Advice From a Filmmaker Who Learned From the Legends

  by Kate Spalla.

Kristian Fraga got his start by picking his idols’ brains.

Imagine you’re a freshman at New York University and the opportunity to interview Tim Burton falls into your lap. To prepare, you’re hurriedly perfecting the script you always imagined would break your career, so you can slip it into Tim’s hands upon meeting at last, right?

That’s not what Kristian Fraga did, and his career has swelled far past “The Inside Reel,” where he got his start chatting up bigwigs like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. Now Kristian is working on his third feature film, a special edition of “The Inside Reel” and his second book about Tim Burton. Check out some of his best advice to gain access as a student filmmaker.

Show respect. “I never took for granted the fact that I have this wonderful opportunity to be in their world for a couple of minutes, and I think that general respect kind of helped pave the way a lot of these interviews came through.”

Roll with your own route. “The minute you start trying to do things because you think X and Y are going to set you up for your next career thing, that’s when I think it starts becoming problematic, because at least in the film industry, there is no set way to do it.”

Remember good advice. As a junior at New York University, Kristian was keeping to himself and getting ready to shoot “The Inside Reel” when Oliver Stone (“Nixon,” “Scarface”) approached him. Oliver asked Kristian about his work and they started chatting about his undergraduate thesis film.

“He just looked at me and he said, ‘You know, just take it one page at a time, one line at a time,’ and it was this great little moment that I had… and he just looked at me like I was on the level, another filmmaker.”

Write in the morning. Kristian took this advice from Francis Ford Coppola. “I know college life isn’t the most conducive and life in general is not conducive to waking up early… It works.”

Do good work. “Your work is what’s going to get you where you need to go, and I have a naïve belief that good work will find its way out there.”

Kristian Fraga, co-founder and CEO of Sirk Productions has made two documentary feature films, “Anytown USA” and “Severe Clear.” He is writing his next feature and preparing to pen a second edition of “Tim Burton: Interviews,” part of the “Conversations with Filmmakers” series.