Careers before Graduate Film School

DylanR

New Member
For those not applying right out of undergrad, I'm curious as to what people have done professionally for the years between undergrad and applying to graduate film school. And if you did not work in film, how did keep yourself actively creating in your free time? If you're a screenwriter, how did you teach yourself to write in your spare time?
 

Tugger

Member
Supporting Member
I have been out of undergrad for 3 years now. Right out of undergrad I worked on set of a micro budget feature. After that I took a job in my home state, Iowa, and now work with computer programming. I film weddings on the side as well and do about 6-8 a year for the past few years. Haven't made a short in 3 years now.

Now applying to grad school in hopes to get a full career out of it, and also be able to teach when I'm older.
 

Septopus7

Moderator
Staff member
Supporting Member
I am only about two years out of undergrad, so still quite fresh. But I will say the last few years were rough -- I couldn't find a job for months after graduating, as I lost the job I had when I finished university (work study.) Applied to pretty much anywhere I could but, what can I say? Market is tough, especially in places like southern New Mexico. As much as I would have loved to "chase the dream" after university and throw myself into indie filmmaking, contract work, etc, it just wants feasible. So I took the first job that hired me, about eight months after I graduated, working the deli at a newly open grocery store in our town.

It was not fun, to be doing that kind of work after college. Most of my personal statement was about that, actually. I would be lying if I said I had time to devote to writing and the energy to go with it after doing a hands on job like that for so long. So I didn't, for the most part.

It's been about a year since then, and it has gotten a lot easier. I now work for the communications department at my alma matter, and part time at the local public library (a desk job that gives me plenty of time to work on writing, if I ever bothered to use it.) I have a Journalism degree as well as a film one, so it's nice to be getting to use it for the Communications work. And I write a lot of news articles now which, although very different from "creative" work, still requires me to flex my writing muscles every so often. And no matter how you do that, it all counts at the end of the day on the path to self improvement in this field.

But, to sum it up, I didn't do much filmmaking work post undergrad. Which is certainly one of the reasons to pursue my MFA, if we're being honest.
 

kid_a2

Member
For those not applying right out of undergrad, I'm curious as to what people have done professionally for the years between undergrad and applying to graduate film school. And if you did not work in film, how did keep yourself actively creating in your free time? If you're a screenwriter, how did you teach yourself to write in your spare time?

4 years out of undergrad. Started working at a tech startup and became a UX Designer working on apps. On the side have been doing various freelance web and graphic design project and contract work.
 

Mdub_2013

Member
Supporting Member
I work in marketing. Initially I worked at a large financial services Corp and hated it, so i left and currently work in marketing at a media company. I think the transition definitely helped me build my resume for grad school applications
 

JMcCormack

New Member
I graduated in December 2016. Was lucky enough to get a job at my Alma mater, the University of Missouri as a video producer. We do livestreams and make videos for advertising and internal use. Outside of work I've stayed in touch with professors and former classmates who still live in the area to work on projects. I've been able to work on two indie features, several shorts, and music videos. One reason I stuck around after graduation was the network I had here as well as the access to equipment, but I'm ready to move on to a larger market and get a higher level of knowledge that comes with an MFA program.
 

BuddernScotch

Active Member
Worked in sales for 2 companies for several months each. Every day had a different schedule so there was basically no way I could have a life outside work, yet work was minimum wage, and this was before min wage was raised by 50% in Ontario, Canada. So yay. I barely wrote during this time because 10 hrs/day (depending on shift. And we have an hour break in which I didn't bother changing) in heels kissing customers' asses and commuting 3 hrs total was really tiring.

My work study, for even less money, for almost 2 yrs as a technical writer sort of job and I was the only student that didn't mostly just watch youtube during their hours so I got insane hand pain. Fingers crossed for arthritis to stay away for another 20 yrs.

But the above made me deluded thinking with it and my BA in English and studying abroad and a few clubs I could get hired as a technical writer for a company. Throughout the 2.5 yrs (and continuing on now) out of undergrad I've sent hundreds of reworked resumes out but nothing. A few dozen has been to Ubisoft because I love video games so much. I moved to Montreal their head studio to try and ... well.. I don't even know. Many studios don't take walk-in resumes or let you talk to anyone in the company (apparently they used to do career interviews where you get to ask someone how to get a job!) Or let you follow-up. You apply online and disappear again.

So uhhh... hopefully I can get another sales job this summer so I can save for filmschool :) it is a huge financial risk esp because I will have 0 help from anyone and it'll all be loans on top of my undergrad loans. Buuuut I can't get hired with my BA anywhere anyway so IT'S A GREAT DECISION.
 
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Buusey

Member
Currently work as a copywriter and I HIGHLY recommend it, especially if you can become an in-house copywriter and work remotely, which tons of companies offer that option if you have a few years of experience. Excellent work life balance, great practice writing succinctly and persuasively, transferable skillset with film producing, etc. If none of the schools I applied to would’ve accepted me, I would’ve kept writing while working but some of the reasons I’m going back to school are because of the network and the opportunity to get into production.
 

Chris W

As You Wish
Staff member
Fyi I added a film related experience info box to the applications so you can add that info to your Applications in the database.

 

IndecisiveElle

Active Member
Contributor
Supporting Member
I worked for 10+ years in the film industry when Detroit had a tax incentive. I worked my way up and down the production side of things as PA, AD, production coordinator in feature films and commercials. All freelance. All very stressful. Then spent 2 years attending screenwriting workshops while working (and still freelancing some) at a small university campus in Detroit as an educator, supervising student's post production, providing tech support and doing guest lectures on production. I only directed one film after undergrad which is what made me realize I wanted to direct. My career experience not the norm of experience at Chapman (although I have met people with other kinds of industry experience than my own). This year about half the first year directors are straight out of undergrad and I am the oldest at 32. That is also not the norm, but for whatever reason, that's how my year is.
 

Operator

Active Member
For those not applying right out of undergrad, I'm curious as to what people have done professionally for the years between undergrad and applying to graduate film school. And if you did not work in film, how did keep yourself actively creating in your free time? If you're a screenwriter, how did you teach yourself to write in your spare time?
I currently work casino security on the Las Vegas Strip. As far as creating goes, if I have an idea, I'll make an outline or start freewriting a script and see where that takes me. As far as teaching myself to write, I just read scripts good ones, shitty ones, inbetween ones.
 

Cdemon

Active Member
I currently work casino security on the Las Vegas Strip. As far as creating goes, if I have an idea, I'll make an outline or start freewriting a script and see where that takes me. As far as teaching myself to write, I just read scripts good ones, shitty ones, inbetween ones.
I’d think that job would give you some great ideas. See/meet ppl from all over the place!
 

Operator

Active Member

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