or call (800) 755-7597

Issue #142

Weekly Newsletter

by L. Swift and Jeff McQ

Student Successes

Recording Connection grad Anthony Montejo
hits the road with Jam In The Van!


Anthony working at JITV session on The Van

When you learn audio engineering on-the-job in a real studio, it gives you real experience that can open doors for some incredible opportunities. Recording Connection grad Anthony Montejo found that out firsthand when he got the opportunity to sign on with Jam In The Van, a unique mobile recording studio that travels the nation to feature up-and-coming talent!   Anthony initially got word about the opportunity from a Recording Connection student advisor. “I told them to sign me up to see what could happen,” he says, “and then a couple days later I went in for the interview. And then a couple days after that is when they told me that I got the position and they wanted me to start as soon as possible!”   Anthony first discovered Recording Connection online when he was just about to commit to another recording school. He was hesitant at first, he says, because he thought the opportunity was too good to be true.   “I was a little skeptical about it,” he says. “The tuition was so much more affordable than the school I chose.”   The Recording Connection arranged for Anthony to meet his mentor, Donny Baker, and see the studio that would become his classroom—ES Audio in Los Angeles, CA. Once he realized the opportunity, Anthony was hooked.   “The studio was really nice,” he says. “When I heard…that you get to be an actual extern in the studio, as opposed to a classroom, that’s when I found out that this is what I wanted to do instead,” he says. “You get to learn everything hands-on while it’s happening in real life. And the whole mentor and extern approach is one-on-one, as opposed to you’re in a classroom with 20-odd other students where you don’t even get to do real life experiences or situations.”   Anthony made the most of the opportunity, immersing himself in the process. He says he went do the studio at least four times a week, then practiced his skills with friends at home. “All of my friends are musicians,” he says. “So ever since I started going to Recording Connection, I would bug them like, ‘Hey, come to my house so I can work with you, so I can try to put into work what I just learned.’”   Learning in the studio truly paid off when the opportunity with Jam In The Van came along. Not only did he get hired from his studio experience, but Anthony says his boss Ethan Glaze was impressed with his skills. “When I came in, he didn’t have to be over my shoulder trying to see if I was doing anything wrong or doing anything right,” says Anthony. “He was impressed with me because of what I learned from Donny.”  
Antony Montejo and PPL MVR

Recording Connection grad Antony Montejo with band PPL MVR at Jam In The Van HQ in Los Angeles, CA

Once he landed the opportunity, things moved quickly, as Anthony was flown out to Colorado to join JITV for the GoPro Mountain Games. “We have to set up everything from the drums, the amps, from the routing, everything,” he says. “We have to set up everything as fast as possible because as soon as one band is done, we have to tear everything down and set it up for the new band… From the time we record them to the time they’re done, to the next band, it’s about 45 minutes.”   Billed on their website as “the world’s first solar powered music discovery vehicle,” Jam In The Van travels to events across the country, recording live performances from up-and-coming bands and artists and featuring them on their website and YouTube Channel. Not only has it proven to be a great opportunity for Anthony, but it’s been the beginning of what promises to be a fruitful partnership between the Recording Connection and JITV, with more opportunities for students and graduates in the near future. Meanwhile, Anthony says he loves the people he’s working with, and he travels with them whenever he can.   “They’re great; they’re all awesome,” he says. “We just have a good time all day because that’s how it is with them. When we have to do work and record, we’re all serious, we’re all down to business. At the end of the day, it’s all fun. It’s great.”   Check out a funny video with Anthony and the guys from JITV in the Student Work section below!   
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Mentor News

NUGGETS OF TRUTH: Film Connection screenwriting mentor Ron Osborn talks comedy, drama and theme

A veteran Hollywood screenwriter, Ron Osborn is a seven-time Emmy nominee known for his work on Meet Joe Black, Moonlighting, Duckman and The West Wing. Given his expertise in the film and television industries, it’s little wonder he’s one of the Film Connection’s most in-demand screenwriting mentors, helping our students frame their scripts to be industry-friendly.   We caught up with Ron by phone recently, and true to form, he offered some powerful insights on the dynamics of story, particularly regarding comedy, drama and the importance of theme. It was just too good not to share. You’re welcome.  
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  Ron Osborn ON THE FINE LINE BETWEEN COMEDY AND DRAMA:   “The interesting part that I’ve learned over the years is that the rules between comedy and drama are essentially exactly the same. There’s no real difference. In fact, if you reduce all storytelling to, you know, defining the need and creating the obstacle which is the basis for all conflict, it applies equally to drama or comedy…If I described a film to you where two musicians witnessed a gangland massacre, a cold-blooded shooting of five, six people, and the musicians are discovered and they’re on the run for their lives, is that a comedy or a drama? Invariably, everyone says drama, but that is in fact the basis for the film the AFI voted the best American comedy of all time, Some Like It Hot by Billy Wilder. Because the comedy is not in the jumping off point—the comedy is in how the two protagonists run for their lives, and that’s why [they’re] joining an all-women traveling band and disguising themselves as women. And of course they’re incredibly testosterone-driven…and they’re surrounded by Marilyn Monroe and others and cannot reveal themselves. If they come out as men, they risk their lives. So therein lies comedy… It’s how the protagonist chooses to act to get around the obstacle that brings the comedy, but the jumping off point is always going to be equally as dire, equally as menacing and life-and-death as drama.”   ON THE SUBTLE WAYS COMEDY CAN COME INTO PLAY:   “Protagonists don’t have to be funny. The world around the protagonist can be funny. One of my favorite TV shows—and this is the perfect example—one of the best half hour sitcoms of all time to me is Arrested Development. Jason Bateman is the kind of sane center of that show, if you will, and the least funny character. Everyone around him is hilarious, but he’s kind of the anchor, the one person rooted in some kind of reality and, as such, plays the straight man and yet he is the show’s protagonist, he’s the one we relate to.”   ON THE CATHARTIC NATURE OF COMEDY:   “There’s a little cliché that comedy is tragedy plus time. Comedy is closer to tragedy than it is to drama…When you deal with a subject that is inherently tragic through a comedic approach, then by all means, it can be cathartic. I mean, a co-dependent, destructive male-female relationship can be Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf? or it could be Annie Hall. So it’s both of those, and both are very cathartic films…I think the more serious the subject matter, the more potential there is for comedy…The great thing about comedy is it allows us to hold otherwise tragic or taboo subjects at arm’s length.”   THOUGHTS ON THE IMPORTANCE OF THEME IN SCREENWRITING:   I’m a big, big believer in theme. The most important thing you can have besides the situation and the approach and the tone, is theme because theme becomes your compass. It’s always pointing you true north. One of the best examples of theme I’ve ever seen is James Cameron’s Aliens, the sequel to Alien. The theme is the universality of motherhood. Ripley, who we know nothing about in the first Alien, turns out to be a single mom, turns out she promised her daughter she’d return for her 11th birthday, but because she’s been traveling in space at hyper-speed, she has aged differently than her daughter who’s now died of old age by the time she returns to earth. Ripley’s then sent back out into space where they think a colony has been infested with these aliens, and she finds a young girl named Newt, and she is determined to save Newt and redeem herself and not fail her like she feels she failed her daughter.   “Now in the meantime, and this is the brilliant part of the film, she goes up against the queen alien. In the first movie, the alien was basically an asexual parasite that thrives in a host’s body and then lives and grows. Here, we have The Queen; the biggest, baddest alien of them all, and that’s the ultimate antagonist. All the females in the movie are the strongest characters: the female marines and Ripley the protagonist. It is so much about the strength of the female of any species and the universality of motherhood, and that film is brilliant because of that.”   ON HOW THEME IS REVEALED IN A STORY:   “No one should set out to write a theme. No one sets out to write “war is hell” as a theme. No, you sit down to write a story, and as you’re working it out, you realize what you’re really saying is war is hell. And once you know that, that becomes your compass. Now there’s the danger of playing the theme versus playing the plot, and you don’t want to do that. You want to play the plot and let the theme come out of it. By way of example, going back to “war is hell,” if you have a scene with two soldiers in a foxhole in WWII and they’re talking about what hell they’re going through, that’s playing the theme. But if they’re in a foxhole and it’s winter, and if they don’t start a fire they’re going to freeze to death, but if they start that fire they’re going to alert the enemy snipers to their location and probably get shot, that’s hell. You don’t have to tell me: as the audience, I get it. So you don’t want the theme to dominate; you want the theme to play underneath and guide you, but you want to play the plot and let me, as the audience, get to the theme.”   
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or call (800) 755-7597

Apprentices in Action

A Day in the Life of Our Students

   Just in time for Halloween season, “Clown Community” is a Film Connection student-led project inspired by the recent rash of clown sightings across the country. Mentor Deen Olatunji of Rehoboth Pictures (Dallas, TX) created the platform and served as principal advisor while his apprentices worked various positions on the crew.   Clown
  • Cesar Villagrana and Corey Gingrich broke down the script, and distilled it into scenes, props, dialogues, and camera angles.
  • Joslyn Greenard and David Aguirre handled the lights and the sound, and organized their notes during filming to help out the editor for post-production. David also assisted with securing locations and permits for the shoot.
  • Brian Sanders served as writer/director and also procured the talent i.e. actors for the shoot, who did a great job.
  • Noah Cook served as DP and editor. He helped with various cameras and test footage before production began, and during real-time filming.
  • Ananth Agastya organized the crew during production on the set during the first two weekends. Joslyn took over this responsibility during the latter two weekends.
Catch the trailer here.  
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   Recording Connection student Kayla Parker was recently got quite the surprise when she went into her mentor’s studio, Twelve Studios, to attend an awards reception and show her support for all the producers, engineers, and staff that make it happen. “I’m not a tall woman so I’m easily swallowed up by a room full of tall men,” she says. “Suddenly, I hear ‘Kayla Parker, is she still here?’ My mentor and advisor Christopher ‘CAT’ Taylor and Kandice Knight, alongside Twelve’s owner Dina Marto, presented me with the Most Likely to Succeed Award! I was in total awe.” Congrats Kayla! We believe in you!  
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or call (800) 755-7597