5 Reasons Why Starting Your Film Career Later in Life is Your Best Move Yet
There is immense anxiety that surrounds the age that one should start their film career. For some reason everyone thinks that they need to be at the peak of their film career at 27 years old. You don’t. I’m here to make the case that starting your film career later in life is actually an advantage rather than a hinderance on you and your career.
I often get this question “I’m in my 30s, does that mean I’m too old to start in film?” I always tell them an astounding “NO!” And that I often hire “older” people (no, 30 is not really old, but in the perspective of society for some reason it seems to be) because the overall performance of someone that is in their 30s is honestly more well-rounded than someone that is 18-22 years old.
Now, of course I have worked with some amazing people that were younger in the 18-22 range, but not a very common occurrence. You can absolutely start your film career later in life, or right out of school.
Why Not Just Start Right Out of School?
Working in film is exciting, rewarding, and I wouldn’t have experienced certain places, and activities if it wasn’t for working in the film industry, But it’s also grueling, wares on your body, and time consuming spending every last waking second on a film set (or getting there) when you’re on a gig.
Before you step into that life have fun! Travel. Fall in love multiple times, get heartbroken, get into fights, be dramatic. Live many different lives. Enjoy life before giving it all to the film industry. And that leads me to my first reason starting a film career later in life is to your benefit.
This is number 1 for a reason for starting your film career later in life. Many of you want to be Writers, Directors, Producers, you want to tell stories. In order to do that you have to live life, experience life. Not only experience life, but also time to reflect on the years in the past to be able to create art from your struggles, and triumphs.
Time gives you a certain perspective to be able to digest what happened in your life and interpret it into the filmmaking medium.
Thinking about a dramatic horrible thing that happened when I was a junior in high school a couple days after it actually happened versus looking at it 15 years later, guaranteed I will see certain things I wasn’t able to before as my younger self. This adds a bit of layers to your art. Life experience is highly underrated.
With life experience comes emotional maturity…most of the time.
Now, don’t get me wrong, have I met some older folks that have a chip on their shoulder, are insensitive to emotions of others, and just not great to work with? ABSOLUTELY. I think they fall into the jaded category. But boy, have I encountered many of young adults who were experiencing certain emotions for the very first time – on set! Not exactly the place to learn about what it feels like to be embarrassed, rejected, afraid, or dealing with anger for the first time.
I feel for those young adults learning about how they react to the certain emotions in the film industry. Learning about all of those emotions are good to learn in other environments – like when someone isn’t screaming at you. When time isn’t money. And when you don’t have producers giving you the side eye doubting your ability to make their coffee properly.
When you’re a little bit older and have gone through certain situations, and taken an adventurous tour of all the emotions negative and positive, you’ve developed your guard, boundaries, and sometimes immunity to things that might have bothered you in the past. You have a thicker skin.
Your ego, basically, is what keeps you alive, outside of your parents, starting from birth. It protects you in a way. It sets the default for what is your reality and who you are in it. But it also is what keeps a person very stubborn, defensive, and stuck.
When you are older you have a better worldview and the reality you live in. You know how you can be yourself in it, and also connect with those around you. As we get older we learn to strip our egos to work with others, collaborate, and adapt to certain scenarios without being upset about the change. Ego hates change. It also hates criticism, failure, rejection, uncertainty, being ignored, confronting flaws, and THAT is filmmaking in a nutshell.
We need to fail, we need criticism, we need rejection, all of those painful things are needed to develop as a person. If your ego had their way it would avoid all of these things to avoid the pain it causes you.
You gain this with age, and that is why starting a film career later in life isn’t bad at all.
Patience honestly comes with age. You need a whooooole bunch of it if you’re trying to have a lasting career in film.
Those of you that have parents that are now grandparents have seen the insane change in how they raised you versus how they react to their grand kids. Night and day!! It honestly has to do with their patience levels. They know what actually matters to them now. They’re weighing their options and making more calculated decisions on what is actually worth the fight. They also are more empathetic and see from other perspectives. This directly relates to their patience levels.
Also with the onslaught of social media, and the instant gratification that comes with it is training us to be more and more impatient. Folks just graduating today think they will instantly find their dream job right in the middle of their favorite show. Unfortunately, not the case. It takes time, determination, and also knowing who you are. Patience is the foundation.
Who You Are
I mentioned this one in the last reason because you need to be patient with yourself because getting to know yourself takes a lot of time.
I did a number of things out of college, did some dumb risky things that only young people will do, went through a phase of “Wow I’m seeing the country and the World!” to thinking I didn’t have a personality to “who cares I’m determined to make it!” Who was I?! Literally no idea.
When I moved to NYC in 2012. I was 27 years old and still had no idea what the hell I was doing, or knew who I was. All I knew was that I wanted to be a 1st Assistant Director and had to get on union sets. I also knew I had to play the long game to become a DGA 1st Assistant Director.
Looking back I had such a bad attitude, and I was struggling big time. No safety net in place make you scrappy, but also doesn’t make for the best environment for growing as a person. You’re in survival mode, very defensive, and not pleasant to be around.
Because I didn’t know who I was as a person I couldn’t go in the right direction. My path was wild to get where I am today. Working in the film industry takes you to the extremes of who you think you are. You’ll find out who you are, what you’re capable of, and your limits. It’s painful. And you don’t get hired as often as you’d like while trying to figure out who you are and trying to make a film career happen.
When you know who you are, know your values, and know your boundaries, your self esteem and self confidence grows exponentially. Which turns into more opportunities for your film career to flourish. People who are older starting their film career later in life have a better sense of self and will not have to go through those growing pains, while trying to navigate the film industry.
Filmmaking is Storytelling. Storytelling are Lives Lived.
If you are someone thinking about getting into film – do it. Try it. Not everyone that is just starting out in film is fresh out of college.
All ages start out in film. I’ve have 18 year old Set PAs, lates twenties, 30s, and people in their 40s start out as a Set PA in film. I’ve had many people take my Set PA training who have had a career for 10+ years in another industry and make a career change into film. One trainee of mine is on her 3rd career! Not knowing anything about film she jumped right in after my Set PA training and is now an Indie Assistant Director.
It’s possible for you regardless of your age.