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Studying for the business - looking for helpful advice

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Hunter Hempen
Studying for the business - looking for helpful advice
on Nov 5, 2009 at 6:05:05 am

I'm just gonna ramble on here a bit - hope this can be on open discussion, because I'm gonna have a lot of questions...
Anywhoo, I'm already familiar with CreativeCow but my mass comm professor recommended I head here to get some advice about the field, as well as what it takes.
Obviously, from what it sounds, this isn't a becomes your life. That I can live with. For me, the best feeling in the world is finishing your product and sitting back to see it play out EXACTLY as you had envisioned it in your head. I've already done a few productions - mostly for fun, but some for actual companies in my town. Regardless I enjoy the colaboration and opportunites presented in my work thus far. The real world sounds extremely different though.
I guess I can basically narrow this down to what's the first step I need to take after college? Or even during college? I was hoping to get a part-time job somewhere relative to my field during my freshman year, and that might be possible given people my prof. knows. I know you can't teach the life experience of the professional in college - most of what you do learn isnt even in school?
Hope I'm not being too general. To help narrow it down I'm hoping to go into the post-production, editing field (currently studying).

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Roy Schneider
Re: Studying for the business - looking for helpful advice
on Nov 5, 2009 at 2:59:19 pm

How do you get a start in this business? Is that your question! I have been in it for 22 years and still ask!!!

This business is as broad as your question. The bottom line is the more experience you have visually telling stories the better. It does not matter if it is a wedding, corporate video or broadcast TV. Find out who is doing the type of work you want to do, and offer to help them (for free for a while if needed). Learn then earn. Once you have a better base of experience you will be able to find good paying work.

I hope this helps
Best of Everything always

Roy Schneider
Long Live Da Cow!

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Mark Suszko
Re: Studying for the business - looking for helpful advice
on Nov 5, 2009 at 4:45:37 pm

Internships are perfect for this, because you're getting academic credit and seeing how real-world practical experience fits into your "book larnin'". Many (but not all) internships can lead to full time work after graduation, so when you get one, consider it an audition for getting hired and work as hard as if that was the goal. In any case, use the contacts from all your internships and practicum labs to start networking.

While in school and while you have access to labs, studios, gear, push all the time to borrow that gear and make stuff with your friends. Build a reel with pro bono and spec work based on things you love or support.

Maybe the best thing I can suggest - and this I think is the same for the folks who took the college track and those that took the school of hard knocks track - is that you should not wait for some exterior authority to give you permission, blessing, approval, or support to engage in the career.

You really need to seize it for yourself, define yourself and not be defined by others as far as what you can and cannot attempt.

You can't sit back and just hope someone offers you work because you deserve it. If you can't find a job, create one. That is, create your own projects to produce, learn how to raise money for them and learn how to work with others to achieve the goal. In your single youth, you have the least number of attachments and others depending on you for a living, and the most flexibility in where and how you can choose to live... so now is the best time to take those big chances. Chase the work where it will lead you. Yes, you will crash and burn a time or two, this is paying tuition in the school of life. Analyze the risks, make well-considered decisions and backup plans and then commit to something. If you fall short, which is likely, you will still learn from it, and that will help you when you try again.

Walking forwards is a kind of controlled falling forward, after all. As long as you keep putting another foot forward, and work on being balanced, you keep your face from hitting the sidewalk. So decide on a first step and take it. Then repeat, until you get where you wanted to go.

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Mike Cohen
Re: Studying for the business - looking for helpful advice
on Nov 5, 2009 at 5:16:20 pm

The fact that you have come to the COW seeking advice for your future career shows that you have a good brain inside your head already!

Excel in your course work. And I mean be the best. Sometimes (always) college video assignments can be hokey and seemingly not useful, but if you have chosen the college route, then do your absolute best work.

Get access to the gear. I was the guy who knew the ins and outs of our studio and I had a part time job as a teaching assistant and studio assistant. The best part about this aside from the $5.50/hour was the magnetic key card that got me into the equipment room 24/7. Not only could I grab a camcorder at 3AM, but I was also the gatekeeper for 50 other students. That meant a lot of free meals at the dining hall.

If your instructors or the career office don't have a line on local internships, get on the phone. And learn how to network. My sophomore year I took a no-credit adult ed course in the evenings put on by the advertising club of Hartford. One of the guest speakers was a big whig at the local CBS station. A few months later she got me an interview for an internship and that was my first one. 3 months at the news assignment desk was fun and I learned a lot, and learned that news was not necessarily for me. But that didn't stop me from getting another internship at the much larger ABC station in Boston. There I had a lot more responsibility and actually got some videos I edited on the air. Simultaneous to this I was involved in starting a campus tv newscast.

The next summer I interned with a local cable advertising group, learning all about making 30 second local spots (the $250 or free spots that are discussed often in this forum). The final internship was with a high end corporate video company. We did work for some big Fortune 50 type companies and they had one of the first AVID systems in the region at the time.

In summary, find opportunities to learn everything, on your own time. As Mark said, don't wait for a professor to pick you out of the crowd. There is a ton of useful material on the internet, but when you are first starting out, the best way to learn is by doing, and from spending time with people with more experience.

Good luck.

Mike Cohen

PS - When I was your age, we didn't have the COW. We didn't even have the Web. We had to find people and talk to them in person.

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Richard Herd
Re: Studying for the business - looking for helpful advice
on Nov 5, 2009 at 7:14:13 pm

1. Take a drama class and learn story, words like denouement and catharsis. All these fancy gadgets are nothing without writing & acting

2. Get your reel together

3. Intern a lot--more than once, more than production. See if you can get into development, advertising, news, post housing, producing. There are lots of areas. If you're in college for 8 semesters, and if you have 8 internships, you'll be a very desirable candidate when you graduate...if not before!

4. Subscribe to the American Cinematographer Magazine; there's so much information there, you can hardly believe it.

5. Subscribe to the Creative Cow magazine--lots of info there too.

6. Learn photoshop, illustrator, In Design also.

7. An introductory accounting class will be very helpful

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Brendan Coots
Re: Studying for the business - looking for helpful advice
on Nov 6, 2009 at 5:36:21 am

The first step is to gently let go of the notion that things will "turn out exactly how you pictured them in your head." When doing commercial, for-pay work, you are lucky if things even remotely turn out the way you expected or were even capable of, because your client will ALWAYS stick their big braying jackass of a head into the equation and make sure that you are unable to deliver a successful product.

Hah! Okay seriously, that was the precursor to my "tough love" speech to follow. I wrote out a big long post about all the things you could do after school to break into the industry, but I realized something far more important needs to be said, and I'm just going to say it without any sugar coating. The editing field is ridiculously over-saturated these days. I literally get 30 editing resumes for every 1 graphics or 3d person. It seems that editing is the entry point into post now, so you will be up against a LOT of competition. If you want to be an editor, you will need to address certain issues NOW (while in school), and spend the remainder of your schooling honing these skills. I watch dozens of editing reels a week and I rarely see anything crafty or standout. It's just a bunch of edits, usually very lazy edits, with the assumption being that their job is to "cut footage." Wrong!

The truth is, anyone can edit 2 shots together. I'm going to generalize here and say that studios are typically looking for someone who:
- can cut fast for long periods of time
- can make good creative decisions on the fly, on their own
- knows the software/tools inside and out
- knows the common gotchas of working with all the various SD/HD flavors and codecs the studio uses
- understands pacing/timing
- can do up their own titles or basic graphics in a pinch
- understands the entire workflow, including receiving graphics from the animators, audio issues, output etc.

You would be wise to focus on these types of issues, because almost none of the "new" editors that come my way can do much more than slowly hack footage together. I could literally hire my nephew to do that, what do YOU offer beyond that? Come to the table prepared to edit like a professional and you have already won the battle of "what to do when you graduate."

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

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Rich Mayer
Re: Studying for the business - looking for helpful advice
on Nov 13, 2009 at 6:52:12 pm

it really comes down to what you want to do, you already expressed interest in editing and post-production. This is a field where basically getting a job comes down to your reel and what programs you know how to operate, learn the basics AVID, Final Cut and even Premiere and learn After Effects, all the time when I see people looking for editors they always add some knowledge on After Effects.

I think getting an intership is a good way to start, and once you are in, try to make contacts and help everybody you can... I started as an intern and then the same station gave me a job basically because I was there the whole day already, but to this day they would probably tell you I was the best intern ever, while everybody was complaining about their responsibilities and the pay I was doing their job, I didnt care about getting paid I was learning, that was my mentality. A lot of people didnt like me because in doing my best I was making them look bad, you cant worry about those people, let them bitch and complain, 15 years later some of them dont work in television anymore while I have my own company. So never become part of that group of the ones who are always complaining on what they dont give them

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