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How did you get into post?
Old 8th February 2007
  #1
Lives for gear
 

How did you get into post?

First off, have to say I love this forum already.

I'm curious how those of you who make a living in post got to that point.
Did you slip in from one angle (music editing, sound design, foley, etc.) and just expand your job? Did you develop a suite of skills and start cold-calling post houses?

I'll soon be relocating and I'm going to see that as an opportunity to get into a post house. My current job is what you might call "corporate post"--audio for marketing and training videos for a large corporation. I do field and VO recording, music/sfx editing, mixing, and some VO performance and music composition.

On the side I write and record my own stuff, including some indie film scores.

So I've got some experience, but no idea what a post pro would expect or have come up from.

What skills would you expect a new hire to have?

Thanks in advance!
Old 8th February 2007
  #2
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charles maynes's Avatar
 

There are a number of secret handshakes involved- and being able to recite volumes of Three Stooges dialog....


charles maynes


Quote:
Originally Posted by krylenko View Post
First off, have to say I love this forum already.

I'm curious how those of you who make a living in post got to that point.
Did you slip in from one angle (music editing, sound design, foley, etc.) and just expand your job? Did you develop a suite of skills and start cold-calling post houses?

I'll soon be relocating and I'm going to see that as an opportunity to get into a post house. My current job is what you might call "corporate post"--audio for marketing and training videos for a large corporation. I do field and VO recording, music/sfx editing, mixing, and some VO performance and music composition.

On the side I write and record my own stuff, including some indie film scores.

So I've got some experience, but no idea what a post pro would expect or have come up from.

What skills would you expect a new hire to have?

Thanks in advance!
Old 9th February 2007
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

Internships is one way of getting into the business. You can also try showbizjobs.com.
Old 9th February 2007
  #4
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minister's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by charles maynes View Post
There are a number of secret handshakes involved- and being able to recite volumes of Three Stooges dialog....

charles maynes
charles.........

stop giving away the secrets! next thing you know they will be asking, "what's the deal with the olive races and big blocks of Ice??"

putting my little fez on and climbing into my little car to go back to work.
Old 9th February 2007
  #5
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charles maynes's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by krylenko View Post
First off, have to say I love this forum already.

I'm curious how those of you who make a living in post got to that point.
Did you slip in from one angle (music editing, sound design, foley, etc.) and just expand your job? Did you develop a suite of skills and start cold-calling post houses?

I'll soon be relocating and I'm going to see that as an opportunity to get into a post house. My current job is what you might call "corporate post"--audio for marketing and training videos for a large corporation. I do field and VO recording, music/sfx editing, mixing, and some VO performance and music composition.

On the side I write and record my own stuff, including some indie film scores.

So I've got some experience, but no idea what a post pro would expect or have come up from.

What skills would you expect a new hire to have?

Thanks in advance!
You should figure out what one of those jobs you like most and steer towards that-

If you are looking to make a lot of money, you might try to get hired as a programmer for a working film composer. That would get you into the stream of things pretty quickly, and you would not have a union membership issue to deal with.

If you want to mix, then trying to go for a job in LA at some smaller facilities would be a good way to get in the door.

You have not mentioned your age, so we do not have an idea of what sorts of things are occupying your life- obviously families require income, so interning or doing free work may not be a possibility.

If you want to get into editing and design, I would suggest putting a demo reel together to show off your talents- the footage can be from anywhere, but do stuff that sounds cool and groovey- In a lot ways, digitizing big hollywood action films and then redoing the audio tracks will show potential employers a lot about the way you give voice to an image.

And yes- I know that copyright needs to be mentioned, but I think this particular usage of the film material would be outside of the practical ethics that copyright is implying- It is more of a personal use sort of thing, since you are not technically benefitting financially from the actual presentation.


charles maynes
Old 9th February 2007
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by minister View Post
charles.........

stop giving away the secrets! next thing you know they will be asking, "what's the deal with the olive races and big blocks of Ice??"

putting my little fez on and climbing into my little car to go back to work.
Mentioning the Ice Blocks and olive races earns you a big demerit from the home office Tom- remember OPSEC is paramount- Loose Lips Sink Ships and all that...


sound effects wannabe charles m.
Old 9th February 2007
  #7
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gsilbers's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by krylenko View Post
First off, have to say I love this forum already.

I'm curious how those of you who make a living in post got to that point.
Did you slip in from one angle (music editing, sound design, foley, etc.) and just expand your job? Did you develop a suite of skills and start cold-calling post houses?

I'll soon be relocating and I'm going to see that as an opportunity to get into a post house. My current job is what you might call "corporate post"--audio for marketing and training videos for a large corporation. I do field and VO recording, music/sfx editing, mixing, and some VO performance and music composition.

On the side I write and record my own stuff, including some indie film scores.

So I've got some experience, but no idea what a post pro would expect or have come up from.

What skills would you expect a new hire to have?

Thanks in advance!

depends alot on the studio. some attend to the law and HIRE interns or give college credit, while others just exploit them.

luckily the studio im at hires interns and if they are good they get a raise and start doing regular work like sound design, editing, etc.
also the studio started getting lots of work so they needed poeple. but other times he engineers where fighting for one job hehe, not as bad but there was more than one.

you need to know pro tools inside and out. people that come out of schools thinnk they know pro tools, but u just cant be in a session trying to figure stuff out.
and u need to be fast as hell. when i jump in the music world im amazed by how the pro's are still so slow.

learn al about time code, formats, levels and standards for the different formats,.

a good thing someone tought me was this:

in pro tools, always think a step or two ahead while you are in step one.
learn the key comands of those steps.

like import audio file or session data= key comand..
while u doing that u know u have to create a new track and an aux track=key comand and key comand for stereo/aux track.
wile u doing that u know u have to drag that region somewhwere= key comand for that.
well u get the picture.. so if u have to import a song to put under a VO, itll take much less timme than going to the menu>file>import audio file.
find the file, go to the menu, create track, change to stereo, go again to menu, create track , stereo then aux etc etc.




oh, and dont forget about disk alocation. very important.

for the type of stuff u have done you wont have trouble getting a job. the problem is the trust part. thats why studios get interns 1st.
Old 9th February 2007
  #8
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soundboy's Avatar
Speed is not everything. Talent and experience actually do count. I heard an interesting idea from a really good assistant sound editor. I asked him if he thought he would get promoted to sound editor at the studio he worked at, and his reply was "no". I asked why and his response was that if you are really good at what you do, why are they going to move you from that position and have to train someone who may not be as good. So my advice it to only be mediocre at your job and youll surely be promoted!!!
"Mo, Larry, Cheese! Mo, Larry, Cheese!" Seriously, There are smaller houses out there that need machine room people and assistants. That's where you start. Believe me, if you have talent, and make it available, you will be used at these facilities.
Old 9th February 2007
  #9
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charles maynes's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by soundboy View Post
Speed is not everything. Talent and experience actually do count. I heard an interesting idea from a really good assistant sound editor. I asked him if he thought he would get promoted to sound editor at the studio he worked at, and his reply was "no". I asked why and his response was that if you are really good at what you do, why are they going to move you from that position and have to train someone who may not be as good. So my advice it to only be mediocre at your job and youll surely be promoted!!!
"Mo, Larry, Cheese! Mo, Larry, Cheese!" Seriously, There are smaller houses out there that need machine room people and assistants. That's where you start. Believe me, if you have talent, and make it available, you will be used at these facilities.
And remember-

Gary Rydstrom started off in the machine room at Sproket systems.
DO NOT curse humble beginnings

charles maynes
Old 9th February 2007
  #10
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soundboy's Avatar
I started fetching coffee, and auto loading dial for grumpy editors. No cursing here!
Old 9th February 2007
  #11
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minister's Avatar
ok, well, i'll be serious for a second.

i just hired someone. ... from a pool of a few. here is what i look for. most of it is common sense.

basic (intermediate and advanced) audio and signal flow knowledge imperative -- don't under-estimate this. you gotta know how compressors, eq, reverb, delays, all that stuff works... or at least get it to work for you on some level. you will learn on the job, but if you don't have some basic skills here, you are in trouble. learn how to over-under wrap cables, clean up a booth or live-room, learn how to set it up and store mics. make it neat and accessible.

really good ears (obviously, but not everyone has them). work on these. listen to a lot of stuff and analyse it.

have a demonstrable talent for eye-brain-ear connections. this is a tricky one, and can be taught, but raw talent is a plus here. most young people have some talent here but need years of development in this area. most sound design demos i am shown are pretty lame... occasionally i see a good one, but they are always lacking the right size, or perspective or something....

excellent DAW skills. i am a Pro Tools shop. i have had assistants be good in Logic, but, for me, they MUST know Pro Tools very well. i don't have time to show anybody anything. it is a predjudiuce, but it has nothing to do with whether or not one platform is better...i just have a uniformity of tools. of course i am open to other tools helping out...and they do. you can be fast (or at least not painfully slow) be be accurate and good!

all the basic edit and foley to picture skills and the various video and audio formats. have those down cold.

be upbeat, articulate, prompt, work hard, go beyond... be willing to take on projects. if the boss asks you to organize a room -- go nuts! if he asks you to hook up the new monitor controller, hook up everything, make neat cable runs and tie everything up, mark everything and fully calibrate the room.

i don't care so much about your dress, but don't be sloppy AT ALL in your work!!!! cross every eye and dot every tea and czech and re-cheque yor werk!

have ideas of your own, but don't take what the boss says personally and understand what he/she is trying to tell.

don't be a cocky SOB who thinks he's the hottest DAW-slinger in town. chances are, i probably know more than you, or at least for the purposes of my clients, i do. if you have a suggestion, make it in a respectful way. i like it when assistants come to me and say, "hey i was thinking, since this character is doing this and his brother comes in here, maybe there should be some ___" but when the boss says go, go. and remember, if your boss owns the business, they are servicing their clients first and attending to your feelings second.

be willing to work long, extra hours and take ownership of your work. don't look at it as, "eh, it's just a stooopid gig.". i'll notice if you care and if you don't. i almost always connect on some level with job so that i can serve it.

try to solve problems on your own before you go ask the boss. you'll learn more and not interrupt him 26 times a day with little questions.

AND FOR GOD'S SAKE, if you call some place looking for work, DON'T PESTER THEM!! leave a message and wait to hear back. chances are, they are busy, don't need some one, or are in a drunken stupor! a month ago some guy from another house in town called looking for work becasue their place is slow. he got my assistant who took a message. then he called 2 hours later. then called again while we were at lunch (not leaving a mssg. on the answereing machine.) then called again at 5 o'clock...my assistant answered again (i was in session all day) and the dude asked my assistant's name. then he called the next morning.... you can see this is not behaviour endearing to me.
Old 9th February 2007
  #12
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minister's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by soundboy View Post
...auto loading dial for grumpy editors.
i never ask my assistants to put soap in my dish, i can do that my self.
Old 9th February 2007
  #13
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hociman's Avatar
 

Post Start

Quote:
Originally Posted by minister View Post
try to solve problems on your own before you go ask the boss. you'll learn more and not interrupt him 26 times a day with little questions.
Yes, please. Conversely, if you are going to summon someone to assist you, whether its the boss, or the chief engineer, or another individual, do not start making suggestions to the person you summoned as to how to solve the problem. If you are going to summon someone to solve a problem, let the summoned person solve it. If the person you summoned wants your input, that person will ask for it.

Now, back to the question of the thread. How did I get into post? I was a music production and technology student at U of Hartford. I took it upon myself to learn how to troubleshoot Macintoshes, Pro Tools, and general studio maladies while I was a student. I was subscribed to a free SPARS email distribution list. I don't know if it still exists, and if it does, I'm not subscribed! During my final semester, there was a posting on that list for "a Maintenance Engineer w/ProTools Experience and general computer experience". I thought to myself, "That sounds like something I could do." Nearly 6 years later, I still have that job. I guess I was right.
Old 9th February 2007
  #14
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charles maynes's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hociman View Post
If you are going to summon someone to solve a problem, let the summoned person solve it. If the person you summoned wants your input, that person will ask for it.
This is a dual edged sword, which mature people are well aware of-

If you are asking for help do as Jonathon and Tom says, however I have run into MANY engineers at very big studios who knew FAR less than I did about things...This is not a huge problem for an engineer who can easily say, Yup- Its busted... While you as the guy who needs to get the work done says "well I guess I am truly #$%#@#... And now due to an equiptment failure beyond my control, my project may be in jeopardy.

I just had this happen on a visit to a major east coast film school that I guest lectured at- when we found out the Mac I was going to use decided it wasn't going to work. the response wasnt "Crap, I gotta get this taken care of" It was- "Yeah- they break, I'll have to deal with it next week...".

If you know what is wrong with the thing, speak up.

charles maynes
Old 9th February 2007
  #15
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minister's Avatar
oh, i love it when assistants know how to fix things i don't!

case in point : recently, we purhcased a SPL monitor Controller for one of the rooms. it replaced a Yamha 03D. when we hooked it up it wass MUCH quieter than the 03D. i asked my asst to contact SPL. they told him that when it was first sold people complained it was too loud (obviously NOT Post People). my asst got the schematics, learned where the resistors were, went to the store bought different ones with higher impedance and that stuff you use on circuit boards to keep from burning...(i don't know what it's called) and soldered on the new resistors and now it is 12dB louder and perfect for a little post room.

he used to install car & truck stereos and remote start systems, so he knows his way around a circuit board. your experience, even non-audfio related WILL ALMOST ALWAYS COME IN HANDY. NEVER! be embarrassed about where you came from. it can serve you in many ways you may not know yet.

i am still trying to sort out charles point.... what ever he was saying, i say, if you know the answer speak up. be respectful, but don't walk away s******ing that the boss doesn't know how to replace a resistor on a circuit board. i don't. i am not an EE. but in Post, be sure to check out what the protocol is and follow it.
Old 9th February 2007
  #16
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charles maynes's Avatar
 

Tom -


As you know I speak in tagalog most of the time, so translating is sometimes inarticulate-

I have the blessing and curse of being in my 40's and have enjoyed work as a studio engineer, a minor electronics tech, a software engineer as well as doing my current work. (whilst now getting into weapons wrangling...) so my point was if you know what might be a problem, yet you are not in authority to touch a piece of gear- speak up. be modest and humble- but if the engineer is too much of a know it all to take your input, well, I guess they must be smarter than you are...
Old 9th February 2007
  #17
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Jazzpunk's Avatar
 

I slipped, hit my head on a rock and woke up strapped to a Pro Tools rig. Been doing it ever since.

Oh yeah, I also went to school, worked my ass off and interned till nearly homeless.
Old 9th February 2007
  #18
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minister's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by charles maynes View Post
Tom -


As you know I speak in tagalog ...
Tagalog : a member of a people of central Luzon.

and here i thought you grew up in Southern California a marine brat.

Ok, now i understand. and for sure, as my fellow over 40 yr. old colleague said, speak up respectfully but don't always expect to be listened to. i can think of one significant person this happened to : he worked at a major facility on a big film we all know and saved it from big sync issues. since he was a back-room guy and not a big re-recording mixer, he was barely thanked and expected to quietly go back into his position. there is politics everywhere. in big shops and small ones.

i started as a philosophy major and a voice performance minor in college... and after 3 years of contemplating grad school and a career in academics, i decided to go into writing music for picture. but first, i played in a band and worked odd jobs for a few years. i gained a lot of skills in those 'day jobs' that helped me run a business.

i started getting more and more music for picture gigs. and along with those music for picture gigs, i started getting asked if i could do some sound design. sure! i love sound. so i started doing more and more. yet, you have to know that i never went to school for this and i couldn't tell you how a compressor worked or anything. i just had that sound that i wanted in my head and i kept working at it to get there. whether it was mixing or recording or manipulating.

along the way, i read everything i could get my hands on and asked a lot of questions of the guy who engineered the 2 CD's my band put out. but i also had my own ideas. and i tried things. and i spent long hours, many long hours trying things and playing with eq and compression and reverb and other dsp things...as well as developing mic techniques (you have to put in the time -- but what counts is what you do with that time) and slowly, slowly started devloping the engineering chops to match what was in my head. my ears were better than my hands as my reach was beyond my grasp. and that is how it should be!

and i hope to get better. i know i need to get better. there is so much to know and do.

that was my path and in some ways it is a slower one. no apprenticeship, no teachers or courses. just gleaning what i could and teaching myself.


i called around to all the places in town and they told me to take a hike. so, i did my own thing. pounded the pavement, knocked on an unbelievable amount of doors and spent alot of time honing my craft. and, truth be told, i came very near to giving up about 10 years ago. ... but i am glad i didn't.
Old 9th February 2007
  #19
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Thanks for the advice everyone (and nice website minister, I like the clean style).

I'm 28 and married but no kids, we'll be moving to probably tucson AZ for the wife's grad school so interships/assisting may or may not be financially doable... too early to tell.

Looking at minister's list of quals I think I'm pretty competitive on the soft skills (attitude, work ethic, IMO pretty decent ears and ideas) but clearly behind the cue ball on PT and my Stooges quotes. I do have some electronics repair/troubleshooting experience that's come in handy at my current job.

A demo reel is a great idea and I'll start on that posthaste.

Thanks again and feel free to ramble on...
Old 9th February 2007
  #20
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Jazzpunk's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by minister View Post
i can think of one significant person this happened to : he worked at a major facility on a big film we all know and saved it from big sync issues. since he was a back-room guy and not a big re-recording mixer, he was barely thanked and expected to quietly go back into his position. there is politics everywhere. in big shops and small ones.
.
Just love that about this biz. I have a nice long list of people I am going to go back and slap with my oscar...well, after I win one of course.
Old 9th February 2007
  #21
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Jazzpunk's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by krylenko View Post
Thanks for the advice everyone (and nice website minister, I like the clean style).

I'm 28 and married but no kids, we'll be moving to probably tucson AZ for the wife's grad school so interships/assisting may or may not be financially doable... too early to tell.

Looking at minister's list of quals I think I'm pretty competitive on the soft skills (attitude, work ethic, IMO pretty decent ears and ideas) but clearly behind the cue ball on PT and my Stooges quotes. I do have some electronics repair/troubleshooting experience that's come in handy at my current job.

A demo reel is a great idea and I'll start on that posthaste.

Thanks again and feel free to ramble on...
My PT skills are what landed me my first gig. As far as interning, it's pretty much going to be a given so you'll have to figure out how to make it work. If you want it bad enough you'll make it happen.

Best of luck.
Old 9th February 2007
  #22
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minister's Avatar
the other thing to know is, as the dutch say, "You never know how the cow catches the hare."

if you are moving to Tuscon, think of all the possibilities there are for post, or, at least audio enegineering....

i do a lot of work for art museums and i really like it. music for their interactive programs and tours. one of my favorite jobs was creating a sound design for a natural history museum coniferous forest diorama. VO and edit for their audio tours. Electronic device companies that make things that make sounds. children's music. phone prompts. web design companies.

there are all kins of options beyond 'Film' or 'Video'.
Old 9th February 2007
  #23
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minister's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by krylenko View Post
(and nice website minister, I like the clean style).
hey, thanks!

...reminds me, that is woefully out of date!

Quote:
Just love that about this biz. I have a nice long list of people I am going to go back and slap with my oscar...well, after I win one of course.
i had a list developing when a TV show i was writing the music for seemed like it was gonna hit. Comedy Central even paid for a Pilot. .. show got dropped... you learn to drop those lists and beome chastened by experience. but as the kids say, "i feel ya". "i'm picking up what you're puttin' down.". "i am sniffin' what yer steppin' in".

Last edited by minister; 9th February 2007 at 06:53 AM.. Reason: to add some funny stuff
Old 9th February 2007
  #24
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Thanks jazzpunk. I figured as much--nothing to do but get cracking on PT now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by minister View Post
think of all the possibilities there are for post, or, at least audio enegineering....
Very true. My current employer does a lot of military training simulations, and *somebody* is doing the combat sound design for those. Next week I'm going to a job fair run by a similar corporation with a big presence in Tucson.

Minister, it's good to see somebody thriving outside California... nothing wrong with LA but it's not where I'm headed.
Old 9th February 2007
  #25
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If there's one thing I've learned in my long history of never working in TV, it's that a pilot means [german accent] NUHSING [/german accent].

Ken Levine (writer for Cheers and MASH) has a great blog about TV comedy and other stuff: http://kenlevine.blogspot.com/

That's where I got my oh-so-hip cynicism from.
Old 9th February 2007
  #26
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charles maynes's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by krylenko View Post
Thanks jazzpunk. I figured as much--nothing to do but get cracking on PT now.



Very true. My current employer does a lot of military training simulations, and *somebody* is doing the combat sound design for those. Next week I'm going to a job fair run by a similar corporation with a big presence in Tucson.

Minister, it's good to see somebody thriving outside California... nothing wrong with LA but it's not where I'm headed.

If you are doing military stuff, I record a lot of that sort of thing- what company are you involved with?

(this is called networking, I am totally sincere in my comments I wrote above, but now since you mentioned a facet of your work that I have an interest in, our collective experience can surely move forward...so lets talk about the stuff!- If you do not want to do it here drop me an email at [email protected])


cheers

charles maynes
Old 9th February 2007
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charles maynes View Post
If you are doing military stuff, I record a lot of that sort of thing
Oh, hey! Just noticed your avatar pic.

Check your e-mail.
Old 9th February 2007
  #28
Here for the gear
 

Wow, this thread has been really helpful! I've been working as an assistant/engineer at an audio post house in San Francisco for the last year and a half, and I feel that the time is right to make the move down to LA to try and start working in film.

I'm sorry, Krylenko, if I'm hijacking the thread, but does anyone have any recomendations for finding work as a Foley editor in LA? I have been editing sound for a TV series for a the past year and a half as well as working as a sound editor on a few student and indie films, so I have experience. I'm also wondering if I need to go back to being an intern (which I'll definitely do if that's what it takes) or if I'm past that stage yet. I'm only 25, so I"m pretty flexible either way.

Please let me know if any more info would help.


Thanks for your advice and thanks, Krylenko, for starting such an informative thread!
This is my new favorite forum.

-Brad
Old 9th February 2007
  #29
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all I can say is it's a good thing I'm not moving to LA, or there would have to be a sound design duel.

and now that charles and his guns are on my side, I think we know who'd win.
feelin' lucky, punk?

[why doesn't gearslutz have the machine gunner smily???]
Old 9th February 2007
  #30
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starcrash13's Avatar
Quote:
That's where I got my oh-so-hip cynicism from.
Actually, you'd be surprised how far a good sense of humor will take you in this business. I've noticed that personality and experience go a lot further than raw talent. Most people that I've worked with are fully capable of turning out high quality work. The ones who get the most work on shows are the one's that are fun to hang out with at lunch and are always good for a laugh at the espresso machine. Speaking of espresso machines, I think I've gotten more jobs by networking during the tea break than anywhere else. It's a habit with fringe benefits. Now, I've also known people that are brilliant who know the job and equipment inside and out, but are a pain in the ass to deal with and no fun. Post, especially for film, is a massive team effort.

Like many of us, I came from a music background. I hit thirty hard and realized that being a rock star was probably not in the cards for me. Around the same time, I started really loving working in film sound and had worked on a couple of tiny projects. I went back to school and ended up working on some student films. Once I was bitten by the film bug, I decided that from that moment on I would always be working on a project paid or not. I hit up all the film students and found stuff on Craig's List. I've been working steady ever since. I got lucky a few years ago and was able to intern on a film at Skywalker Sound. Now, I'm getting pretty consistent work there as a freelance sound editor. That said, I am still always out looking for work the way I always have been and I try to always stay busy. I still find stuff on Craig's List occasionally.

I often have people asking me how to "break in" to the business or to "hook them up" or whatever. It's rare, unless you have some amazing luck or a really sweet connection, that someone is going to hire you and then teach you everything you need to know. These days, with the equipment being so cheap and available, you're expected to come out of the gate with skills, experience, and even some talent. Oh, did I mention that you have to be really funny, too? What I tell these guys is "go out and beg, steal, or borrow the money for a decent Mac and an MBox. If you want to be sound editor, then find yourself some projects and be a sound editor." Simple. At some point, your golden opportunity will come but probably not if you're sitting around playing XBox. If you can find an internship, that's great but don't rely on anyone else to make your career happen. Just start doing it!
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