On today’s repost Saturday I’m going to update a post that’s 2 1/2 years old when editor Josh McCabe headed out for L.A. after working with me when we were both based in Iowa. He’s now based in Santa Monica and shortly after landing in L.A. was doing work with TBWA\Chiat\Day, but mostly has a regular editing gig these days with the creative team at Smashbox. This week Josh sent me some links to a freelance project he did for Red Bull that is airing this weekend at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago. Here’s the 30 second version:
Josh is still early in his career but has already had some great experiences working for some major brands and advertising companies. But he started out just like everyone else, a beginner sitting in his bedroom working on tutorials and personal projects until someone started paying for his skills. Two things about Josh that helped him beyond his editing talent that I can’t stress how important they are in your career:
1) Josh McCabe never looked down at any project he worked on. That included even doing non-creative things like making DVD labels and dubs.
2) Likeability. People want to work with people who aren’t only talented, but people they like working with. That’s why even many proven directors, actors, and writers don’t work. And the longer the project is, the more important likeability plays in you getting work. Michael Port’s book Book Yourself Solid Illustrated touches on the importance of this trait.
Here’s the post originally posted on January 31, 2011:
“(Vilmos Zsigmond) made his way to Hollywood, where he found work as a technician in a film lab and also as a home portrait photographer.”
Ray Morton writing about the days long before Zsigmond won an Oscar for Best Cinematography
Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The making of Steven Spielberg’s Classic Film
Here’s a case study of how to get a start working in production. (And what I wish somebody would have told me back when I was in film school.)
My first interaction with Josh McCabe was about 2 years ago—at about 3 in the morning. River Run Productions was looking for some production assistance and we asked the local college to recommend to us their best student. They recommended Josh. So I sent him an email early one morning and figured we’d touch base later that day. He emailed me back right away.
I asked him what he was doing up so late. I think he said he was working on some editing tutorials at Lynda.com. That was a good sign to me.
We met and he left his job at a credit union and began working on a regular freelance basis with us. There is an old concept that employers use that says hire for attitude, and then train the person. Josh came with not only a great attitude, and a willingness to learn, but he was well versed in editing on Final Cut Pro. He was still in school as an electronic arts major at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) where he worked on various student productions and also did some weddings videos on his own.
Josh jumped in right away wherever we needed him. As you’ll see from some of the pictures here, sometimes he edited projects, sometimes he logged footage, sometimes he helped carry a heavy Jimmy Jib up three flights of stairs, sometimes he was a PA, sometimes a grip, sometimes a cameraman, sometimes he was a technical advisor, photographer, sound designer, sometimes he pushed a dolly, and sometimes he worked 16 hour days—he did whatever we threw at him.
Josh got to work on everything from industrial & corporate projects, commercials, web videos, promotional videos, music videos, and even co-directed a couple short films with me for the 48 Hour film project. (His resume now includes working experience on not only FCP, but Motion/After Effects, Photoshop, DVD Studio Pro, Compressor, Aperture/Lightroom, Soundtrack Pro on top of green screen work, P2 workflow, etc.)
In 2009 Josh spent the summer in LA interning at Entertainment Tonight, a gig he got through ET host Mark Steines, an Iowa native who graduated from UNI.
Josh came back to Cedar Falls to finish his BA and work at River Run and graduated last May. When an Emmy-winning editor (Dexter opening credits) and UNI grad came to speak at the school Josh not only went to hear him speak but was part of a small group of students who got together with him for drinks afterwards.
When that editor (who works for a broadcast post house in LA) had a friend at an other post house in LA call looking for an up and comer as an assistant editor —Josh’s name came up. In a sea of capable LA talent this kid in Cedar Falls, Iowa got the gig.
To make a long story a little shorter, Josh worked his last day for us Wednesday, headed west on I-80 Friday, made a quick stop in Park City, Utah Saturday night to soak in the tail end of the Sundance Film Festival and arrived in LA Sunday night, and begins his new gig today in Santa Monica.
I’m thrilled for him. So the lesson to learn here is simply have a great attitude, learn everything you can about the tools of the trade (lynda.com is a must)—party less, and do tutorials more, network like crazy, and do the little jobs (PA, logging footage, whatever) in the little places (Cedar Falls, Iowa) and that will pave the way for bigger opportunities.
Here’s the last big project we did together that just went online this week. It was produced for an economic development group and allowed me the opportunity to do a lot of things I talk about on the blog (produce, direct, write, shoot & edit) with the bulk of the work being done by two people as Josh also shot some of the beauty footage and was also co-editor on the 3 1/2 minute video.
Josh, thanks for all your work here at River Run, and I wish you the best in LA. And for all of you starting out in your career, the lesson to learn from Josh is to be not only both technical and creative, but (I know I’m repeated myself, but sometimes you have to shout) work hard /party less, network, network, network, be addicted to learning from Lynda.com, and have a great attitude. (Tattoos are optional.)
P.S. Another young creative that I’ve been able to watch grow over the years (and also use on a freelance basis) is creative director/filmmaker Edd Blott of Chicago. He currently has a short film called A Tale of Delight that is part of the Open Film contest in hopes of being turned into a feature. Today is the last day you can vote for his film—check it out at OpenFilm.com.
Update 7/20/13: Last year Edd Blott wrote and directed his first feature film, A Tale of Delight for which he won Best Director at the 2012 Oregon Film Awards. He just had a table read in Portland of his latest script. See the post Congrats Edd Blott on Best Director Award.
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