In 2004 I had been given the opportunity to cast the leading child actress in ‘The Fall’ , a film by Tarsem Singh and presented by David Fincher and Spike Jonze. The story of the film is closely connected with the history of the motion picture and the beginnings of Hollywood.
I spent a long period of time studying and researching how films were produced at the beginning of the 20th century to have a better understanding whilst auditioning hundreds of children for the role. After a while I realised, in that moment in 2004, it was not a journey into the history of cinema or the tireless weeks spent audition children, but it was my first journey into the future of film. How can you better predict the future of film than asking the people that are going to live and shape it?
The idea of discovering raw and pure talent and helping them break into the film industry made me think; how do I multiply the success of one and all the young people breaking through?
In 2004 everything seemed to be impossible, but in 2005 the first YouTube video was uploaded and Facebook had just been launched, evolving from its early beginnings in a Harvard dorm room. In the next year ‘The Fall’ was released and I began the biggest adventure of my life. A journey of building a system that every teenager and young person could create his or her own movies and discover their talent through the process of filmmaking.
As with the case of human communication, using Facebook and Twitter, people can connect so easily with other people. We need this same algorithm for filmmaking. Where filmmakers and those who are interested in film can easily connect with one another and produce pieces of work that are far beyond anything they can dream of, through this collaboration.
My project is now is at the end of its development stage after 5 years in the making. In this time I was interviewing, working and experimenting with over 10,000 children and teenagers; asking them all what they thought about the future of film and where they believed it would take them. We taught ourselves through writing scripts, discovering ideas and experimenting with how to tell these stories. During this process I realised the future of film will not be only a way to entertain but it will be a new way of communication, a new way of collaboration and a new model of production. So my advice to teenagers in breaking into Hollywood starts with self-discovery and self-learning. The film you want to make is within you, you need to know your story and to learn the language of film to understand fully the movie you want to make.
- Tell a story, this is the essence of cinema. Think about a story that has a profound effect on you, a personal story that’s comes from inside. Because that’s what you can offer, a personal vision of the world. But always remember to believe and love your story.
- Develop technical skills. Learn how to master technology and make the technology work for YOU. There is no excuse for not making a good film, there is so much technology available today and you can get it very cheaply and it’s available to almost everyone, so experiment with it and make it work for you.
- To learn the language of film must be a state of mind. You have an amazing resource that previous generations didn’t have. Wikipedia, YouTube, the Internet in general is a huge library of references to use at your disposal. USE IT. Here are some examples: http://vimeo.com/filmschool http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Mov... http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/F...
- Build a strong aesthetic taste. Visit museums, watch films, study painting. What else are films but moving pictures and moving paintings? My tip is to study all areas of art culture and design. Try to create a beautiful visual movie that is personal to you. The more visual you are the more successful you’ll be. Our culture is almost completely visual so it’s is vital to immerse yourself in visual culture in every way.
- Filmmaking in today has the tendency to focus on the lone artist. We can write the story, film, edit and distribute all individually, yes. But the beauty and power of filmmaking and cinema comes from collaboration, when people from different backgrounds come together and unite to tell a story. Always be in a team; always search to be in the best teams because in this collaboration you can be influenced and become the influencer to many people, always becoming stronger and stronger storytellers.
- Try to find a mentor, if you cant meet them in reality then follow them on social media. Here on Quora, JJ Abrams is contributing to the feed. It’s amazing that people can be in contact with the best directors and filmmakers in the industry so easily, so use this as a tool for research and learning. Its great for both sides too, as a young filmmaker, you could possibly inspire and influence already established Hollywood filmmakers.
- And remember don’t worry if you don’t break into Hollywood. Making films is a way of knowing and discovering yourself. The stories you tell come from a deep part of your subconscious, so it is important to express this. I used to keep journals so probably if I found them today they would make an interesting book. So keep making stories, keep filming them and perfecting your craft; one day they will be the best films of your life.
Join Quora and read more answers from JJ Abrams (Producer - Lost, Super 8, Mission Impossible III), Neal Edelstein (