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Job Opportunities & Student Success Stories Job Opportunities & Student Success Stories Issue #80 Author Credits: Liya Swift & Jeff McQ

BRIAN KRAFT, C.O.O. and Chief Academic Officer of RRFC, can HELP YOU LAND A JOB

  Here are just a few of the latest jobs & opportunities for RRFC students & graduates this week:     


  Click here to see full details on the jobs currently available. Visit the official RRFC Job Board for more opportunities, and check the RRFC Blog for news & updates!   Contact Student Services for more information on logging in.  
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When RRFC gets you learning on the job, you can form relationships with major pros that can come back to help your career! Read below about a man who made a mid-life decision to study audio engineering and ended up forming a lasting friendship with his Grammy-winning mentor who’s helping him build his own studio!

Student Successes

Career shift: Recording Connection grad Chris Litwin launches his own studio

Mentor Edwin Ramos and Chris Litwin

Mentor Edwin Ramos and Chris Litwin

Chris Litwin of Meriden, Connecticut wasn’t the first person you’d think of to start a career in audio engineering. In his forties, with a great day job as a highway supervisor and senior mechanic, he had already built a life for himself. He was established, comfortable. But as a lifelong musician, Chris had a dream and he decided to pursue it. Little could he have imagined at the time that it would result in a fruitful apprenticeship and solid friendship with a Grammy-winning producer, let alone having said producer help him in the building of his own recording studio. Chris says he first made the decision to pursue audio engineering while recording an album with a band he played in back in 2003. He recalls the studio experience was eye-opening. “I was recording at Carriage House in Stanford,” he says. “I was just blown away on how music is created, how it was processed. And I wanted to be that guy, and having that album…that’s what got me hooked on it.”   Chris bought some gear and started trying to learn on his own. “I started doing some recordings here and there,” he says. “They weren’t the best, because I didn’t really know what I was doing.” When Chris made the choice to get some training, however, his early attempts at scoping out schools was a little disheartening, especially juggling his job. “I was gonna go to IAR in New York City,” says Chris, “but it was too far and there was no way I could do it.”   Then he discovered that the Recording Connection not only could train him in a real recording studio, but also had mentors in several recording studios near where he lived, making it much easier for him to attend. He enrolled in the program and was placed at ER Music in Waterbury, CT to be mentored by Edwin Ramos, a Grammy-winning producer who had worked with clients such as Dr. Dre, Calvin Richardson, Kirk Franklin and Mary J. Blige. Chris recalls being “blown away” by Edwin’s abilities.   “The guy’s an absolute genius,” he says. “It just blew me away some of the recordings that he has in that studio, and how he makes it sound. It’s unbelievable.”   Of course, Chris’ first days in the studio were primarily about un-learning some of the things he’d been doing wrong on his own— mistakes he’d been making with mic placement and signal processing, for example. “I was compressing everything,” says Chris. “We were laughing one day. [Edwin] was like, ‘Bro, it sounds like you’re trying to fit a 747 through a dime hole!'”   Another thing Edwin taught him, Chris says, is that it’s not always about the gear. “You don’t really need a lot of crazy, expensive equipment,” he says. “He was telling me about how he did Mary [J. Blige’s] thing with a piece of sh*t Behringer board. He said, ‘Chris, I put so much into that thing to make it sound the way that it did.’ He was telling me about how he [worked] for 8 to 12 hours on this one little section of the vocals. And you know what? She won a Grammy with that.”  
Chris Litwin's Hat City Music Productions

Chris Litwin’s Hat City Music Productions

It turns out that Chris and Edwin formed a bond that has lasted well past the program. Now graduated from the basic course, Chris has been setting up his own recording studio in Danbury, CT, which he’s named Hat City Music Productions after the town’s history. “Danbury was one of the homes of the largest hat factories in the world. Stetson hats were made there,” he says. And guess who is helping Chris build out the studio? Grammy-winning producer Edwin Ramos, of course! “When I go with the board, what board I’m gonna go with, he’s gonna come over and he’s gonna help me set it up, which is awesome!” says Chris.   And Chris says he’s not done learning, either: he has plans to continue with the Recording Connection master’s program, possibly with mentor Dan Millice at The Engine Room in New York City. “I look to continue to heighten my education of the recording business end of it,” says Chris, “to go back to do the master’s program and learn the mastering end of it.”   Meanwhile, as Chris is already starting to get clients in his own studio, he remains close with Edwin and is grateful for the experience of apprenticing with him. “He’s a great guy with a great personality,” he says. “His knowledge base is awesome. I learned quite a bit from him. And lacking that knowledge starting out so many years ago, Edwin has given that knowledge to me, and I’m very fortunate to have worked with him…I would recommend anybody going to him.”   Talking with Edwin, it’s apparent the friendship is mutual. “Chris is very motivated, very focused,” says Edwin. “One of my best students. [He’s] recently graduated and just recently launched his own recording studio and is doing very well… I told him, ‘You’ve got to get out there, [like] you’re running for mayor, and just let people know who you are, what you are doing, and that you can help them.’ And he took my advice, and he’s got some pretty cool clients right now…He deserves everything that he’s got and everything that’s coming for him.”   Not satisfied with just a paycheck, Chris decided to put the effort into pursuing his dream. Today, with his new career just getting started, Chris definitely has a lot to be proud of—but what he feels most is gratitude. “I love it,” he says. “I sit in my studio and I go, ‘I’m thankful for what I have.’ I’ve worked very hard for what I have, and I’m very thankful.”  
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  #80 – Apprentices in Action

Here’s what some RRFC Apprentices
have been up to!

Michelina Friss

Michelina Friss

Film Connection apprentice and aspiring documentary filmmaker Michelina Friss (Lancaster, Pennsylvania) learned a lot on her first day on set! “It was a very simple shoot,” she says, “but was the perfect type of shoot for me to shadow someone for the first time…The lighting and the working of cameras/equipment is definitely the biggest area that I feel the most intimidated by…It was incredibly helpful to be exposed to that part of the process.”    Film Connection apprentice Reid Harris joined his mentor Zac Adams of Skydive Films on a trip out to Los Angeles to work with Chandra Wilson (from Grey’s Anatomy). From there, they were off to record narration with Billy Bob Thornton for Adam’s upcoming documentary Iron Will!      
Ethan Peck & Band "ness"

Ethan Peck & Band “ness”

Recording Connection apprentice Ethan Peck (Roslyn Heights, NY) is one half of the duo named “ness.” They’ve performed at The Bowery Electric, Pianos NYC, Webster Hall, Rockwood Music Hall and most recently at Levontin 7 in Tel Aviv, Israel. The turnout for the show was terrific. Now, Ethan’s working on an EP for the group!   


Watch us on Larry King here:
Issue #80


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  #80 – Tips & Tricks

Tips & Tricks #2 – Firm Empathy in Mentorship
by Brian Kraft, RRF Chief Academic Officer/COO
Why Communication is Vital

    As mentors we are being called to give back to those who come next, to those that are coming up behind us, the next generation of music creators, producers, filmmakers, broadcasters, writers, musicians and perhaps most importantly—the next generation of humans. We are their teachers, their role models, their guides. They count on us to give them pertinent, relevant information about our art, our careers, and yes, about what it means to be a man or woman in a beautiful world in a bunch of turmoil.   But what are we to do when our apprentices don’t show up for their session, blow us off, or flake? What are we supposed to do when one of our or more than one of our students don’t hold up their end of the bargain, and fail to show up, or show up unprepared or recalcitrant?   My answer is this: breathe and remember.   That is breathe in and remember that we too have failed at times. Maybe we’ve failed to show up, have come in unprepared, or not prepared at all. Maybe we’ve had times when we’ve been distracted, haven’t been up to speed, or have been consumed by a personal problem.   Doubt, lack of confidence, being distracted, or undergoing a crisis of some sort, all of these can leave us fragmented and off-kilter as human beings. The advent of pain is also an opportunity for the mentor to guide their apprentice with a firm but empathic knowingness. Pain, discomfort and setbacks are all inevitable for all of us. How to persevere in times of trouble is one of the most powerful lessons you can teach, one that can profoundly change someone’s life forever.  
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  #80 – Welcome to the Family! – Conway Recording Studios
Conway Recording Studios

Conway Recording Studios

We’re happy to announce Conway Recording Studios in Hollywood, CA have come on as mentors for our program. Artists who’ve recorded at this legendary recording studio and post production facility include:   Alicia Keys, Ariana Grande, Beck, Better Than Ezra, The Black Eyed Peas, Britney Spears, Cee Lo Green, Christina Aguilera, Green Day, Foo Fighters, Katy Perry, k.d. lang, Korn, John Legend, Justin Timberlake, Jurassic 5, Lady Gaga, Lil Wayne, Macy Gray, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Nicki Minaj, Pharrell (as Producer), Prince, The Roots, Shakira, Snoop Dogg, Solange, Taylor Swift, U2, Usher, Weezer and a whole lot more!   We can’t wait to get our students learning the ropes inside Conway Recording!   
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  #80 – Mentor News
RRFC Interview: Film Connection mentor Matt Martyn
on adapting to market trends and how NOT to do
things the way he did
  Hailing from Lansing, Michigan, Film Connection mentor Matt Martyn owns Ahptic Film & Digital, a full-service film production company whose reputation for quality has enabled him to work with such notable clients as Nelly Furtado and Miley Cyrus, major networks like CNBC and MTV, and a slew of notable corporate clients (view his company reel here). It didn’t start out that way, though: Matt openly admits that in the early days his lack of professional training caused him to learn more from his mistakes than his successes (which enables him to steer his apprentices away from those mistakes!). Despite his impressive resume, Matt tends to downplay the notoriety of his clients, choosing to focus more on the quality of the work itself. In a recent interview with RRFC, Matt talked with us a bit about those early beginnings, how his company’s approach has enabled them to change with the times, how he deals with clients, and how he involves his apprentices in the process.  
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Avid Finishing Suite - Ahptic Film & Digital

Avid Finishing Suite – Ahptic Film & Digital

RRFC: Matt, how did you get into this business?   Matt Martyn: Well, I never knew what I wanted to do my entire academic career. All through high school and college, I had no direction or focus whatsoever. And then my fifth year of college, my victory lap, so to speak, I got the idea to make a movie. So I basically wrote a script, learned how to use the equipment—because that was unrelated to my major, I needed to basically start from scratch. So yeah, I learned how to use the equipment and it took me two years, but I made a feature length movie with public access equipment. So I kind of learned by doing.   RRFC: It’s sort of a tall order, though. It’s not like you started off with a short movie, you went for a full feature, huh?   Matt: Right, which many would advise against it and I would discourage. There were plenty of reasons to not do it the way that I did, and there were lots of elements of the feature that suffered because of it…Even though I took it very seriously, it really was more of a student film and there were major compromises with acting, the actors, and production quality given the scale of that. [But] that’s one way to learn, you know?   RRFC: Do you think the lack of knowing essentially “the rules” allowed you to do things in like a guerilla sort of way, without anyone saying you can’t do it that way?   Matt: It’s nice to just go out and do it and not wonder or wait for years as to the ideal approach. At the same time, the flipside of that is that you are doing something that was a compromise. The setting wasn’t right or things weren’t in place, but you filmed it anyway, and you go back and look and you know what that scene could have been. So there’s two sides of it.  
Shot from Ahptic Film & Digital reel 2015

Shot from Ahptic Film & Digital reel 2015

RRFC: What is filmmaking like in Michigan? What kind of clients do you end up taking on?   Matt: Well, we service clients all over the Midwest. We have clients now in all the states, other surrounding states. But Michigan, it really caused us to be diverse with our clients. Back when we were starting in the 90’s people were encouraging us to be very specialized, to basically do one thing and hone in on that. But we chose to do the other route, which is not only to do one specific commercial, but to do all kinds of different commercials across the spectrum. And then in addition to that, things like music videos, television shows, feature films, and any moving visuals.   RRFC: Does that allow you to kind of pivot back and forth in and out of different marketing trends, whatever is popular at the time?   Matt: Yeah, and one example would be, just generally, the 30-second commercial isn’t as strong as much of a force as it used to be, let’s say 20 years ago. But really, that’s been a seamless transition for us. It’s a detail as to whether something is going to go to broadcast or if it’s going to go, let’s say as an introductory video to be played on their website, or on a Jumbotron, or whatever it might be. Those really are details for us, so it’s good to be able to wear those different hats.   RRFC: Now that a lot of shows are becoming Internet only, has that changed the way that you make commercials for certain videos or internet series, things like that?   Matt: It does. It changes our approach. As a whole, it’s not too much of a different animal. But yeah, of course, it’s nice not being confined to that 30-second world.   RRFC: The more you do stuff for clients, is it easier to sort of let things go from like an artistic vision when you know it’s for a client? When is it time to sort of say, “Okay, it’s not what I would do, but this is what the client wants.”?  
Shot from Ahptic Film & Digital reel 2015

Shot from Ahptic Film & Digital reel 2015

Matt: It’s important to give the client the respect of knowing what they want, [but] letting them know what your opinion is and speaking your piece. And then basically the decision is theirs to make from there. Yeah, there’s times where a client, if you feel like they’re making something to the detriment of the project, it’s obviously important to convey that. And if it’s really a big mistake, we’ll make sure that that message gets through. But ultimately, yeah, it’s their decision and they have their own vision and so that ultimately is the final word. The more that we do this, the more that we find the middle ground and the balance between our relationship with the clients.   RRFC: Whenever you come up with material for marketing purposes for a particular company, does it ever inspire you to go about marketing yourselves? Kind of bring in new accounts?   Matt: Yeah, we take all of those, all those different projects through the years and when we’re building our reel they all become building blocks for that, which is always evolving…Anytime we get a new exciting client, like when we first did the Nelly Furtado video or Miley Cyrus, it’s always great to be able to follow up with people and let them know what exciting things our company’s been up to since talking last.   RRFC: When you get to work with these big artists, do you get to enjoy it in the moment? Or are you already thinking like, two or five steps down the road, like the next production? Do you ever stop and smell the roses?   Matt: Yeah, a little bit. It adds to the excitement of it. It’s so overwhelming on so many levels that there is a degree of putting out fires at the time and getting things done and making sure that everything is the best it could possibly be. But I think it’s a general excitement and the energy ultimately is going into, just, it’s kind of a whirlwind of emotions and experience that goes into making that the best it could be. And it’s always in the interest of making the best product. And that’s part of the excitement, is making it the best it can be.   RRFC: Do you ever get to have your apprentices on some of these music video shoots and things like that?   Matt: Yeah, we like to have involved apprentices as much as possible…Any chance just to see how a professional set works is an exciting thing. We leave that door open for any of our protégés or people that are involved with the program.   RRFC: What do you like about the aspect of the mentor and apprentice relationship?   Matt: I think that being able to navigate and talk with us personally and get feedback directly is really an intangible strength. And I think for some of these apprentices that don’t know exactly what direction within the industry that they want to go, that that can be invaluable. To have that feedback and to help find what really appeals to them, what really interests them, and to be able to potentially wear those different hats or at least get very close to the people doing those jobs on set or in post.   
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Want to Improve your Performanceship?

Get Onstage Success!
Tom Jackson

Tom Jackson

Live music producer Tom Jackson has worked with artists including Sean Mendes, Taylor Swift, LeCrae, Magic!, The Tenors, Gloriana, Francesca Battistelli and hundreds more to transform their performances. Crafting a compelling show is all about learning the language and connecting with the audience in a way they’ll understand. Tom teaches these skills to artists of every level, style, and genre.    “Tom makes a major impact… he is a true creative partner who helps realize the artist’s full performance potential.”Matt Serletic, Producer Santana, Celine Dion, Aerosmith, Matchbox Twenty, Rob Thomas   “Tom Jackson is a jaw-droppingly outstanding live music producer. A true master, and I don’t mean that lightly! I’m recommending him to every serious performing artist I know.”Derek Sivers, Founder CD Baby and HostBaby  

Come to Nashville! Tom Jackson’s 2-Day Live Performance Bootcamp takes place on
Friday-Saturday, September 25-26th, 2015.

  Included are two full days of fun and enlightening instruction and a chance to play for music industry pros at the evening Showcase!   We’re happy to offer this intensive 2-Day Live Performance Bootcamp for only $299. Seating is limited so act quickly!   **Hotel arrangements, lodging, food and travel are not included.  

Follow the link here, then click on the “workshops” tab and scroll down to “Tom Jackson Bootcamp.”

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CASA Schools can get you learning one-on-one
from an award-winning chef in a real restaurant!

CASA Schools
  Troy Artis“When I heard about CASA Schools’s approach to culinary education I was blown away. I just wished that this sort of thing was available before I spent $50,000 for culinary school! They promised me a management position as soon as I graduated. I found out that that was a lie. On-the-job experience is the only way to go. The use of the culinary techniques and cooking methods day in and day out, from one scenario to the next is the best way to learn. Doing one recipe a day and paying over $200 a day is bull…”   Troy Artis , Owner/ Operator of Chef Troy Personal Chef and Catering Services, Los Angeles, CA   
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Check out this work by RRFC apprentices!

Apprentice Media



Quotes from Students: