How I Got Into The Film Business




Many of my friends, clients and students have asked me how and why I got into the film business.

My usual answer is that “a film saved my life.”

Here’s the story –

Summer of 1964 – I was undergoing the break-up of my first serious relationship with a female. I was on my way to college – a very threatening environment, indeed. New Haven, Connecticut; cold, wintery, hostile.

Upon the break-up, just before leaving Los Angeles for the east coast, I sought advice from some males. My dad said, “Don’t worry, son, it happens to everybody.” This didn’t help a bit. After all, my girlfriend hadn’t left my father; she left ME!

My best friend said to me, “Don’t worry. They’re ALL (four-letter word).” This didn’t help either. I was the one head-over-heels for her. So, there was an insult to ME!

My second best friend put his arm around me and said, “Oh, poor Eric. You were done so wrong.” Sympathy can be the most dangerous emotion of them all. It tended to “lock-in” or “fix” the negative emotion in place. The sympathy felt so much better than the pain. It was as though I kept the loss up front in my mind…in order to receive MORE sympathy.

I became a man obsessed. Posted pictures of her all over my college dorm room. My life was a mess.

Finally, at the Yale Film Society (which I’d helped to co-found), we showed a film which so remarkably tracked with my incident that by the time it was over, the entire incident lifted off my shoulders. The film was RANCHO NOTORIOUS, directed by Fritz Lang! A German expressionist western, starring Marlene Dietrich.

In RANCHO, Arthur Kennedy loses his fiancée at the beginning, and spends the rest of the film tracking down the killer. At the end, the hero finds the killer, gets justice. Film over.


The film perfectly paralleled where I was at…and made it okay to be there! Nobody was telling me what all this “meant,” nor what I needed to do about it. This was what I needed. It was as though, after the incident, someone had said to me, “Geez, Eric, that was a bummer.” That would’ve worked!

I then realized that a movie had solved my problem. So, of course, I said, “If a movie can do that – so peacefully, NO drugs, no head-shrinking, no murder – making films is what I want to do.”

So there it was: my purpose in life. Help people through films; films that told stories about interesting people, confronted by interesting situations, and evolving interesting solutions.

My life has become entirely involved with movies: making them; consulting to others about making them; teaching others about making them; and writing books and creating DVDs about making them.

All best wishes to you,

Eric PS. Feel free to tell me your story below in the comments section!

What is your purpose in the industry?  

8 Responses to “How I Got Into The Film Business”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. celestine says:

    i realised not so long ago that writing gives me fulfilment,i tried to find out why this is so;when i was in my junior school,i enrolled in what was called then ‘dramatic society’,this is where my talent in film especially acting started but haven’t had the opportunity to follow it through and will like to. at the moment i have five books am developing and wish to learn more to achieve the best in my new found life desire of writing,telling stories and most importantly my literal works in poetry. thanks for the insight into your life,am ready to go with more learnt from you.

  2. Elizabeth "Betty" Kilbride says:

    HI Eric,
    My story is simple, I was invited to be an embedded writer with a Marine Corps unit in Iraq in 06. That one experience gave me the opportunity to write my second book and since then, I’ve written 3 more. The only problem with writing a book, I seem to do the visual first and write it as a script format before inputting the meat and potatoes of the story. So there you have it, now I not only write the books, but also the movie script at the same time. Life would be interesting if I could sell the movie script to each of my books. I have the faith it will happen, just have to have patience. I found you through our mutual friend Jack Marino by the way. Just signed up for your inspiring newsletter posts. Can’t wait.

  3. nhg says:

    Dear Eric,
    After reading your story I realised I have not defined my purpose in the film industry. But then why am I so involved with it? Maybe I have a wrong conception of it, or maybe it could be pure passion. Who knows?… Actually, I’ve been involved with the entertainment industry like forever, and the truth is that (kind of weird I know) filming, writing, and obviously, watching movies is what makes me happy, I simply love it . However, I’d like to know your opinion about it. Do you think we all should have a defined purpose on the film or TV industry?

  4. Kent says:

    I made a film for a communications class.i’m not sure what the instructor wanted. we had 2min 30 seconds to film and edit a spot usnig video editing technology.I visited a farm that had an art gallery.I intended to interview the artist and display her work. the gallery was comfortable warm and colorful on that rainy day. the artist was too shy to go on camera. Instead the family patriarch stepped in and gave an interview about their daughter’s long list of wins in horse competitions, and her skills as a future farm owner.I supplied rolling shots to match the interview and ended with the cheerful sound of children responding to the artist, their grandmother saying “jellybeans!” I loved it. the instructor hated it. Still, I learned that I enjoy creating something on film. the question is how can I make this into an independent venture, in which I make a living and call the shots? I realize one short film does not a director make.

  5. Emily says:

    Hey Eric,

    I love story telling and bringing it to life. Of course, even though it may be written doesn’t mean its not already alive. But, theres just something about hearing and seeing the story on big screen. When you write a story and never make into a movie with actors and music of your choice you let readers imagine it their own way. I think thats a beautiful thing, but I am passionate about film making because I want to share what I see and hear. I want to share my imagination and the only way to do it with the most detail is by film. I want people to see it from my eyes. I also encourage others to do the same. I don’t think enough people are sharing their stories because they are afraid no one will listen. I think its wonderful that you are reaching out to people and helping them in the film industry.


  6. martin says:

    very interesting your early career in film and what motivated you to enter your account from one stage of your life and I agree that sometimes the movies are very helpful to people if they are good and leave realmentes some kind of messages

  7. Pamela Kaye says:

    I deeply wanted to share my story hoping to make a better world for everyone. One painful past leading to a learned better future.

  8. I admire your life Eric….I am a Nedni Apache/Cherokee, Script-Writer, and have written this True Story about my mother Florinda, and was a witness to her horrid tragedy at age 6. She killed a man while singing on stage in Conchos, Arizona in 1936 in front of 350 spectators that came to enjoy our traveling show. She and her Female Lawyer, against all-odds fought and won her freedom on basis of Self-defense. Trial took place in St. Johns, Arizona over 6 torturous months. My sister was 6 mo old. I have the script on PDF. – I am in Austria. Could I talk to you?

Leave A Comment...