Often, budding filmmakers are discouraged by advice such as, “You have to be realistic and get a real job.”
“But what’s ‘realistic’ about denying a deep passion that may give others the same joy that you’ve received from movies?” asks Vermeeren, whose documentaries have been translated into 23 languages worldwide. He is of the director of the new Calgary Smartphone Film Festival.
“What if Spielberg or Scorsese – or anyone who has ever done anything great – took the ‘realistic’ advice and accepted a safe career? We wouldn’t have great things.”
Your son or daughter can do what they love for a career, says Vermeeren, whose latest film project is “Creepy Zombies” (www.creepyzombies.com). He offers pointers for parents who want to help their child realize their dream as a filmmaker.
- Help them polish their people skills. It’s all about relationships. How do you get people to work for you before you have money? How do you convince people to do you favors, such as loaning you a vintage car or allowing filming to take place on private property, essentially for free? Again, your kid will need to sell people on their vision, and show them they’re worth rooting for. Make your passion infectious!
- Make sure they monetize! Films are expensive, but so are medical and law schools. Does that mean aspiring lawyers and doctors shouldn’t make the investment? If they believe in their vision, there are various ways for your son or daughter to raise money for the project, including through Vimeo and YouTube.
- Have them seek education wherever they can find it. Film classes are great, but don’t stop there. They should read books about their favorite directors, and enter every film festival they can. Festivals often offer cash prizes. More importantly, judges will critique the project. Their criticisms may be difficult to endure, but they can also greatly improve a young filmmaker’s efforts.
“There are many obstacles in the way of a film’s completion, so confidence is a must,” Vermeeren says. “The first film is the hardest because figuring out the initial logistics is complicated. The filmmaker needs to get people – actors and anyone with the necessary resources – to commit before there is enough money – and there’s never enough money. People, however, are drawn to passion and determination. They need to put their full heart into it and, eventually, they’ll succeed.”