Entering the industry, building your career and advancing Above-the-Line
From independence to partnership
The journey for those who choose an above-the-line career pathway often begins with taking on many or all responsibilities and functions of creative leadership for a production – they learn and take on all the disciplines and roles that exist above-the-line for their first projects. Independent filmmakers without a “lucky break” start small and do it all.
Gradually, for those who progress, their experience and networks build and grow across the above-the-line community. At the same time, their expertise and in turn their functional roles become increasingly specific until they are part of a the small and collaborative creative leadership team that owns the vision and takes responsibility for a production.
Progressively larger budgets, more specialized and collaborative work
The journey to become a Screenwriter
The role of screenwriter is different across each production, whether it’s a scripted (drama, comedy) or unscripted (documentary, factual) format.
Sometimes the screenwriter is also the director and shapes the vision of the project, sometimes the screenwriter sells or licenses their script and is not involved in the production.
Developing a career as a screenwriter is to commit to the craft of writing, and become film-literate, understanding how screen stories are put together and how visual storytelling works.
Most screenwriters have some post-secondary education as a foundation, take specialized courses and then further develop their community with peers, writing groups and through screenplay competitions and other online writing communities. Often screenwriters will gain practical experience through writing and directing short films.
The journey to become a Producer
The role of producer is as varied as the screen stories that get told. Generally, the producer is responsible for raising funds, overseeing production, post production and delivery of the finished film or television series, and depending on the ownership of the film or television series, tracking its distribution to global markets.
Competencies should include strong business skills, creative vision and a solid understanding of all aspects and phases of filmmaking; financial acumen, confident leadership, and organization skills are also critical in this role.
The journey to become a Director
Many of the key creative disciplines are learned on the job, with each subsequent production developing one’s skills over the course of their career.
Developing your career as a director often means a lifelong commitment to the craft of directing, typically starting with short films, evolving to independent feature films and sometimes transitioning to larger commercial productions such as larger budget features or television shows. Developing strong working relationships with writers and performers as well as directors of photography (DOPs) helps expand your skills and vision as a director.
Did you know?
Above-the-line budget “expenditures” (or expenses) reflect the expected line item total compensation for an official above-the-line member’s role in a given film project. These expenditures are usually set, negotiated, spent and/or promised before principal photography begins. They include rights to secure the material on which the production’s screenplay is based, production rights to the screenplay or “creative content”, compensation for the screenwriter, producer, director, principal actors and other cost-related line items such as assistants for the producers, director or actors.
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