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'Working from Anywhere' in the Film Industry
By Christine Durst & Michael Haaren
Oct. 25, 2012
pictures, moving people, moving work: Long before the web brought us
virtual jobs and gigs, the film industry pioneered “working from
anywhere.” In many ways, it still does, now fueled by the web and
its ever-evolving handmaidens, smartphones.
In Edison’s time, film photographers would travel about,
recording a boxing match or a politician’s speech or a farmhand
chasing a greased pig at a county fair. The clip might appear in a
traveling exhibit or a vaudeville show. This seemed to sow the DNA;
most films are still shot on location (“working from
anywhere”), whether their budgets are eight figures or three.
Beginning in the 1920s, the studios tried to bring factory principles
to bear, requiring creative types like writers to clock in and out.
This reportedly led William Faulkner to ask a Fox producer if he could
work from home. Thinking Faulkner meant Los Angeles, the producer
agreed. Faulkner, probably with a smile on his face, called the office
a few days later from his home in Oxford, Miss., 1,900 miles
But Faulkner was onto something. Today, most screenwriters –
aspiring and successful both – work from home. For more on the
screenwriting sector, including contests, courses and how to sell
– MovieBytes Directory: www.moviebytes.com/directory.cfm
– UCLA Extension Writers’ Program: www2.uclaextension.edu/writers/index.php
– Done Deal Pro Forums: http://messageboard.donedealpro.com/boards/
Film Screeners Also Work from Home
One of the pillars of the film industry is film festivals, and
thousands take place internationally each year. A
“festival” may range from a few recent films shown in one
theater, to hundreds being shown over the course of weeks across an
entire city or region.
Many festivals depend on “work-from-anywhere” screeners to
do an initial triage of submitted films, which arrive from filmmakers
around the world. The films themselves are often submitted digitally
through an online service, Withoutabox, at www.withoutabox.com.
To learn more about screeners generally, we spoke with Samantha Dols,
Senior Director of Operations at the Washington West Film Festival
(http://wwfilmfest.com), where co-columnist Michael is a volunteer
advisor, in Reston, Va. Dols herself often works in transit, using her
laptop and WiFi in cafes and other locations in meetings with festival
advisors, volunteers, etc.
She pointed out that Washington West has used screeners in such
locations as Utah, Los Angeles, New York and the Washington, DC and
Northern Virginia areas. As to screeners overall, she said they may be
volunteers or paid.
On the qualifications to become a screener, she added, “Among the
screeners I have met, there seems to be one common quality – the
sincere love of and appreciation for film. Many have gone to film
school, volunteered with festivals, studied cinema in a historic and
cultural context. Whatever their specific background may be, they all
have some dynamic relationship with film that has developed and
strengthened over time.”
Research indicates that screeners are often hired through
word-of-mouth, so if you’re interested, contact the film
festivals directly. For more on festivals, see www.filmfestivals.com.
Jobs and volunteer positions can also be found at
Filmmakers, too, have embraced virtual work. Breven Angaelica Warren,
at www.angaelica.com, seems to epitomize the work-from-anywhere trend.
She says, “Everything I organize is web-based or cell. I
orchestrate from all over; on the road, families' homes, and various
friends living rooms while camping in their homes on the go. I have had
this fantasy of a retrofitted train car that I could pack everything
into and have brought along from place to
(With special thanks to Jaclyn O’Grady, freelance festival
coordinator, for her generous assistance as we researched this article.)
Christine Durst and Michael Haaren are leaders in the work-at-home
movement and advocates of de-rat-raced living. Their latest book
is Work at Home Now,
a guide to finding home-based jobs. They offer additional guidance on
finding home-based work at www.RatRaceRebellion.com. To read features
by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators
Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2012 BY STAFFCENTRIX, DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM