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The Real Film School: Lessons from the Trenches

In the world of filmmaking, the path to success often veers away from traditional classrooms and prestigious degrees. Shane Stanley, a filmmaker, author, and instructor, highlights a crucial chapter in his book, "What You Don't Learn In Film School," which sparks controversy but holds invaluable wisdom.


Stanley emphasizes the importance of rolling up your sleeves and immersing yourself in the industry. He advocates for getting hands dirty, being available, and doing whatever it takes to get on a set. His journey involved making phone calls, working for free, and going the extra mile, even if it meant bringing his own lunch or sweeping floors when it wasn't part of his job description.


The controversy arises from the idea of investing in yourself and building your resume, as opposed to relying solely on the dream of becoming the next big-name director or screenwriter. Stanley's message is clear: if that dream doesn't pan out, what's the backup plan?

He urges aspiring filmmakers to embrace a diversified skill set, learn various aspects of filmmaking, and be open to unpaid opportunities that offer valuable learning experiences and networking opportunities. In his view, too many film school graduates pin their hopes on becoming the next Tarantino or Chazelle, without considering the practical steps to achieve that dream.


Stanley also touches on the changing landscape of internships and the fear of exploitation. He acknowledges that the film industry's long hours can be daunting, but he stresses the importance of seizing opportunities to work alongside experienced professionals.

In the end, Stanley's advice is straightforward: make connections, prove your worth, and demonstrate your competence. He believes that, by showing up, working hard, and building a reputation as a reliable and skilled worker, doors will open, and your career in the film industry will gain momentum.


Christopher Nolan on SET

Taking inspiration from Christopher Nolan, who continually pushes the boundaries of filmmaking, we can understand that challenging oneself is key to growth.

Nolan's approach of prioritizing the story over visuals, even if he doesn't know how to execute them, speaks to the heart of innovation. Just as Nolan finds inspiration by creating situations that he doesn't yet know how to visualize, aspiring filmmakers can adopt a similar mindset.


The fun part of filmmaking lies in the challenge, pushing oneself into uncharted territory, and collaborating with a team of visionaries to find something fresh and different.

The film industry thrives on daring pioneers, those who dare to dive headfirst into the unknown, and ultimately, it's these individuals who shape the future of cinema.


So, remember, in the world of filmmaking, embracing challenges and learning from the trenches can be your true film school.


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