It's amazing how technology has changed the filmmaking process almost entirely.
Helping kids make films used to be all about encouragement – "keep writing and go make a film or find a way to make a film". But actually, that was an unlikely thing – it was hard for kids to make a film well and have it really work.
The beauty today, however, is that with cameras like the Canon 5D Mark II and software like Final Cut Pro, the tools have been democratised. Anyone can get their hands on equipment that is somewhere in that range of quality, which is unbelievable. So, today, the advice is – go make your film. You don't need permission any more. What you need is a group of people who want to do it. And that's the most important foundation you can have: a community of like-minded people who are trying to be creative and want to make films or write scripts. There is a kind of freedom now that people have and accessibility to tools that really let you make a film that is, in many cases, as visually high-quality as a lot of what you see in cinemas and on TV. That is really exciting – the notion that you can make a film that actually has an aesthetic of such a high calibre.
Having said that, canvas and brushes and paint have been available for a long time to a lot of people. Ultimately, some people create artwork that is of note, that has emotion and meaning, and that is full of ideas, while some people don't. But the good news is that for those people who couldn't find the brushes and paint before, they are available now.
JJ Abrams, writer-director
The simple answer would be – don't give up. Because the people in this business or any artistic/creative business are the ones who stay in the game. It sounds simplistic but it's so true. And remember that these kinds of things don't happen overnight. Even when I was doing things that weren't directly related to directing, they were giving me experience to help make me a better director. Every job even in those periods of time when I thought my career was going nowhere – and we all have those moments – I was learning something that has served me as a director since.
Rich Moore, director of 'Wreck-It Ralph'
Learn from the bottom. Read, read, read. Try to involve yourself in the industry, no matter how menial the job may seem. I say, "may seem", because filmmaking is nothing if not a collaborative effort. Focus your energy in practical experience. To read about it is one thing. To do it is another.
Robert Evans, producer and author
These are edited answers. For the full versions, go to quora.com, the popular online Q&A service