Anyone familiar with Tom Cruise should know about his boundless passion for the art and science of making films. While Tom has talked about his love of movies throughout his career, the real proof of his devotion is in the finished product. Regardless of the movie, fans feel the intensity, drive and joy the action star brings to making memorable cinema. His passion is all in service of creating films movie lovers the world over can connect with emotionally.
Tom isn’t alone in his love for movies and movie making. The worldwide interest in filmmaking spiked with the rise of the Internet, giving normal fans an outlet to distribute their own creations. This revolution in filmmaking is aided with the introduction of high-quality, less expensive equipment, giving the average person access for the first time to create professional quality films.
In reflection of this shift in making movies, the team at TomCruise.com is reaching out to the filmmakers with some resources to help you get your movies written, directed, acted and distributed! We also will connect you to a list of aspiring filmmakers through Tom’s Twitter stream – including directors, screenwriters and actors – to start getting your dreams off the ground.
This week we concentrate on resources for everyone behind the camera – the writers and directors. We’ll give you the links to resources for getting your movies out on the Internet, festivals to enter films into, film contests and competitions to earn exposure or money, and schools to train for a career in the movie industry.
Aspiring actors will find plenty of helpful advice in this post, but should return to the blog next week for resources specifically for performers.
But for now, filmmakers are in the driver’s seat. Check out all the info below!
The real starting point that every new filmmaker should be aware of is the explosion of resources online for distributing movies through the Internet. There’s nothing better than getting the opportunity to have your creation looked at by the entire world. These online channels offer a new route for unknown filmmakers to put their movies out into the world, a route to success and possibly a career in the movie industry.
The most popular online video site for aspiring filmmakers to host their movies with is easily YouTube. With over 2 billion video views a day, pretty much the entire online world is looking at a video on the Google-run site. But one of the little known resources available through the site includes the YouTube Screening Room; a venue for serious filmmakers to have their original productions featured by the site. The Screening Room hosts all kinds of movies – including the documentary series Project:Report that partners with the Pulitzer committee for the vaunted journalism prize.
Another video hosting site popular with filmmakers is Vimeo. This site caters to a much smaller audience than YouTube, but differs in one respect: Vimeo is composed completely of original material. Movies on Vimeo then don’t have to compete against clips from television, movies or video games. The site is exclusively to distribute original films of all stripes. It’s for this reason that Vimeo became a popular venue for films from independent producers and music video artists.
Some of the best opportunities for filmmakers and screenwriters available on the Internet come in the form of legitimate open competitions and contests that can rocket a films’ prestige from unknown to worldwide hit in mere hours. Some destination websites for directors and writers hold these competitions annually, semi-annually or regularly, giving filmmakers the chance for exposure, production deals and even cash. Screenwriters are also in luck, with open competitions judged by some of the film industry’s biggest talents available for entry.
Below are some of the many film, direction and screenwriting contests or competitions available for filmmakers around the world.
Brought to filmmakers by the online film portal I Am Rogue, their Big Break Movie Contest opens the door for any filmmaker with a feature-length (90 minutes or more) movie to find an audience with distribution through AMC Theaters in the United States! The crew at I Am Rogue will set the winning film and filmmakers up with a professional critique, help fine tuning the production, create a professional trailer, and get the film into theaters.
Some of the judges include the head of film production company Relativity Media, Ryan Kavanaugh, along with Hollywood star Kate Bosworth and Relativity Media president of worldwide production, Tucker Tooley.
The filmmakers resource website Open Film hosts a number of regular film competitions of their own, including the Get It Made contest series which awards $50,000 in cash and another $200,000 in financing to movies under 40 minutes that can expand to feature length following the contest. That’s a healthy amount of coin for an online film competition! The site’s advisory board includes Hollywood actors James and Scott Caan, Robert Duvall and director/producer Mark Rydall.
An emerging online trend in online film contests includes creating new material in a limited amount of time in a collaborative environment. One of the leaders in this trend is the touring competition called The 48 Hour Film Project. The challenge of this contest, to write, shoot, edit and score a complete movie in 48 hours! Each team – ranging thus far from one to 118 people.
The competition circles the glob on a tour from city to city, until it finishes it’s yearly cycle. Winners from each city then compete on a global scale for a chance at a $3,000 prizer and, more important, an opportunity to get screened at the prestigious Cannes film festival. Take a look at the calendar to see when the contest will be making it to a city near you.
The Filmaka Digital Studio is an online site that hosts regular film contests and has attracted a widely diverse global filmmakers who compete for prizes ranging from $15,000 in cash and exposure through distribution or airing films on television. Some of the panel of judges at Filmaka include Academy Award-nominated director Werner Herzog, directors Neil LaBute, Wim Wenders and Paul Schrader, along with Academy Award nominated actor Colin Firth.
Founded by Oscar-winning director and noted auteur Francis Ford Copolla, American Zoetrope has been a home for some of the most original screenwriting and filmmaking over the last 40 years. Known for hosting filmmakers with an independent streak and literary bend, Zoetrope is also the home to a well-known screenwriting contest judged by Mr. Copolla himself! The contest includes a membership to the Zoetrope Digital Studio, which helps screenwriters through workshops and critiques of writing to make scripts stronger.
Tom Cruise worked with Francis Ford Copolla early in his career on The Outsiders.
While making a film can be hard work, it’s mostly fun work. Getting a film financed… that can be another story altogether. Part of the job of a filmmaker is finding financing – whether a studio, private financiers or *gulp* credit cards – to help transform a concept into a wondrous flickering image on the screen. The folks at FilmSlate published a detailed primer on how to find the kind of investment filmmakers need to make that transformation a reality.
Money is unfortunately the lifeblood for many film productions. The equipment and time needed to make movie magic possible has always been expensive. That said, the article at FilmSlate repeats what we at TomCruise.com believe – passion and planning can help you find the resources to make your filmmaking dream come true!
Nearly every aspiring filmmaker dreams of success, whether that be at the box office, from reviews or just through the reaction of the fans. But some measure of satisfaction is also taken from the praise of peers at film festivals. While not every filmmaker can waltz into prestigious festivals like the Cannes Film Festival, the Venice Film Festival, or the Sundance Film Festival, there’s still plenty of room for competition at some other festivals around the globe and in the United States.
One of the largest domestic film festivals in the U.S., the New York Film Festival, provides such an opportunity for filmmakers starting out. Their New Directors/New Films series has given a venue for burgeoning talent to compete and gain notice for nearly 40 years. Some of the alumni of the competition to gain wider fame through the exposure includes Tom Cruise collaborator Steven Spielberg with his movie The Sugarland Express, which was honored by the festival in 1974.
The Austin Film Festival – a well-known jumping off point in the success of directors and screenwriters like Richard Linklater – has created an environment specifically designed to cultivate the talents of young and upcoming filmmakers throughout the United States and world. The Austin Film Festival Young Filmmakers Program is filled with competitions, workshops, camps and expositions to give a leg up to filmmakers starting on their road to movie careers.
The online portal Open Film also has a resource for you filmmakers through their Open Film Festival Calendar. This is your opportunity to find festivals in your area to meet with other filmmakers, get inspired by their work, or hopefully compete for a prize in a competition!
While it’s not the only route to making movies, learning the craft of film from experienced professors and industry professionals offers many promising directors and screenwriters the knowledge they need to break into what is a hugely competitive industry. Below are some of the finest schools from around the United States that have particularly strong programs in cinema production, along with some of the more notable alumni that have come from the specific institution. Collaborators of Tom Cruise will be bolded on these lists, so keep your eyes peeled!
- The California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) – Founded in 1961 as a training ground for filmmakers and animators in Los Angeles, CalArts became a known feeder for the legendary animation studios of the Walt Disney Company. To this day, some of the most talented storytellers in the medium of film spring from this institution. Some CalArts alumni include Knight and Day director James Mangold, PIXAR director Brad Bird (The Incredibles), Disney Chief Creative Officer and director John Lasseter (Toy Story), Oscar nominated director Tim Burton (most recently of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland), and Oscar-winning screenwriter and director Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation).
- American Film Institute (AFI) Conservatory – The destination for the most daring and artistically complicated directors, AFI has provided a home for some of the most challenging movie makers to grace the silver screen. Some AFI trained directors include Oscar-nominated directors David Lynch (Blue Velvet) and Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line), as well as screenwriter and director Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull).
- University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Theater, Film and Television – Site to the education of some of the biggest names in filmmaking over the last 40 years and beyond, UCLA has consistently cranked out some of the finest directors and actors to work in the medium. Some of the alumni include Oscar winner and director of The Outsiders, Francis Ford Coppola, A Few Good Men director, Rob Reiner, as well as Academy Award winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk) and director Alexander Payne (Sideways).
- University of Southern California (USC) School of Cinematic Arts – Some of the biggest names in the film world have passed through the halls of USC, including industry heavyweights who’s innovation from the late 1960s on have changed the industry permanently. Some of the alums include Oscar winner and director of Far and Away, Ron Howard, Star Wars creator and founder of Industrial Light and Magic, George Lucas, director Robert Zimeckis (Forrest Gump), comedy writer and director Judd Apatow (The 40-Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up), and director Bryan Singer (X-Men).
- New York University (NYU) Tisch School of Performing Art – From the East Coast school known for intense dramas and dark comedies, NYU delivered some of the most critically acclaimed auteurs from the last three generations of filmmakers for both direction and writing. Among the distinguished alums are Academy Award winner and director of The Color of Money, Martin Scorcese, and Academy Award winner and director of Born on the Fourth of July, Oliver Stone. Other Oscar winning directors to emerge from the school include Woody Allen (Annie Hall), Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain), and Joel Coen (No Country for Old Men).
So there you go Tom Cruise fans and emerging filmmakers! The beginnings of a career in film can be in your grasp through some of the resources found in this post. While not completely exhaustive, reading through the information here and on the links can get you started on the road to cinematic expression and fame. We can’t wait to see you make it!
Again, stay tuned for next week as the Tom Cruise blog unveils resources for aspiring actors.