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Sisyphean Task?

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Kevin JohnsonSisyphean Task?
by on Mar 5, 2011 at 6:31:38 pm

Am I stuck? Be honest with me... in these times of more candidates than jobs, as employees or owners in video production, would you hire someone that worked in news?

Since I was a little kid I always loved cameras and one day I got my "big break". I was hired by my first TV News station in a 70's market because I was able to show skills without the resume behind it. That was over 11 years ago. At first it was exactly what I thought I wanted, high energy, creative and I got to tell some real stories once in a while. I was regarded as the best and was always requested for sweeps and delicate or difficult situations. Long story short... For the past several years I wanted out, badly. Because of my dedication to the station and the economy I stuck with it and still did the best I could. It wasn't always bad, I still loved the shooting, editing and most of the people I worked with, but if I had to cover one more car accident I was going to go postal (ok, not really but you get the idea). The constant run and gun mentality had run it's course.

Coming up on 5 months ago I became another statistic in the unemployment stats. The Asst. ND and Chief Photog among others fought against me being let go but the ND and GM had made up their mind. It was quit emotional for some and confusing to all. It's a catch 22 now. I'm out and glad in most aspects (other than not having a job) but now that I'm able to pursue my dream and need of more skilled and polished production work, all I have to show is some "news stories". The limitations of the industry (time frames, etc.) really show, but what they don't show is what I'm really capable of.

There is no work here, not that I want to stay anyways, where I'd really like to be is in Oregon. If you work anywhere in the nation at a respected company and take pride in your projects, would you hire or want to work with a guy from news?


I'm not asking for a job, just looking for a little light at the end of the tunnel here, but with some honesty.


Kevin Johnson

Samples of work: http://vimeo.com/album/1484839


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John DavidsonRe: Sisyphean Task?
by on Mar 6, 2011 at 12:33:27 am

If your heart wants to be in Oregon, go. Things have an interesting way of working out when you do what you want to do.

If you stay in TV, great. You could always make wedding videos off of Craigslist to pay the bills while you get your bearings. Wedding video production is one of those areas where your talents in news can come in handy. I did it when I worked in news to supplement my income. You may find that you love the freedom it brings.

Good luck!


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Scott SheriffRe: Sisyphean Task?
by on Mar 6, 2011 at 3:52:55 am

"I'm not asking for a job, just looking for a little light at the end of the tunnel here, but with some honesty."

I don't know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
The market is over-saturated with editors, DP's, and assorted wannabees.
On one hand there seems to be an increase in demand in cable, non-broadcast, etc. But that is greatly offset by huge staff reductions in broadcast, and the sheer volume of people 'getting in' due to affordable gear.
Couple that with a down economy and the light is looking dim...

Scott Sheriff
Director
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com

I have a system, it has stuff in it, and stuff hooked to it. I have a camera, it can record stuff. I read the manuals, and know how to use this stuff and lots of other stuff too.
You should be suitably impressed...


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Mike SmithRe: Sisyphean Task?
by on Mar 6, 2011 at 11:42:41 am

Scott is surely right.

While there are many new outlets and uses for video, there's a very large supply of video makers, prices are falling, over here in the UK the economy is still in post-financial-crisis meltdown and business is tight for everyone. I believe it's not much better over there, with unemployment still very high (around 9%) and growth not enough to make a dent in it anytime soon. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11996435

But, on the Sisyphean theme, there's always hope - Pandora's last gift. http://myths.e2bn.org/mythsandlegends/playstory562-pandoras-box.html

There's no reason to be ashamed of a news background ; that's a great grounding in speedy, economical and accessible storytelling.

Your skills could open doors in news, maybe documentary, maybe in business communications. You have to research your target markets and work out where you have something to offer. Then go hard for what's there. Experience and a great reel will get you further than a paper qualification and no experience, with many potential employers or customers.

I just checked out your vimeo links, though, and have a caution for you : if you put a compilation reel at the front like that, it had better be great, because that's all many folks will look at.

And I wonder whether your reel plays to your strengths.

If feels bitty, and does not bring out your reportage and tech skills. More, opening with the blurry mobile images you have does not necessarily send out a good message to potential employers, particularly with those images being unexplained. But you could post the reel in the showreel forum if you want a wider response.

Maybe, thinking like a reporter, you could put together a great two minutes about yourself. It would be for you to plan the script, but maybe editorial and scripting, camera and editing skills and experience might feature. If those were related to specific stories and challenges, and how you were able to make great work in varied circumstances, and how well you can work with different teams, that wouldn't necessarily play badly to your target audiences.


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Mark SuszkoRe: Sisyphean Task?
by on Mar 6, 2011 at 6:55:48 pm

I believe cutting news under deadline pressure is a terrific way to build skills, and the discipline, sense of timing and rhythm, and story you develop from cutting news are all very transferrable to other genres. If you are good at news, you would also be good at sports, at cutting commercials, music vids, docs, industrials.

I think what it boils down to is, decide what you'd really love to cut instead, then work towards that, in as many small steps as it takes. As a news cutter, for example, you have a great grasp of what other news cutters and their bosses are looking for in a VNR or EPK package. So maybe develop a path of making such packages for companies or various government entities, and become a producer as well as the editor.

No matter what your next step is, it is going to involve you becoming more than you were. So, to put it inarticulately, in what direction would you get some joy out of becoming "more" in? I didn't say anything about it paying better, I asked what would bring you joy to work on. Because if you can get that, the money usually takes care of itself after a while.


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Kevin JohnsonRe: Sisyphean Task?
by on Mar 9, 2011 at 4:09:09 am

Well, I've been mulling over the responses the past several days and I've come to some conclusions, sort of.

I unfortunately couldn't agree more that as far as the public (and some companies) are concerned Videographers are a dime a dozen. With NLE and the HD camera price points now, those that would have been wannabes are everywhere and working on the cheap (which is a whole other topic).

I feel strongly that I have untapped skills and experience, but I believe there is a place out there for me somewhere. The remolding, categorizing and promoting myself is where I'm still in a quandary. I want to say that I would be happiest in a production house (as vague as that is) but I could also see myself doing Cable, Documentaries, Shorts, Government, Corporate.......

It's like being a car junkie. You love to work on them and drive them, and though you might have some favorites you really love them all for their own characteristics.

I have to not only "choose" one but also keep in mind the likelihood that I can get in. I certainly don't feel it but I'm 46 and all those 20somethings look mighty appealing to accounting.

If I had to choose between only shooting or only editing I'd take shooting by a landslide. Don't get me wrong I'm one of those guys that will move an edit by 1 frame because it looks better, I can loose all track of time and genuinely enjoy the process.... but that's for what I have shot, completing the full circle if you will. The thought of sitting in a chair everyday and ONLY editing brings about shortness of breath. BUT, if that's all I could get I would do it and give it my all because I have this silly thing called pride.


John, at one time I would have rather worked at the dollar store than do wedding videos. However, there's some amazing stuff now days and I would be proud to put out some of that quality. I've sent out several resumes to Wedding Film videographers.

Mike, you have a very good point about my comp reel. knowing that nobody will look at several stories to get a cross section of.... what do I call it? It's not "styles" because news is just a variation of a theme. any ways, I wasn't overly happy with the outcome but wanted to try something. You'll notice it's on the bottom now and I'm even considering removing it all together. Also thanks for Pandora's box, though as hard as it is to see, if I keep looking I just might find hope.


[Mike Smith] "Maybe, thinking like a reporter, you could put together a great two minutes about yourself. It would be for you to plan the script, but maybe editorial and scripting, camera and editing skills and experience might feature. If those were related to specific stories and challenges, and how you were able to make great work in varied circumstances, and how well you can work with different teams, that wouldn't necessarily play badly to your target audiences."

How do others feel about this? Instead of promoting I'm afraid it would come across cocky. Can't say I've seen anybody do this.


“Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged men who kept on working.”


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Richard HerdRe: Sisyphean Task?
by on Mar 10, 2011 at 4:36:07 pm

Sisyphus...





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