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Film camera set up on a tripod

What’s it really like to be a filmmaker?

If you’re dreaming of becoming a filmmaker, you’ve probably got a creative streak that surpasses most, and an incredible eye for detail. But you need a lot more than talent and passion to succeed in this industry, explains Anna Charalambous, a graduate of the Bachelor of Film, Television and Animation at Deakin.

Currently freelancing as a creative producer, Anna worked on the award-winning feature film, Lost Gully Road, with Deakin’s Screen and Design Lecturers, Donna McRae and Liz Baulch, and knows the ins and outs of the job.

While it’s not all glamour and eccentricity like Hollywood would have you believe, the risks and rewards of filmmaking make it a unique and exciting profession. We asked Anna to share her insights on what it’s like working as a filmmaker, and what makes it such a gratifying career.

What led you to becoming a filmmaker?

‘I’ve always loved stories and honestly I love watching movies. I had a wonderful media teacher through my final years of high school whose love and passion for film was contagious. From then I was hooked. I got into Deakin and was able to get a much wider understanding of the film industry. While studying, I found my place in the production department: producing and production managing.’

What does an average day look like for you?

‘If the last three years in the industry have taught me anything it’s that every day is different. In the pre-production stages of a film I spend most days at the production office, planning. These days often consist of permit applications, call sheets, scheduling and stress management.

‘During set days, I’m on set early prepping a location so I can brief cast and crew on safety requirements, and run through the schedule of the day. Some days consist of tasks such as permits and planning, while other days I might be filming in an abandoned prison, on the beach or on a spaceship set. To sum up filmmaking, there is no such thing as an average day!’

What do you love most about your job?

‘I love the collaborative nature of filmmaking. Throughout the process you find yourself working with a diverse team of creatives. One aspect of my job which I love is the fact that on each set, I’ll always walk away having learnt something new – whether this be a new creative technique, a new way to tackle a problem or a different way to bring a story to life.

‘I love to create beautiful and authentic content. Films that are made for a purpose – to inspire people and to raise awareness for different social issues in the world. The beauty of filmmaking is its ability to immerse an audience into your world and communicate your story.

‘As a filmmaker, one of your proudest moments has to be sitting in a cinema full of people immersed in a story you’ve brought to life.’

'As a filmmaker, one of your proudest moments has to be sitting in a cinema full of people immersed in a story you’ve brought to life.'

Anna Charalambous,
Alumnus, Deakin University

What are some of the challenges of your job?

‘One of the hardest parts of my job is how easily a day can change. It doesn’t matter how prepared you are, there are many variables that can have a big impact on how your day pans out.

‘For example, if it rains it can potentially cancel a day, putting you a day behind and potentially costing you a lot of money. A film can also take a long time to complete, so having the time and patience to see through to the end result is a big challenge.’

What are the necessary skills required in your job?

‘Strong communication skills and time management are extremely important in every aspect of my job. This also comes hand-in-hand with stress management.

‘Another key part of my job is scheduling. I will often be the person to put together the shooting schedule which involves organising call times, cast and crew availabilities, locations, gear and prop hire, safety requirements, permits, catering, stunt supervisors and the list goes on. I have to take into consideration an abundance of factors and put together a schedule which also abides by legal requirements and safety measures.’

What school subjects and university qualifications fit this job?

‘For a career in the film industry, there are many paths to undertake to get there. Throughout high school, VCE Media helped me gain an understanding of the importance of conveying a story through screen.

‘At university, I was given the opportunity to work with industry level equipment and editing software. Onset and technical experience is also important to help obtain a job.

‘I was fortunate enough to be involved in Lost Gully Road, a feature film Directed by Donna McRae and Produced by Liz Baulch, two of my lecturers. This experience was incredibly beneficial, and allowed me to apply theory and knowledge into practice. These practical experiences, together with my qualification, have helped me progress in my career in the film industry.’

Think filmmaking sounds like the career for you? Find out more about studying a Bachelor of Film, Television and Animation at Deakin.

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