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Career path direction

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John CanimottiCareer path direction
by on Feb 24, 2010 at 3:19:05 pm


I graduated from Drexel University in the spring of 2004 with a BS in Business Administration/Marketing. I found out, very near the time of my graduation, that I loved video editing/film production, and have devoted thousands of hours since then in reading/watching tutorials (yours are God-sent)/practicing.

I have acquired a decent amount of equipment in the meantime, and feel that I have more than enough to start my small business, but now I'm finding that due to my lack of credibility, as far as formal or traditional study are concerned, I'm having a very hard time getting work.

I have decided to go back to school in the fall (in San Francisco, with the option of moving to LA not out of the question). I'm really uncertain about basically everything after that.

My question is this:
I'll be able to gather the funding necessary, but I was wondering if you had advice to consider, as far as which road to travel to effectively gain a career job in the field (or possibly, but not preferably, become self employed with credibility), as a video editor, or possibly a producer, or some position in that general area? I'm very open minded, as I enjoy basically every aspect of film production.

I am unsure about my choices of possibly incorporating my previous degree, as well. Is there a path that would allow for it's integration in my pursuit of a video production career, or even possibly a field I could choose to qualify for a masters program instead of starting from scratch? Again, my major was Business Administration, focusing on Marketing.

Thank you for your time, I'm very excited about making the decision to go back and do this before it's too late. Any help or advice of any kind regarding any aspect of schools or programs also would be super helpful.

Thanks again,

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Rob GrauertRe: Career path direction
by on Feb 24, 2010 at 5:19:35 pm

I don't think you really NEED to go back to school, but it does help to have some work under your belt. I hear it all the time - no one necessarily cares about the degree you have or where you got it. They wanna see your work.

While I was in school (the Art Institute of Philadelphia by the way...right down the street from Drexel) I just went to small places and asked them if they needed any video work and said I'd do it for free. One place I went to was the Philly Soft Pretzel Factory. Working for free sometimes turns people off, but I think when you are getting started, it helps a lot because well, who doesn't need free video. You'll get some solid experience.

Once you get some samples of work and a reel together, bang on some doors and offer to be an assistant.

That's my advice. I'm sure the more experienced pros on the COW will have a lot more add.

Robert J. Grauert, Jr.

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Rob GrauertRe: Career path direction
by on Feb 24, 2010 at 5:22:26 pm

Ahh, I forgot to add that if you're going to do some free work to gain some experience, I wouldn't do GIANT projects for free. That causes people to think they can get professional work for free...and we can't have that in this industry, right guys?

Robert J. Grauert, Jr.

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Mark SuszkoRe: Career path direction
by on Feb 24, 2010 at 5:23:50 pm

You sound right for working sales at a local TV station or cable operation, and slowly transitioning to their production department, or at least interfacing with it. Market yourself as a "twofer"; a guy who can go out and get a new account and then come back to the shop and build the spots to order.

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Ryan MastRe: Career path direction
by on Feb 24, 2010 at 5:32:19 pm

Hey John,

Shoot me an email ( I'm in Lancaster, about an hour and a half east of Philly. We should get coffee and chat more offline...

Meteor Tower Films
Video creations for music, art, & theater.

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Jason JenkinsRe: Career path direction
by on Feb 24, 2010 at 6:03:30 pm

[John Canimotti] "I graduated from Drexel University in the spring of 2004 with a BS in Business Administration/Marketing."

I got a degree in Digital Arts & Filmmaking, but what probably would have served me better as a self-employed person, is a degree in business and marketing. I rock at the video part & stink at the business part. But anyway, what you need is some experience and a nice reel before you go into business for yourself. As someone on this forum has said before; you need to work for someone else, doing what you want to do, before you go into business for yourself. I freelanced at an ad agency for a couple of years, which was invaluable experience, IMO.

Jason Jenkins

Flowmotion Media

Video production... with style!

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Shane RossRe: Career path direction
by on Feb 24, 2010 at 6:29:25 pm

Forget school. Find yourself a job at a production company at the low level and work your way up. Learn the business, and the technical stuff, as you progress up the chain. Don't expect to be able to buy equipment, go to school, then start editing and shooting out of the gate. I went to film school, and then I started at the bottom. Production Assistant, Apprentice editor, Tape vault manager, post coordinator, assistant editor, editor, online editor. Each time I progressed I learned more, and I got more people to know who I am and my credibility increased.

You need to have a lot of ON THE JOB training, where you can make contacts too.


Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def

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Mark SuszkoRe: Career path direction
by on Feb 24, 2010 at 6:45:42 pm

Just so there's no mistake, I want to say something positive about schooling. The main tool an editor uses is his or her mind, so "sharpening the saw" every once in a while is very wise.

If your current level of ability as an editor is based around technical mastery of the functions, i.e. knowing which button does what - that's great, far as it goes. But it is not enough for anything but the most basic editing tasks. Not for the stuff that makes you a living.

To build your personal sense of aesthetics, to know not just what the cut button does but how and when to apply it to maximum effect - does require some learning, either self-taught thru extensive reading and viewing, or by taking classes. or both. And there is no time limit on when you start and stop. I don't think you should ever really stop learning new things until you're dead.

What the formal and informal schooling does is assist in building a visual vocabulary and some sense of what the state of the art is, and the milestones in getting there. I can't tell you how many times my liberal arts education has helped me as an editor, because it lets me know a little about a lot of different things I use all the time. Things you wouldn't think applied to editing, but they do.

So, maybe you can go straight to work and take a break from formal schooling. But don't assume school is permanently over just by your age and/or by having achieved one degree.

Think of it as upgrading your "wetware" about as often as you do your hardware and software.

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Richard HerdRe: Career path direction
by on Feb 24, 2010 at 7:10:13 pm

First thing to do when school starts: Go to the career center and find an internship. Talk to your professors and get another internship. Ideally, by the time you graduate, you will have one internship per semester, and of course a reel.

College is tough because you have to do three things:
1. Work in the industry at a less than ideal wage (an internship or 3)
2. Study your discipline
3. Build your reel

You have to have all three.
You can sleep later.
You can meet people and socialize later.

Never stop learning.

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John CanimottiRe: Career path direction
by on Mar 3, 2010 at 4:22:59 am

Hi everyone,

I wanted to thank you all very much for your extremely appreciated advice. I was without electricity for a little while there with those storms and have been catching up the last couple days.

I agree that we should never stop learning, and I would be extremely grateful for a position at any level with any company while I'm in school.

I have decided to go back simply for that reason, and because as dedicated as I am to teaching myself, there's no substitute for what can be learned from peers and professors being around you every day. As well as libraries of equipment at many schools.

I will take all of this advice with me, thank you again for your time.


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Michael ArmstrongRe: Career path direction
by on Mar 10, 2010 at 10:38:44 pm

Hi John;

I would also highly discourage you from going to school full-time. As people have said before, it is experience that really counts in this business, not a degree. Mind you, I did go to school myself and I don't regret it, but I think it's more for younger people who think they want to be a director or just want to get into the business but aren't sure what they want to do. Since you are well into your 20's at least (I assume) and already know what you want to really don't want to waste time on a 2, 3 or whatever year program potentially getting yourself into a lot of debt, then graduate and probably start working from the bottom and practically have to learn everything over again.

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