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Hello All, Matthew Wilson here. Many of you knew me as the former beard of Pro-Sound in NYC, to those I keep in touch with I hope you're mixing well and to those I've fallen out of touch with let me hear from you! To catch you up, I run a production venue in Manhattan mostly these days and when I'm not day playing as a utility or doing field repairs on carts, I settle in for the winter at Montclair State University trying to impart any knowledge I can into the future ears of our legacy. I've decided in addition to my ramblings I'd like to share with my students the things you want them to know and how they can enter the field after school putting their best ear forward and not making a mess of it for the rest of us. Pictures, clips and stories tend to work the best. Most of my students are at the point of discovering if what we do can really be a career so don't be shy to share the low points along with the high. Things we cover already, but are welcome to go into more are proper job bidding, including fair pay for labor and gear, knowing what gear they're ready to work with and how to build their network to move up. I'm not sending my students out with 2nd mortgage carts looking for features, but they do get excited at the shiny things like all of us do. What do you want them to know coming into the field behind you and what can I do to best prepare them to carry on and hold the line? Hope to see you all at AES this fall!
What are You….Really??? Aaron “Cujo” Cooley Let us not beat around the bush. Things are tough right now. The marketplace is flooded, the jobs are far-flung, under-budgeted, under-funded, scarce, or just plain being run by fools. Add to that the fact that recording technology has advanced by light years in the recent past and it seems that the whole universe is conspiring against you and your efforts to make a living. Equally true though is the fact that there are many in the business that are doing just fine, with plenty of work for the foreseeable future. A fine lesson would be to learn what it is exactly that differentiates one group from another. A common complaint is that wages for a mixer are in the basement. Examples are the countless ads for a “sound guy” for as little as $100.00 per day with all the gear. It might read like this : “Sound mixer needed for a fantastic feature crewing up now. Be a part of a fabulous creative team working in a fast paced environment with all hands on deck. The budget is tight, but we have a fantastic DP and will be releasing this project on the festival circuit. The budget is tight, but we include credits and food with your deal. Pay $100.00 per day with equipment.” It’s a valid complaint, but not a valid excuse. I have no pity for those who take these jobs when they complain what a crappy gig it turned out to be. No professional worth his salt would take a gig like that. Many ask - “How do I compete with that? ”—This my friend, is the wrong question. The real question is: What ARE you? – Depending on what you are is important to the response for this job. Are you a mixer, a recordist, or just a button monkey ? – Depending on the job, you have to choose one. Mixers get paid big bucks, recordists get paid medium bucks, and button monkeys eat tuna subs. Whichever one you pick is fine, and it’s ok to be any or all of these at different times or different days, but understand the parameters of the chair you are sitting in. To be intellectually honest, the ad above is not looking for a mixer, a recordist, or even a sound guy. They are looking for a button monkey to hit record when the camera turns on and hopefully not fall asleep between takes. Sounding good is purely by accident. I would suspect that anyone reading this lesson is past that level of qualification, but you never know. If you are working with a 2 channel recorder, a basic lav, and a boom, yes I guess technically you can mix the two, but really you are equipped and working as a recordist and your pay will reflect that. Depending on your ability, you might even be a button monkey and get paid even less. Fact is, the job that hires for this type of gig doesn’t want a mixer, they just probably don’t know what to call it. You have to decide for yourself if that is what you will be that day and be savvy enough to recognize the difference in pricing for that particular product package. Conversely, there are guys who have a wad of Daddy’s money and gear who claim to be mixers. Life isn’t fair all the time. Deal with it. They might get work that you are qualified to do and they might get paid well for a time, but soon their skills (or lack thereof) will move them on down the line to relative obscurity leaving a hole for the upwardly mobile to move into. Will you be ready ? It is important that you recognize that zero or near zero jobs will never go away. They are as constant as the sun rising and setting. There will ALWAYS be people to fill these jobs. The ONLY thing that changes is who these people are. The reality is this. YOU need to examine YOUR business model and move on the work that is in YOUR realm of expertise and equipment. Know what you are worth, and take the work that applies to you. Chances are that you are not one of the select few that will get a 100 million dollar gig…Chances are equally strong that you don’t need a 100 dollar gig either. Keys from this lesson: Be intellectually honest with yourself Zero or near zero jobs will never go away What is the job --- Really. What are you --- Really. Take the work that is YOURS and don’t worry about the rest. Cheers and happy mixing my friends ! Cujo
Just back from judging the largest ever group of applicants for ATAS's real, highly respected, paid internship program in SOUND, one of the 41 internships to be awarded for this summer. There were 1381 applications for the 41 internships. Overall applications were also up this year, and making the selections was made difficult by numerous candidates showing strong interest and qualifications for being involved with "movie-television sound" for their careers.. I was pleased to note 3 of our jwsoundgroup family provided letters of recommendation for SOUND applicants, and these were given particular weight by the 8 of us reviewing the application packages; at least two of them moved on to the final step. We narrowed the field down to 4-5 finalists who will submit video interviews to the host (postproduction) sound company for the final selection.