Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Production Assistant's Handbook - On the Next Double Down Film Show

Author, Caleb Clark
Audio Crash Course Screenshot

Almost everyone in feature filmmaking starts out as a Production Assistant. It's the standard gateway to many of the best jobs on set and off. Yet there are very few, if any, resources to explain the job, the expectations or how to do it better.

The Production Assistant’s Handbook is one of those rare resources to help the budding P.A. stay out of trouble and graduate from the bottom ranks of filmmaking. On the next Double Down Film Show we’ll speak with Caleb Clark author of The Production Assistant’s Handbook. (Pssst- download the first ten pages here for free!)

What tools should a budding P.A. never be without?

What should you do if you screw up?

What should you never be seen doing on set?

What’s the secret to locking down of a public street?

How do you get your first P.A. job?

From walkie talkie etiquette to what to carry in your fanny pack, Caleb will help us break down the answer to all these questions and give best practices for Production Assistants. (Yes, fanny packs have never gone out of style for film crew!) Come listen and learn as we once again open the backdoor to film school.

The answer to all these questions, plus more filmmaking inspiration and education on the next Double Down Film Show. Real problems. Real answers. By filmmakers. For filmmakers.

The Double Down Film Show...
Filmmaking Reality Starts Here!

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About the Show:
The Double Down Film Show is an hour long experience of "real talk" about what it takes to get your project from script to screen and establish a career in film and tv. Hosts Anthony Q. Artis of Down and Dirty DV and Pete Chatmon of Double 7 Film will deliver all of the production, technology, business, and motivational support that filmmakers need to achieve their filmmaking dreams. Check out the previous 25 episodes of season #1 on iTunes.

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Networking #3- Organizations with a lot of Acronyms

Ok, now you have your business cards and you’re going to some local film screenings or events. Now you can narrow down your venues and activities by involving yourself in film communities.

Film communities are any networks, clubs, venues or anything that is run with the sole purpose of uniting people that have film in common, as well as maybe other characteristics such as gender, location, race, style, level etc. These can all be a great resource since anything related to them can be sure to be film-related and all the people you meet through the communities will be somehow involved in film as well. Oh, they can also be a good tidbit for your resume!

In this article I am going to do an overview of a few big film communities in New York City, or national ones that can also be found in New York City. However, even if you are located elsewhere, most of these will have different branches in different states, so it is still worth looking them up.

Now, I am biased because I am an indie filmmaker as well, so I am going to begin my list with the communities that I am a part of.
IFP- Independent Film Project - www.ifp.org
IFP is a pretty all-encompassing community of independent filmmakers. It is the largest and oldest of these organizations in the country, having started out as a program in the 1979 New York Film Festival. It organizes numerous seminars, screenings, events, parties, and workshops all year round and has various opportunities for indie filmmakers to find funding, support, platforms and people. IFP has headquarters in several cities and boasts a website full of useful information. While the $100 a year membership fee might sound a bit steep, this is one club you don’t want to be left out of.

NYWIFT- New York Women in Film And Television - www.nywift.org NYWIFT is NOT a women-only club. That would not only be stupid, it would be illegal. Instead, it is a non-profit dedicated to supporting and helping women filmmakers in a male-dominated industry. Male members are very welcome, as the mission of NYWIFT is not to have women replace men in the industry but coexist with them. This organization has a very tight-knit community, despite its thousands of members, and a strong drive to help fellow members out. Mixers and events are planned constantly to encourage its members to meet each other and work together. The quality of memberships is kept in check by an application process. Those interested in joining must send in resumes and references in the film industry. Membership is divided in two tiers- regular members who are established professionals who have been in the industry 4 years or more, and Next Wave, where budding filmmakers can take advantage of all membership benefits with the additional support provided to help them succeed.

NALIP- National Association of Latino Independent Producers - www.nalip.org
This is an organization designed to bring together and support Latino filmmakers all across the country. While smaller in size and not as event-prolific as the previous two I have mentioned before, this organization still provides some very good resources and networking events. The smaller size of the organization makes the events more intimate and full of familiar faces.

Okay, those are the three I belong to. Between all three, I pay about $210 to stay a member every year, which for someone in my position is quite steep. However, I can honestly say I have gotten more than my money’s worth out of them. Notice that I belong to one large organization, the IFP, one that is specific to my gender and location, NYWIFT, and one that caters to my ethnicity, NALIP. Right now I am going to list a few other organizations you might want to consider, but keep this in mind- there are countless organizations of various sizes.

It’s like a college scholarship search: if you’re Gay, Native American, Jewish, a Veteran or whatever, there is probably a film organization that was made with that specific group of people in mind. And if you’re none of the above, then join the big ones and look into other more specific organizations.

DCTV- Downtown Community Television Center - www.dctvny.org
Housed in the little red firehouse, DCTV is a member-based organization which boasts workshop after workshop after workshop. With a long list of events and seminars, DCTV also provides rentals, screening series, and a special section of resources dedicated to teenage and young filmmakers!

DV Republic
DvRepublic.org is organized and hosted by BFF (aka Black Filmmaker Foundation)
DVRepublic.org exist as a self-validating, self-supporting online community of "citizens" who monitor the intersection of media, technology, and social justice. As informed citizens, we engage in active online discussion in the "public square" of the DV Republic liberated zone.

AAWIC- African American Women in Cinema- www.aawic.org
AAWIC’s title is pretty self-explanatory. With the mission to help the integration of black women in the film industry and to create a better understating of this community, AAWIC provides events and resources for African-American female filmmakers.

NBPC- National Black Programming Consortium- www.nbpc.tv

This is not a membership based organization but more of a distributor of black films that commissions and acquires films made by black filmmakers and about the black community. It can be a great thing to know about and does have very good resources.

DFA- Dance Films Association, Inc. - www.dancefilmsassn.org
Another one of these niche organization, DFA is a member-based organization that seeks to encourage and promote excellence in dance in film and TV. Its efforts include programs screenings and funding, and relies on the support of various big names in the arts, such as Film Society of Lincoln Center and the New York Public Library.

NYFVC- New York Film/Video Council- www.nyfvc.org

While not as active than IFP and not as cool a website as NBPC, NYFVC is a great organization that provides monthly events in New York City. Like NALIp, by being smaller it provides a real sense of community in its members and a comfortable environment in which to meet fellow filmmakers. It’s yearly dues are reasonable and the events are frequent.

DocuClub - www.docuclub.org
The only one here without an acronym, DocuClub is a non-competitive community in which documnentarians can pitch and screen their works-in-progress and get help and feedback from the club’s members. Networking ain’t bad either.

This is the list I came up with. However, wherever you are and whoever you are there are organizations out there that you can rely on. Most of them have membership fees. To make these fees worth it, or even make it worth your time to go to any event, you have to be proactive.

Being a member alone is not going to make connections for you, you have to take advantage of the opportunities these organizations can facilitate for you, but you have to participate, ask questions, contribute opinions and hand out cards.