A Word on American Universities

I attended the University of Missouri-Kansas City.  I liked my school.  It was a gorgeous campus, great facilities, good teachers, mostly helpful administration, located not far from my home…I enjoyed my time there.

But it didn’t teach me how to make money.  It didn’t teach me how to get a job.  It didn’t even teach me how to make a good resume, something I learned the hard way when attending an internship brunch and a potential employer went on a rant and wrote all over my resume the things that were wrong.  There’s few things more intimidating than the representative of a TV station telling you how stupid students are getting with their resumes when you’re attempting to impress him.

Didn’t I spend over 5 years and thousands of dollars paying someone else to teach me something as basic as how to craft a good resume?

“Did they teach you about working with clients?” I asked my co-worker about an internship she did in college.

“No,” she said.  “I wish I had learned that…”

She majored in Graphic Design, focusing mostly on print and drawing by hand.  She told me she wished she had focused more on building websites and digital art.  Apparently we both graduated with ignorance, not knowledge.

Here’s the thing though, I knew that I didn’t have to go to college.  I knew that college was just a way to get to where I wanted to be.  I made a calculated decision–based on my introverted nature–that college would be the better option to prepare me to get to Hollywood.  I didn’t think I would get paid more.  I didn’t think it would be easier to get a job, per se.  In fact, I knew that it was in my future to be at working-class income (possibly lower-class, depends on your point-of-view).

Because I was pursuing art.  And really, how many people make a lot of money at art?

BUT.  I did expect that my university would provide a magic list of steps to take to get a job, equip me with a list of all the jobs (like real companies) that I could apply to, and/or automatically place me on the radar of top people in the media and film industry (like Disney, Pixar, Bad Robot, J.J. Abrams, etc).

Why did I expect this?  I have no idea.  I honestly don’t know who told me that.

Why do people keep expecting magic to happen when they just spent 4, 5, 6, 8 years working, studying, testing, writing, running to class, forgetting their parking pass, going into debt, paying a parking fee, staying up all night to fail a test, drinking too much coffee, watching boring class-required movies, eating ramen, lugging brick-like textbooks everywhere and hating their teacher who just assigned that stupid 7-page paper over the weekend?  Seriously.  Why do we expect that after all that–college–we should hop out of school and be ushered into the job force within the week?

Yeah, I paid a lot of money.  Yeah, I’m qualified to film and edit live events, commercials, web videos, training videos, short films, long films, competitive films; write papers, books, screenplays, blog posts; take orders, directions, feedback, and criticism and not DIE (honestly, I’ve not died once from too much work).  But did that entitle me to walk off the podium at my college and into a steady, paying position at a company within my expertise?

Why do we assume that getting a job shouldn’t require work?

I don’t know.  I know that all that time I spent sitting alone before class I should’ve spent chatting with the teachers, staff, anyone, about jobs in Hollywood, how to build a nice-looking resume, and how to sweet-talk a producer into letting me hold lights or equipment on set for a film.  And I should’ve been making calls, sending emails, messages, snail-mail, whatever, to companies and directors and producers BEFORE I graduated and let them know how awesome I am and that they should consider making me part of their team.

I mean, that’s kinda how I got into college.  I pursued it and they couldn’t say no.  I also paid them a lot of money, but hey, I want Hollywood so that might come with the territory.

But I didn’t know.  No one taught me that.  Or maybe they did, and I just wasn’t paying attention.

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Time To Be Thankful

I realize that Thanksgiving is an inherent American holiday.  It was started by a group of travelers who had made it to a new land and then suffered horribly.  Many–most really–of them died the first year or so they were here.  When they had a colony established, including houses, they were blessed with enough food to keep them alive.

And they were thankful.

Okay, a lot of Americans don’t really remember or care about the origin of Thanksgiving.  And this is a bare minimum summary of it, at best.  But in the words of my fellow Co-Producer, “I believe that this is the time I was meant to be born.  All the technology…I feel right here.  I belong now.”

So I’d like to take this moment–3 days after the American holiday of Thanksgiving–to list some things I’m thankful for in the realm of technology, artistry, and filmmaking.

1.  The continuing evolution of the camcorder, from RED cameras to my Sony FS100, to the Blackmagic Cameras to the DSLR in all its forms.  I am so thankful that we found a way to record motion.  Thank you French guys who worked on the first cameras.  Thank you to every filmmaker and inventor since then.

2.  Every tablet on the market.  I love tablets.  Read more about my obsession with tablets here or here.

3.  Youtube, Vimeo and every single outlet with which I am able to share my work with the rest of the world, and see theirs.  I don’t know about you, but I think that this time period is the best for opening up our world–Americans, Canadians, New Zealanders, Indians, British folk, Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Egyptians, Italians, etc–to other cultures, artists, technology, friendships and new thinking.

4.  Texting.  Yup.

5.  Books.  In every form.  And the access I have to hundreds upon thousands of them.  There was a time when money, gender and social status would’ve kept me from reading like I do.  And technology, whether or not you prefer to read digital books, is preserving books beyond what mere paper could do.  When all the physical books are gone, I will be the last person printing an entire book from my computer.

That’s my top five technological thank yous.  I’m thankful for a lot more stuff, including you.  But ain’t nobody got time to read all that.

Florida

Guess what I am doing on Sunday?  That’s right!  I’m going to Florida.

Why?

For work, of course.  I mean, filming a travel show in sunny Florida while all of my friends bravely fight off wind, ice, snow and sleet here at home is way too hard to be a vacation.

I love my job.

Ya’ll remember American Royalty?  The TV show I work for, Just Down the Road, filmed an episode at the American Royal.  We had the opportunity to interview Guy Fieri and his BBQ team, the Motley Que Crew.  In the following episode we ventured out to Legoland and Sealife.  Then we spent a day at Sky Zone and I totally jumped into a foam cube pit.

Oh the joys of a film career.

Now we are headed to deep sea fish, parasail, swim with manatees…visit NASA…

When I started on this road, this I’m-going-to-film-school-and-I-might-never-stop-working-at-Starbucks road, there were people who said, “I wish I was brave enough to do what I loved, but I need to think about my future.”

Hey now, you can have a future doing what you love.  It’s possible.  There’s no law against happiness.

Actually, it’s an American right.

It’s not gonna be easy.  You have to give up a few things.  Like new clothes, fancy food, time, pride, embarrassment, cruises and well, certainty.  You’re going to have hard days and you might not eat much.  You might have to live with your parents for a little bit longer than some of your friends.  You’re going to be scared sometimes.

It’s okay to be scared.

I’m going to Florida, to work at doing what I love, with a group of folks I deeply respect, admire and hope to seriously prank at some point.  I’m not a serious person, and I won’t be able to live with myself if I don’t mess with the hosts and crew, just a little.

Go forth and do what you love.

Kansas City American Royal

My boss asked me to be the camera person for his TV show–Just Down the Road–this weekend.  It’s a light-hearted travel show featuring my boss, Jeremy Wood, and his co-host Diane Robertson.  They have a lot of fun trying out close and inexpensive things to do, either around KC or another U.S. city.

This episode features the amazing and magnificent Kansas City American Royal, specifically the barbecue competition.  And boy, did that food smell good…

We arrived early and fought the cold with tenacity, stubbornness and many, many layers.  As we made our way to different competitors like Johnny Trigg and Rod Gray, my boss commented that it would be pretty cool to get some footage of Motley Que Crew.  If you don’t know them, that’s okay, you might know their white, spiky-haired leader.

Guy Fieri.

Yup, the Food Network celebrity.  And he was definitely the big celebrity this weekend.  We didn’t expect to get an interview with him–we’re just a modest show at the moment–but my boss thought it would be epic to get the crew at work.

And maybe Guy in the background.

Despite this, he told one of the other crew members that if we managed to get Guy to say a few words on camera…Well, maybe I shouldn’t say what he was going to do.  So, we set about getting a celebrity.  It couldn’t hurt to try, right?

We made our way to the tent with Motley Que, and the crew welcomed us with smiles and handshakes.  We had met them the day before.  We arrived at the perfect time–Guy Fieri was standing just to the side of the tent, his handlers not far off.  We asked the crew if we might be able to get an interview with them and Guy.

And we did.  Guy Fieri sat down next to his boys and chatted along, hat pulled low on his head to stave off the cold.  He was gracious and really low-key.

Then he agreed to get on camera with the show host and say something by himself.

We played it cool and filmed the whole thing.  Afterwards, Guy and his crew signed the hosts’ hats.  We trudged away with smiles on our faces.

And just as we passed out of sight behind another trailer, my boss leaped in the air and shouted with happiness.

It’s gonna be a good show, folks.  A lot of thanks to the Motley Que crew, Johnny Trigg and Rod Gray and everyone else who made it out to the American Royal yesterday.  It was cold, sure, but it was also the largest BBQ competition in the world.  There’s another reason to love KC.

Bring on the BBQ.