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How to get into the Sound for Picture Industry?


tonym
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Skip a few rungs up the laddder...here's how:

Have an endearing foreign accent

Have a cool name, like Bernardo Six Costa

The first letter of your last name should be A thru M, as many hiring lists are alphabetical

Act youthful and be good-looking

Any behavior that makes one popular in high school, generally works well in the entertainment industry.

 

You forgot the old man hipster hat.

post-159-0-31555900-1363468953_thumb.jpg

All the cool kids are wearing one.

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Skip a few rungs up the laddder...here's how:

Have an endearing foreign accent

Have a cool name, like Bernardo Six Costa

The first letter of your last name should be A thru M, as many hiring lists are alphabetical

Act youthful and be good-looking

Any behavior that makes one popular in high school, generally works well in the entertainment industry.

 

Hmmm...

 

No accent, no cool name, last name S, too lazy to act youthful, not popular in high school...

 

It's a good thing I'm seriously good-looking!  But if I had more of the above, I'd have more work than I know what to do with!

 

I'll try the hipster hat.

 

Robert

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wow! This conversation is flying all over the place but I'm definitely feeling the passion, the humour, and the insight that you all have. 

 

I've already begun buying the appropriate gear. I've already done my research on that. 

 

So getting back to actually getting that first gig. Basically, the only thing I've seen so far in this discussion is to go to the rental houses in NYC such as Gotham and Pro Sound. I've already begun to do this. I could be wrong, but so far I don't think it's the best place to go to network. When I go there, it's to give my money to them in exchange for gear. 

 

Where else can I go? How do I find the producers that book sound recordists?

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I firmly believe that you shouldn't be buying much gear until after you get a few jobs under your belt.  It is a very large investment and since you don't have many contacts now, how do you know what type of jobs you will be picking up?  A small 2 or 3 channel ENG rig is a good place to start.  Maybe a few months down the line you'll be traveling for a reality TV shoot where you'll need a 552, boom, and 4 lectros, or maybe you'll do a series of indie films and will need a small cart with mixer and ISO capable recorder.  You might end up as a utility on a larger show and don't actually need to buy a whole lot of gear, which would be great since you can save your money and get a paid opportunity to observe another mixer work.

 

You mostly meet producers on the job and get word of mouth referrals from others that have worked with you.  This is definitely an industry where relationships and reputations take you far.  It is not like filling a seat from a job on the classifieds or anything at all that resembles "applying for a job" type of situation.

 

My very first gigs in NYC were from friends who were in film school and needed someone to do sound.  I "graduated" to Craigslist jobs, and eventually settled into a nice little niche in the indie / film school world, where I was enjoying myself and not necessarily having to support myself solely on my mixing gigs.  My ability to move up the chain and become what I would consider a "professional level" mixer and not just a hobbyist, was when I decided to reach out to other local mixers, gradually gain their trust, and start working in the context of a community - getting passed jobs when others were booked, day-playing for mixers that needed a day or two covered here or there, and simply networking with local filmmakers the old fashioned way, through hard work.  Gradually gaining experience over time, I slowly became a peer and pass jobs off now as much as I get them from others.

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All joking aside, Tom is right.

There have been MANY threads on this subject before. They all say the same thing. Buying gear before you have a job or connections or experience is money poorly spent.

Production sound is less about gear than anything else. If you don't learn how it's done or spend any time on set seeing how the business works, you can spin your wheels for years doing low-budget stuff and wondering why you are unable to move up.

You can't go straight to the producers looking for work. It just doesn't work that way.

Go to the sound shops. Try to get intros to some sound mixers. Visit sets. Maybe try to get some PA work to learn a few things. Then try to get some boom work for another mixer, free if need be, on some short or low-budget job that won't pay for one. You're getting what you're worth. Nothing. But you are helping out another mixer, and getting some experience. Establishing relationships is the key to success. Start there.

Jumping in buying gear, without experience, and asking a bunch of mixers where to get work they are struggling to get themselves is naive.

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It takes a fair amount of hunger to succed as a sound mixer. Money for me only came after some years and it is only because i had a side job as a nightclub dj that i made it.

Gear is for your own level of confort and security for delivering good sound. It s rarely based on producer's requirements. I m sure i could still do my job with my older gear but being on top of things materially speaking is something you do after securing some work under your belt first.

As other's mentionned establishing a network of sound mixers will help you down your path. For me it came in a form of a sound menthor that i m really thankfull for his help looking back. Now i swing work his way any time i can.

This job is full of adventures and special life experiences but it took some time to make it a living. I m glad i took this road in my twenties before the wife, the baby and the house. I could not start at the bottom at my current point of life.

I m not saying that you should not do it, i m saying that there are a lot of sacrifices before the fruits.

Good luck!

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  • 2 weeks later...

19 years ago when I started you had to work for free to make contacts and get experience.  That's just so you could get paying low budget non-union gigs, so you could get days in the sound dept. documented by pay stubs to get into the union.  So basically you needed, like was mentioned, some cash to live off of for a while and a free place to stay.  For a while.

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" I could be wrong, but so far I don't think it's the best place to go to network. "

and many of us can't imagine a better place...

you know, in another thread I was (again) accused of sounding like a broken record, and I noted that the inquiries seem to me to be the broken records  (new folks don't look around the site much, I guess)...

this whole thread is a broken record!

and that includes the OP telling us our advice isn't right.

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Bottom line: there is no easy way, there is no hard way, there are no universal shortcuts. 

 

Most of us on this board have managed to find a niche and make a living doing sound for film/tv. Some have made pretty good livings, contributed to the art, and can look at a successful and respected career.

 

But we've all done it slightly differently. You wont find a stable intern>trainee>staff>manager path, the way you would in some large corporation (and possibly could in the Hollywood studio-factory system years ago). So barring that, you'll have to invent your own path.

 

Whether you want to take any tips from people who have made the journey, is completely up to you.

IMHO, whether you want to inform us that what worked for us isn't correct should be a no-brainer.

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Search around for production houses on line that you can get to. Ask to speak to the PM about moving forward. Cold call. Read a lot on line. If they don't know you they won't hire you.

Buy the basic over the shoulder kit. Won't cost that much if u search right and research. My theory is if you at least buy that thing they will come. In the midst do some freebies to get your chops. Above all else try to learn the art of booming. It's hugely important especially in ENG land. Skinny up w some camera guys. If anything else the more camera people know you and like you, the more you may work.

We ar in the communication business. Understand what a first ad does and know WHEN to speak up. That in itself is a learned concept.

A good friend of mine said: "being a sound man is like a license to print money!" Of course he meant that when I was busy.

Ha not sure about that but after a few years of sucking the hiney it'll start paying for the sacrifice.

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