I why I am pushing blogging as a career and filmmaking for fun.
I hope to complete my short film this year and start making my own films again, my way.
I have not finished with filmmaking but I do need to start thinking differently. My enthusiasm has died down, but it is still there inside. I still dream of film festivals and red carpets. I still believe if I keep trying one day I will be good at all of this.