get a mentor if you can. someone who is accomplished and wont be threatened by your ambition or your by your work. listen to everything they have to offer, especially from a technical standpoint. keep boundaries when it comes to your creative ideas. no one should touch that area, unless you invite them in. start gigging/or working on a film once you have your skills in order. be sure to get paid, but also do some pro bono work if it will make your reel look better or could get you into a better place of work. own the equipment that you work with. renting and borrowing can be a trap. have a CLEAR focus about what kind of filmmaker you want to be and hold true to that. the field can be tricky in how it can and will take you places you may have not intended to go. you can literally start out in one area and wake up like ‘how the fuck did i get here?!’ think beyond the dope camera/equipment and really get into the craft. learn as many positions as possible, even if you want to just be a director. the more you know about other roles the better leader you can be at communicating the visual work that you want. also makes a crew respect you when you are able to work with one. be realistic. dont quit your day job-if you have one-until the work/potential for earning outweighs what you make at your current job. watch a ton of films, even shitty ones-to figure out why they are shitty. lastly, don’t give up when things get tough. its what the business is about-its built to kick your ass. develop a tough skin, but be open to new things and never lose the ability or desire to learn new things. its not about trying to be the best out of everybody, but more about trying to be in the better part of the crowd.
while working on my longer film projects & art vids, i also take on smaller commissions. i try do at least 3 contracted jobs a year to bring in income-you can check out some of those pieces at my vimeo. i work with other folks on their projects as an editor, DP, camera operator, etc. the biggest thing that has helped me as of last year has been self distributing my own film- ‘black./womyn.’. by making it open to two markets-the general public and the institutional market- it has allowed that income to come directly to me so that i can pay the bills and also put money back into my work. ownership and management of my finished work is definitely key. ive also found that owning your own equipment is the best way to go-if you can, and ive been able to do so by the support of various grants/speaking engagements as well. finally being frugal is a plus. i like to hang out as much as the next person. but im also mindful of the fact that even though i may deal in lump sums of income at times, i still have to budget a certain way so that i can have money during dry spells of work and be able to cover my living & work expenses. i was broke for a LONG time and still kind of am, but learning how to manage money and creating ways to generate income is the key with any working artist i think. its definitely an ongoing process.