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Advancing your career

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Chris Raines
Advancing your career
on Aug 5, 2009 at 7:28:58 pm

So I've been an editor in news for 5 years since I graduated college, first as the overnight editor at my last market, and now as the Chief Editor at my current market. My question is, how does one make the move from "News" to "Non-News" I love editing and I want to specialize in it, but I don't have anything "sexy" or "hot" to put on a reel, as I've been editing news video for 5 years. Any tips on breaking into a freelance or full-time gig?


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grinner hester
Re: Advancing your career
on Aug 6, 2009 at 3:39:08 pm

short answer... move.
I moved my family to five states in as many years at one point, just ladder-climbing. When you outgrow a market or hit a salary cap, you simply have to progress beyond those limitations.



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John Cummings
Re: Advancing your career
on Aug 6, 2009 at 7:00:39 pm

Hey Chris-

As a photographer, I also transitioned from news to freelance production, and all I had in the beginning was a reel of news stories.

The first thing I noticed when first started knocking on doors was that there seemed to be somewhat of a bias or stigma attached to people that come over from news. Especially from people that came from other, more traditional production backgrounds. Ironically, a decade later, I have met and worked with dozens of ex-newsies, many are quite successful and running their own shops with national shows and clients.

A few thoughts:

One, you can use that news reel to show prospective employers, but you need to explain the limitations of the genre and guide them to see your strengths: How well you work under pressure, how you can work fast and cleanly...and most importantly...your willingness to learn and take your skills to the next level.

Another idea while you're in job-hunting mode is to hook up with like-minded people and produce a few "spec projects" like faux spots or corporate style promos to really show what you are capable of doing. Perhaps do a couple of small jobs for free. Add them to your reel, but be sure to identify them for what they are.

Lastly, look around for shops that are run by ex-news people. There are alot of them out there,and they might be more sympathetic to people like you that are making the move. These people often produce many projects that skew more toward a news style...like non-fiction or reality shows...work that will ease your transition into a new way of doing things. I know of one opening right now in Chicago for a company that produces shows like that.

I honestly think you would be better off making the switch working for someone else while you navigate the ends and outs of a new side of the business. All the while you will make new friends, meet new contacts and learn how to think and work differently. After time, you can begin to assess whether you have the skills, contacts and work to make the jump to freelancing, if that's what you really want to do.

When I look back, making that jump from news was probably the most interesting and rewarding time of my career. Have fun and good luck.
School is about to begin...again!

J Cummings
Cameralogic/Chicago
cameralogic.tv
HDX-900/HDW-730S/DXC-D50


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Chris Raines
Re: Advancing your career
on Aug 6, 2009 at 7:41:56 pm

Grinner - Good advice, although I'm not sure how viable an option that is right now. Which is unfortunate because it does decrease your options. There is plenty of opportunity in my current market though (Nashville), so it's not like I'm in Laramie,WY. It's just a matter of figuring out how to get a foot in the door.

J Cummings - I've knocked on almost every door in town, and I didn't feel a bias against newsies right off the bat, but I suspect that it's there, just because news is "quick and dirty". That is also the thing that makes it hard to show a good reel, because everything I work on is done in 3-4 hours from capture to output. Could I work on a 30 sec TV spot for a week and make it look fantastic? Sure! But I can't prove that.

I've been doing spec stuff for the last few months, including a couple of EPKs for independent artists, which I think gives my reel a different look at least...

J Cummings, how did you make your transition? Was it working with a prod company full-time or freelance?

Thanks for the pointers!!





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John Cummings
Re: Advancing your career
on Aug 7, 2009 at 2:41:53 am

"J Cummings, how did you make your transition?"

I have an old news reporter friend that was freelance producing corporate videos in milwaukee. Fed up with news, I sold my house, bought camera gear and took a u-haul from denver to milwaukee to freelance, with the idea of eventually ending up down the road in chicago. My old friend took me under his wing, gave me a few gigs, introduced me to a few people at the local production houses...and some of them took a chance and hired me to freelance. What I think got my foot in the door: A lot of traditional production shooters there struggled doing what I would call "high-quality" run and gun ENG-style work...I became sort of a go-to guy for that kind of work in that market. (A good example of how a perceived weakness can actually be a benefit to you...) Anyway, that kind of work got my foot in the door and allowed me the time I needed to get up to speed on different styles and techniques that I was never exposed to in news. I'm sure I can't adequately describe to you how much I learned in the first few years after news. And boy, was it fun. Really.

It's a small business we all work in. Example: Some of the show runners and executive producers on the national shows I shoot now used to produce newscasts in the very same newsroom I left. After 20 years in news, I know a lot of people, and many of those people are in a position to throw me work. It pays to keep in touch with your old co-workers and network, network, network. Google 'em, call them, send them a Christmas card.

No matter how good of a news editor you are, chances are you have a lot to learn. Accept and embrace that. I sure had a lot to learn when I left news, and I sucked it up and admitted it. But if you have real mojo, someone smart will recognize it. If you work well with others and are willing to listen, learn and yes, do what you're told, a door will open. What happens after that is up to you and will determine whether you have a just a new job...or a whole new career.


J Cummings
Cameralogic/Chicago
cameralogic.tv
HDX-900/HDW-730S/DXC-D50


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Franklin McMahon
Re: Advancing your career
on Aug 6, 2009 at 7:21:07 pm

Many people put all the focus on their demo reel. If all the focus is on the reel, then that is the only thing you will be judged on. Not your personality, work ethics, experience, creativity, etc. Sure a killer reel is nice, but some artists are stagnant for years because they never promote themselves, because they feel like they don't have a reel and that is the only way to convince people to hire them.

Market yourself first, your work second. If people like you, they will be more likely to work with you and take a chance on you, even if you don't have a lot of content to show.

I would start networking, start going to events and passing out cards, tell people what you do. You can also go and interview professionals at local studios, get their insights on the market. As a creative director I was interviewed all the time (a lot of it was college students exploring career paths) and I think anyone at any level can do this. Especially people looking to transition into a new market.

First of all it's such a great ego boost to the director, they love to talk about themselves and what they do. You'll get some info, get some contacts, and start to get into the mix.

I could go on for pages on how to develop your creative career, but the main thing is don't feel like just because you don't have "a reel" you are locked out of anything. Get into the mix and sell yourself for now.

___________________________
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CreativeCow.net PODCAST
frank@fmstudio.com
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Chris Raines
Re: Advancing your career
on Aug 6, 2009 at 7:51:09 pm

Franklin - Thanks for the advice. That's exactly what I've been doing over the past 4 months. I've probably met personally with 80% of the production places in town and I schedule meetings every week. They were all very gracious and gave me their time and advice.

I completely agree with you that everyone had someone else take a chance on them at some point. So basically I'm trying to increase the probability for someone to take a chance on me. It's turning into a LOT of work, but I'm confident that it pays off.


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Franklin McMahon
Re: Advancing your career
on Aug 6, 2009 at 8:03:53 pm


Excellent...sounds like you are on the right track. The only other thing once you expand your network is to keep it active..keep in touch and reconnect often with those you meet up with...keep people on your radar in the weeks following the meets...

Frank

___________________________
Franklin McMahon / Host
CreativeCow.net PODCAST
frank@fmstudio.com
Creative Cow Podcast Page
Creative Cow Podcast in iTunes

Media Artist Secrets Blog / Franklin McMahon TV Show: FranklinMcMahon.com
Studio Page



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