In February, 2017, I began my studies at Full Sail University to earn my Master of Fine Arts degree in Film Production. The accelerated program includes 12 in-depth courses over the span of 12 months. The classes were:
At the end of each class, I wrote a journal entry reflecting on everything I had learned, chronicling my journey toward film mastery.
You can check it out on my Tumblr page: https://bl-mastery.tumblr.com/
A few weeks ago, I completed my applications for Graduate School in film programs. About a week ago, I posted a blog entry about the reasons why I think Film School is right for me personally. However, I haven't spoken much about what motivates me to be a film maker in the first place.
There are so many influences that motivate that dream, it would take more than one journal entry to cover them all. This time, I want to focus on one influence in particular: Rooster Teeth Productions, known for Red Vs Blue, Immersion, Achievement Hunter, RWBY, etc., etc., etc.
Ever since I was 12, I have been looking up to the people of this production company, because they are incredibly talented people, and they carry themselves as genuinely decent human beings.
I think we can all agree that Monty Oum was no exception to that.
For those of you who don't know, Monty Oum is an incredibly talented animator that began working for Rooster Teeth Productions a number of years ago, bringing CG animation to the ever popular Red Vs Blue and creating the online anime show RWBY.
Recently, Monty Oum passed away due to an allergic reaction during a medical procedure. His death is being mourned by his family, friends, colleagues, as well as countless fans who were both entertained and inspired by him.
I never had the pleasure of meeting him, a fact I will always regret. However, I feel the pain of his loss. Monty Oum was directly responsible for so much awesome Rooster Teeth content, the very content that I site as my inspiration as a film maker. It is difficult to cope with the fact that somebody whom has inspired my life direction has passed away, whether I knew him personally or not.
Still... in his final hour, he has inspired me at least once more. It's moments like these that remind me that I should appreciate what I have and to continue to fight for all that I want to achieve. It reminds me how thankful I am for everybody in my life: my parents (my 2 greatest heroes), my sisters and extended family, my friends, and every other person that has affected who I am as a human being.
I hope the pain that everyone is feeling lessens soon. I wish nothing but the best for his friends and family.
Recently, I completed applications to graduate school for film directing and production related programs.
Long before I began my application processes, however, I began to hear discussions on whether film school is worth it, or rather, if it's needed at all in order to establish a career in the industry. Many people in the independent film community argue that it's not necessarily needed, while others believe it's downright useless.
While their arguments have merit, I have come to believe that film school's worth depends on the individual. To that end, this is the most prudent time for me to reflect on just what I hope to get out of this education. Why do I believe film school is worth it to me? The answer is a few interconnected reasons:
1) Networking: ask any filmmaker, independent or not, and they will tell you that networking is key to a successful career. That is because film is a collaborative medium. Therefore, above all else, when I go to school, I intend to make connections with my cohorts and educators, so that when I'm done, I will have a plethora of professional colleagues to work with.
2) It's just business: problem is, I'm not a business-savvy person. I hardly know the first thing about establishing a career in, and navigating throughout, the film industry. It seems like many independent film maker that impugn the use of film school behave like they know everything there is to know about the industry... but they show no signs of willingness to slow down for a moment and explain it to me. Sure, there are books on the subject, but if I resort to learning everything about a film career from books, I will literally spend years of my life reading, when I should be spending those years doing. If there is one thing that I hope to be "taught" in graduate school, it's an in-depth analysis of how to swim the turbulent waters of the film and television industry.
3) "Just do something": this is what the independent film folks will say when it comes to building a career. Just pick up a camera and make a bunch of movies. Try this, try that, find out what works, find out what doesn't work, figure out your style, figure out what you're good at, etc. The logic in that is sound, so I couldn't agree more.
However, there is an inherent flaw in that when it comes to doing it yourself: a day job. I work full time to pay for my food, gas, loans, clothes, utilities, basically everything that is needed for me to survive. Because of that, not only do I not have quite enough money left over to pay for equipment costs (it cost me a month's salary, plus 3 gift cards, just to buy my DSLR), but it sucks up all of my time. I have nights and weekends, which limits my availability for shooting movies. Plus, this ties right into the collaboration point. When you work full time and want to make movies with other people who have day, and sometimes night, jobs, scheduling becomes a remarkably daunting obstacle.
One of the biggest reasons for why I want to go to grad school for film is because I will literally be scheduling my full time for film. I will be giving myself the days, months, and years necessary for me to "just do something". Add to that the incredible amounts of equipment provided by these schools, it becomes a playground for me to unleash my film making mind unto and hone my skills. This bridges directly onto my biggest, over-arching reason of all...
4) Dedication & Focus: dedicating my full time and energy to the pursuit of this career is something that I absolutely need. With the full time job that wears my mind out on a daily basis, not only is finding the time to work on movies difficult, but mustering up the focus is as well. I've come to terms with the fact that I need to really apply myself toward this goal. If I turn my full time "job" into learning to make entertaining films, I believe I can accomplish everything that the successful independent film makers have accomplished. Instead of spreading my learning process over years and years via a handful of free weekends, I can utilize the full extent of a few years time to create my dream career.
All-in-all, I do understand where anti-film-school folks are coming from. School is not very every person. However, after analyzing myself and my reasons, I am more confident than ever that film school is the right choice for me. I have no doubt in my mind that I will look back on this decision and believe that it was an invaluable experience that lead to a lifelong career in storytelling.
Recently, I was in a bookstore and my eye was caught by a book with the name Kevin Smith printed on the spine. Naturally this intrigued me, as I have a lot of respect and admiration for Kevin Smith. He is a filmmaker who has not only made great flicks, but he's imparted a lot of great advice to aspiring artists during his various public Q&A's.
Little did I know that the advice given thus far was only the tip of the iceberg.
I picked up the book, titled Tough Shit: Life Advice from a Fat Lazy Slob Who Did Good, and god damn was it a great read. Not only is the book hysterical and fun, but it is quite possibly the most encouraging text I could have ever read. I am currently in the process of applying to graduate schools for film, in the attempt to really jump start my career. However, as is felt by many artists, there are times when I'm inundated by doubt.
I am an avid listener of the RoosterTeeth Podcast.
In a not-so-recent episode of said podcast, somebody asked the question of why there are so many trilogies in our modern media (books, movies, video games). He sited examples like the Hunger Games, The Matrix, etc., and how they all seemed to be complete stories within their first part. So why make more, and, more importantly, why specifically 3 parts?
A valid question, which I, too, have often wondered.
However, the answer is actually pretty logical, and it dawned on me while reading Essentials of Screenwriting by Richard Walters. Some literature major, somewhere in the world, could probably refute me on this is he/she saw fit, but it seems that the abundance of story trilogies can be accredited to (or blamed on) Aristotle. It was actually Aristotle that defined the formula of the modern day narrative:
A complete story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Three parts.
That formula typically should apply to a whole movie or book, otherwise you leave the audience unsatisfied. However, as anybody knows, there are many stories whose whole stories are too large to fit into one movie or book. So, considering that an entire story arch has to have a beginning, middle, and end, it's often more natural for it to fit into 3 segments, as opposed to 2 or 4.
Is this a rule? Of course not. There are many franchises that are well done, which have 1, 2, 4, or 8 parts to them. In most cases, it seems, these numbers work best for the kind of content where each part is a new story in the same universe, rather than one carrying directly into the next, but it can work either way. The trilogy is merely the format that is tailored specifically for how stories are written and told.
I think we can all agree that there are these exceptions on both sides. There are trilogies that should have only been left at one movie, and there are movies that should have been continued but fell short of their potential (Buckaroo Banzai, anyone?). However, no matter how you look at it, "to confuse the exception for the rule is to fall on your face." - Richard Walter (Essentials of Screenwriting).
That seems to be the logical explanation for the surplus of trilogies.