At RRFC, we love to chat with our mentors, not just to see what they’re up to and how our students are doing, but also to listen to them talk about what they do. There’s no better way to learn the secrets of a craft than to hear a working professional sharing about his/her perspective, and the lessons learned along the way. (This is exactly why we train all our students on the job with working mentors.)
is a Film Connection mentor who works out of American Recording Company
in Louisville, KY. We chatted with Herschel recently as he was finishing up the editing process on his upcoming zombie film A Wish for the Dead.
True to form, during the conversation, he shared some key insights that would benefit all our film students, not just the ones he happens to mentor. We wanted to share some excerpts with you from what he had to say on certain key topics relating to the film industry.
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ON PLEASING EVERYONE WITH YOUR FILM:
“Not everybody is going to like your movie, and that’s okay. If everybody liked the same movie, why would we continue to make more?… We knew the true hardcore zombie nuts were going to hate [our] movie, because you don’t see a first zombie in this film until about 39 minutes into the movie, but we wanted to focus on the story. We wanted to do what most independent horror films don’t do…We wanted to spend time with characters and get to know the characters. It’s very hard to make a movie that’s going to universally please everybody.”
ON MODERN FILMMAKING (AND HATING ON GEORGE LUCAS):
“I can fault George Lucas for some things, but at the end of the day, we owe more to George Lucas as to the way we see movies now than most people will ever realize or ever want to admit.”
ON WORKING FOR FREE (This one might surprise you…):
“Getting out there, getting into the field, seeing how professionals do things is of paramount importance. I think working for free is actually of paramount importance, because you can get in there, you can learn every little bit. It’s nice to get paid, but doing a few projects free and being the grunt (because nobody notices the grunt), you can watch actors act, you can watch directors direct, you can watch gaffers light, you can watch all these different things, and you’re getting credits on your resume.”
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF SHADOWING AND OBSERVING PEOPLE ON-THE-JOB:
You can know what to do, but sometimes what not to do… that’s something you can really learn, especially on the independent film set…Seeing how other people do things, you can learn how to emulate, highlight what this person did or that that person did. From that, you cultivate a style. Style is something you can’t learn. Timing is something you can’t learn via book, via program, via tutorial. You have to learn that yourself. The only way to do that is to get out and actually do it.
ON WHAT HE GETS OUT OF MENTORING OTHERS:
“Being able to one-on-one mentor somebody through the Film Connection has been a real blessing for me because I’m able to do a lot of what my mentor was able to do for me. So I’m able to do that again and pass on that knowledge.”
ON BEING REALISTIC AND PERSEVERING TO MAKE IT IN FILM:
“The last words of the film making fool [were], ‘It can’t be that hard.’ I was to find out, of course, it is that hard, but it’s not impossible…It’s work, and you have to work at it. Nobody is going to hand it to you. But if you work at it, you can do it.”