Sucks To Be You, The Film School Edition

LESLIE: I worked on a USC grad film, so now I know how the other half lives…
LESLIE: Which is good, since preproduction was not something we really worked too hard on in school.
BRIAN: the other half?
LESLIE: the super-rich or super-in-debt students at huge film schools with high-end equipment.
BRIAN: ha ha
BRIAN: I see

LESLIE: Yeah, this guy spent 20,000 on a short film.

BRIAN: they spent it all on what, equipment?
LESLIE: he’s now up to his ass in loans and family obligations.
BRIAN: I bet!
BRIAN: credit cards baby!

LESLIE: equipment beyond what the school provides, craft service, post, some labor, since students work on each other’s films but you hire a few people. One week shoot. free permits, because they’re students, but he had steadicam and a special effects guy for rain, and that’s money. Actors, I imagine, though it’s a SAG waiver. Film stock. Post time.
LESLIE: Materials for art department,etc. polaroid.
BRIAN: yikes
LESLIE: studio teacher because he was using kid actors.
LESLIE: it basically ran like a professional set.
LESLIE: and this is getting every discount or donation he could think of.
BRIAN: wow
LESLIE: you can spend quite a few thousand because USC makes you go all the way to answer print or a digital finish. with sound mix and various deliverables.
BRIAN: so he did this on purpose?
LESLIE: yeah, to get his degree and have a reasonably well-produced industry calling card. Total time on just the one project ends up being 2 or so years.
BRIAN: that’s hard core
LESLIE: yeah. I couldn’t do it.

BRIAN: but now he’s totally employable right?
LESLIE: only as employable as any of the thousands of USC grads in LA. Maybe he’ll get lucky and get an agent after the screening. Maybe not.
BRIAN: ouch!
LESLIE: that, my friend, is film school.

What Is A Demo Reel For?

I asked Leslie, in her experience, what a demo reel really is for:

it depends what you want to do. directors often have their long film school short as a calling card,
when trying to get a meeting with producers or get an agent. They have a screening and invite industry people. Editors and dp’s and animators have project samples. Music video directors have reels of that kind of thing.