How to Start in the Cinematographic Industry When You’re…Nobody by Pablo Cuevas



The film industry (not just in USA, in every country where cinema productions are possible) is everything but easy.  When we are in high school and we express or like about the seventh art we usually find people who share our interest, but very few of them really are capable of having the patience and strength that is necessary to survive and transcend. Survive and transcend, those two words are quite easy to say, but hard to consolidate.

For example, in Mexico (the place I’m writing you from, dear lector) the cinema industry is reduced to a very specific social circle, in fact, the only “sure” way to have filmic projection in foreign countries is by asking financial help to IMCINE (Instituto Mexicano de Cinematografía), which is at the time funded by our ineffective government.  However, having your film project produced by IMCINE isn’t a guarantee that you’ll succeed in important festivals and competitions. For example, in last Cannes Mexican director Carlos Reygadas won in his category for his film Post Tenebras Lux, but back in Mexico, this film was ignored by IMCINE and in its awards the institution chose as best movie of the year, a very bad comedy called Pastorela. So, what the hell is happening?

One thing is for sure, is not a very good option to go to the government art programs if you think that’s the place where you can start learning and contributing with your brilliant ideas, not at least in Mexico.  Lots of famous and talented directors had an easy way to reach their important creative position (like J.J Abrams) because their families were already involved in cinema industry since years earlier; but fortunately there is a special group of filmmakers who had to start from zero (like Christopher Nolan), they did not exist.  Just as many of us.

You may think the solution for this existential problem is by going to (mostly expensive) a film school. But, as Einstein said:

“There could be much kind of solutions for a same problem.”

You also have to know that is essential to find someone who finds you.  What is the meaning of this?  Well, many of us will have to use to the idea that in this industry (like it or not) we must be sociable.  It’s going to be very difficult -if not impossible- to progress if you don’t make your own contacts that may help you to reach people interested in your job or services.  It’s not easy to accept, but we’ll need other people to keep moving forward, it doesn’t care how talented we are.  Some years ago I heard a phrase that I really liked:

“To succeed in show business, you must have a 10% of talent and 90% of commercial vision.” 

Believe or not, like it or not, the person who said this is right, this person I’m writing about is famous singer Pitbull.

Beyond that, this article is directed to all those young minds who know themselves brilliant, but have not found that small, tiny cavity where they can begin in cinema industry.  For all those people, I’m glad to tell you that the opportunity is not very far from you, at all. That’s why I have already done a shortlist of targets and goals easy to accomplish which will give you quick results, positive results only for you.  And no, this is not a midnight infomercial, even when it looks like one.

1. START FROM ZERO:  The first thing you should do if you belong to this huge group of unknown talented director, actors, writers, cameramen, hairdressers, editors, producers; is to admit that just for now –and just for now- you are nobody for the industry. And only by work and products that endorse your effort you’ll be recognized.

2. WRITE YOUR FIRST SCRIPT:  It does not matter if it’s bad or good, you will improve it with the pass of the years, the important deal in this point is you to explore the kind of tramas you would like to tell to an audience, meet your style and test your visual imagination. You never know, maybe the first draft is enough good to show it to someone.

3. SUSCRIBE YOUR SCRIPT TO COMPETITIONS:  As I told you, the matter (for the moment) is not to be the best writer in town, is about getting’ involved in social circles where you breath cinema. For first time, your name will appear in contestant lists and will be very special when you are famous. There are a lot of this contests and surely close from you. You can even be the winner!

4. TAKE YOUR OBJECTIVE TO SCHOOL:  If you’re an student, maybe sometime your teachers have asked a video project, like an interview or even a shortcut about a specific topic in your subject. These kind of situations are dedicated to you, make an effort to take that school project as if you were doing your first motion picture, organize it and I can surely guarantee it will be a very good practice, like directing your mates and affront small challenges like realizing things you write in paper simply do not work on a screen. As Peter Jackson once said,

“One is the script you write, another is the one you shoot, and finally another is the one you edit.”


5. TAKE TOTAL CONTROL OF YOUR PROJECT:  If you watch “Doodlebug,” the first shortcut we know from Nolan, you will notice that in the credits, Chris Nolan is not only the director, he was also the writer, cameramen and the editor. If you decide to implement this cinema philosophy at your school projects is a quite good tip you to involve in each aspect of shooting. When you are director (if you choose to) is very important to know how works every department of your production.

  Perhaps you still thinking having a Twitter account is unnecessary, but really it is not. Get one now and put yourself easy to pronounce, and start following actors, directors, writers and interesting independent sites like @filmcourage. If you limit your follows to these kind of people, you will probably get followed by these accounts, and try to contact them, some of them can answer you.  In addition, you will be featured in the cinema accounts suggestions to follow; you never know what could happen in Twitter.

  There are lots of online pages where you can ask for write on them. It is not important if by the moment you do not receive a salary for your articles, the real important thing here is being read by many people. Some sites give you creative freedom and if you are a busy person, you can be published as a columnist every week. Of course, if you try with just one option could delay more time, but if you send lots of e-mails to different sites it’s secure you’ll be accepted at least in one. With time, you can print those articles published and append them to your CV.

8. FIND SHOOTINGS AND INVOLVE:  It is possible that you have seen a film shooting at least once in your life. Maybe in your town is a good option to make movies, so if you ever know about a shooting near you, run and ask if they need extras. Being an extra in a shooting is quite a nice experience if you know assess it. You only obey few orders and most of the time, you will not be needed and you can stay to watch how works a professional filmmaking. If you are lucky, you can get caught by a camera and appear in the final cut.

The steps below are very easy to follow and I promise they’ll give you results as soon as you put them in practice. And don’t worry, that tag of being “nobody” in the industry will not exist in a few years.  Getting involved in this beautiful business is difficult, but not impossible.


Pablo Cuevas is Mexican (by the moment) TV Assistant and conducer, shortcut and spots director.  Half time philosopher.  I’m 17 years old and the seventh art has marked lots of topics in my life, I consider it a way to express our ideas and present them to the world.

Follow Pablo on Twitter @PabloCuevas_