Just make a short film already!

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Many people talk about (and dream about) making a film, but few actually go out and do it. That’s because they somehow convince themselves they can’t. Or they focus on all the reasons preventing themselves from making a short film.  Let’s lay some of those ridiculous reasons to rest.

  1.  “I can’t afford it.” In this day and age, you can make a movie on your cell phone and edit it on your computer with free software that you can download from the internet. Saying you can’t afford it is not a valid excuse.
  2.   “I don’t know any actors.” You don’t have to know any professional actors to make your first film, grab some of your friends, even if they are awful actors. You’re not making this first film to win an award, you’re making it for the experience.
  3.   “I don’t have a script.” You can write a short 3-page script that should equate to 3 minutes of “on-screen” time. Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. You’ll want to avoid any dialogue pieces for your very first film as sound is quite a complicated issue for a first-time, untrained filmmaker (unless you have a friend who can capture good sound for you.)
  4. “I honestly don’t know how to do it.”  If you really lack the confidence, then sign up for a short home-study course that teaches you the basics, then go out and make your first short afterwards.

The best thing is just to go out and make it.  The experience alone will teach you plenty and you’ll be in a better position the second time around.

Want to sign up for a short home-study filmmaking course?  Drop us an email and we’ll send you a prospectus: filmschool@auteurfilms.co.za

About the author:

Amour Setter is an award-winning filmmaker, international producer at Amour Setter Films and owner of Auteur Film School.

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The difference between Facebook & LinkedIn

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After seeing umpteen selfies and bikini-clad women vying for attention on LinkedIn, I decided to educate the lesser informed of us who have yet to figure out the difference between Facebook and LinkedIn.

The main difference between LinkedIn and Facebook (for those who honestly don’t know) is that LinkedIn is a business platform whereas Facebook is a social platform. Think of Facebook as your local coffee shop where you meet your friends and family to catch up.  Now think of LinkedIn as the big glass building downtown where business people get together to hire, contract, share business-related information and do business together.

So let’s just mentioning the 4 main things you would NOT do when going to the big glass building looking to do business (LinkedIn).

1.  You wouldn’t arrive there wearing your underwear or bathing suit (or flashing your bare bits) because it simply sends out the wrong message. People honestly don’t have to unclothe to get attention. Success is by far the best attention-grabber.

2.  You wouldn’t arrive there without a cv because you could well miss an opportunity to get hired.

3.  You wouldn’t tell everyone you meet about your personal problems, religious or political  views because your potential boss, business partner or client may find your shared views offensive enough to not want to do business with you.

4.  You would refrain from being rude, abusive or politically incorrect because people judge you by your actions. Nobody wants to do business with abusive people, racists or sexists. (What you say on LinkedIn will have very far-reaching consequences for your career).

On the other hand, when going to Facebook (the coffee shop example I used earlier), do whatever you like considering your audience. Take as many selfies as you want, and wear your underwear or bathing suit. Curse, jab fun at your friends, tell everyone how you feel today, etc. That’s the place where you get to relax and have fun.

Since LinkedIn is a professional platform for serious business people, it is highly frowned upon to use it as a social platform. Of course, it is to be expected that a certain amount of “social fluff” will bleed through to LinkedIn, but I believe that mostly comes from a place of not understanding the difference between Facebook and LinkedIn.

Have a look at this tongue-in-cheek advertisement for Cell C directed by South African, Jonathan Parkinson, it sums up social media beautifully and shows us just how ridiculous we’d actually seem if we practiced social media actions in real life.

About the writer:

Amour Setter is an award-winning filmmaker, international producer at Amour Setter Films & owner of Auteur Film School

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10 TIPS TO AVOID GOSSIP & REMAIN PROFESSIONAL

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Gossip is alive and well and thriving on social media these days. Some people honestly have nothing better to do than run others down. How can you conduct yourself so as to avoid gossip & remain professional?

  1. If you happen to be caught up in a conversation that quickly turns to gossip, try to steer the conversation to another subject or politely suggest that since the person being discussed is not physically there to defend themselves against attacks, it might be better to discuss something else.
  2. Never, ever repeat any gossip, unless it involves a very close friend or family member and you feel the allegations made behind their backs are serious enough to warrant a discussion with them directly. Repeating hurtful or petty gossip will not help anyone, it will only make you unpopular for partaking in the gossip in the first place.
  3. If you resign from your job or freelance position, don’t discuss your reasons with other people. Simply say “Things didn’t work out as planned” and leave it at that.
  4. Develop the philosophy “What you think of me is your business, and what I think of you is mine.”  People don’t need to know what you think of them.  Nobody is perfect and just because you don’t like someone doesn’t mean they should stop existing. You are not going to like everyone you meet and not everyone you meet is going to like you. By the same token, if someone insists on telling you what they think of you, tell them it’s none of your business.
  5. The less you rely on other people’s opinions of you to feel good, the stronger your self-esteem will become. People with strong self-esteems are more successful in life because they can rely on themselves to feel good.
  6. Are people talking about you behind your back? Ignore it. Let them continue if it makes them feel important. Don’t react, don’t lash out and don’t try to defend yourself.  Keep your head up high and continue living your life with integrity. There will ALWAYS be people talking behind your back, so get used to it.
  7. Make a point of always saying something nice about people behind their backs and learn to focus on people’s positive traits rather than their negative traits.
  8. Avoid gossipers at all costs and do not become friends with vicious people who like to gossip because you can bet 6 month’s pay they will gossip about you behind your back if given half a chance. Choose your friends wisely!
  9. Learn to mind your own business. Who cares what people do in their personal lives? As long as it doesn’t directly affect your job or negatively impact on you at work, does it matter? Nobody said you had to be friends with everyone you work with.
  10. There are times when gossip can be very damaging to your professional reputation and may warrant a visit to an attorney to issue a letter warning the guilty party that they may be sued for defamation if the gossip continues.

If you avoid gossip, gossip will tend to avoid you. Live with integrity, help others where you can, be kind and compassionate, be polite and behave professionally. If you do all of that, gossipers will find it difficult to gossip about you and when they do there are usually enough people around who will come to your defense.

Want to learn how to become more professional in your filmmaking career? Auteur Film School offers home-study courses in filmmaking with many subjects focusing on Life Skills and building your professional career. Email for more information: filmschool@auteurfilms.co.za

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About the writer:

Amour Setter is an award-winning filmmaker, international producer, and principal at Auteur Film School.

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10 TIPS TO DEVELOP A WINNING ATTITUDE

busy-880800_1920In business attitude is everything. It’s a fiercely competitive world out there and people who have great attitudes together with excellent skills get hired more often. Over the years, I’ve had to deal with a lot of unprofessional people and I can tell you first-hand that they don’t last very long. Nobody wants to have to deal with anyone who is rude, unreliable or sloppy.  There are plenty of people out there looking for work which means everyone is replaceable. Let’s look at some ways that you can improve your attitude and become more professional.

  1.  Answer emails as soon as possible and always follow through.  If you have told someone you are going to call them at 10am, do it. Show people that you are 100% reliable.
  2. Be friendly and professional at all times. Treat customers with the utmost respect and put them first.  In this day and age businesses that have a customer-centric approach are more successful.  Be part of the solution every step of the way.
  3.  Avoid office gossip. Socialise but walk away from negative talk and don’t be guilty of spreading rumours about anyone. You have no idea how much damage this can cause to your professional reputation.
  4. Always be on time.  In fact, be 10 – 15 minutes early. Nothing says unprofessional like arriving late for work or meetings.
  5. Dress professionally. Just because you work in the film industry doesn’t mean you can look like a hippy or a student. People who dress professionally gain more respect and get taken more seriously.
  6. Be careful what you share on social media. Potential employers will always do a background social media check on you so if you have controversial posts or photographs, they may negatively affect your chances of landing work. Or they may even get you fired.
  7. Always be sharpening your saw. This means you should never stop studying. Register for short home-study courses that you can do in the evenings and on the weekends.  The more you arm yourself with knowledge and skills, the faster you will be promoted.
  8. Treat your job like it’s your own business. If you “own” your job and care about every aspect of the business, you will climb the ladder very fast. You will stand out from other employees who watch the clock and do the minimum required of them.
  9. Get involved. Volunteer to manage office events, meetings, etc.  The more involved you become in your company’s culture, the more you will be appreciated.
  10. Anything that goes out to clients should be 100% professional. That means using spell check! You represent your company any time you deal with clients so make sure you represent the company in the most professional way possible.

Want to learn to become more professional in your filmmaking career?  Auteur Film School offers fantastic home-study courses in filmmaking. Drop us an email and we’ll send you a prospectus.

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About the writer:

Amour Setter is an award-winning filmmaker, international producer, and principal of Auteur Film School.

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10 TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR CV

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You’ve just graduated from film school and now you’re ready to launch your career in the film industry.  Armed with a cv you boldly start contacting Production Managers in the hopes of landing an intern position or a paying gig freelancing on a production.

But wait!  Is your cv any good?  Does it look professional and does it have the relevant and necessary information?  Let’s look at 10 pointers that will help you improve your cv, which in turn will improve your chances of landing work:

  1.  Keep your cv as brief as possible.  Include a small, professional looking photograph of yourself at the top under your name and remember to include a title (or the title you are applying for.)  For example  Sally Brown, Production Intern.  Or Sally Brown, Production Assistant. Include a short summary at the beginning of your cv that explains in a few sentences why an employer should hire them. If this is well presented the employer will be motivated to read the rest of your cv.  Think of what makes you unique and why you should be hired for the job.
  2. Under your summary include personal details such as  Date of birth, email address, City or suburb you live in, Contact telephone number and Drivers license (if you have one).  You don’t need to add any other details.
  3. List your related jobs in reverse order.  In other words, you always list the most recent jobs first and work backwards.  Make sure to add the months and well as years you worked at a job. Example: Jan – June 2015.
  4. It is not necessary to add the reasons why you left a job.  You might be asked that in an interview but leave that out of your cv.
  5. Under each job you list, name your biggest achievements in that particular job (not your duties and responsibilities.)  For example: “I implemented an indexed filing system”, or “I cashed up the takings each day and was never short.” This shows that you took initiative and that you have a successful mind-set.  Employers want to hire people who will go beyond the call of duty and will be successful in their positions.
  6. Never list your hobbies UNLESS they are totally relevant to your job.  If your primary hobby is watching films, shooting short films and/or editing, then by all means, include that in your film cv. But if your hobbies are reading, listening to music and playing chess, don’t include that.  Nobody is interested.
  7. Education should be the second last section on your cv. Include the year you graduated from college, university, film school or high school. It’s not necessary to list your subjects in high school, but you can list a summary of your study subjects for everything else.
  8. Achievements would then be the last section on your cv.  Here you would list things like Class Prefect, Most Promising Student of the Year, Award for Best Student Film, etc.  Keep it brief and to the point. Nobody has time to read essays.
  9. It’s not really necessary to include a list of contactable references as these would be asked for if you make it to the interview. However, it won’t hurt to include your previous employer as a reference as this immediately tells the person hiring that you left with no bad feelings.
  10. Always do a spell check before you submit your cv. Bad spelling can and does put people off! If I receive a cv with loads of spelling mistakes, I discard it immediately.

If you haven’t done so already, create a LinkedIn profile and include the link in your cv. Recruiters nowadays always check your LinkedIn profile as part of the recruiting process.

Once your cv is polished, start making phone calls to Production Managers, introduce yourself as professionally as possible and ask if you can email your cv.

Good luck!

Want to study filmmaking?  Auteur Film School offers a selection of fun and affordable home-study courses designed to kick-start your filmmaking career.  Email us for a prospectus: filmschool@auteurfilms.co.za

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About the writer:

Amour Setter is an award-winning filmmaker, international producer and principal of Auteur Film School.

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HOW WORKING ABROAD CAN HELP YOUR FILMMAKING CAREER

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Moving overseas is a very stressful and difficult task that requires a large reserve of money and an excellent list of contacts.  Not everyone has the guts to do this.  It requires nerves of steel, a strong stomach for rejection and a willingness to do whatever it takes to survive away from home.

People who have international working experience on their cv ‘s have an advantage over other candidates applying for jobs. Fortunately for South African filmmakers there are plenty of foreign productions being filmed on our very own soil, which means you would in a sense be getting international experience simply by working on these projects.

However, I have to say that nothing beats working overseas.

When I left South Africa in 2011 to work abroad I prepared myself for the inevitable challenges that come with leaving home and becoming an expat. Overcoming language and cultural barriers stretches you as a person as you have to find ways to adapt.  I moved around quite a lot, initially living in Bangkok, then Saigon, then the USA and finally moving to Europe. Each time I was forced to adapt to a different culture. In essence you are constantly operating outside of your comfort zone.  This is good in one sense as it forces you to push yourself harder to achieve your goals, but it can also tire you out and create a great deal of stress.   Here are a few little tips to prepare you for moving overseas:

  1.  Have a plan and make sure you have enough money to live on for 6 months in case you don’t find work.
  2. Start saving at least 6 – 8 months before you leave home and get used to living frugally.
  3. If possible, learn to speak the basic language of the country you are moving to as this will alleviate a great deal of stress.
  4. Arrange accommodation in your chosen country BEFORE you leave home.
  5. Prepare yourself for challenges and hardship because it isn’t easy being an expat.
  6. Get your cv prepared and make sure it is set out according to international standards.

Once you arrive in your country of choice network as much as possible. The more people you meet, the more opportunities you will be exposed to.

Read my other blog: Working abroad benefits your career

Want to learn how to improve your filmmaking skills?  Auteur Film School offers fun & affordable home-study courses in filmmaking. Drop us an email and we’ll send you a prospectus: filmschool@auteurfilms.co.za

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About the writer:

Amour Setter is an award-winning filmmaker and international producer who operates a film production company in Europe.  She is also the Education Director of Auteur Film School in South Africa.

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THE IMPORTANCE OF GOOD LOCATION SCOUTING

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So you have a script and a budget and a crew and you want to make a movie.  That is awesome…good for you! Before you do anything, you need to have your set and your locations locked down and ready. This should actually be one of the first things you do when you are in pre-production. Where you shoot your film is so incredibly important. For me, location scouting is a very enjoyable experience, as it allows me to visualize my film or scene in each possible place that I visit. If you have a great location, then most of the work is already done for you. The world of your film is there in full color when you find the right spot.

One of the first people you should bring onto your project is the UPM – Unit Production Manager. Or a location scout. On many small budget films, these two just aren’t in the budget. And you have to do the leg work yourself. No worries…I do this all the time, as my budgets are very small. But if you have some extra money in your budget, then these two people can help you tremendously. They will go out and investigate the sites for you while you work on other things. And when they have a dozen or so places, then you will go with them and see if these locations are what you are looking for.

Here are several ideas about getting the perfect location for your film, and at the same time save some money for other important things for your shoot.

  1. Rent A Furnished House or Set – Many first-time filmmakers don’t know about this option, because it is usually very expensive. But if you do some number crunching, it is sometimes worth your while. Because what you are doing is renting an entire home that is already furnished. Sometimes a big house can accommodate a 30-person crew along with 8-12 actors.  So when you go this route, you have many rooms in which to set up in. One or two to shoot in, and the rest of your crew to work and setup in. Like a place for everyone to eat together. If you have the budget, then this is something you should consider as it simplifies the entire process. And ultimately allows you to concentrate on filming.
  1. Pull A Favor – Many first time filmmakers have scripts that take place in a home or garage. Because they have no money they tend to just shoot in their own house, or their parents house or a friend’s house. This is done all the time, as the primary goal is to just get the film in the can. This approach is not ideal…as most of the time, you have to settle for less than what you want for your story. But most of the time, this will be fine as the story doesn’t hang on a very specific home…just a home that looks lived in.
  1. Be Location Specific – My most recent film took place in a used clothing store because my vision of the story took place in an extremely old store. The lead character in my film was hundreds of years old. So I went looking for the perfect location. I ultimately found a beautiful little shop called Helping Hand Thrift Shop in LA. It is this amazing location that is filled to the brim with old used furniture and clothes and knick-knacks. It was so jam-packed with stuff, that sometimes it actually hindered my shoot…because there was no room to maneuver. But this shop was absolutely perfect for my shoot, no matter the drawbacks. Because it was all on screen, and it looked just terrific. Please take your time and really go out and find the perfect place. They are really out there waiting to be discovered. And most of the time, these locations won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

Finding the perfect location is essential for any film director. If you want to create a realistic world that your story and characters live in, then it needs to look real. Not fake or cheap or carelessly throw together. Because your audience will know immediately. They will either be drawn into your film because the set looks beautiful and supports the story. Or they will be bored stiff because the film looks fake.  So be thoughtful and thorough when location scouting. You will very happy you did.

Want to learn how to make your own film projects?  Auteur Film School offers amazing home-study courses in filmmaking. Drop us an email and we’ll send you a prospectus: filmschool@auteurfilms.co.za

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About the writer:

John Montana is an actor living with his wife in L.A. His most recent film, “Hungry” has been accepted into 24 film festivals internationally. Check out his short film – HUNGRY at No Title Production Films.