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WEEKLY NEWSLETTER April 10, 2017 by L. Swift and Jeff McQ


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Recording Connection grad Jason Abranches
launches his new career on Maui!

  
Control Room in Maui Recording

Control Room in Maui Recording

It didn’t take Jason Abranches long to discover just what kind of doors his Recording Connection education would open for him. One week after completing his apprenticeship with mentor Zach Phillips at Freq Lab in San Francisco, CA, he made a move to Maui. Not long after, he’d landed a job with producer/engineer Lynn Petersen at Maui Recording, one of the most popular recording studios in the islands!   Jason says he found Lynn while he was searching out Hawaii recording studios and applying to them online. “I reached out to him, and I was shocked, you know?” says Jason. “I told him about my experience with Recording Connection, and I was very honest about where I was, you know, in my blooming career. And he wanted to take me under his wing, like he responded right away, like within 15 minutes. And said, “Yeah, you know, let’s work something out.”   As it turned out, Maui Recording happened to be a go-to studio for many notable artists who have homes in the islands. One of Lynn’s best friends and most frequent clients, it turns out, is Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac. In addition, Lynn also handles live sound for performers at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center (MACC), many of whom stop into the studio to record.   Within a month of starting with Lynn, Jason says, “I ended up doing my first live sound gig ever with Mick Fleetwood and the House Shakers, which is…his blues band out here. And then we had Ross Valerie, the bassist from Journey, stop in and do the set, which was awesome. All these guys were super cool…We had an extra setup for Steven Tyler in case he dropped in because, also living on the island, he drops in quite often. I was shocked at how much I learned in just one gig, and it was enough to get myself a secure job on his crew.”   Jason says working with Lynn is giving him a wide range of experience, not just in the studio. “I’m kind of his right hand man right now,” he says. “He does a lot of recording in his studio during the week, and not necessarily always at his studio because there’s a lot of musicians here on the island. And nowadays it’s pretty easy to pick up your gear and move it. So sometimes, we’ll just go to the different clients’ houses if they just need some overdubs or whatever. He does gigs at the MACC and pretty much everywhere else.”   Jason says his interest in audio emerged from living in a music culture—being a musician and rooming in a house full of other musicians. Following his parents’ expectations, he studied business in college for two years but realized it wasn’t for him. Once he decided to jump in with both feet into a studio career, he says the Recording Connection was the obvious choice compared to other schools.   “Nothing [in the other schools] seemed to have the same uniqueness that Recording Connection has with its unparalleled apprenticeship in the studio,” he says. “Personally, I’m a lot more of a hands-on guy. I can read about it all day and I can study about it all day, but once it’s really in my hand, that’s when it starts being burned into my memory. And there’s so much into recording and the whole business that you really just have to be in the room and surround yourself with that industry and those people to be successful. So I knew that was my best bet, going with Recording Connection.”   Jason admits he was a bit nervous and intimidated when he met his mentor Zach Phillips for the first time but as he learned the ropes, he found his footing with him. “He’s a relatable guy,” says Jason. “As long as you’ve got an open mind and the willingness to learn, he’s there, you know? As long as you’re engaged, he’s happy. You’re not wasting his time. You’re happy to be there. I’m kind of obsessed with music, so we got along pretty well.”   Jason determined early on to be proactive and make the most of his Recording Connection experience. “I was always about a chapter ahead, and would actually just to try and be on top of my lesson,” he says, “because you only have so much time with your mentor, and to pick his mind, and to really figure out the application of everything that you’re reading. So I took that to heart, week one, and realized my time with him, even though the course was several months, I knew it was short overall.”   Jason’s passion paid off. One year later and his life is drastically different. Not only is he working with one of the most in-demand engineers in Hawaii, but Jason is also in the process of building out his own studio, as well. “I found a good deal on a piece of property,” he says. “I have a two bedroom cottage now, and two-thirds of this cottage has been renovated into my own professional studio. We have drums, basses, guitars all over the wall. I have condensers, ribbons, you know, my 57s. I have all my mics, all my cables are in a certain spot. We have an ISO booth.”   It’s a huge leap toward success for someone who felt lost not that long ago. “A year ago, I was still in the program and scared out of my mind,” he says. “I never could actually imagine that this would actually work out. And then a year later, it has.”   
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Film Connection mentor Deen Olatunji integrates students
into his production team!

  
Film Connection mentor Deen Olatunji

Film Connection mentor Deen Olatunji

Anyone who is paying attention knows that one of the hallmarks of the mentor-apprentice approach is the opportunity to gain real-world experience. Film Connection mentor Deen Olatunji has applied this concept quite literally in his approach to training students. As the owner of Rehoboth Pictures in Dallas, Texas, Deen has a habit of making his apprentices part of his production team for various film projects that come through the studio!   “They’re involved with production as far as a professional standpoint,” he says. “It’s a way to expose them to how the industry works…It’s a very, very good learning experience for them.”   When we caught up with Deen recently, he told us his students were helping him with multiple projects that are currently in the works. As the media partner for the upcoming African Film Festival in July, Rehoboth is preparing to shoot a collaborative short film called 4 Minutes which will screen at the festival. More currently, Deen says, his team is working on a faith-based TV series called Disconnected, which is being sponsored by one of the largest churches in Arlington.   “It addresses a lot of things that families are going through, and finding a solution that people can use to solve that problem to get families back together,” says Deen. “I’m actually using Film Connection students entirely for this project…Ananth [Agastya] is helping being the assistant director the TV series. Noah [Cook] is…acting as a Director of Photography. So he’s one that handles the cameras, and also, you know, supervises every other camera person that is on the set… Shaun [Robertson] is our producer. He’s the one that helps, you know, with casting, getting people together, calling people, following up, and getting to know all the locations, and putting project together. Then, we also have David [Aguirre] working with Noah as the assistant director.”   Because of the direct involvement Deen provides his students, he naturally is a bit specific, even selective, with the apprentices he takes on.   “The interview process is very detailed,” Deen explains. “I get to understand then, see their perspective. And I usually take people that I feel are passionate and really want to do this, not just because they want a job, but they’re really looking into making films, and they have long term goals.”   For students who make the cut, Deen puts them in positions that accentuate their skills, helping to integrate them into the team.   “Anan has exceptional management skills,” says Deen. “He’s so passionate about filmmaking, exceptionally passionate. I mean, he has his nine to five, but you know, sometimes he’s here 14 hours on Saturday, 14 hours on Sunday, and then he goes to work the next day. To me, that tells you he loves what he does…Noah is so technical. He can resolve any technical issue without any experience. I mean, he can look at a camera, broken camera, fix it in a short time even while in production. Shaun has exceptional soft skills: the way he relates to people, relates to issues, he’s able to communicate effectively [the] things that we’re trying to do with clients. So that’s why he has been handling all the things that have to do with production. The same thing as David, very technical. His editing skills are off the chain…”   Even while enabling his students to collaborate on productions, Deen makes sure to maintain the one-on-one connection with each student. “I don’t believe in one size fits all,” he says. I’m the kind of person that has a one to one communication with every single person that works with me. It doesn’t matter where you’re coming from. I take my time every week to call them. I take my time every week to ask them where they are, where they’re going…to repeat the goals, where their milestones are, and what challenges they have.”   While these opportunities definitely allow the Film Connection students to grow and gain experience, Deen sees it as a win-win for his own studio, as well. “We do have a very good team,” he says. “We’ve worked the synergies there, and I think they are really, really good. I think based on what they’re [being] taught from the film school, I can tell they’re actually learning a lot because I’m probably picking the right people.”   Even in the process of mentoring students, Deen feels he gets back every bit as much as he gives. “I think one thing I’ve learned from this is one of the biggest ways to learn is to teach,” he says. “I’ve learned a lot from these guys…You’d be surprised how much you learn just by relating to people…I’ve learned a lot just by teaching. And it’s amazing. It’s so phenomenal and I’m really appreciative of that.”   
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A Day in the Life of Our Students

   Recording Connection mentors Lij Shaw and Jamie Tate got into the mix during our recent Anatomy of the Mixes workshop at The Rukkus Room (Nashville, TN). Thanks to all who attended (the audiophilia was real) and thanks to Becki Sessions, Regional Director of RRFC Nashville, for getting our Nashville peeps together. More to come!    Recording Connection student Tyler Saderup (Anaheim, CA), who apprentices with Romeo Williams at Shelter Sound Studios, is seeing how far he’s come in just a matter of months: “I look back at when I first started, ignorantly thinking I was somewhat of a musical genius. Little did I know I had a very broad spectrum of knowledge to acquire. I went out and got it though. With the help of my mentor Romeo it is all becoming possible now…I have more weapons than ever before to make me a dangerous music producer and sound engineer. The experience has been amazing, and it has changed me along the way.”    Film Connection student Zareefa Abdul-Adl (Philadelphia, PA) who apprentices with mentor Rocco Michaluk of Rocco Films, is enjoying the first-hand education she’s getting: “Rocco really taught me how to make this dream a reality and I learned how to shoot with the camera, direct, script feed, produce, lighting, different angle shots and etc. It was long days and multiple cuts  but the crew hung in there as if we were building something we knew would be great once complete. I really enjoyed the whole experience and I can’t wait to do it again.”  
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