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WEEKLY NEWSLETTER February 18, 2019 by Liya Swift


Recording Connection grad Morning Estrada
Goes on Tour with Aminé


Recording Connection grad Morning Estrada

Over the past few years 2012 Recording Connection graduate of the Audio Engineering & Music Production Program, Morning Estrada (Los Angeles, CA) has engineered for numerous players in hip hop, pop, and R&B. That work includes Camila Cabello’s album single “Never Be the Same” (Camila), Jessie J’s 2018 release R.O.S.E. (produced by Grammy-award-winning producer Camper), and tracks for Nelly, 50 Cent, Tech N9NE, Linzi Jai, Marsha Ambrosius, Noah Cyrus, Trinidad James, Mr. Porter, and more.   Morning also engineered extensively on Aminé’s album Good for You, including the songs “Heebie Jeebies featuring Kehlani,” which he both mixed and recorded, and the Gold-certified track “Spice Girl” (recorded). Again, Morning was in the engineer’s seat for the artist’s latest release, the album OnePointFive. We caught up with the booming audio engineer just as he was packing to catch a flight and join Aminè on the European leg of the TourPointFive tour.  So you’re going on tour with Aminé throughout much of Europe?   “Yeah, for the next month. We’re leaving tomorrow, going to London and then straight to Norway for our first tour date, and I’m going through Norway, Sweden, Germany, Brussels, Belgium or something like that, London, Paris, the U.K., Ireland, and Amsterdam…We have a double-decker bus and we’re staying at a bunch of beautiful hotels as we travel around Europe and the UK. I’m actually living my dreams but it’s even better.”   Prior to Aminé asking you to join him on the European leg of his tour, you worked with him in Hawaii. Is that correct?     “We did a week in Hawaii and worked out of the studio where Kanye West did 808s & Heartbreaks and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. A buddy connected us with him. So we had a studio, and every day we went on an activity. So we did something like zip lining one day, we went to go see Jurassic Park, where they filmed the movie, another day. We also did a helicopter ride around the island.   Every day we did something new. Then after we did the activity, we would go have dinner and then go to the studio and work all night, and then wake up super early in the morning, go do the next activity, and go back to the studio. So we were super inspired, of course, and a little loopy…… We ended up coming back after a week in Hawaii with five new songs just with a different sound than our previous work.”  Rather than coming back to the U.S. after the tour, you’re flying straight to Spain to work with Rosalía. How did that come about?   “I had worked on the Camila Cabello album (Camila) and the executive producer on that is Frank Dukes. So Frank referred me to Rosalía. She listened to some of my work and wants to collaborate on a few ideas. She’s looking for a specific sound and being that I’m an engineer, she wants my assistance translating that sound through the speakers. She had reached out to me thru instagram. It was out of nowhere. I was kind of in shock because I’m a fan, of course, and she just won two Latin Grammys. Aminé had put me onto her. And we’re both big fans of her album that just came out (El Mal Querer)… Yeah, so when she messaged me, I said ‘This is not real. Why is she messaging me right now?’ I thought Aminé was playing a joke on me. So we met last month in L.A. and things are going really well with her.” Follow Morning on Instagram @mixedbymorning.

  Wow! You have a lot going on and it’s happening superfast. How are you feeling?  “I’m in shock, you know. It’s all new to me…It finally sunk in last night with my girlfriend that I’m going to be gone for like a month or so, and I don’t have to go out and look for work or actually try to fill up my schedule… I’m thinking every day is a workday, workday, workday, and I’m actually going to leave tomorrow and actually see the world a little bit and be working on the road but it’s all scheduled for the month already. It really just frees me up so that all I have to worry about is the music.”   What’s your advice to Recording Connection students and people who are on their path, striving to make it in the industry?   “I graduated in 2012. Don’t get bummed out if things don’t happen right away. There are a lot of hours spent at the studio learning the craft. Then there’s the networking, meeting the right people, building up your résumé. It’s not an overnight success. It’s many, many hours and years put into this, and you only really truly get what you put in. Whatever you’re willing to put into this career path you’ve chosen, what you put in is what you’re going to get out of it.”  Learn more about Morning Estrada’s journey.   View Recording Connection’s programs.   

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Film Connection mentor Zac Adams
Gets his Externs in the Driver’s Seat

Zac Adams (hat) with extern Corey Pitts, Mark Alan Peters, and casting director Mike Stryker

Zac Adams (hat) Corey Pitts, Mike Stryker, and casting director Mark Alan Peters on the set of Sweet Tooth

Give longtime Film Connection mentor Zac Adams a call and chances are, he’s right in the middle of shooting, editing, or producing a project, or multiple projects. As the owner of the Emmy-winning Nashville-based production company, Skydive Films, Zac’s an expert at taking those who train with him under his wing and teaching them in a direct, hands-on manner. We recently reached out to Zac, who pulled over on the side of the road to give us the update on his current extern Aaron Weitlauf and share just a bit of his hard-earned wisdom.   You sound super busy. What are you and your student extern Aaron Weitlauf working on now?   “We just got out of location scouting. Tomorrow we’re doing a commercial meeting with Monell’s. We’re also gearing up to do an EPK (Electronic Press Kit) with a brand new country artist named Jamie Floyd who was recently a finalist on the USA Network show called Real Country with judges Travis Tritt, Jake Owen, and Shania Twain. It’s kind of like American Idol but for country music… Jamie was nominated for a Grammy two years ago.  Back in November, Skydive Films and some other student externs, did a music video of Jamie. Now, Aaron is going to be directing the EPK for Jamie Floyd, the commercial shoot for the restaurant chain, and his own short film.   How did you know Aaron was ready to direct professional projects?   “By now, he’s been on tons of shoots and he’s very reliable, he’s a go-getter. He’s got a lot of talent and he seems to have a clear vision. Even on set, when he wasn’t directing he’d have ideas. When we edit on projects together he has specific ideas to make the edit flow better and those are signs of a good director. I’ve been with him for about six months and I think he’s ready to step it up and do some of the above the line work like producing, screenwriting, directing, working on editing and he’s been shooting some more…   He’s always wanted to make his own films. He has several ideas for short films and feature films so I think he’s going in that direction for cinematography, directing, producing. So yeah, I just thought that he was ready. I’ve been watching him on set. [He’s] very reliable, and I think now’s the time because he wasn’t ready 4 months ago but he’s ready now.   What are the signs of a good director? What tells you, as a pro, that someone has the right stuff?   “I’m looking for someone with a clear vision. Someone who knows what they want. Someone that’s prepared…Knowing what you want, specifically, having a very clear and thorough vision of the project. And you have to have great communication skills, not only with your cast but with your crew, with your cinematographer, with your editor, with your colorist, sound designer, everybody.”   There’s a whole lot more to directing and producing films than many newcomers realize.   “What I always try to teach my externs is the importance of being prepared. Not going on-set and saying ‘Oh we didn’t location scout. This house looks a lot bigger…or I didn’t know we’re right next to the airport.’ That’s why we went out today to location scout…We have a lot of pre-production to do. And we have to have a list of questions for the artist. We have to know our camera angles, how many cameras we’re going to use, who’s going to be our crew, what time are we filming, what time are we setting up, what time are we going to wrap, what are we going to feed the crew, how many locations do we have. It takes time to do it right. That way you save a lot of time because you’re not having to reshoot everything and time is money.”   Your former extern Ryan Davis, who graduated in May 2018, has gone on to work numerous projects.   “One thing I tell my externs is you better know at least fifty to a hundred filmmakers. If I’m the only filmmaker you know, you’re in trouble because I can’t hire everybody. You have to know a lot of people. So I put them on other people’s sets as well and if these filmmaking friends of mine like them, they hire them and pay them. So Ryan’s been getting paid gigs from me, from friends of mine because he was always so good, he went above and beyond. You send him a text, he responds right back. You tell him call time is at 7am, he’s there at 6:30. It’s things like that that will get you hired.   Garic Griffin (another Film Connection grad) is also doing really well…A friend of mine, Sergio, got funding to edit this feature length wrestling documentary. It was shot in Oklahoma and now they’re having to go back to do some more shooting in Oklahoma. Garic’s got paid work helping Sergio shoot and edit. And I’ve been hiring Garic to do some editing too. I’ve got about 3 or 4 editors that I hire but if we get too much work, I always go to Garic and I pay him.”   What can Film Connection students do to make the most of their time in the program?   “Not only working on my stuff but meeting other filmmakers and making their own projects. The students I teach, work on my stuff, my friends’ stuff, but also their own stuff. I give them extra assignments and we work on those together…For instance, Aaron’s doing his own 3-5 minute documentary that he’s already shot, so we’re going to be editing that. It’s about this vape craze that’s been going on the past 3-4 years, he’s got some interesting angles on that…  That way they have stuff on their reel, not just a good résumé. If they want to be a cinematographer, editor, producer, director, they don’t just have a piece of paper of stuff they’ve worked on… Film is a visual medium, so show them a visual representation—a reel, something they can demo to other people so they can get other jobs.”   Learn more about Film Connection for Film Production & Editing, Cinematography, and more.    
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A Day in the Life of Our Students

Film Connection grad Jacob Sizemore (far left) with cast and crew of "The Porcelains"

Film Connection grad Jacob Sizemore (far left) with cast and crew of “The Porcelains”

Congrats to Film Connection grad Jacob Sizemore and the cast and crew of “The Porcelains” on winning The 2019 Nacogdoches Film Festival, even though they didn’t even know it, at first! Jacob explains:   “[After submitting to the festival] when the first due date…[came and] I never got an email, I assumed it was because we didn’t get in and they might not have bothered to email us back. I informed my team and we shrugged it off and went on with our lives.   About 3 days later however I got an email from the festival with the title CONGRATULATIONS…Not only did we get accepted into the festival in Nacogdoches but we were the official short film winners and our film will play along side other feature films as the main event of the night…   This may not be a big event for some people, but for us younger up-and-coming filmmakers, to work so hard on a film and to put your heart and soul into a project, get it made, and to have someone confirm that you did a good job, is unbelievably gratifying.”   We’ll keep you updated on Jacob’s progress!     
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