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Did I choose the wrong career?

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Greg Burke
Did I choose the wrong career?
on Feb 9, 2010 at 1:47:10 am

this is a rant Post with a cry for help inside (if you dont like rants do not read below, Thank you)



Hey Guys I moved out to LA nearly 4 years ago to go to school, I graduated about 2 years ago....I've limped on ever since....I'm getting rather frustrated, I go to entry level interviews (I've had 2 the last year) I go in dressed up all professional and ready to impress and then 1 week later I get a email saying they've gone with some one else! WHAT THE F&^K!!!!!! FOR A PA JOB!!!! AT ENTRY LEVEL!!!! I HAVE A GOD DAMN BACHELORS DEGREE!!!! DOES THAT NOT MEAN NOTHING!! I'm 30,000 dollars in debt to student loans I have yet to pay off I invested in a 8k Editing system! Am I doing something wrong? I don't understand....My whole life I was told Go to college, get educated and then you can get a GOOD job, well now I see why all my friends just go back to school, OUR GENERATION DOESNT KNOW WHAT ELSE TO DO!!!!! And I'm at wits end! I cant support myself with a 400$ flat rate feature budget! I mean I still can;t believe that people think they don't have to pay you for your skill!?!? What if everything was like that.........."O hey well I'm not going to pay you for fixing my Honda but you can put it on your resume and say you've worked on one before." I am about to rip my hair out!




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Roy Schneider
Re: Did I choose the wrong career?
on Feb 9, 2010 at 3:14:02 am

Greg:
It is a tough time in this industry, as well as the economy in general. Editing as a career has changed much like the publishing industry changed in the 80's. But that's not what you need to hear right now!

You need to establish yourself. List every single production company you can find, find out who is in charge of hiring freelancers, send a resume and reel or reel link with an offer to work a day free to try you out. When you talk to them know there business, clients,style of work ect. show them interest and finally ask for the job. Don't be shy, ask. in short sell yourself.

There are a lot of people looking for the same job. School or no school nobody owes you work, so show them why you deserve the shot. Make them want to hire you!!!

Best of luck! Keep you head up
Roy Schneider

Roy Schneider
Long Live Da Cow!


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Andrew Kimery
Re: Did I choose the wrong career?
on Feb 9, 2010 at 3:14:07 am

Long story short, LA is always supersaturated w/talent and w/the bum economy the competition for jobs is just that much worse. I'd say there are 100 people applying for every job and that means there is always someone w/more experience going for the same gig (again, especially now because of the down job market). The traditional, Midwest mantra of go to school, get good grades, get a good job doesn't apply to our industry and certainly doesn't apply to our industry in LA. I moved out here in '01 a few months before 9/11 and could not find work to save my life. I ended up back in the Midwest for a couple of years, saving money and building up my work experience, before coming back out to LA in '04.

Speaking of experience, that's all anyone really cares about. Degrees don't mean much unless it lands in the hands of someone who went to the same school as you and feels like cutting you a break because you guys share the same alma mater. Getting frustrated is normal but don't give up. The people that eventually succeed never gave up. Even if you have to get a day job working at Blockbuster or something thats fine. Pay rent, pay bills, keep your head above water and keep pushing on.


-Andrew

3.2GHz 8-core, FCP 6.0.4, 10.5.5
Blackmagic Multibridge Eclipse (6.8.1)



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Greg Burke
Re: Did I choose the wrong career?
on Feb 9, 2010 at 4:57:34 am

Thanks guys. But I keep asking myself how long can blame the economy for my joblessness. Below is my website, Im open to any advice

http://www.gregburkepost.com



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Andrew Kimery
Re: Did I choose the wrong career?
on Feb 9, 2010 at 9:34:34 am

I know one guy who typically works on network shows (he's been out here for over 20yrs) and he's had a rough time of it lately. Another guy, a friend of a friend, is used to cutting movie trailers for FOX or Warner Brothers and is now doing promo work he never even would've considered doing just a couple of years ago. On the other hand a couple guys I know moved out here 3-4yrs ago and got work pretty quickly and promo houses, but both of those guys already had a lot of experience working in smaller markets.

Basically it's a crap shoot, but the longer you play, and the more you play, the better your chances of success. Bob Zelin had a good post recently detailing how being good at what you do and being successful at what you do aren't necessarily the same thing.

W/regards to your site, "resumé" is spelled wrong (it's missing the accent over the 'e') and I'm not sure what to make of your Video Game, Web, Television, and Feature/Short reels. For the video game reel, are those trailers you cut for the games? If so, they'd be more suited under a heading of promo or trailer. For the other reels I mentioned, they all just look like montages set to music which tells me nothing about your ability to tell a story. A very short, very snappy opening montage can be a great attention getter, but you need to put in actual examples of what your editing can offer. Also, in your 'Services' section I'd change "I specialize in the following services" to "I offer the following services" because that is a whole lot of very different disciplines to claim to specialize in.


-Andrew

3.2GHz 8-core, FCP 6.0.4, 10.5.5
Blackmagic Multibridge Eclipse (6.8.1)



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Tim Kolb
Re: Did I choose the wrong career?
on Feb 9, 2010 at 2:06:45 pm

I'd have to echo the assertion that LA or NY aren't the easiest markets to move into to find jobs in our field, contrary to the general notion that "all the big projects" are there...the production industry is becoming more diversified.

Projects are moving to Canada...you may not realize the major Studio presence in Wilmington, North Carolina...the options are spread out a bit more.

The other issue is just what sort of work you want to do. The corporate sector of the industry (training videos, sales videos, product videos for tradeshows, etc.) can often involve high end work and can also be -a bit- more stable than the entertainment industry.

Feature entertainment work now happens on a number of levels and sometimes starting on small independent projects (as long as you're starving anyway) can offer a bit more experience with things outside of carrying coffee and running out to pick up prescription medication for the line producer's Chihuahua (that is a true event BTW).

Even many of us with 20+ years experience in the industry aren't doing well right now... Sometimes finding a job out of the industry and biding your time are necessary steps.




TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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Stephen Smith
Re: Did I choose the wrong career?
on Feb 9, 2010 at 4:07:46 pm

I highly recommend you read "The Power of Passion" by Ron & Kathlyn Lindeboom. It is a great article on page 10 in Creative COW magazine which is free for you to read. Here is a link: http://magazine.creativecow.net/issue/power-of-artistic-passion
Best of luck in your job search.




Stephen Smith
Utah Video Productions

Check out my Motion Training DVD

Check out my Motion Tutorials


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Greg Burke
Re: Did I choose the wrong career?
on Feb 9, 2010 at 7:51:59 pm

Andrew thank you for your advice I will fix those things on my website. I imdb you and I am amazed that you've worked for gametrailers.com I've been trying to land a job there since 2007. I email Bobby Burns every once in a awhile to see if there are any openings. I actually usd to produce and write my own game review show that aired on mobile phones. Any way you could put in a good word? thanks again.


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Alan Lloyd
Re: Did I choose the wrong career?
on Feb 9, 2010 at 4:37:37 pm

I'd answer that question with another question: How are you at dealing with uncertainty and frustration?


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Shane Ross
Re: Did I choose the wrong career?
on Feb 9, 2010 at 6:32:19 pm

In LA, unless you know someone, or they know you, and are willing to hire you as an editor (that is REALLY rare), you need to start from the ground up. PA, Tape Vault manager (that's where I started), grunt...intern. That is the way you learn all the skills you need to learn. Small bits here and there. And if you do a good job, you get notice, and people continue to hire you. If you show passion and interest in certain areas, you might then progress to those areas.

But the key is to be nice, be fun to be around, do your job WELL. Don't act like you really should be editing this show but all you are is a darn PA! Be the best damn PA they have ever seen. And be a great person to be around...you will get hired again. And you might even be advanced.

But yes, getting your FOOT in the door, now especially, is tough. The market, as stated, is saturated. Editors are getting jobs as assistants, assistants as PAs, PAs as...baristas. It is a struggle now. But stick to it.

Sorry, but the degree is useless out here. BUT, you got a good quality education, you are a better person for it, and if needed, you know how to do everything needed on a film. That is the point, to prepare you with a little knowledge of every area so that you can start looking for work with something to go with..

And I'm sorry about your $8K rig. Most, nearly ALL, of the jobs you get out here will be using machines owned by the company. You'd be DARN LUCKY to be able to use your system on a job, and get paid to use it. Which is why it isn't wise to spend tons of money on equipment unless you can get paid for it. I bought a rig for one series I worked on...and luckily it was paid for by the time it was over. Because I haven't used it on any other gig since. 2 years now, 6 jobs, all on other companies machines. That is how it works.

Keep trying to get your foot in that door. The first job I got I ONLY got because the production manager was tired of getting resume's from me. I sent one a week for 12 weeks. Each one a little different. That was because I kept experimenting with styles, and just kept sending it out. I lucked out...and because I was nice and worked hard, I was hired again. And they recommended me to someone else who then hired me. Word of mouth...HUGE!

Good luck getting your foot in that door.

Shane



GETTING ORGANIZED WITH FINAL CUT PRO DVD...don't miss it.
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Greg Burke
Re: Did I choose the wrong career?
on Feb 9, 2010 at 7:02:28 pm

Thanks for all the advice guys. I'm not picky when in comes to jobs in Post Production, I dont demand that I cut, I'd be happy as a PA, asst. editor, or runner! I'm not above that. But Its seems I cant even get a job like that! As for the interning thing (working for free) My family lives 120 miles away I live paycheck to paycheck at a part time job (thats has nothign to do with Post) I can't afford to work at a Post House 4 days a week with a chance of getting hired 6 months down the line, I have bills to pay. Thank you all for your advice. btw someone mentioned my reels I was going for experience look, meaning I've done allot of differet projects, I've seen allot of sizzle reels were the editor puts the same spot in the montage several times it looks good but in the end it only shows 2-3 spots hes done so I tried to put as much in my reels as possible. Again thank you all for you advice


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Juris Eksts
Re: Did I choose the wrong career?
on Feb 9, 2010 at 7:57:11 pm

As everyone else has said, it’s a hard time to be in this business, and even harder to get in.
This probably won’t help you, but it may help others who read this thread, to learn that you don’t need your own editing set-up as soon as you leave school. (I’ve been editing for more than 30 years and still don’t own one).
Two years out of school, I’m afraid, is virtually nothing, you’ve a heck of a lot to learn before anyone will let you edit for them for a decent pay-check.

One of the things you will learn (If you don’t, you’ve no chance at all) is the right attitude to every one and everybody. Hopefully you’re not like this during the contacts to get interviews, but in this thread you come over as someone who is bullish and spoilt, and it’s not surprising that you get no further.

WHAT THE F&^K!!!!!! FOR A PA JOB!!!! AT ENTRY LEVEL!!!! I HAVE A GOD DAMN BACHELORS DEGREE!!!! DOES THAT NOT MEAN NOTHING!! I'm 30,000 dollars in debt to student loans I have yet to pay off I invested in a 8k Editing system! Am I doing something wrong? I don't understand...

As Shane said, your degree means zilch, but don’t give up, and I agree, don’t work for free, sometime, something will turn up.

Juris


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Greg Burke
Re: Did I choose the wrong career?
on Feb 9, 2010 at 8:08:37 pm

juris,
Thank you for the advice,please understand that I am just venting my anger. all my friends aka "contacts" moved back to the midwest after college, so I dont really have anyone to talk to about this kind of stuff. I'm very professinal when it comes to clients, gigs, paid editing work and interviews. I just needed to scream at the top of my lungs to get it out of my system. I feel better now after having people telling me (andrew and Shane :)) that I need to hang in there and keep pushing. Please understand that at this point in my life I am confused and afraid, I'm just looking for a FULL time job doing something related to Post-Production it doesnt have to be editing.

And a espically thank Mr.Ross who has always given me good advice since I joined the cow.


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Mike Cohen
Re: Did I choose the wrong career?
on Feb 10, 2010 at 5:22:43 pm

Greg,
Keep your chin up and avoid posting any more frustrated posts on forums. Potential employers will google you, Facebook you and linkedin you. You are on Linkedin, right? Complaining won't get you hired.

When I graduated with a 4 year degree in mass comm, there was no internet, so I wrote about 150 letters, got a few responses and one job offer duping tapes. 15 years later I work for the same company in a managerial capacity, but still cut some cool projects. Did I get to where I am because of my degree? Not really. My training helped me get a foot in the door, and it helped me get that first entry level editing job, but the rest of what I know is from on the job experience.
College did teach me the basics of aesthetics and the seeds of craft, some engineering, and most importantly critical thinking, responsibility and gave me some professional experiences in the industry.

So take what you think you learned in college and make a list of what you really know, and how you might apply these bits of knowledge to a career. In other words, don't think "this post house should give me a job because I need one."
Rather you need to think "this post house needs me, because X Y and Z. I don't need a job at a post house, I want the job because it is my passion."

Most of my classmates did not get jobs straight out of college, but most are working in the industry today in various capacities. But they all started at the bottom and worked for it. It can take a decade or more to get the job you really want. I think back to my dad. When I was a kid, he moved us across the country and back so that by the time he was 40 he actually had a great career as a sales manager and could afford to send us to college.

Regarding your website - the demo reels don't seem to show any editing ability. For example, your features reel shows shots from different scenes, rather than a segment from an edited scene. As it is now it is promoting the actors and the cinematographer, not the editor. The promos show your promo editing ability. But then you have Batman animation supervisor - what does that have to do with post? Finally, I don't like hearing mainstream popular music in reels. Find some inspiring yet obscure music, either from creative commons, royalty free or whatever. I hear music from Batman Begins and I don't watch your reel, I think "hey did he work on Batman Begins?" same goes for OK Go - that song has been played so much it should be illegal, and it has little to do with your reel.

Anecdotally I will agree that LA might be part of the problem. Looks like you have had some good gigs for the cable networks, but you may need to diversify. Adding a good design sense and editing style to corporate training could get you some work, you just need to know where to look.

Good luck.

Mike Cohen


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Richard Cooper
Re: Did I choose the wrong career?
on Feb 11, 2010 at 7:28:04 pm

Potential employers will google you,

I agree, I just googled myself (just my name and state) and a Creative Cow post came up 3rd! My resume that is posted on Media-match was #4. My LinkedIn profile came up #5 and #6, as did my company web site at #7. A good idea that I am going to pursue now that I know what is coming up is to look at the description text that comes up on Google or Bing and then go to those site profiles and tweak the text to your advantage, i.e. experience, qualifications etc. You might be surprised. I have been amazed what has come my way for work, INCLUDING post production of a national 13 show reality series from a cold email, once they saw my work samples on my site.
As for work samples, I don't use "sizzle reels" unless I am specifically wanting to show potential clients my shooting style, then I think they work, but specifically for editing, I believe it is more important that you show them actual projects so they can get a sense of your story telling ability. Any one can do flashy edits cut to a popular song but unless you can show potential clients that you tell a good narrative story well, with straight cuts, smart music selection subtle sfx and pacing that will drive the story and evoke an emotional response from the viewer it may be a futile exercise.

By looking at your reel, I know you can edit!... but what I would want to see, looking at it from a potential employer perspective, is your story telling skills. A good story teller is pure GOLD... to me anyway.

Hang in there, when something isn't working, adjust your approach, tweak it until it DOES work, and with patience, good attitude, passion and hard work you will get there.

Good Luck!

Richard Cooper
FrostLine Productions, LLC
Anchorage, Alaska

Everyone has a story to tell.
http://www.FrostLineProductions.com


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Richard Herd
Re: Did I choose the wrong career?
on Feb 11, 2010 at 10:01:59 pm

There are 208 other markets besides LA and NYC. Take you skill set to other markets.

http://www.tvjobs.com/cgi-bin/markets/market2.cgi


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grinner hester
Re: Did I choose the wrong career?
on Feb 12, 2010 at 2:12:38 pm

Maybe you did. Turning over stones should be more challenging than frustrating. I'd probably stop drerssing up so much. Like you said, it's just an entry level gig and it's in the video industry. You'll hear over and over to just dress like the guy you are talking to and, as you've noticed, they are not all dressed up like they are late for church.
Keep cold-calling. Take what's offered. Everyone wants free/cheap labor. You want a foot n the door. Know that's a match going into it. Make sure you don't refer to your degree as if that entitles you to something. Just list it and answer if asked. Also, make sure you are working on a current project. Should this question come up, you don't want to say no to this one.




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John Baldino
Re: Did I choose the wrong career?
on Mar 13, 2010 at 11:09:54 am

Greg I know exactly what you are going through. I myself got an MFA from Chapman last year in directing, with hopes of moving to LA to land entry level gigs while developing a feature script, but finances dictated otherwise.

Now I'm back in my hometown of Portland, Oregon. I'm setting up as an event videographer, but even this is an uphill battle.

Looking at your website I think you have a lot of good things going. I hope you can stay the course and make some stuff happen. It is true what these other guys are saying though...the business is about people and whether or not they like you. Which can be a depressing thought if you are like me and tend to be more introspective and not so into the "selling yourself" part...

In any case, best of luck.

John Baldino


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