The Career Cookbook‘s Anna Martemucci has an excellent interview with film maven James Schamus. You may know him as the screenwriter of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Ice Storm. He’s also a professor at Columbia University and the President of Focus Features.
AM: You worked as a script analyst in your early New York days. Is this a good way to go for young people looking to get into the film business?
JS: I think that any way that your own talents match is a good way. If you have a talent to read and you’re writing well, script reading is a great thing. It can get old. In a year you can burn out, so you have to be careful of that, but mixing that up with production assistant jobs is good. Really the difficult thing is the entry-level job at a film company. If you want to be a director or screenwriter, you might as well work at McDonalds and then direct your movies on video or write your script at night or whatever. Getting a job in the film business becomes more than a full time job, because there are eighty other people who want the job and the people you work with are so driven you’ll find that you don’t have much time in your life for anything else. Getting a job in the film business doesn’t help you become a filmmaker, getting a job in the film business helps you have a career in the film business, but those are two different things.
Great minds think alike.