How To Make A Living As A Filmmaker: Insights From the Experts

Image courtesy Film Industry Network
This time of year is harrowing for many fine and performing arts students as they weigh their career options and plans for the future. An uncertain economic future and shifting tide in how the arts are delivered to audiences poses many challenges, but also potential opportunities to a new generation of artists.  In particular, I am very fortunate to work with many talented film students and artists utilizing motion pictures and filmic elements in their practice. Their challenges are unique in that they are navigating a field of artistic practice that is fast changing and facing technological transformation and incursion from related fields (animation, digital design, and social media platforms) at an unprecedented rate.  In this sense it is clear how important innovation and the exchange of ideas are to the contemporary filmmaker.

With these thoughts in mind, I sat down a few weeks ago to watch a panel that was posted on the New School’s YouTube Channel (an absolutely fantastic resource that I have already blogged about here) and sponsored by the Tribeca Film Institute. Provocatively titled “How to Make a Living as a Filmmaker or How to Make a Living and Still Be a Filmmaker”, the panel explores the career options, challenges, and opportunities available to film students and artists involved with producing new media projects in a very pragmatic Q&A format.

Moderated by Sharon Badal, the head short film programmer for the Tribeca Film Festival and author of  Swimming Upstream: A Lifesaving Guide to Short Film Distribution, the panel includes: Sandi DuBowski, Director/Producer of Trembling Before G-d and Producer of A Jihad for Love;  Moon Molson, an M.F.A. graduate from Columbia University, where he won the New Line Cinema Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking Award for his thesis film Pop Foul; and Buboo Kakati, a three-time Emmy winning writer, director, and producer (her work has aired on NBC and SHOWTIME) with over 13 years of experience developing and producing documentaries, television series and films. Keeping in mind that many art school programs neglect to discuss the realities of the job market and arts industry with their graduates, this kind of panel is both eye-opening and inspiring.