On February 28th, 2016, I did my first photography shoot and interview for the Paint It Red Charity Fashion Show and the American Cancer Society Charity Event which took place at the Buffalo Soldier Museum in Houston, Texas. The interviews were with Chloe Dao, winner of Project Runway season 2 and Lily Jang, anchor for Houston Channel 4 news. Terrance Johnson of All About Fashion Houston Addition hosted the event.
Two days before the event, I attended a model casting hosted by Mr. Johnson at The Indigo Lounge. I approached him with my business card and after a brief conversation he offered me the opportunity to be the photographer at the charity event.
Being that I never shot photography with a DSLR camera, I tried to give the opportunity to my nephew who had been a photographer for 7 years. He declined the offer, so I asked him if he could show me how to use his Panasonic, Lumix Gh4 camera. I practiced the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO just two hours prior to the event. Needless to say, I was determined.
The event space had huge, open bay windows letting in the natural daylight. This was definitely a blessing, since I did not have any on-camera or off-camera lighting with me.
My next big opportunity was at the MPAC Film Festival in Houston, Texas which was my first film festival. I was honored to be a photographer for this event, hosted by Jalene Mack, Founder and CEO of MPAC. I shot the event with my first Canon DSLR camera. I networked with Hollywood actors, directors, producers, and my favorite childhood TV actress Kim Fields. It was a great day for me, meeting fellow independent filmmakers and screenwriters. I was bit by the film bug. I loved the camaraderie and passion they showed through their art and creativity in film. That day, I made up my mind to commit to learning cinematography and become a filmmaker.
During NFL Super Bowl 51 weekend, I attended a book event for Louis Carr, BET ‘s President of Media Sales. I had the opportunity to speak with him, as well as producer and filmmaker Will Packer. His advice: “When you get to L.A., make it happen.”Also conversing and gaining knowledge from the elite in media and entertainment, Senior Vice President of Centric TV – Michele Thornton, who also inspired me by encouraging me to complete my goal. TV Host of “Coupled” – Terrence J. and Super Model – Jasmine Sanders, were very beneficial in giving me more advice in the business of film and media.
After moving to Los Angeles in 2017, I attended the Sundance Next fest’17 Film Festival at the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. I met director, producer and writer Ava DuVernay, writer and actress Lena Waithe, model Ashley Martin and one of the coolest actors and directors of all-time, Edward James Olmos.
The key to becoming a filmmaker is having the love, passion and desire to learn and educate yourself daily until you accomplish your goal. There are courses and free options on the Internet, YouTube and in book stores. For those of you who want to go to college for film, here are some of the best film schools:
Best Film Schools in the US.
- University of Southern California
- University of California, Los Angeles
- NYU Tish School of the Arts
- American Film Institute
- California Institute of the Arts
Best Animation Film Schools
- Ringling College of Art and Design
- Rhode Island School of Design
- Savannah College of Art and Design
- Sheridan College Institute of Technology
Best International Film Schools
- National Film And Television School
- Tel Aviv University
- Centro de Capacitacion Cinematografica
- Australian Film, Television and Radio School
Best Budget Friendly Film School
- Los Angeles Film School
- California State University at Northridge
- New York Film Acadamy
- Columbia College
- State University of New York at Purchase
My goal is to is to get my next short or feature film in one of the top ten film festivals:
- Cannes Film Festival (Cannes, France)
- The Sundance Film Festival (Park City, Utah)
- The Toronto International Film Festival (Canada)
- The International Film Festival Rotterdam (Netherlands)
- The Venice Film Festival (Italy)
- The Berlin International Film Festival (Germany)
- The Tribeca Film Festival (New York, NY)
- SXSW Film Festival (Austin, TX.)
- The Austin Film Festival (Austin, TX.)
- Telluride Film Festival (Telluride, CO.}
- Chicago International Film Festival (Chicago, IL)
- The Seattle International Film Festival (Seattle, WA.)
- Raindance Film Festival (United Kingdom)
- Melbourne International Film Festival (Melbourne, Australia)
- Slamdance, (Utah)
- Atlanta Film Festival (Atlanta, GA.)
- New York Film Festival (NewYork, NY.)
- Palm Springs International Film Festival (Palm Springs, CA.)
My favorite DSLR camera is Canon EOS R.
My favorite cinema cameras:
My favorite editing software is Adobe Suite, Lightroom CC, Photoshop CC and Adobe Premiere Pro.
For those who are aspiring to be a filmmaker, it takes skills to pay the bills. Network and hustle hard. Checkout Eventbrite and Meetup.com to get started with networking.
Oh yea, by the way… Google is free.
Put God first and believe in yourself.
Earl Thornton | DP | Director | Filmmaker | Web Developer