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WEEKLY NEWSLETTER April 18, 2016 by L. Swift and Jeff McQ


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Filling in the gaps: Recording Connection grad Marcus Charles brings his musical ideas to life

Recording Connection graduate Marcus Charles

Recording Connection graduate Marcus Charles

“I’ve always loved music,” says Recording Connection graduate Marcus Charles. “I think I was in seventh grade. I took this digital music course that was offered by my middle school and ever since then, I knew I wanted to make music, produce music.”   Since that time, Marcus has been completely dedicated to making his dream a reality. He began setting up a studio in his home in Suffern, New York (about an hour outside of New York City) and is already making great strides as a self-produced hip-hop artist. “I graduated high school last year,” he says. “So all the while I’ve been making music in my home, because I have a studio in my house. And I’m producing my first album right now.”   Even so, as a self-taught producer, Marcus found himself lacking the technical skills to bring his ideas to life. “I’ve been making music on my own, but sometimes I choke,” he says. “Like the ideas? Like I couldn’t bring my inception into reality…I was always able to envision it, but…I wasn’t able to create how I envisioned it.”   That’s when Marcus’ mom, an avid supporter of his dream, stepped in with an answer.   “My mom was always looking for things I could do, like to branch out and make connections,” says Marcus. “She actually discovered Recording Connection for me.”   Marcus decided that an in-studio apprenticeship was just what he needed to up his game. To give him the best advantage, the Recording Connection arranged for him to apprentice at Terminus Studios in New York City. “It’s a beautiful studio,” he says. “The energy in there was a positive energy…It was easy to talk to [my mentor]. He was straight to the point, like if you had a question, he was always open to any question.”  
Studio A in Terminus Studios

Studio A in Terminus Studios

Marcus says studying at Terminus helped him understand the importance of working with people in a positive way. “I’ve seen really how important relationships are in the studio,” says Marcus. “I’ve witnessed what transpired when there’s conflict between the engineer and the artist: sessions get ruined, and that is something truly unfortunate when the music is the only thing that matters.   Conversely, I’ve been in sessions where there’s nothing but positive energy…In the studio, progress and productivity is the goal, and a good relationship with the clientele or with the engineer allows for that to happen.”   Best of all, Marcus says his apprenticeship truly helped him hone his skills. “I had some basic knowledge of audio because I’ve been doing it all the while, practicing my craft by myself at home,” he says. “But after taking the Recording Connection, I really felt like I had a really solid grasp on the whole concept, the whole world of audio…I wanted to be able to create everything that I thought of, like how I pictured it in my head. And after Recording Connection, after taking that course, I feel like I’m able to do that now more accurately.”   Since graduating, Marcus is putting his newfound skills to good use in his own studio as he puts the finishing touches on his debut album, titled On a Hill, In the Trees. Marcus describes the record as a bit of a departure from typical hip-hop, incorporating elements like jazz piano, trumpet and sax, and even a fresh approach to the lyrics.   “I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, so that’s not getting in my music,” says Marcus. “I don’t really party, I’m just working on music, so that’s not in my music…On A Hill, In The Trees is simply a collection of my thoughts literally on a hill, in the trees where my home and studio is located. The seclusion this place provides creates a sense of solidarity for me and causes me to be in my own head often times…In essence, On A Hill, In The Trees is a description of my world and how I interact with it.”   Talking with Marcus, it’s clear that his time with the Recording Connection has added a new dimension to his artistry, and he’s well on his way to a rewarding career.   “I’m very confident in what I’m doing and the music I’m creating,” he says. “I’ve been very excited about my album that I’m producing right now for a while. I’ve been trying to up my craft, and I feel that I’m at a point where I can really make music that I want to.”   Check out a track by Marcus Charles in the Media section below!   
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A Day in the Life of Our Students

Women in Film & Media Colorado Launch Event

Women in Film & Media Colorado Launch Event

At a recent networking event, Film Connection student Leticia Rodriguez (Denver, CO) decided not to let a little shyness stand in her way! “I went to a recruiting meeting for a new chapter for Women in Film & Media,” she says. “I figured there would only be a few of us there but I was pleasantly surprised to see the huge number of women that showed up. I’m pretty shy but quickly discovered people were coming up to me and asking about my interests and levels of expertise in the industry. I admitted I was a student and pretty much starting out, but it didn’t really seem to bother anyone. In fact, I ended up exchanging info with other students and established people in the field…It was a sea of awesomeness. I joined the chapter, and I look forward to working on future projects with some of these impressive women.”   
Shannon Rupp

Shannon Rupp

Recording Connection apprentice Shannon Rupp (Philadelphia, PA) has been hard at work alongside mentor John Digiacomo at M Sound Recording studios, and is now experiencing the payoff of feeling it all click. “The past few months in the studio have been awesome,” he says. “The previous knowledge I had about engineering is being built on, and everything is clicking and making sense very quickly!”   
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Film Connection mentor Christine Chen talks SXSW, the Duplass Brothers, 360 cameras, Women in film, and more!

   Film Connection mentor Christine Chen (of Moth to Flame Films in Austin, TX) is always a pleasure to talk to. We interviewed her right after SXSW in Austin about this time last year, and since she’s typically heavily involved in the film component of the festival, we decided to check in with her again this year. As usual, she ended up offering some key insights, advice and observations that would benefit many of our students, so we decided to mine the best nuggets of that conversation and share them with you! Enjoy.  
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    christine-chen HER THOUGHTS AFTER ATTENDING THE DUPLASS BROTHERS SESSION (THE SKELETON TWINS, HBO’S TOGETHERNESS) AT SXSW:   “I love listening to them talk because they, in my opinion, embody the spirit of indie films, which is [to] make it work with what you have. And I think that’s something that some schools don’t exactly teach you all the time, but I think if you’ve been on a lot of sets…you’ll really learn that. Anybody can make a film if you can make it work or be creative about it, I think…They’re very much the whole, ‘Hey, we have a camera. It’s not the best camera, but it’s in the storyline. Let’s make something work.’ And it’s really worked for them.”   ON THE IMPORTANCE OF ATTENDING EVENTS LIKE SXSW, AND HER ADVICE FOR GETTING THE MOST OUT OF THEM:   “If I could encourage anybody going to South By to take advantage of South By would be to listen to these keynote speakers who have had a lot of experience…I love hearing that they all started somewhere. It’s inspiring to go listen to that. Another takeaway of going to South By is to familiarize yourself with the latest technology that’s coming out. The first year I ever went to South By, the DSLRs were just coming out, so I went and sat on a lot of panels about DSLR filmmaking. And that’s how I figured out what to buy, what to invest in, why DSLRs are great…I think that’s the great thing about South By is they try to stay as relevant to what’s going on in terms of technology, or movies that are coming out, etc.”   HER ADVICE FOR STUDENTS ON NETWORKING AT FILM FESTIVALS AND EVENTS:   “What I like to do is always go in with your business card, even though you don’t know who you’re going to meet or if you’re going to meet anybody. If you’re talking to a personal filmmaker who has a company, probably your resume, or a link to your reel, or something like that. Just have that on you all the time. And volunteering, honestly, is a great way to go. I can afford a ticket, but I always try to volunteer because that’s a great way to force myself and meet people. If you’re doing stuff on a volunteer gig for eight plus hours, you’re going to talk to somebody because that’s just work.   “I [also] think a good line would be asking someone else what they do. People love to talk about themselves. So if you’re not comfortable talking about yourself, first, be curious about what other people are doing.”   ON THE EMERGENCE OF 360 CAMERAS AND VIRTUAL REALITY FILMING AS A TREND:   “At the South By trade show, there was a camera that they had that we ended up purchasing called a Ricoh Theta…We got it, and we’re going to play around with it and see what kind of content we’re creating. The great thing of staying ahead of technology is there’s not a lot of people in that space, and they’re hungry for content. Everybody’s looking for the next cool thing. Definitely, I really think that virtual reality is probably where that’s going.”   BRAGGING ON ONE OF HER STUDENTS…:   “I have an alumni…Kenny Horton, who I was really impressed by. Great editor, was proficient in editing but was really dependable, very good…I noticed that he had a decent following when he followed me on Instagram, and I was like, ‘How does this person have like 3,000 followers?’ And just noticed that he was really big on BMXing, and I just started talking to him about it. And the competition for NBC Sports came up, and we just worked together to make a mini-documentary. It’s not released yet. It was really neat to see how that played into his hobby plus filmmaking combined together.”   ON THE CURRENT SHIFT IN FOCUS TOWARD FEMALE FILMMAKERS:   “Sometimes people need a fad to care, which sucks, But that’s how it is…I guess now it’s a fad to hire or consider female directors, Whether it’s giving them tax incentives or whatever…Partially, it is a little bit ridiculous that it’s like now that people are all like, ‘Oh my God, females make films that are necessary to the economy.’ But, you know, I guess it hasn’t really been that long since women had any sort of say in anything…I’m part of a group called Film Fatales. It’s a chapter that I believe it had its start in LA or New York and now has spread internationally as well. There’s a chapter in Austin. But basically, it’s just women filmmakers who come together, and we talk about other female filmmaker projects. We have meetups and talk about female-oriented projects and everything…So I’m glad that, luckily for the most part, females have a very good, supportive emotional network, I think. So I’m hoping that this movement will get Hollywood to listen. But honestly, I know it’s probably going to start in the indie world first before Hollywood cares, because it is their world, and it comes down to definitely economics and money, and until there’s a proven revenue stream that women filmmakers are making movies that make money, apparently, will Hollywood really care.”   
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Check Out Our Students’ Work



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