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Student looking for advice....

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Grant WilberStudent looking for advice....
by on Mar 26, 2009 at 12:07:19 am

Not really sure where to put a post like this. If there is somewhere better or a better website/forum to discuss this let me know. I've always valued the opinion of the people here on CC so I figured I'd ask.

I'm a student at a State College looking to get into video/film in the future. Not looking to be some big famous millionaire director...just do what I love. I'm a junior at the school pursing a degree in Communications (Video/Film), but because of the way the program is set its going to take me almost 2 years to take 5 courses to finish. So I now I'm trying to make the decision to transfer somewhere (like LA/NY) and finish up a bachelor degree there, but be able to find work within the industry to give me some kind of experience instead of being a cashier at walmart for the next 2 years.

I'm in the Boston, MA area but there doesn't seem to be as much work. Just looking for some advice of what people think.

Is it worth transferring to somewhere like LA and trying to find a low level job (I'm expecting to get a 2nd job to help support myself). Or should I just finish up in the school where I am and try to look for opportunities if they come along in this area.

Obviously with the economy it may be harder to make this decision but o well,


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John DavidsonRe: Student looking for advice....
by on Mar 26, 2009 at 7:28:33 am

Stay where you are. Finish up your degree. There's no sense in transferring and starting your career as a lackey and run the risk of screwing up your graduation plan (it happens). Hopefully your school has at least some tiny multimedia department or program. Learn everything you can learn. Edit stupid shorts. So much can be learned early on with a $400 camera and Final Cut Express.

Maybe there are some tv/radio stations you can get an internship? Does your school have an internship program? That's what got me in at CNN 12 years ago. Scholastic internships are the #1 thing you can do to get a foot in the door if you're just starting out. Maybe you could get an internship in Los Angeles for your last semester of school.

Magic Feather Inc.

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walter biscardiRe: Student looking for advice....
by on Mar 26, 2009 at 9:27:33 am

Hi Grant,

Personally I don't think there's a need to move to LA/NY just to learn the industry. With the advent of Final Cut Pro and non-linear editing systems, pretty much anywhere is a good place to learn. Here in Atlanta we have more Post Production facilities than we know what to do with. This is an awesome town to break into video and film production thanks to Ted Turner.

What you really want is an internship somewhere and you should be in a pretty good spot for that in the Boston area. New England Sports Network, WGBH, even ESPN is not terribly far in Bristol and there's the usual local affiliates and broadcasters. And then of course there will be dozens of boutique production houses, advertising agencies, corporate facilities, etc... Quite honestly one of the best places to learn is at a corporate media department because very often these are smaller units where everybody wheres multiple hats. So you often get the opportunity to just jump right in and run camera today, dub tapes tomorrow, ingest material on Wednesday, author a DVD on Thursday, etc.... Foxwoods used to have a fantastic department (I designed the facility) but they recently disbanded it. You could check out the Mohegan Sun to see if they have any positions.

In my case, I also went to a State College first, the community college in Poughkeepsie, NY where I grew up and essentially became a studio rat. I was there at 7 in the morning until 10 at night every chance I got just playing with cameras, tape decks, the audio production room, you name it. It got to the point where even though I wasn't technically working for the school, the engineers starting assigning me tasks and I was just learning stuff like crazy. Everyone started relying on me to edit their projects because that's what I was hooked on.

Then I transferred to Syracuse Univ. where I have to be flat out honest and say I learned very little other than lighting design. I had already learned pretty much all I needed to know on the technical side at community college. I did get to hang out with Bob Costas and watch SU Football and Basketball, but the school was so restrictive in the use of equipment vs. community college I really didn't get much out of the program. But I did get some lifelong friends.

Internships and Production Assistants, those are the two positions you want to be looking for right now to start getting some firsthand knowledge. Talk to the Career Services dept. at your school. Look up the Boston Final Cut Pro Users Group and go to their next meeting to see if they have any advice for internships and PA positions. See if there's an Avid Group, an After Effects Group, a Motion Design Graphics group, a RED group, any group that brings together creative professionals, try to start going to those.

Look up a Final Cut Pro / Avid Value Added Reseller in your area to help you find out what groups are around and where they meet. Very often at least one of these VARs are a sponsor or at the very least a representative will attend a meeting. Even go to the Apple Stores and get to know the guys who do the Final Cut Pro / iMovie / Final Cut Express training and let them know you're looking for internships or work in the industry.

I have a wonderful young lady from a local high school who will be interning with my company this summer because of a suggestion from her trainer at one of the Apple Stores in the area. She's already editing in Final Cut Express so she'll be assisting us on at least one documentary and possibly a new science series this summer. I wasn't even looking for an intern, but the opportunity presented itself.

Whatever you do, do not drop out of school altogether to take on a position. Definitely get your degree. But if you do decide to move, understand that there are many more places other than NY and LA where you can move into film and video production. Just start asking around, opportunities may be closer than you think.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

Read my Blog!


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Mark SuszkoRe: Student looking for advice....
by on Mar 26, 2009 at 1:45:55 pm

Walter is dead on right. if you can get an internship at WGBH that would be quite nice on a resume. You would geta chance to work on national-level programming.

Something else you should do at the same time as school is work on your own outside projects, build up a portfolio or demo reel. You get half off your hardware and software with academic discounts when you're in an authorized program. Eat a little more ramen this semester and buy your own editing computer, even if its just a laptop, and go make some student films with your friends. Make music videos of local bands, make comedy skits, do your own news stories, do anything. Then re-do it, perfect it. Apply everything you're learning to what you're doing.Network with friends and see if you can volunteer to work on other people's stuff ont he weekends. Spend a *little* less time on partying, and more on doing creative stuff. it can be hard, especially if you have aheavy academic load and a pert-time job. But this is the time for young folks to pay those dues.

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Dan AsselinRe: Student looking for advice....
by on Mar 26, 2009 at 10:23:50 pm

[Mark Suszko] "But this is the time for young folks to pay those dues"

Mark I was reading this string and finally bumped into the phrase above. Grant, from personal experience, I can say I wish i had spent less time paying dues and more time throwing myself into anything that came my way. Take any opportunity to advance yourself that you can even if you are completely unqualified for it. Jump into the deep end and learn to swim real fast.

Also, studies show that at your age you will take on many different careers before you retire. What they don't tell you is that every time you make a change you have a whole new set of "dues" to pay.

Dan Asselin
Effective Business Video
Core 2 Duo 2.6
2 Gig Ram
Pretty Well Adobe Everything

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Mark SuszkoRe: Student looking for advice....
by on Mar 27, 2009 at 12:05:57 am

Dan, just so I'm being clear, I mean "paying the dues" in terms of using all that youthful stamina and energy and creativity to try a lot of things, as you were saying. The phase sometimes comes with negative associations. But I mean it in a most positive way. To work on as many non-critical projects as possible. Stuff you will completely stink at, and never keep a copy of, lest someone dig it out one day and put it on YouTube to humilate you:-)

Nobody should take any negative feeling off the phrase. Before you can do good work, you need to get experience doing crappy work, and build up skills, as well as absorb all the "book larnin' " and try to weld those experiences and information together in your head to forge an understanding.

This is the time to try at things and fail repeatedly and just brush it off, analyze the bad, and reinforce the good. At the kid's age, he is as free as life is ever going to let him be. Few debts, few commitments, few responsibilities, except to himself and his name. Lots of time to devote to the fanatical pursuit of excellence. Never a better time to stretch creatively and take creative risks.

That's what I mean by "paying those dues". It's not about buying anybody's approval or respect. Except your own.

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Dan AsselinRe: Student looking for advice....
by on Mar 27, 2009 at 1:34:34 am

Can't argue with that Mark.



Dan Asselin
Effective Business Video
Core 2 Duo 2.6
2 Gig Ram
Pretty Well Adobe Everything

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grinner hesterRe: Student looking for advice....
by on Mar 28, 2009 at 5:42:22 pm

Sounds like you know the answer. This is the time to make the move, man.
Fear not.

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Grant WilberRe: Student looking for advice....
by on Apr 1, 2009 at 2:03:12 pm

Thanks for all the responds. Good advice...I came to the right place.

I think I'm gonna stick around here for another semester and see if I can get work or internships lined up. Hopefully this summer there are still alot of people shooting small projects and such that I can jump on for a little experience. If it still looks dead then I'll thing of my next move...

Thanks again.

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