This is the actual interview, conducted over the internet by three students from Tigard High School in Oregon. Kyle Jones, Josh Fregosi, and Jessica Anderson were assigned to do a report on a certain career and interview someone in the field. Since they couldn't find anyone really in it, they asked Alan, and he was more than happy to help them out. This interview was used as a resource for their report:
How would you describe this job to someone not in your field?|
I coordinate and run a crew of people that, as a team,
create movies and television programming.
How did you get interested in the field of film making?
Films themselves. The first movie I ever saw was The Empire
Strikes Back. My dad took me to see it. He said it was the
first time I had sat still for more than ten minutes. Since then
I've always had an interest in how movies are created.
What education or training would you advise for someone
interested in getting into this field?
Communications skills are, of course, the most important.
Knowing the history of filmmaking can also be very helpful. Art
helps you learn composition and placement as well. All of the
technical knowledge would probably be last, and can be learned
later, since technology changes anyway. When you do learn
though, I would recommend a multimedia program for a wider-based
Could you give a brief description of your responsibilities?
It varies from production to production. Usually, it's my
job to write the script, coordinate the resources, schedule the
shoots or tapings, direct the film (tell the camera where and how
to point, tell the actors where to stand, etc.), and finally,
edit the footage into a (hopefully) presentable piece.
What is a typical day like?
It depends on the stage of production: For Pre-Production,
I could spend my time between writing the script, gathering up
props and costumes, and casting the actors based on the part and
their schedule. Production is pretty typical - Wait for actors
to show up, let them read their script over, shoot the scenes,
yell at the actors, shoot some more scenes, repeat until shooting
is completed. Post-production is probably the most time
consuming. I have to edit the footage, finding the points to
make transitions, add fades, include the already shot special
effects, etc. Music has to be selected if it hasn't already, and
the point on the song and in the film for it to start must be
found and added. Hopefully after all this, something watchable
What consumes the bulk or your working hours?
Frustration :). It's constant decision making: Should he
stand here or there? Should the camera point this way or that
way? Should we edit a few frames earlier or a few frames later?
What major skills are necessary to be successful in this
Imagination is the most important, of course. Patience
helps a lot - there's always a delay or a problem. You also need
perseverance to work around the toughest of problems - they have
to be solved for the show to go on. Quick thinking is very
helpful when filming - you only have so many hours to get the
shots you need.
What do you like most about this job?
The feeling you get when you've finished the film or
episode. It's finally done, and all of the problems that came
with it are gone. Hopefully, it's something to be proud of.
What do you like least about this job?
Finally coming across the problem you aren't prepared for.
It just totally kills whatever momentum you have, the actors get
restless, and the problem becomes even bigger.
How does technology affect the field of film making?
Technology affected the field of special effects the most,
as you have probably seen. What once had to be done by a team of
set designers, modelmakers, puppeteers, and other effects experts
can now be done by a few people with computers.
What could a recent graduate expect if/when he or she gets their
first job working on a film?
Not much. It takes a long time to build up a reputation or
a body of work. Without any experience, you usually have to
start at the bottom. It may not turn out as bad as that sounds,
but for some it does work that way.
What could he or she expect to be making in 10 years?
Depends on the job you have. Directors, producers, editors,
and all the people who get their name in those main pieces of
credits on the movie posters are usually referred to as 'above
the line' workers, and can be paid in the range of millions per
movie. Grips (guys who carry stuff around), technicians,
electricians, and other lesser seen members of a film crew are
'below the line', and make a considerable bit less. Their pay is
close to what you'd expect for any other worker in their
What benefits are there in this career, other than salary?
The opportunity to create things no one has ever seen before
and bring you imagination to life.
What are the opportunities for advancement in this position?
Depends on how good your work is. You advance as long as you don't
make a major mistake. If you do make a big mistake (i.e. direct a movie that
bombs) before building a reputation, your career could very well be over before it starts.
What other career opportunities are related to this career?
There are actually many more things available - mainly because of the increase in
multimedia production. Many of the skills used for this career can be applied to computer
games and applications, or possibly graphic arts and advertising.
What would be your advice to someone interested in this career?
Study a lot, film anything and everything you can, and never
stop trying new things.
What are the chances of becoming successful in this field?
Not extremely good. While it's possible to earn a living,
becoming successful is difficult. This is a very competitive
Do you do this job for the money, or because you enjoy it?
Since I haven't exactly made any money doing it, I'd have to
say the enjoyment.
What do you feel it takes to become a film maker the likes of
Steven Spielberg, Alfred Hitchcock, or Rob Reiner?
Imagination and uniqueness. Nobody ever got famous making
movies that looked just like some other director's style.
What are your views on the "Indie" film market, compared to more
It's interesting to see a film made for a few thousand
dollars that's as entertaining as one made for many millions. It
all depends on what you spend your money on, I guess.
What should I know that I have not asked you about?
Just that these are just my opinions. I'm not exactly the
most successful person in this field, so my views shouldn't be
seen as the absolute truth in these matters.