From College to Career: Building a Life in the Film Industry

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I shared our filmmaking journey with a group of college kids today.

They were a bright, engaged, wise class with whom I was very much impressed.

I have such hope for these students.

As I listened, I heard myself tell stories of joy, struggle, confusion, growth, learning, adventure, chaos, reward, fulfillment, success, excitement and challenges.


A lot has happened since our college days making short films and a 16mm feature. For 26 years, we have held the vision to build a sustainable film company, and the path has not always been clear. Even now, we are often unsure.

But somehow we keep going.

One of the students gently and sincerely asked: with all the ups and downs, risks, and not knowing where the next job will come from, “How do you cope?”

Sometimes we don’t.

But usually we do. We are just so grateful… to still be doing this work.

We also have a high risk tolerance — more than most people I know. We are driven towards our goals past the point of conventional wisdom, and we value learning, creativity, adventure and pursuit more than stability.

But there are days when we question our choices, wondering if they create unneeded chaos, stress and hardship for our family.

Utlimately, the journey has been worth it, and I do not look back with regrets. I see mistakes and bumps as lessons, learnings and memories.

I am grateful for the opportunity and the privilege to have worked together pursuing our art, adventure and dreams.

I so badly want to tell these students — don’t give up, have faith, keep going. I could… but they will have to decide that for themselves and choose what is meaningful and most important in their own lives — who they want to be in the world, how they want to use their gifts, and how they want to serve. What a gift to even be able to choose.

My stories communicated that the film business can be “hard”. I hope the students were inspired and not too discouraged.

I’d rather tell them that the film business has the potential to be really hard, but that they already have everything inside them to problem-solve and be successful, than to say it’s going to be easy and then have them quit at the first sign of hardship, thinking it’s their fault, they don’t have what it takes, or that they need to quit.

It may take time, maybe even a lifetime, but these students truly do have everything they need inside them already to have a successful career.

If they choose to.

If they decide to pursue that path for themselves.

♡ Annie

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash


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