Ben Ormand, Executive Producer: Charlotte Film Industry Insider
An interview series highlighting local experts in the business with insight for the Charlotte community and those aspiring to break into the film industry.
by Brittany Jenkins Sep 15, 2020
“The people who put the same effort into every day at work that they do for getting ready for a job interview are the ones who succeed in the long run.
More than anything, I would have to say it requires a great work ethic. It’s a quality that is especially important in the film industry because so many positions that are available at the entry level require hard work, long hours, and low pay.
Even if you find a path that involves working in a more “corporate” environment of the industry, such as for a production company or an agency or a film studio, ultimately, the people who go farthest are the ones who work hardest and find the enjoyment in giving 110% effort.
Always show up and always be on time.
Media content creation has a lot of moving parts, especially when it comes time to “roll cameras” on any project. If a single person is not in place when they need to be, it leads to, at best, a delay for the production and at worst, a "full stop" of the team effort. To be thought unreliable in this industry is a severe career stigma, because no one can recommend you for opportunities if they can’t be sure you will be dependable.
My first job in the industry was as a “production assistant”, which is a catch all term for the ultimate catch all job. It entails doing everything from running errands, to emptying trash cans, to getting coffee. A friend who was in film school in Los Angeles at the time recommended me to a guest professor/producer who was going to be making a movie in Alabama. So, I loaded up my car with everything I owned and “moved” to Alabama so I could work the ultimate “entry level” job in show business.
I worked in three or four different departments on the movie before I found a niche that proved a great fit for me (the camera department) and started me on a path where I could work on lots of different movies and meeting lots of talented people. After I learned an awful lot in the “ultimate film school” (i.e. working on set), I was finally ready to step up and try helping to make a movie as a producer.I’m not sure it’s a path I could tell anyone else how to walk themselves, because for me, it was the right combination of people I met, willingness to work hard, and a lot of luck. I try to remember to be grateful every chance I get, and to help the people coming up behind me to find their own way to success.
The film I did here in Charlotte, MAX, started with a script that would require us to break both of the industry’s oldest maxims: never work with kids or animals. Suffice it to say, I learned all the things that are important to work safely and efficiently with a team of animals and trainers. (Not to mention the kids!)
There was so much involved that I wasn’t aware of at the outset, from having to set up a dedicated animal care facility (can’t exactly put those “stars” in a hotel) to how much lead time (i.e. dog training time) is required to get a movie like that ready to shoot. No matter how temperamental a person might be, dogs need even more pampering to capture the performances in a safe and animal friendly way.
The end result was ultimately incredibly gratifying: getting to help take part in bringing a family friendly adventure film to fruition. And watching the animal trainers accomplish everything we needed in the movie reinforced my belief about a fundamental truth of the industry: there is almost always a potential path that can utilize a person’s skills and passions to help make a movie.”