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Issue #136

Weekly Newsletter

by L. Swift and Jeff McQ

Student Successes

Recording Connection grad Luis Garcia apprentices with Rahki
in the Learn from Legends program!

luis-garcia-serenity-west With the Recording Connection, we often say that the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. In the case of apprentice Luis Garcia, he made the decision to get everything out of the program he that he could. Before he was finished, he would find himself learning one-on-one from Grammy-winning music producer Rahki (Eminem, Kendrick Lamar) through the Recording Connection’s prestigious Learn from Legends program.   Luis’ interest in producing, engineering and making beats started at an early age, to the point that he was already scoping out audio schools by age 15.   “At first I was looking into reaching other audio schools before I even graduated,” he says, so I was considering The Art Institute, Full Sail University. They were all great schools. I got accepted, but the problem was financial: they were just too expensive for me.”   After graduating, Luis spent a brief amount of time at Santa Monica College. “I was unhappy with what I was doing just because I knew I wasn’t in the right place,” he says. “So I just continued doing research. The next thing you know I see the Recording Connection.”   When Luis discovered he could learn in a real recording studio for a fraction of what it costs to attend most colleges, he decided to jump in with both feet. After completing the basic course at Serenity West in Los Angeles under mentor Steve Catizone, he went on to do the master’s program with Doug Boulware at The Abstract Recording Studios. But Luis still wanted to take things to the next level, so he decided to apply for the Recording Connection’s premiere Learn from Legends program, a select course in which the student trains with a known, credentialed, award-winning producer after an extensive interview. Specifically, Luis asked if he could interview with Rahki.   “I wanted Rahki just because I felt like we identify more as far as music tastes,” says Luis. “He’s Kendrick Lamar’s producer, Eminem, and stuff. So I was like, that’s definitely my type of guy.”   Brian Kraft, Recording Connection’s consultant, set up the interview. When Luis arrived at Rahki’s private studio in Burbank, he was understandably nervous, but that soon changed. “He made me feel super welcome and super comfortable,” he says. “That’s one thing I liked about Rahki, is that a guy of his profile, you would think that he could be intimidating, but to me he was super, super nice.”   It didn’t take long to get an answer back. “The next day, Brian called me, like, ‘Congratulations, you’ve got approved by a Grammy-award winning producer!’” says Luis. “Now I’m with Rahki and everything is just working out amazing right now.”   Luis says he drew upon his prior training with the bachelor’s and master’s programs when going into sessions with his new mentor. “Rahki is a real busy guy where he brought in the artist that he was working [with],” he says. “I just had to lay back…because he told me, ‘Keep proper studio etiquette.’ So I applied what my past mentors had told me about how to behave in a session when you’re with artists. So I was just in the back of the room with my notebook just taking notes, staying quiet and just observing and reserving all the questions for the end, once the session was done… [It] helped me a lot just because, I mean, as an aspiring producer, working…engaging with an artist or with an engineer or songwriter, it’s really important just because you’ve got to have a specific vibe in the room, and you’ve got to know how to properly work and get around the session the right way …You’ve got to maintain a certain level of professionalism.”   During their lesson times, Luis says Rahki has definitely helped him up his game as a producer. “When I was with Rahki, I learned that when you’re making a track, you’re not just making a track. You’re making a song,” says Luis. “There’s a difference between a beat maker and a producer. A beat maker would be somebody who just makes beats that sound good. But a producer actually takes it to the other level and actually leaves spaces, leaves room for the artist to sing…Rahki helped me properly structure a song depending on what kind of genre I was going into.”  
RC Grad Luis Garcia with artist SonReal and mentor Rahki

RC Grad Luis Garcia (left) with artist SonReal and mentor Rahki (right)

Now nearing the end of the course, Luis is applying what he’s learned to his own material, and Rahki continues to give him feedback. “I’m actually producing songs for my own artists that I have that we’re working on,” says Luis. “All these songs that I produce, I send them to Rahki… I send it to him first, and if he gives the final approval then it’s good to go.”   Luis credits his in-studio training for the way his career is now progressing. “Recording Connection itself, to me, is the best audio program in the world,” he says. “I don’t think another school will actually put you in room with a person so important or with a person with all these credentials, that’s won Grammys, and actually take you into a session with important artists… It’s an unforgettable experience that I’m living right now, in the Learn from Legends program.”   Now that he’s been through not one, but three Recording Connection programs, what is Luis’ advice to other students?   “[The] first key is to have a great, great, great connection with your mentor,” he says. “Try to ask as many questions as you can… Always being available, being around…I was in sessions from the middle of the day to super late at night, and I’ll stay in there the whole time because you never know when there might be an opportunity that might come up late…Make sure that you’re worth having around, and when an opportunity comes in, you’ve got to make sure that you’re ready for it.”   As for Luis, he continues working to hone his skills and develop a successful career. “I just hope to continue doing what I’m doing, and Rahki was the key [to that],” he says. “Sooner or later, hopefully, I could say that I’m half as good as my mentor. In the end, that’s my end goal.”   
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Mentor News

NUGGETS OF TRUTH: Film Connection mentor Peter Scheibner offers key advice about work ethic and proactivity

   Film Connection mentor Peter Scheibner knows a thing or two about being proactive and working yourself into a job. His lifelong passion for film helped him to find gigs even during the years when he had to work a “day job” to keep the bills paid. Today, Peter is the Studio Production Director at Amazing Studios in Raleigh, NC, working on a wide range of projects and enabling his apprentices to gain a broad base of experience. In a recent conversation with RRFC, Peter gave us plenty of gold, not only telling his own story about working his way into a career, but also offering key advice for Film Connection students based on his experiences. We’ve mined the best nuggets from that conversation for you below.  
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Film Connection mentor Peter Scheibner

Peter Scheibner and daughter Kaleigh Joy Scheibner.

“I’ve kind of been doing it my whole life. I love photography. When I was little, I used to buy those little wind-up cameras and I’d save up and I’d spend five bucks and I’d get one of those and I’d go through it in a day and then I would go and spend another five bucks and get another one…I was probably 12 years old when I bought my first digital camera. It was a Fuji Film and it shot 3 megapixels and it cost me $800…I thought I was going to be a photographer when I grew up. But one day I was taking pictures of little green army men. I realized that if you shoot two pictures back-to-back and you flip back and forth really fast, it looked like they were moving. And so I thought, ‘Well, hey, what if you took 100 pictures in a row?’ And little did I know that that was actually an art form called stop-motion. So I started doing stop-motion animation and I guess that kind of evolved into filmmaking. I bought my first video camera when I was 15, my first professional camera when I was 16, started doing it as a living and went to school. I started film and video production, shot on actual film cameras, which was a blast. And now I’m in the field and it’s what I get to do every day.”   ON HOW HE FOUND OPPORTUNITIES FOR FILM DURING HIS YEARS WORKING A “DAY JOB” AT A CALL CENTER:   “I always had something going, whether it be, you know, mini-docs or short films. I even went so far…you know, I was at the call center, I went to the manager and I was like, ‘Hey, I’m a filmmaker, and you guys have me on the phones, which is great, but I think I could do more for you. So I’ll tell you what. While I’m sitting here on the phones, can I have my laptop open? And you guys have this announcement board up in the corner. Can I just make some motion graphics that’ll help to spice it up and make it cool?’ And they thought that was the coolest thing ever. So, while I’m sitting there on the phone, mindlessly talking to people, I’m in After Effects, building motion graphics…eventually, after about a year on the phones, they moved me into the marketing department there…So I made the opportunities where I was. I never said, ‘Well, I’m just at a call center. This sucks.’ I definitely pushed to make the most of where I was. And that has always served me well…My pilot father always taught me that, that proactivity always will beat reactivity.   “About three years after I graduated college, I was to a point where I was doing enough freelance work that I was sustaining my family. And then shortly after that, I was offered a job at a studio that I work at now as a director. And now I have a nice, comfortable salaried position where I have a sustainable amount coming in every single month and I get paid to create.”   WHAT HIS JOB LOOKS LIKE NOW:   “I do commercials, I do promotional films, I do documentaries, I do short narratives. I’ve shot some…I’m actually getting ready to shoot a short film with Red Giants. I shoot music videos. You name it, I’ve shot it at this point. Tomorrow night’s actually the premiere of a feature documentary that I produced [NC Comicon, the Movie]. I probably have a dozen projects going at any given time. In fact, the shoot that I’m now is for the governor’s office and it’s a promotion piece for the state, but I’m doing that in conjunction with shoots for Google and Apple, while also working on personal projects that are kind of close to my heart.   ON WHY HE IS A FILM CONNECTION MENTOR:   “There’s a saying in filmmaking that, ‘Those that can, do. Those that can’t, teach.’ And I’ve seen it somewhat borne out, which is, I think, probably what intrigued me to this program the most when I first was approached by you guys, was that this was an opportunity for people to learn from those who do, which I think is the best way to learn. It’s what intrigued me in the first place.”   BRAGGING ON ONE OF HIS FILM CONNECTION STUDENTS, EMORY ARZU:   “He’s always with me. Every shoot I’ve had since he came on, he’s been with me…And at this point, he can do just about anything I ask him to do. I’ve taken him on shoots to Boston and San Francisco, you know, Georgia. He’s been all over the country, filming with us, and he’s gotten a lot of real good hands-on experience. So at this point, often times, I’m comfortable enough with Emory that I’ll say, ‘Hey. Go get me a set-up in this area. I want to a shot that looks like this. Go get that set-up while I talk with the talent and prep them.’ So he’s really become very much an asset to me more than just an apprentice.”   HIS ADVICE FOR BEING SUCCESSFUL IN FILM:   “I speak at a lot of film schools now, and when I do, I tell them all the same thing. You’re always told growing up that there’s two ways to be successful in film. One is to be super talented, and one is to know someone. I am not super talented. I don’t know anybody. I got here the third way, which nobody really talks about, and that is to work really hard. If you work really, really hard, if you just shoot unstopping amounts of footage, if you go out there and you push yourself and you drive to get better in everything you do, you can make it. Anybody can make it, but you have to really want to, and you have to really try.”   ON HAVING PERSEVERANCE AND OVERCOMING DISCOURAGEMENT:   “I think a lot of the people that we see not make it are people who get into it because they think it’s easy, or because they think it’s fun. The truth is there’s going to be days you’re going to hate it. There’s going to be days that you’re going to look at your art and you’re going to get discouraged. You’ve got to push past those days, and you have to continue to create.”   FINAL BITS OF ADVICE FOR FILM STUDENTS:   “All the soft skills apply: you need to be punctual, you need to be approachable. That all applies, and those are all really important things. But I think the traits of a filmmaker, the thing that sticks out the most, is the filmmaker is somebody who is just dying to shoot something, as in, get a camera in your hand and go out and shoot something. And if, for you, the thought of going out into the hot sun and being out when the sun rises, all the way to when the sun sets, to get the shot and make it work, doesn’t sound appealing, filmmaking may not be for you. But if you just eat, drink, and sleep, and everything you think about is getting that shot, then you’ve got a shot at this and you can make it. Just work, and work really hard. Always critique yourself. Find other people who will give you honest critiques…Finding those people, you know, not your mom, to critique your work, and take their advice and get better.”   
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Apprentices in Action

A Day in the Life of Our Students

   gibran Film Connection student Gibran Trujillo-Pelcastre (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina), who apprentices at Encore Video, is diving into the deep end of production! “On my first week of working with my mentor, I [got] to see and study the projects his company had worked on, and I also got introduced to the basic principles of everything, I got some hands on experience doing some lighting, editing some video footage, and learning the steps of producing a show or movie. I am currently working on how to come up with estimates for projects and movies.”    collage Recording Connection apprentice Jesse Ludwig, who apprentices with Joey Heier at Crystal Clear Studio (Phildelphia, PA) recently brought a band into the studio and received real, firsthand feedback from his mentor. “Joey talked with me for an hour about how the session went the previous week with the band I brought in. We talked about what needed some work and what sounded incredible! He let me loose on his Pro Tools and the mixer he had for about an hour, figuring things out by myself and with my own ear. It was awesome! I put some reverb behind the band’s voice…I then put some Auto-Tune behind the voice…I then learned to just set the whole band the right way and make the mix sound good. I then used the program called Melodyne and tried playing around with it…Joey came in from the other room where he was with another student, but heard me mixing, and said he was impressed with what I knew already. All in all, it was a great day!”   
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or call (800) 755-7597