Film Connection mentor Nelson Ramirez of 1905 Film Studios on the Mentor-Apprentice Approach
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Mentor and co-owner of Las Vegas’s 1905 Film Studios, Nelson Ramirez, knows a thing or two about the differences between learning film at a traditional film school and teaching Film Connection students the inner workings of filmmaking one-on-one.
Doing things the way they’re done in the real world of making movies is just plain different than the way things are taught in school. Some of the professionals who work in film today have attended traditional film schools while many have not. Sure, individuals can choose to attend one of those more expensive film schools and they can spend a lot more money and more time doing so. Nevertheless, once they graduate they’re still going to have to go out into the real world and find out how films are made from within the film industry itself, and they’ll have to build up their professional experience and connections too. Film Connection bypasses all of that with a more effective, simpler approach: getting people trained from within the real world of making films, commercials and television shows right from the start. What Nelson Ramirez considers “the biggest difference” between the hands-on mentor apprenticeship and conventional college and university film programs, is “the fact that” with Film Connection, “you get to work with real-life productions. You get to actually go out there and work with everyday industry people, doing everyday industry things.” Nelson goes onto say, “You can read about it in books, which is all fine and dandy, but you don’t get as much hands-on experience as you do with the Film Connection program.”
But certainly, considering students who attend USC School of Cinematic Arts pay around $42,000 per year (for a two year program) not including room and board, it’s quite natural for people to assume the hefty price tag must include a few perks, like connections or must otherwise carry weight in the industry. In the film program Nelson attended, after working in construction, he found “you pick your classes, you decide what it is you want to take, you decide your workload.” What he experienced is the same thing we’ve all heard other graduates from even the biggest and purportedly “best” film schools say, “Nobody [is] actually guiding you or helping you along the way. You just kind of have to figure it out for yourself.”
Now Nelson Ramirez and business partner and co-studio owner Rick Barcode, are being the change they want to see in the film industry. They’re getting apprentices like editing-major Jessica Ryder involved in the everyday realities of making movies for a living. Jessica had one very notable and exceptional first day at 1905 Film Studios—she got to help out and even appear in a Snoop Dogg music video that 1905 was filming. When we asked Nelson about the shoot, he was pretty nonchalant about the whole thing saying, “It just so happened we had that one client shooting a video at the studio. One thing led to another and they were like, ‘We need one girl’…How do you say no to that?” Well even though Jessica Ryder had no idea the video she got called in to help out on was for Snoop, Rick had sent her a text saying little more than that they could use an extra pair of hands for a rap video, Jessica came on-set with gloves, ready to work, making her first day as an apprentice something she’ll always remember.
Since then, Nelson has made Jessica part of the team. She’s editing a number of promotional videos for clients and is gearing up to help edit footage for a feature film. Nelson considers mentorship a great privilege that makes his career as a filmmaker all the more rewarding. “We like to teach, and share our experiences, and the stuff that we’ve learned. Just the fact that we are able to bring in people who are willing to learn, made it that much better for us.”