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Just starting out and not sure what to do!

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Brent HolmesJust starting out and not sure what to do!
by on Nov 29, 2012 at 4:05:31 am

Hello COW Team! If this is in the wrong place, feel free to bump it and call me an idiot n00b. Moving on...

I graduated from College last year with a shiny new Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication: Media Broadcasting. I immediately got a job at a summer camp as a videographer/counselor and was absolutely certain I could find a place to start working as an apprentice in the videography field.

One year later, and I've just finished out my second summer at the camp, and have not done any work in the field since. In the interim time I've been working part time jobs, applying for jobs on monster and, hooked up with one production company for a shoot as a PA that hasn't called on me since, and now am waiting for my College to call me back about a job as a Media Producer and Coordinator.

And I can't help but feel I'm missing something. Somewhere along the way I've lost any steam that I might have had post graduation, and I'm uncertain as to where to go or what to do.

So; that's my dilema. I'm asking as someone who wants to work as a professional, but needs a tiny nudge in the right direction. What should I avoid? What should I immediately jump on? The world is big, and my scope is small from inexperience.

Thank you all again,
Brent Holmes

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Mark SuszkoRe: Just starting out and not sure what to do!
by on Nov 29, 2012 at 9:09:23 pm

Brent, I had your same problem coming out of school, long time ago. I was too passive, expecting offers to come flying in with little effort on my part. I wasted about a year that way, by taking things too casually.

Time and again on this site, you'll get the same advice; that there is no such thing as an easy way in, everything you get, you have to go out and win from sheer effort and salesmanship. You have to work hard. But you can also work smart.

Grab the production guide published by your nearest major city, or the film industry guide published by your state government's commerce department or the equivalent. Study your targets, learn what they do, who runs them, research that person a little (no stalking!). Then you bang on their doors in person as many times as it takes to get an interview. Even if they are not hiring, insist on getting a tour of their shop at the very least, and then drop off your leave-behind materials. You must do two of these a day, every week day. Then once a month, re-contact every place you visited, keep yourself "top of mind".

While doing this, also keep generating materials for a reel. Put your reel online and work to get it seen. If you have no clients, make one up, or pick charities or causes you like, and build up spots and docs for those causes. Enter local competitions, go network at any local industry events. When you talk to people, mention what you do, and they might mention you to someone who is looking for a person like yourself. Word of mouth is very powerful in our business, as it by-passes a lot of H.R. gate-keeping nonsense and goes to the people that actually hire.

You have to keep trusting in and believing in yourself, your ego is what keeps you going when nobody else is interested. Never stop learning on your own, trying new things.

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John DavidsonRe: Just starting out and not sure what to do!
by on Nov 30, 2012 at 12:10:44 am

People will know you by your work. I checked out your videography demo reel and I would suggest if you want to be a shooter that you take whatever camera you can get and shoot something that looks good (in HD). Use a tripod (I used a $15 one from Rite aid last week!) - shoot some time lapses (you can do this on an iphone), try to borrow a camera with a good lens and get some nice depth of field shots, pull a nice focus, shoot some music videos for friends, make some free commercials for family friends with small businesses, get good audio on these, and most importantly demonstrate that you are good at shooting video. A lot of your footage in the demo is low res and handheld (shaky), which is not something that people want to pay for.

Once you've made about a half-dozen commercials, even with an iPhone, you will start to learn things that people will want to pay for. You may even notice that people will come to you and ask you to make commercials for them. Perhaps you'll make $200. Make a nice, respectable resume website with iWeb or wordpress. Look respectable, be well mannered, don't talk too much, and while I agree with Mark that ego is important, understand that most people would prefer you keep your ego to yourself.

Be humble. Try hard. Don't give up.

And use a tripod :).

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.

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Mark SuszkoRe: Just starting out and not sure what to do!
by on Nov 30, 2012 at 2:26:48 am

Oh, I didn't mean to act egotistical towards people you're asking for work. Rather, ego is that part of you that keeps rooting for you to press on, when nobody else will, the part that tells you that you can beat a problem, that you are a creative individual. The part that won't surrender and resists compromise. Of course you have to master it, but without it, you'll find it hard to get (blank) done.

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Emre TufekciogluRe: Just starting out and not sure what to do!
by on Dec 1, 2012 at 2:14:47 pm

To add on Marks comments:

Go to your local (biggest) rental house and ask for a job. If you work at a rental house you will get your hands on every camera on the planet, play with them and get paid for it. Also you will meet all the top camera people in the area which can lead to other job opportunities.

On set pay absolute attention to what is going on around you. Listen closely and in time start approaching people about more advice+job opportunities.

A lot of people I hire started that way. Just my 2c.

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Stephen SmithRe: Just starting out and not sure what to do!
by on Dec 10, 2012 at 10:59:28 pm

Also look for internships. They are great since you will gain real world experience that you don't get in school and if they like you and if a job opens up chances are you'll get it. Plus you will be able to gain access to the people they know in the industry that might be looking for a job. Best of luck.

Stephen Smith
Utah Video Productions

Check out my Motion Training DVD

Check out my Vimeo page

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