How do young people get into the film industry?

Author: Bisera Gjurovska

In 2021 Bisera Gjurovska interviewed Leona Jarikj, at the time an up-and-coming young Macedonian filmmaker, as well as the rest of the crew engaged in one of the first Leona’s short films, called “Jinx.” With this interview, Bisera wanted to show how young people can make a successful short film, promote the crew for their endeavors as well as support young people in their aspirations. 

This blog post is focused on the different roles in the film crew and how to learn the skills needed. The video clip is the second part of the interview.

Not only do they require a filmmaker, usually the writer, director, and producer, but films also require actors, cameramen, editors, musicians and assistants. Some films, usually ones with bigger budgets, have make-up and costume designers, caterers, production designers, stunt performers, casting, lighting and recording specialists, publicists, special effects and construction crews, etc. Often, bigger films have heads of departments too. 

This second blog post focuses on the essential roles in films such as acting, camera work, and music.

First of all, acting is very important. The actors noted that different actors have different ways of getting into the roles they act out and there’s no right way to do this, though you can still get better if you study theater or find a mentor to guide you through the process. For example, George Neshkovic likes to get into the character by trying to identify with them. Therefore he listens to the character’s preferred music, tries to portray their energy, i.e. tries to act, think and emote the way the character would. In the case of Una Iliev, on the other hand, it’s just about concentration – focusing on what’s supposed to be said, how, why and so on.

Here are some resources on how other actors get into character. You might find these useful:

You must remember there will always be lines that don’t fit, things that need to be changed, ways you may have misinterpreted the character… Sometimes, the team must work together to change the entire script, sometimes it’s just bits and pieces that need adjusting. This is especially true for smaller films. During shooting, someone misses a line or a cue, and you just have to keep going until you get things right or change something that’s difficult for the actors to act out, so as to be efficient in filming. In this particular example, the crew was free to change things within the script, thus improving their efficiency. Sometimes, the crew knows better than one individual writer, though this depends on their experience level. 

But none of this advice would matter to a young actor if no one is there to film them, which brings us to another vital part of filming: camera work. Sofija Kitanovikj, the camerawoman for “Jinx”, talked about the camera they used, a 70mm Canon camera. They used only one and it was difficult to get the scenes right, considering that they had to be shot multiple times from different angles. They used long shots, medium shots and extreme wide shots and shot the scene depending on the original plan, in which one type of camera shot would not have been enough. The camerawoman constantly filmed by hand, without a tripod or any other tools, which was hard to manage. 

Despite the difficulties, she consistently noted that it was worth it, that they trudged through everything to create what they wanted to. This is an important lesson to learn as it shows that things aren’t going to be perfect at all. Even when you have the script, the crew and the funding, the process isn’t going to be easy. You’re going to have to redo a lot of scenes, rewrite some parts of the script, rework certain ideas. But if you’re passionate enough about what you’re doing, you can achieve it, much like how the crew achieved their goal and created their film. 

Filming a movie is a loaded, tenuous process, but some of these resources can make the job easier: 

Let’s say you have good actors and a good cameraperson who can capture the scenes effortlessly. The viewers’ eyes are satisfied, but what about their ears? That’s why you need to have a sound designer or a musician. The musician Ognen Zlatanov, who arranged the music for “Jinx”, composed personally all the music used in the film, recorded it in his own studio and did not use any outside sources. Despite not being a music producer, he still produced the music for this film. This shows us that you don’t have to specialize in film production, film writing or film acting in order to be a part of a crew on a short film like this one. He also mentioned that you don’t have to be a full-on producer to compose/produce music for a film of this caliber, as long as the music is good on its own. 

It is also interesting to observe that some films might be better without music or only with ambient sound effects. There are many films without music or only with specific sound effects, and they can be just as good as those with music. So, if you don’t have the funds, don’t know a good musician or don’t have time for the music, you could also consider this as an option. Not adding music doesn’t have to be something a film lacks; it could be a conscious choice to make the film more interesting or add to the atmosphere. 

Here are some sources on music production for films:

You don’t have to be an incredible actor, musician, editor, cameraperson, writer, producer, or a set designer in order to create a good film. The fact that one person can’t do everything is exactly why different roles exist within the film crew. However, it’s good to know where your crew members are coming from and ways to support them. It’s valuable to be able to relate to the different professions within the filmmaking industry and to have some limited experience with them, this way you can better understand what to expect from your actors, camerapeople, musicians, editors, etc. It’s also important to recognize how you can develop these skills, since it gives you the ability to get into different fields within the industry that go beyond the creation of the film in a general sense. 

Giffoni Macedonia Youth Film Festival offers several 5-days deep-dive technical workshops to the registered participants. The mentors are qualified professionals and university professors with long experience in teaching young students and beginners.

About the author:

Bisera Gjurovska

Age: 18

Country: North Macedonia

City: Skopje

School: Orce Nikolov

Juror in Giffoni Macedonia: 2022, 2021, 2020

Giffoni Experience Italy 2022

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