7 Tips to Survive and Thrive In Student Films

paulcramThis is a guest post by actor Paul Cram.

7 Tips to Survive & Thrive In Student Films

1. Prepare Like You Are After An Oscar
Be on time, off book for the scenes that day, be professional. You’re
reputation starts now & practice does make perfect. Start being a pro now.

2. Pursue A Goal
Are you experimenting with acting techniques? Resume credits? Demo reel
material?  The hours get long. A goal makes them more bearable.

3. Put Your Feet Up
Go into it knowing it is a learning experience for the director. Don’t set
your expectations so high that the student will never be able to impress
you. They aren’t Spielberg… yet.

4. Put Your Foot Down
While there will be bumps to overcome in the road of making a student film,
don’t take unprofessional-ism lightly. I once had a student director show up
two and a half hours late to a shoot, and then she forgot her camera lens on
top of that. Not OK behavior.

5. Be Safe
I’ve worked with student film makers (and many pros) that wanted me to do
dangerous stunts for their project. It isn’t worth loosing a leg or your
life for a film. I always ask for someone else to show me how to do a stunt
before I will do it.

6. Get It In Writing
While every student will promise you the world before and during filming, 7
out of 10 evaporate upon graduation. How do you still get your footage? Get
it in writing. I only work on student films with a deal memo/contract that
stipulates that I will receive a copy of the finished project and/or the raw
footage given to me after a set time has elapsed. (usually 9-12 months) See
a copy of my student film deal memo here.

7. Play
Student films offer an on-set play ground for you as an actor to experiment
& hone your craft. If that’s not enough, you also get material for your
reel. (One of the most-talked-about clips from my first reel was a
non-paying student film scene.)

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