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Old May 27th, 2012, 12:51 AM   #1
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for all of the professionals

I'm getting out of high school and is still deciding what path I can take to follow my dream. I could just go straight for a degree in tv and work as a freelancer, or I could get a degree in nursing for a stable job and still do videography for a hobby/weekend warrior. For all of you video professional out there, can you describe in detail your journey from high school and how you get to working in video.
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Old May 27th, 2012, 02:21 AM   #2
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Re: for all of the professionals

I'd have to say the first thing to remember is to never stop learning. I've been a video tech in different parts of the industry since '82 and I've never seen such a breakneck pace for the development and introduction of new tech as I've seen over the past five years...and it's been an awesome ride. With the exception of a Barco certification course (as a projectionist operator and tech for their venue projectors), I'm completely self-educated...but because I've kept up on the newest toys and software I've been a lead camera tech, technical director and operator for artists such as Chris Brown, Al Stewart, Bow Wow, Pink, and Diana Ross (a two month tour with Chris Brown paid for my Sony EX1 and a lot of extras and let me take the next six months off to shoot my own projects).

My point is that it's definitely possible to learn, earn, stay relevant and work on side projects, all at the same time,,,but you have to be someone that people WANT to hire and that'll only happen as a result of what you know. Always ask questions. Read the blogs, stay up to date and create a body of work that says "Hey, if I'm willing to do this stuff on my own time and my own dime, imagine what I'll do when I'm on your payroll." If you have the option of continuing your formal education, do it; the piece of paper at the end of four years always helps. If that's beyond your means, put what you can afford into some gear and squeeze every last frame out of it and show the world what you can do. Don't give up. :)

I think this is an excellent question and I'm sure other folks will have equally interesting stories and suggestions. This should be a fun thread!
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Old May 27th, 2012, 11:07 AM   #3
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Re: for all of the professionals

Well, as someone who's married to a nurse, I can tell you her hours are great and because she works nights the pay is extremely good. Three 12 hour shifts is her work week. That said, the stress of her job is literally life and death. Takes a certain type of individual to deal with that.

I am a musician and have a degree (music performance/production) I have always worked in the "media" industry. I started as a recording engineer and got into audio production which led to post work and eventually video. While I love my "job", the hours when I started down my path sucked (12-20 hour days 6-7 days a week) the pay sucked, the stress came from deadlines and dealing with "artists". 23 years later, the hours and pay are much better BUT if my calendar isn't full, I can't guarantee paying bills. Clients want stuff yesterday. I have to deal with all aspects of running a business as well.
When I worked for other companies as an employee it was a little easier as there was a buffer between me and the client. And the paycheck was regular.

A small aside to reinforce Scott's thoughts on never stop learning. I was well into my audio career when i started shooting video for fun. This of course led to learning to edit. After a month of iMovie I got really frustrated (hanging around guys on Avid and online edit systems) as I couldn't do the things I was envisioning. I bought FCP and a couple of days later had done my very first "edit". So just for grins I added video editor to my resume and put it on Monster.com. A week later I got a call from a head hunter who put me in touch with a local startup looking for editors. I met with the CEO and took home a hard drive of files to do an audition for the interview process. I went home, read the entire manual (back when they printed out the whole thing) and plucked away making the edit look as good as I knew how. It took two full days. I got the job along with two other editors and was congratulated on being selected from literally hundreds of applicants. If you're keeping track, I had a little over two weeks of FCP editing experience!! I've been away from that company for several years now but still freelance for them. I told the CEO this story just last year and his chin hit the floor. He couldn't believe I applied for and got a "senior editor's" job with virtually no experience. And that I was confident enough to convince him to hire me.
Point I want to make is learn to teach yourself ANYTHING!! That's really what higher education is about. These days with the Internet, the info is there, just have to know where to look and how to absorb it.

Really what your asking is a lifestyle question. Do you want to make good money in a stable career and leave your passion for video to be your hobby. Not a bad way to go. (You'll be able to afford way nicer gear sooner!!)
OR
Do you want to work your arse off doing what you have a passion for and grow into an industry that is rather flooded with "guys with cameras"? Passion being the operative word in the previous sentence.

I taught audio production for 4 years at a college and the first day of class I'd basically put the same info out there to digest. Do you have the "love"? Or do you just enjoy playing around? Neither is wrong or right, good or bad. It's just self assessment.

If you have the "love", go for it and never look back. I can't imagine my life any other way!
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Old May 27th, 2012, 11:30 AM   #4
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Re: for all of the professionals

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Originally Posted by Robert Turchick View Post
Well, as someone who's married to a nurse, I can tell you her hours are great and because she works nights the pay is extremely good. Three 12 hour shifts is her work week. That said, the stress of her job is literally life and death. Takes a certain type of individual to deal with that.

I am a musician and have a degree (music performance/production) I have always worked in the "media" industry. I started as a recording engineer and got into audio production which led to post work and eventually video. While I love my "job", the hours when I started down my path sucked (12-20 hour days 6-7 days a week) the pay sucked, the stress came from deadlines and dealing with "artists". 23 years later, the hours and pay are much better BUT if my calendar isn't full, I can't guarantee paying bills. Clients want stuff yesterday. I have to deal with all aspects of running a business as well.
When I worked for other companies as an employee it was a little easier as there was a buffer between me and the client. And the paycheck was regular.

Really what your asking is a lifestyle question. Do you want to make good money in a stable career and leave your passion for video to be your hobby. Not a bad way to go. (You'll be able to afford way nicer gear sooner!!)
OR
Do you want to work your arse off doing what you have a passion for and grow into an industry that is rather flooded with "guys with cameras"? Passion being the operative word in the previous sentence.

I taught audio production for 4 years at a college and the first day of class I'd basically put the same info out there to digest. Do you have the "love"? Or do you just enjoy playing around? Neither is wrong or right, good or bad. It's just self assessment.

If you have the "love", go for it and never look back. I can't imagine my life any other way!
I really do have a passion for it and I don't think I can live if I can't do something video. But I think I will go for a career in nursing. You say the hours are good right? so I'll still have time to keep up with videography? then maybe after working for 10 years I'll have enough money to be able to work as a freelancer.
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Old June 7th, 2012, 10:07 AM   #5
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Re: for all of the professionals

The best advice I could offer you would be that 'Film' schools are only as good as the networking and connections they open you up to - the technical stuff you can learn from books and simply shooting.

Personally, I feel the three years I spent on my Bachelors were completely wasted - I would have done far better to spend that time relentlessly pursuing work experience - but live and learn, I'd suggest to anyone interested in this industry to avoid making the same mistake that I did.
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Old June 7th, 2012, 06:23 PM   #6
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Re: for all of the professionals

just wondering. If you do freelance videography, what happen when you get old? you probably can't learn as fast as these young uns. How are you suppose to retire?
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Old June 7th, 2012, 09:00 PM   #7
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Re: for all of the professionals

The same thing that happens when you get old in any profession! Retirement (paid from a company) will become more and more scarce as time goes forward. Learning and creating your own income is a skill that prepares you for any stage of your life. I think it is a better position than leaving your fate to others.

Much like Robert, I was a professional musician for 20 years before turning towards the visual side of things. But the arts in many respects are all the same in my eyes.

I have been a freelancer/business owner for most all of my working life. I don't feel comfortable any other way. This is not to say you would be comfortable. That decision is up to your heart and desires.

I have a music degree from the University of North Texas and I learned a lot about the music craft during this time of study. I would not trade that time in my life. So if a formal education in the visual arts is anything like my music degree, I would say go learn the craft in a sheltered environment. But, only if the school is very well known and filled with industry experts!

The internet can be your school as well if you apply yourself. Places like DVInfo give you a chance to learn at an accelerated pace by eliminating a lot of mistakes you might make.

Nobody will say freelancing or owning a business is easy, but I would say for me, it is easier than working in a cubicle!

Good luck and follow your dreams because in the end that is all that matters.
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Old June 7th, 2012, 10:05 PM   #8
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Re: for all of the professionals

Sorry to veer off topic...Tim, what years were you at UNT? I visited "North Texas State" in 1987 as part of my college decision process. One part of the tour got to see the 1pm Lab band play with Tito Puente at a regular rehearsal. I ended up going to Northwestern State in Louisiana which had a slightly less intense but still great music program. Got to play with Ray Charles, Doc Sevrinsen, Dolly Parton, and a few other artists. Where I'm actually going with this story is I was at NSU when the movie Steel Magnolias was filmed. (that's what Ms. Parton was in town for) Many of my friends were extras and the scene i was an extra in was cut from the final movie. It was my first experience with the "film making world" and is one event that sparked my curiosity and desire to learn everything I could about the process. It took just shy of 20 years in the music and audio world for me to make the switch to all things visual!
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Old June 7th, 2012, 10:17 PM   #9
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Re: for all of the professionals

Hey Robert,

1989-1993. I played in the two O' Clock band my senior year, upright & electric bass.
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Old June 7th, 2012, 10:25 PM   #10
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Re: for all of the professionals

So you were there just after I left NSU. I was there from 87-89 then moved to NY.
I bet we know a few of the same musicians though! I was a trumpet and piano major. When I moved, I switched to music production. FUN!
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Old June 8th, 2012, 09:29 AM   #11
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Re: for all of the professionals

Cool. This is one of the benefits of going to a well known college program. I have met people all over the world that have a connection to North Texas. Really helped in the music field and I am sure it is the same way for visual arts.
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Old November 30th, 2012, 12:07 AM   #12
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Re: for all of the professionals

Well here's an update for those who care. I'm changing my degree from Nursing to communication... am I crazy?
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Old November 30th, 2012, 07:49 AM   #13
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Re: for all of the professionals

Hi Victor

If a communications degree is something that will get you a nice job where the qualification is part of the requirements then go for it. We have stacks of media degrees here as well as film schools and they tend to do an awful amount of theory more than anything else...With sites like DVInfo you can almost say that you have a huge resource of very highly qualified professionals ready to help for free so for video work I don't really think you need to do a degree if you want to be, say, a wedding videographer.

Communications is a HUGE field ...what would your target job likely to be and is there lots of opportunities ???? Nurses and always in demand but it is a tough job!! My wife was an aged care nurse and it crippled her lifting and turning dead-weight people all day... a huge strain on back and joints.

Communications sounds a lot easier and a lot less physical.

Chris
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Old November 30th, 2012, 11:43 AM   #14
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Re: for all of the professionals

My wife has been a nurse for almost 44 years. for many of those years she was a supervisor or a director of Nursing and not directly involved in doing the hands on care. For about 15 years she has been involved in the insurance industry as a UR nurse as well as a supervisor in that field. Based on what I've seen in all of those years (we've been married for all of that time-so I've seen and lived thru it all) nursing, a very noble profession, is not a job it is a calling much like our son who has been a firefighter/paramedic for 13 years.
It is not a "job" you do for the money or the glory, it is something you do because something inside of you tells you it is the thing you MUST do with yourself. It is however a physically demanding, mentally exhausting and emotionally draining "job" depending of course what field of nursing you go into AND where you are working.
You have diverse wants and which way you go is something only you can decide. I will say I know a bunch of people that have degrees in film and or communications (which is a very broad field) that frankly don't know which end of the camera to point out.
I think you need to sit down in a dark room and look at the pros and cons of each and frankly what makes you tick. I could never tell my own kids what to do with their lives, I certainly can't tell you or anyone else what to do. I'll tell you what my own father said to me all those many years ago. It doesn't matter what you do as long as you do it to the best of your ability and try to be the best you can.
I'll step off my soap box now...good luck in your decision.
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Old November 30th, 2012, 12:08 PM   #15
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Re: for all of the professionals

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Well here's an update for those who care. I'm changing my degree from Nursing to communication... am I crazy?
It depends. Are you dead set on eating every day?

The reality is an Arts degree will likely cost more and return you less in salaries than a technical or vocational program will.

You better love it because odds are you'll be paying for it literally and figuratively for a very long time.
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