Our Blog Corner...
It’s been a while since I have last blogged. I hope this finds you a little bit more enlightened in some way. I was asked to blog about my summer and I think now, after much thought, I will blog a bit about my experience but also about the “big picture” aspects of where hard work and “following the dream” can get one and a few initial steps in getting a foot in the door in the entertainment industry.
Let’s see, in my last blog I left off talking about WorkPlay and the new journey it set me on. Upon finishing up an internship there, I knew I had no choice but to challenge myself further. I have had one goal in sight for my career for the past year and a half. That single goal is music supervision. For any that do not know what exactly that is, let me provide you with a little definition. A music supervisor is the person who communicates with producers and directors of t.v or film regarding the placement of music in the show or movie. The supervisor can do everything from actually placing, picking, and editing the music in for the final edits of the show or film in a final mix to clearing, negotiating, and licensing the actual songs to be placed throughout the process. Music’s role in t.v and film is only increasing in importance as the years go on. You may be asking… Why this career goal? I am absolutely fascinated by the ability of music to move an audience when it is accurately placed in a scene of a show or film. If you think about it, we all have those scenes in a particular movie or show that we remember because of what song or score was being used…we remember it because ultimately, whether you realize it or not, the music stirred some kind of emotion in us-it served as a parallel to what was being said on screen (thus, not taking away completely but only aiding the script). The job title of “Music Supervisor” has not been around forever. Although music in film dates back to silent films, an official person overseeing this placement process was not officially a job until much later. I knew I loved the creative aspect of the job. I read books, researched, and knew I needed hands on experience. I had questions that I needed answered- What is the proper way to clear a song for usage? What technology is involved in editing in a piece with picture? How much of a role does budget play in choosing music? Ultimately, I knew I needed the business experience. I don’t think I will be the only person to say that there is only one place someone can go to gain this sort of entertainment industry experience…that place is the City of Angels- Los Angeles.
In January of last year, I began to use my resources I had. I got in touch with a former student of my father’s who has a long record of success in LA as a producer with various companies (Disney, CBS, HBO). I expressed to him what my goal was and he graciously worked with me on connecting to many people and perfecting my resume. I landed an internship with True Music. True Music has a music library, in house music supervisors, and an in house music licensing division. Kurt Farquhar opened the company years ago after having a successful career himself as a prime time t.v composer. I could not have picked a better place to work with for a summer. I headed out to LA in May and stayed until August-a solid three month internship. Throughout this time, I worked on a day to day basis with True Music editing music to picture, seeing example clearances be done, communicating with producers, working on the song catalog, placing songs, going to the SONY lot for mixes and spotting sessions, and ultimately seeing the way things had to be done to be successful in the music for film/t.v world. On days I did not work, I made it a point to connect with people that were “good to know” whether they were people I was referred to or people who’s career paths I truly admired, I made it a point to meet with them in order to gain different perspectives and insight into the biz. All in all, the summer was what it was to me because of the relationships I formed. I can now sleep a little more peacefully at night knowing that I have formed solid relationships that can continue to guide and serve as connections throughout my career. Without my True Music internship, I would not have been able to realize my own potential in the music for film/t.v world. True Music laid the foundation for what I will always proudly consider the “start of my career”.
When I talk to people about my summer, I tend to usually get similar responses. I get something along the lines of “Oh my God, that’s so cool.” Don’t get me wrong, it is cool and I am lucky but that’s not at all why I am choosing to pursue it. It did not just fall in my lap and I did not wake up one morning with a sudden urge to be the next Alex Patsavas, placing an emotional song in a dramatic scene of Grey’s Anatomy. It was a process for me- a process of discovery. A process that led me to a path that I am still on-a path that I now know is the most fulfilling for me- a path that has just started. Wherever it may lead me next, I am proud to say that I know I made the right career choice for me in being in LA for a summer.
I cannot stress how much of a firm believer I am in internships. Without hands on experience, how will you ever know if a certain career is the most fulfilling for you? How will you gain the experience you need? It is not always in the classroom. I encourage anyone that has an urge for something in the entertainment biz to search within yourself for what it is you truly want to do-narrow it down. Secondly, start with your resources at hand, do your research, connect with anyone and everyone you can because you never know where they may lead you in the future. Read books. Surf the net. Google the professionals you want to be. Work on your resume-perfect it, find a way to make everything on that single sheet of paper relate to the field you want to be in. Make it impressive. Obtain an internship-don’t be afraid to ask for help. You must be willing to work for something. You must be willing to start at the bottom. Make the first steps and see what happens next- and oh yeah, I almost forgot, don’t forget to breathe along the way.
It has been a very long time since our last post. Lots of developments have come about since we were last on here. I followed right behind Anais and spent my summer interning at WorkPlay. Since she has already gone into great detail about what that internship entails, I'll avoid repetition and tell you about specific things that I got out of the internship.
I went into WorkPlay knowing that I wanted to know everything I possibly could about the live music industry, specifically booking, production and tour management. Thankfully, I got to experience all of these things. I'll tell you briefly about two of my experiences. First, as part of an outside promotion, the talent buyer of WorkPlay helped bring in Gov't Mule to Sloss Furnace Amphitheater. He gave me the opportunity to work production for this event. Up until this point, I had been working production in the small WorkPlay Theatre where the most a band travels with is typically a van or bus and a trailer. Gov't Mule was a whole different experience. Instead of a trailer, they work with a full size 18-wheeler. Now I know that this is still tiny in comparison to some major tours that travel with 10+ 18-wheelers, but this was a huge step up for me in the production world. It was fast paced, it was dirty, it was hot, it was exhausting...and I loved every minute of it. There's just something about the thrill of putting a huge show together in a short amount of time and then taking down, packing it up, and heading off to the next town. Call me crazy, but life on the road sounds like it would be fun...for a while, at least. My second major experience came when I actually got to talk to a tour manager. I felt ridiculous for being so nervous, but to me, talking to a tour manager is the equivalent to talking to a celebrity. If names mean anything to you, I spoke with the tour manager of Medeski, Martin, & Wood. Though this encounter was quite brief due to his incredibly hectic schedule, it was a few of the most enlightening minutes of my life. He told me things I didn't know, some things I already knew, and some things that I really didn't want to know. To be honest, there are parts of the job that don't sound to appealing. He even went so far as to tell me that if I ever wanted a family one day that I should absolutely not want to be a tour manager. Harsh words, but very true.
So, this has led me to where I am now. To continue to gain more experience in the management field, I will be stage mangaing our fall production of Striking 12, an almost folk/pop-rock chamber musical. I imagine that there will be many similarities between stage management and tour management; mostly in that everyone looks to you for pretty much everything. It will definitely be a challenge, but I'm up for it.
I couldn't agree with Anais more about the value of internships, networking, resumes, and all the other stuff that comes with finding a job. Unless you're very lucky, your dream job isn't going to fall into your lap. You have to work hard for it. Thanfully I made some wonderful contacts from working at WorkPlay, but all of that is for naught if I don't follow up with these key people in the entertainment industry and continue to improve and challenge myself. Also, Anais and I both are very lucky to go to a school that is very supportive of internships. Both of us essentially contracted our own class with the help and support of a Theatre faculty member. Not only did we get the experience from the internship, but we also got class credit for them. We are very lucky to have theatre professors that are very supportive of our individual interests that can be best cultivated outside of the classroom in a real world envrionment. If you haven't done an internship yet, find one! You'll be amazed at what you can learn about yourself through that process.