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When Jimi and Brian get you learning on the job, you’re in prime position to form a career for yourself while learning the ropes. Read below about a Film Connection apprentice who took the opportunity to work himself into a full-time gig with his mentor’s production company, even while launching his own company!
Film Connection student Michael Jessop contracts full-time with his mentor!
From the time Film Connection student Michael Jessop was in 7th grade, he says he had a serious interest in media in general, and video editing in particular.
“It was my dad who first introduced me to the Sony Vegas editing platform,” he says, “and I’ve just been addicted to it ever since then.”
After graduating high school in his hometown of Colorado Springs, CO, Michael decided to pursue an associate’s degree at Pike’s Peak Community College, where he studied not just video editing, but other forms of media like audio, film production and photography through the school’s radio and television department. But even with all that exposure to media training, Michael still felt something was lacking.
Ryan Lancaster and Michael Jessop at Castland Productions
“Through the traditional system,” he says, “the problem was that all of the businesses were looking for work experience—I mean, about two to four years of production experience. And you really couldn’t get that through a normal college system like what I went through…So I heard about Film Connection and I decided to go ahead and try it out. And it was a nice, steady flow in terms of the curriculum, and then being able to get right into the workforce. Within a week of contacting Film Connection…I was amazed at how quickly I was able to get into an apprenticeship with a local company.”
The “local company” was Castland Productions in Colorado Springs, where Michael apprenticed with Film Connection mentor John Lancaster. Because of his previous experience and education, he picked things up fairly quickly, and from the beginning, Michael was open with his mentor about his desire to use his apprenticeship as a gateway to a job.
“It’s been a very good connection,” says Michael. “I’ve always told him about looking for a job. In terms of the curriculum, he wanted to help speed that process, and when I completed that objective, he was expecting it, but he was also pretty glad that I was able to quickly learn the things that he wanted me to learn.”
As it turns out, not only was Michael able to work himself into a job with Castland, but on his mentor’s advice, he signed on as a subcontractor with the company in order to start his own production company, Multimedia AMDG. “It’s a subcontract position that he wanted me to go for,” Michael explains, “because he wanted me to start my own little business, just so I can also promote myself in the process.”
As of now, Michael has his plate full with projects from Castland, essentially working full-time as a subcontractor, not just with video editing, but also putting his other multimedia skills to work. “It’s 80% video editing and 20% production work or other,” he says, “like graphic design, web design. They’ve also wanted me, even though I’m the video editor, but in my spare time, when they don’t have clients currently on the list, they assign me to do web design for them for helping build up their websites, or help create more projects to promote Castland Productions.”
Even with the workload, Michael says John continues to mentor and guide him along the way. “We’ve been jumping back and forth with clients with projects,” says Michael. “He’s feedbacking on my work I have done so far with clients, and it’s been going very, very well….It’s been quite a blast. It’s been crazy just in terms of the amount of projects since I first started to what I am now. It’s been insane, but it’s been very good work and a very good experience in the process.”
One of the projects he’s working on for Castland is a promising reality video series called Auto Bowl.“It’s a ‘sport’ competition between shops and mechanics to repair cars in very short period of time,” he explains. “The cars are either given to families who are in need or those who can’t afford it—single moms, [people with] financial problems, etc. We did a 30 minute promotional video for an event, I was responsible for most/all graphics for that video, and some editing.”
Now in the process of establishing his business as a video and multimedia professional, Michael has some long-term goals for film. “I definitely would like to create my own feature film one day,” he says. “I did kind of imagine creating my own films since I’m now done with the video editing, I’ve got graphics, and I’ve worked with special effects. Just the thought of just creating my own feature film is a dream goal.”
In the meantime, Michael still expresses amazement at how far he’s come in such a short time by learning on-the-job. “It worked out more than I ever imagined,” he says. “It has been a great blessing for me, because if I had not found out about the Film Connection, I couldn’t imagine what I would be doing right now.”
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Dr. Drew endorses the Recording, Radio & Film Connection, and CASA The Culinary Apprenticeship School of the Arts.
NUGGETS OF TRUTH: Recording Connection mentor Bill Davidow weighs in on the secrets to industry success
When it comes to nitty-gritty experience in the music industry, they don’t come with much more experience than producer/engineer Bill Davidow. The recording studio he owns and runs (Virlouise Recording in Anaheim, CA, named after his wife Virginia Louise) has earned the reputation of being one of the top recording studios in Orange County, with a client list that includes names like Israel Houghton, Darren Vegas, Johnny Come Lately, Guy Fieri and others. As a staunch advocate for the Recording Connection, Bill has also spent nearly a decade mentoring our students, many of whom have gone on to successful careers.Bill recently chatted with RRFC about his thoughts on the Recording Connection program, the importance of commitment, confidence and perseverance, and the secrets of some of his most successful students. The best nuggets of that conversation have been mined for you below.
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Recording Connection mentor Bill Davidow
HIS FIRST-HAND TAKE ON TRADITIONAL SCHOOLING VERSUS LEARNING ON-THE-JOB:
“I had a kid come in from Full Sail. He did the four-year plan at Full Sail…He does the L.A. Recording Academy, another $18,000 or whatever. Pops into my studio. I point in the corner and I say, ‘What’s that stuff in the corner?’…He doesn’t understand what a UPS is. I have to specialize UPS…But the thing is he didn’t understand that. So how can he run my studio? How can I go on vacation and leave him there? He wouldn’t know what to do if something happened. It’s expensive stuff. That’s $2,500 in that corner right there. What do you do if something happens? How do you get up and running again? The clients leave and they want their money back…I’m going to hire the guys that I train from the Recording Connection. I’ll just use one of my apprentices if I’m going to hire someone, because I trained them.”
ON WHAT HE LIKES ABOUT THE RECORDING CONNECTION PROGRAM, AND HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF IT:
“If you were to go to college and spend that $250,000, and even with grants you’re going to spend $50,000 these days, a lot of people don’t have that…You’re going to still have to do an internship when you get out of that. So when you get an opportunity to do a program like [Recording Connection], we work directly with somebody…It’s still the best deal anywhere in the country. But…you have to stick to that course. The course is laid out really good, and it’s makes it easy for me. I stick to the course, but I have the students . . . They have to study and do the reading and do extra. They have to commit themselves to it. There is no shortcut in this.”
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF BUILDING CONFIDENCE IN YOUR SKILLS:
“Students need to believe in themselves and have confidence. My friend Harriet Schock, her songs have sold millions of records and she was nominated for a Grammy for ‘Ain’t no Way to Treat a Lady.’ But I love her statement, ‘If you’re trying to hit the ceiling, you probably won’t, but if you shoot for the moon you’ll hit the ceiling.’ And hitting the ceiling in the music industry is making a living out of music. So they have to be confident and believe in themselves.”
ON THE LOST ART OF PERSEVERANCE IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS:
“Kids want instant gratification, but you’re supposed to grow out of that. A lot of the people I meet . . . Even sometimes I’ll get guys in their 30’s and 40’s, and they’ve never been able to…