Top 30 Under 30, Best Innovators Under 30…the list goes on and on. Is the pressure to receive recognition by age 30 that crucial to being a success in your chosen field?
The answer is personal. The videos below touch on thoughts to help you form your own decision.
Advice To 25 Year Olds About Hollywood by Bill Duke
Film Courage: So what do you think people under 25 or 30 not understand about success in Hollywood? Maybe they think “Oh, I’ll never be that.” You know how everybody always thinks “I could never end up like that.” And sometimes it’s just a matter of bad circumstances piled up (one after another) to lead someone there and they think “Well, I have a safety net. That would never happen to me.” But the general 25 to 30-year-old with a degree.
Bill Duke: Dreams that are planned are called frustration. There are two things I would address it with, one is the God joke. Do you know the God joke?
Film Courage: Tell God your plans…or is that John Lennon [quote: Life is what happens while you’re making other plans].
Bill Duke: No…that’s the God joke. Make God laugh, tell him your plans. And one thing I find with the younger generation now, a minister that is a friend of mine told me, he said “Bill, one day I stood up in church and I said to my congregation “Everybody who wants to go to heaven, stand up and sing Hallelujah!” A whole couch of 1,500 people got up and shouted for five to ten minutes. He had to calm them down. “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Okay. Okay. Okay.” He said “My second question is, everyone who wants to die stand up and sing Hallelujah!” Everybody sat down.
So I’ve got my third question “How and the hell are you going to go to heaven if you don’t die? See everybody wants to go to heaven, but don’t no damn body want to die.” And dying is what Hollywood is about. How do you resurrect yourself after you are smashed a couple of thousand times? Do you buy a violin and play the self-pity moments of how unfair everything is and how great your are and how mean they are and that could go on for 30 years, 40 years.
Or do you take the initiative to do something that changes that? There are only one of two choices, giving up or moving ahead. A lot of folks…and these are people who’ve been in the business 20 years and I talk to them “Well, you know how hard it is. These damn agents and these studios and networks and…” “Really? You’ve heard of the Internet?” “Yeah, but that doesn’t…” You’ve done a webisode? Podcast?” “No” “Why?” “I don’t know how?” “Well you better learn.” “That’s too hard.” But you expect the result but you’re doing the same thing, that’s called insanity…(Watch the video on Youtube here).
Advice For Writers Graduating College by Jen Grisanti
Film Courage: Jen, can you provide some advice for writers coming out of college? Maybe these individuals have been told “You’re amazing! You’re going to set the world on fire…You’re going to leave our little school. Good luck!” and off they go…
Jen Grisanti: I would say the biggest advice to writers coming out of college is live your life. Like when writers go straight from college to the writer’s room and not experience life, then I find that they are stunted. I mean for me personally, I like the writer who explores another career path and comes into the writing and succeeds or fails miserably and has something to say. Like that to me is more interesting than the writer who got straight A’s all the way through school and then goes into the writer’s room. So I think the biggest thing is understand the journey as well. Understand that it’s not about selling that first script. It’s about creating longevity and it’s about really taking the time to grow into your own skin, understand who you are, what you have to say, and the impact you want to make on the world with your writing…(Watch the video on Youtube here).
What If A Screenwriter Doesn’t Make It By Age 30? by Mark Sanderson
Mark Sanderson: It is hard to do but you really have to stay disciplined and also I think you have to have the fire and burning passion to really want it more than anything else. Because I never put an expiration date on my dreams. And I remember people saying…I was at dinner one time and a friend of my brother’s said “Well, what if you don’t make it by 30?” And I was like “30?” And I said “Well, I don’t know. What’s 30?” And to him he was projecting his fear upon me and I go “This is open ended, you know?” I’m sorry because it’s good and bad because you don’t want to fool yourself like you are saying, where after 10 years and you have nothing.
I mean I think after a certain point if you’ve really exhausted all of your abilities and nothing has happened, you might consider something…maybe writing is not for you? Maybe this pursuit of a career is not for you? And it’s a choice and no one is forcing you to write screenplays. It’s a dream. It was my dream since I was 11 years old. So am I going to achieve it? Am I going to achieve it at a level that I want?
Because when I worked in the restaurant while I was going to film school, I knew people that were actors who said “Well, it’s not worth it for me if I’m not like Brad Pitt.” And I said “Oh, really? So you think you’re just going to fall into it and be A-list?”…(Watch the video on Youtube here).
Best Advice To 22 Year Olds Who Want To Be TV Writers
Jeffrey Davis: Start with how are you and people say “Sorry, busy today.” I think that the best example of this is I had a student two years ago who was the best joke writer at 21-years old and had done a lot of improv and very young.
But she could work on (which is what you want in “A Room”), she could work on other people’s scripts and would say “You know, this would be a great joke.” And they would all come from character and conflict.
And she said to me in the beginning of the year (because it was a 2-semester course), she said to me “I’m going to come out of here at 22 and I’m going right on to a television series as a writer.” And I said to her “I hope not.” And she got really mad at me. And I said A) You won’t be ready B) They will eat you alive and C) They’ll resent you. So what you need to do is pay your dues. And they found this or she found this program that Second City in Chicago had started a grad program in Harold Ramis name (in his memory). And she applied and she got in. And she just graduated in May I think or I think she had 6 months to go? She’s got one more semester. And she is like a different kid because she took her time. So I guess to go back to your question, you don’t want to put yourself in a position where you will get pummeled because they will pummel you. They have so many people to see and they are looking for things that they can sell. It’s still a business, no matter what it’s on.
Even PBS, people go “Oh British television. It’s so high quality.” It is but it’s supported on the BBC so we’ll see things like THE CROWN and DOWNTON ABBEY and things that like which we rarely see here. Except now we are seeing it here on Netflix.
So I just think it’s always a good idea to dial up. Don’t try to be (when you’re young), don’t go in and pretend to know things…get people to mentor you I think is the best advice I’ve ever been given and is the best advice I could give. And take your time. You want to be in it for the long haul. You don’t want to have a gold strike and be done by the time you are 25. This girl, if she had done what she had in her head, she would have been finished at 25 (I think).
If you look at Orson Welles career, his later career (even though he made some great movies), he didn’t have the career he had at 26. He was too young, but he was a genius, so that doesn’t really count…(Watch the video on Youtube here).
When A Filmmaker Seizes The Opportunity To Make A Feature Film
A.J. Rickert-Epstein: I found no one was ever going to give me the opportunity, I had to take it. So one of the first movies I ever did out in Los Angeles (of my own), I got a bunch of my friends together who were still in college (I graduated a year earlier because I was ahead of a lot of them because of the whole high school thing). And they had that summer and I knew what my summer was like after you graduated, sort of like “What do I do now?” There’s not a whole lot of commitments, you have a lot of time, most people don’t have a full-time job (yet). But sooner or later they are all going to get that or they are going to go off and start living their adult lives. Well I saw a key opportunity to get a lot of my old movie making friends back together and take that short period of time that none of us would ever get back again and try to do something with it. Something that we would all be able to benefit from and that would be making a feature film….(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).
Reality For A Filmmaker Who Wants To Make A Movie Before Age 30
by Patrick Creadon
Patrick Creadon: I really admire the moxie of a 22-year-old film school graduate who only wants to direct and only wants to make movies and if they can do that, terrific.
Every once or twice in a generation a Steven Spielberg is going to come around, a Steven Soderbergh is going to come around, a Paul Thomas Anderson is going to come around. And these are people who really made great films in their 20’s.
But…then there’s the rest of us and the rest of us have to figure out a way to make a living and you also have to really work at your craft, you know? So I think studying any sort of discipline within film school is very, very valuable.
In my own experience I’ve seen that studying camera which is what I studied (cinematography) at the American Film Institute or studying editing, are two really good places to begin because those are the kind of jobs that production companies need to hire all the time…(Watch the video on Youtube here).
What A 25 Year Old Doesn’t Know About Hollywood Filmmaking by Jack Perez
Jack Perez: Well, maybe that’s the other thing (to answer your question from earlier) “What does a 25-year-old not know” is that…and I’ve answered this question before is as much as you would love it to be this constantly building step ladder, it is this crazy…you know you can drop like a stone and that doesn’t mean that you cant climb up again. But that was a big surprise for me, when those valleys came it was like “Holy Sh*t.” It was like the end of the world, I can’t believe it. But you survived…(Watch the video on Youtube here).
When A Young Filmmaker Deals With Age Drama From Older Crew Members On A Film Set by James Cullen Bressack
James Cullen Bressack: But I continue to work hard and I continue to push myself and keep going and that’s the important thing. You have to just keep going.
I think when you spend so much time getting mad about somebody else’s success, you forget about your own and you forget about focusing on your own. Because I remember when I first started doing this, I saw filmmakers and I was like “Well, I don’t know why this person is getting like a huge budget?” Instead of being genuinely happy for them and then I started realizing “No, I should be genuinely happy for them.” Because them getting that feature that proves that it’s possible and that proves that this is not just a fantasy. It proves that you can go make a little $5,000 movie and get a huge budget feature. You can go and make a couple movies and win a bunch of awards and suddenly become a filmmaking sensation in horror or whatever genre you are doing and you can do that. You can make a little movie that goes to Sundance, you can do that. And instead of being the type of person that gets angry that other people are doing that and you’re not, realize that it could possibly be your turn later and just fall in love with the idea that it’s still a possibility, rather than a fantasy…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).
Advice To Film School Graduates On Making A Living As A Filmmaker
by James Kicklighter
James Kicklighter: Here’s the thing, it doesn’t matter if you are a Georgia Southern student or a UCLA student or an NYU student. No college student (well that’s not maybe not true), most college students do not think about the totality of the picture because when they are in film school or when they are learning how to tell a story or whatever it is that they’re doing. They get taught the mechanics of it. They get taught this is a 3-act structure. This is how you compose a frame. This is how you run the camera. This is how you turn the sound on and you learn these technical things but no one and most schools do not teach the practical elements of what it means to be a film professional. And that’s a very, very different distinction and that’s something that unfortunately most of our schools let students learn once they get out into the real world. And it’s something that should be taught in our schools before they ever leave college because if they want to do that, they need to understand how to see their career as a trajectory, not a short term thing…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).
An Advantage 25 Year Old Creatives Have Over Everyone Else by Jeff Leisawitz
Jeff Leisawitz: Well, one of the pieces was I was young, I was like 24, 25. So when we’re younger we have more flexibility I think in our choices and in our lifestyles and things like that. On of the things that I try to get across to my college students that I teach song writing and recording to college students which like…that’s a job? Are you kidding me? I love it.
But I try to get them to understand the power and flexibility of their youth because they don’t really know it because they haven’t been 15 years older yet. They haven’t been in the workforce and running around. They are just getting out of school or in school. So that was a piece of it. Being young and I knew sort of where I wanted to go with my life, but it just seemed like a good place.
Film Courage: Another thing that I say a lot in these interviews, but I’m going to say it again is that when you are 20 or 24 people give you pats on the back and they give you “Attagirl! Attaboy! You can do it.” When you are 40, they don’t do that. And I think that part of it is there is part of them that wants to do that and they can’t [mostly from obligations] and it’s all very real thing in the adult world. You have certain roles and obligations and so you don’t get as many Attagirls! [or Attaboys!].
Jeff Leisawitz: That’s true. Maybe you can’t drop everything and move to different city. But you always can do something and that is the key, right? A huge difference is you’ve got to pay the rent and whatever the deal is. Okay, I get that, of course. But if you want to be a screenwriter, spend a half an hour a day or two hours on a Saturday or whatever it is. A little bit and you absolutely can do that. It’s just about prioritizing, right? Are you watching TV or are you writing on your screenplay? I mean…let’s get real…(Watch the video on Youtube here).
The Pressure To Make It In Hollywood By Age 30
by Actor/Director/Instructor Choice Skinner
Film Courage: I understand you moved to Los Angeles when you were 27 or 28? Anybody who is under age 30 feels that pressure to make it. I feel like now even more so [in a culture of influencers]. Can you share your opinion on this and what you tell your students?