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Job Opportunities & Student Success Stories Job Opportunities & Student Success Stories
December 28, 2015
Author Credits: Liya Swift & Jeff McQ

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When Jimi and Brian get you learning on the job, you’ve got the help of a mentor who can help you take your skills to the professional level. Read below about a self-taught audio engineer who enrolled in the Recording Connection to hone his skills, and is now in the process of rebooting his career in Nashville!

Student Successes Student Successes

At the Crossroads in Nashville: Recording student Chingas Kemps goes all in

    Many times, the pursuit of a dream means going “all in”—coming to a crossroads, making tough choices about your priorities, and choosing to jump in with both feet. It was at this crossroads where Chingas Kemps, a self-taught audio engineer, found himself recently.   “I was always tinkering around with audio since I was a kid,” he recalls. “I was always just kind of recording myself and my brother and my friends. And one thing led to another, and it became a passionate hobby, and then it became more on a professional level of a hobby.”   That “hobby” evolved into setting up his own part-time recording studio in his hometown in New Jersey, where he would record tracks for his own clients. “Mostly it was local bands, usually high school or college, but nothing on the pro level,” he says. “Everything was really kept pretty local.”   That’s when Chingas came to the crossroads.  
RC apprentice Chingas Kemps

RC apprentice Chingas Kemps

“It was an accumulation of a thousand things, but…at the end of the day, I was just an unhappy person,” he says. “I knew my heart was in music, and my day-to-day job was in oil. And you can’t wake up and be unhappy every day. It just doesn’t work. So…I followed my passion. My passion is music, and I’m just going to cut all ties to everything else, Make it work.”   Part of cutting the ties meant making the tough choice to close his studio, pack up and move to Nashville. He also knew he needed to hone his engineering skills and up his game if he was to compete in that market.   “I’m self-taught, so I had five years of my studio and no one ever told me whether I was doing it right or wrong,” he says. “I wanted to be on a professional level. I wanted to have a solid foundation, a solid background, something that I can validate myself saying that, ‘Okay, I know what the hell I’m doing, and I could do this on the pro level, and I can come up with some great recordings.’”   When Chingas started scoping out schools in the area, he discovered that the Recording Connection could place him with a mentor in a real recording studio. “Having the option to be with a mentor instead of just being one of 15 or 20 in a class,” he says, “that spoke to me the most.”   The Recording Connection placed Chingas as an apprentice under producer/engineer Ric Web (Taylor Swift, Alan Jackson) at South Street Studios in Nashville. Right away, he began to see the benefit in having a mentor to guide him one-on-one.   “I got to sit down with the mix and show my mentor exactly what I did, every step that I took,” says Chingas, “and having him hear it with his ears and his experience, and then let me know what I could have done differently, or what I might want to try next, or why did I do this? These are questions I never had to ask myself.”   Since starting the program, Chingas says the greatest benefit he feels is in learning from Ric how to fine-tune his mixes. “It sounds good to 95% of the people listening, but it could be a little bit better,” he says. “That’s where we are at now, is really just fine tuning things to push it to the next level.”  
Ari Blitz VP Aftermaster Audio Labs, Dave Pensado, Herb Trawick, Brian Kraft, and Jimi Petulla for Recording Connection

Ari Blitz VP Aftermaster Audio Labs, Dave Pensado, Herb Trawick, Brian Kraft, and Jimi Petulla for Recording Connection at Pensado Vintage King Gear Expo 2015

Meanwhile, Chingas is wasting no time in doing what he can to connect with the Nashville music community, attending industry events like the Vintage King Expo. “I try to get to every one of them, and I try to hang out just as long as I can, and to talk to whoever is willing to listen,” he says. “Everybody I’ve met so far has been extremely friendly.”   Chingas tells us his goal is eventually to have his own publishing and production house. “It’ll be handling everything from songwriters to producers, getting the songs written, getting them recorded and mixed,” he says. To that end, he says he’s getting ready for the next phase by applying to Recording Connection’s new Learn from Legends master’s program. “The next step, we felt, would be learn the business side, learn the publishing, learn the licensing, learn what’s up with copyrighting and all that stuff,” he says. “Anything that [Ric] tells me business-wise, I really try to hone in on and decipher where he is going with it so that I can really just embed that in to my brain and use it in the future.”   Realizing a dream often hinges on what you do at the crossroads. In Chingas’ case, it meant shutting down his studio of five years in New Jersey and starting over in Nashville. Thanks in part to his Recording Connection apprenticeship with Ric Web, and in part to his own go-getter attitude, Chingas is now well on his way to achieving his dream.   It’s not an easy path, but for Chingas Kemps, it’s obvious that he’s good with his choice. He’s all in.      




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Mentor News

NUGGETS OF TRUTH: Film writer/producer Jana Sue Memel on writing scripts that get made

    A film industry veteran, Jana Sue Memel is a producer, writer and director with a long list of film credits, including “So I Married an Axe Murderer” and “Going to the Mat,” among others. Her love for film dates back to her childhood, when as she recalls, she called up Twentieth Century Fox at the tender age of five and offered her services. Jana’s years of experience have garnered her 11 Oscar nominations and three Oscar wins.   As a screenwriting mentor for the Film Connection, Jana’s practical and creative approach to mentoring students is to help them “write a script that might actually get made.” In a recent conversation with us, Jana naturally had some great words of wisdom for up-and-coming filmmakers and screenwriters. We share the best excerpts with you below.  
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Film writer/producer Jana Sue Memel

Film writer/producer Jana Sue Memel

“What’s unique about me is that I make movies and TV, and I write, I produce, I direct…I have started the careers of over 60 first-time directors…So my perspective on filmmaking comes from having done all of the jobs…and I certainly have spent enough time with actors, and how an actor looks at a script. And then I know how an audience looks at a script obviously. But I also know how a director looks at a script. And so I try and teach screenwriting from the perspective of how do you write a script that might actually get made…   “I believe a film is a hero’s journey. I believe that, at the end of act one, everything is set in motion. And at the end of act two, everything has gone to sh*t. I believe that you have to overcome obstacles. But what I don’t believe is that you sit there and think about a lot of that when you’re beginning to create your story. And I think that so many people who teach screenwriting are into teaching those things instead of asking questions about what’s happening to people. So I like to teach or mentor screenwriting from the perspective of…What is that journey, and who can connect with it, and how do you make it authentic and real?”   ON WHAT SHE LOOKS FOR IN THE PEOPLE SHE MENTORS:   “I’m not interested in people who from hour “x” to hour “y”… filmmaking is a 20-hour-a-day job. Money is the last thing you should be thinking about, which [means] I don’t think you shouldn’t get paid for your work. But as somebody breaking into the film business, if you’re thinking about how much you’re getting paid an hour and you want overtime and all that, you’re in the wrong business, because I can replace you in two minutes with somebody who listens.”   ON WHY SHE TEACHES FOR THE FILM CONNECTION:   “I think that the really great thing about this program… I don’t believe that, in many ways, you can teach most things in filmmaking; “teach” meaning from a pedantic point of what teaching has traditionally been envisioned as. I think a large part of how you learn filmmaking is experiential and observational. And that’s what I’m doing with the people I work with in Film Connection. I say, ‘Look, if you want to read a book, you can read a book and I’ll tell you what books I like. Otherwise we’re going to work on scripts from how I work on a script, and you and I will go on a journey together that I go on when I’m writing my own stuff.’”   ON HER LOVE FOR THE CRAFT:   “I love filmmaking. There is nothing more exciting on the planet Earth than making movies. You get to take something from inside your head to sitting in the back of the room watching other people enjoy it. As a producer, your entire job all the time is creatively solving problems. It’s making things happen. It’s facing a challenge and resolving it. It’s pushing yourself past a limit you thought you couldn’t get past.”    
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