Industry professionals share insight into the world of filmmaking
Filmmakers share their experience
According to industry experts, if you want to be a successful filmmaker, you will need two things: passion and coffee. And not necessarily in that order.
“You live on coffee,” confirmed Joseph Capriglione, owner of the New York-based Lost and Found Productions, where he also serves as a director.
On a scale of 1-10, of how important coffee is, colleague Taso Zouroudis said, with a laugh, it was a 22.
While long hours come with the territory, they should not deter any aspiring filmmaker, they both agreed during a virtual meeting with students in Mike May’s TV/Video Production classes on Oct. 27. The two, who first met Mr. May working on a project years earlier, spoke with students about their work and the industry in general.
“This particular business is all about passion,” Mr. Zouroudis said. “I just know if you are not passionate about this business, you are wasting your time. It is the passion that keeps you fueled.”
“We do this because we love the work we do,” agreed Mr. May.
Mr. May was excited to introduce them to his students so they could learn from people who live and breathe the work.
Mr. Capriglione said he always loved movies and music videos growing up and it was a natural career to pursue. In high school, he attended a summer program focused on filmmaking, worked as an intern and began to do some freelance work. He attended Hofstra University, earning a degree in communications and film. In college, he continued freelancing, working on commercials, advertisements and music videos. His resume also includes work at Fuse TV, the BET network and Hot 97.
Due to the pandemic, he is currently working from home, although he does have access to a 9,000-square-foot film studio in New Jersey.
One of the biggest pieces of advice he offered was for students to invest in tools they will need — cameras, computers and other gear. This way, Mr. Capriglione said, they can create their own content and be ready whenever a job becomes available.
He also encouraged them to meet as many people as possible. His college experience was invaluable in that it helped him meet others in the industry and provided an alumni network.
Mr. Zouroudis took a different route. At 19, he headed to New York City intent on becoming an actor. He continues to act, but he is also a self-taught assistant director, producer and editor.
“If you don’t go to school, you have to work three times as hard. It will take you three times as long,” he said of working behind the scenes. He encouraged students to learn as much as they can about the industry, even do their own research, as he has often done.
His dream of becoming an actor was because of the allure of “imagination land.” But he is also excited to have expanded his career to include the production side of filmmaking.
“It’s one career you literally get to play for the rest of your life and create cool content,” he said.
He met Mr. May when he hired him for an acting role.
“Mr. May was my first director, and now I am here in a studio talking to you guys,” Mr. Zouroudis said.
Talent will only take you so far. He suggested students be kind to everybody they meet in the business because it will only benefit them.
“Character is your currency in this business,” he said.
Students asked questions about what courses they should take in college, whether the assistant director creates a call sheet, using a film slate during production and more.
“Yes, so the editor knows what takes to use. It’s also important when synching sound,” Mr. Capriglione said of the film slate. If a slate is not available, improvise and write the information on a sheet of paper.
“Don’t sit there and waste time. Hold up the paper in front of the camera, take the paper down and clap your hand,” added Mr. Zouroudis.
When asked what the hardest part of editing was, Mr. Capriglione answered keeping continuity, finding the right sounds and staying organized.
As to the most frustrating part of production — it is never having enough time.
The industry has gone through major changes since they began their careers. They no longer use film and the pandemic led to another change that is likely to remain – working remotely, particularly for post-production.
“There is a higher demand. It can be done safely in your home,” Mr. Capriglione said.
Another change that is likely to continue is the increasing use of LED screens rather than green screens. Although using LED screens is more expensive because the technology is so new, as the price drops its popularity will rise.
Finally, if the students were expecting a relaxing career in the industry, they learned they need to adjust their expectations.
“Is the film industry always stressful?” one student asked.
“Yes,” they both answered.
“I think anything you enjoy will come with stress,” Mr. Capriglione said. “But if it’s something you enjoy, you’ll find a way to do it.”