or call (800) 755-7597

Issue #219

Weekly Newsletter

by Liya Swift

Student Successes

Film Connection grad Jason Malizia
Seizes Opportunity, Gets Going in Film & TV!


Film Connection grad Jason Malizia

Film Connection graduate Jason Malizia (Brooklyn, NY) started shooting and editing skateboarding videos when he was 12 years old. Over the years that followed, through junior high and high school, Jason’s love of shooting, storytelling, and especially editing, flourished into a full-fledged passion. In a recent interview, Jason tells us how he’s been able to use that passion to seize opportunities as they arise, ask for what he wants, and build a fast-growing career in the industry before age 20!   Why did you choose Film Connection?   “I was approaching my end of my senior year in high school, and I looked into going into some film schools early on during senior year, and I actually got into one out West but it was just so expensive. And I wasn’t the best student, I would say, because I didn’t really try to get the best grades. I could have spent more time trying to, but I did make a lot of short films when I was in high school and I spent a lot of time doing that. So, I was able to get into this one school, and I just couldn’t really afford it with my parents and I didn’t want to start my career off being in debt…Film Connection seemed like it was less like a school and more like a kind of stepping stone that you could use to kind of propel yourself forward and meet more people and make more connections.”   Take us back to that first meeting with your mentor Zef Cota.   “I went in with my parents, I remember. They met him, too, and yeah, he’s a really good guy. Not just the first meeting, but over time just getting to know him, he’s a good guy…He seemed like someone who could really show me how to get started…   I remember he gave me some of his work and I showed him some of my work. I did some motion tracking project, this short film that I sent him where I did this animation. I remember he was really impressed with that, he thought it was really cool. He kind of liked my eye for shooting things…We talked about just working together and stuff and what we could do.”   You’ve become an expert at assessing the needs of the pros you meet and getting hired onto jobs. How did you do that?   “When I started doing fulltime work was January 2017 when I did my first PA job, which was from a mutual connection with Zef…who was producing a short film. She had me come PA on it. So I was in Upstate New York for a week. It was really cool…It was some indie small short film, and I ended up convincing the director to let me edit it, because I just showed him all the shorts I did before that, and it was kind of a similar vibe to what he was doing. So I just proposed to him that he should let me edit it, and he agreed.   So [then] I went to Zef and I said, ‘Can I start coming in, like, five days a week, and you can pay me in a very small amount of money so I can just help you finish your feature?’…and I basically just spent the next few months just five days a week with Zef and then two days on the weekend with this guy, Alex, the director of that short film. So I was simultaneously editing that and working on the feature…”   You’ve stuck to your goals and as a result, you’ve been able to get working fulltime in the industry. How’d it happen?   “Just as I was finishing up this feature and the short film…I got on this feature film that was in Upstate New York, called Spy Intervention. So I spent a month upstate in Glens Falls…I think it [had a budget] around $2.5-3 million. It had Blake Anderson from “Workaholics,” that Comedy Central show…It was a spy satirical comedy kind of thing. So that was really cool.   That was the end of 2017. I then came back to New York City and started trying to move into just editing all the time because I was doing a lot of PA’ing and I was doing low budget editing but I was trying to get to my goal of this year, of 2018, was really to do almost no PA work by the end of the year…so that was the goal for 2018, and I’ve been moving towards that, basically…   Then I got this call for this HGTV job, and that along with the cooking show job, doing all editing fulltime for three months straight, that was just definitely something that’s going to change the way my resume looks.”   Well they must have been impressed by your work because they also hired you on for another show.   “I’m not editing the show. I’m doing DIT, media managing, assistant editing basically. I was technically in the tech department on the call sheet. So it was just me getting all the footage at the end of every day, adjusting it, putting it in Avid and stringing it out, and then I would send MXF files to the editors so they could do it. Because all the post was [being done] in Australia.”   What’s your ultimate career goal in film? What’s the career you’re working towards?   “I want to edit narrative TV or film. That’s definitely the most exciting thing for me. I do make my own projects, too. I’m making a short film with my roommate next year who also does film work. He does production coordinating, stuff like that for some production team, so we’re going to be working together. I’m going to direct and he’s going to produce a short…I’m just moving up in that world, doing things. I was able to do a feature last year after Zef, some shorts, some commercials, [and] music videos.”   Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for people on similar career paths?   “This is kind of what I really think about how working in this industry is in general: if you want to get into the film industry and work, you actually want to just work in a department, you have to just start getting your hands on those things directly, because the things that you learn about it are really going to be accumulated through doing that. How I’ve learned the most is when I go into some sort of job or just a situation and I have to figure something out that I’ve never learned before…That’s how you progress.”   What’s your advice for current Film Connection students on how they can make the most of their externships?   “Work with your mentor. Try to see what he/she does and the way that he works and how he branches out to people, because I think it’s all about branching out. Film Connection is a stepping stone…It was a place where I was able to start branching out to different people. And it’s definitely hard. I think that’s an important thing to say…You’ve got to do a lot of things that you wouldn’t think of doing otherwise. Like [have] a lot of persistence…Because I remember I had to convince Zef to let me start working for him, I had to convince Alex to let me start working for him, because I had never worked for someone before doing this.”   Check out Jason Malizia’s website.    
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or call (800) 755-7597

Mentor News

Recording Connection mentor RENEGADE EL REY
Hires Student, Talks Big Boi Album and More!



Catching up with RENEGADE EL REY of Stankonia Studios (Big Boi, Outkast, Dungeon Family) is not easy. The sought after Recording Connection mentor, audio engineer/producer/artist has been firing on all cylinders these past few months. He lent his talents to the Big Boi album Boomiverse which has been climbing charts since the “All Night” track became a surprise hit after it was featured in an Apple iPhone X ad which ran during the NFL playoffs. His own album My Way Out, was released earlier in the year, and he’s currently working on tracks for multiple hip-hop artists, as well as mentoring a number of Recording Connection students in the skills they need to achieve in their music industry careers. In a recent conversation, we delved-in to talk about his journey, the upcoming album, the Recording Connection student he hired, and more!   What got you into music and then audio?   “I’ve always been into music. My pops and my mom were both into music, and my pops sang a lot. So he’s been in different bands and stuff. It’s been just in my blood from day one… As an artist, you know, we’re always trying to get into right positions and things of that nature. And I just realized that I needed to add some value to myself. One thing [me and a buddy] always knew about was that going into the studio we always needed an engineer. So why not just make ourselves the engineer? Then boom! We can play our music for people as we build our relationships. And that’s exactly what we did, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”   Once you got in at Stankonia you quickly made yourself an asset. How did you do that?   “I prayed. Let’s start there. I prayed a lot. But as far as the actual, physical work that was done, I made myself valuable, and that was one thing that my professors always told us was to always make yourselves valuable, make people want to need you for whatever the case may be, and that’s exactly what I did. So you know, I learned how to do several things, and that was just something that I always did…I don’t write my rhymes, my lyrics, but I keep pens and pencils, just different things that people need, so whenever they need something, they think to call you. I just made myself that guy, and it just took off from there.”   Would you say you’ve been proactive in building your career? You haven’t sat back just waiting for things to happen for you?     “Oh yeah, definitely. I’ve always been the type to look ahead and try to say, ‘Okay, what’s going on next and where do I need to be?’ because, you know, things don’t happen overnight. I’m always trying to reach out to the type of people that I need to reach out to ahead of time…You’ve got to get the ball rolling one way or the other.”   Have any projects you’d like to tell us about?   “Right now Big Boi has an album out called Boomiverse, and he’s actually about to rerelease it because he just signed up with…Hitco. So he has a project that he’s going to be rereleasing in a minute. I think he said at the end of September or something to that nature. But we’re definitely pushing hard for that, because, of course, I worked on that. I did the whole entire album and I wrote on a few songs, too…   Then I have my own album that I dropped in February, which is entitled My Way Out because music was just my way out…Other than that, there will be plenty of other records and plenty of albums that me and the people I work with are putting out.”   What’s My Way Out about?   “Being a young black man from Memphis, Tennessee, we have several options in life. But within those options and what’s on the road to those options, we have a plethora of things to throw us off and derail us. Growing up in the environment that I grew up in, you know, it’s all too easy for me to get derailed…It’s speaking on the hardships that we all have, that inner city youth go through. And some of the growing pains. You know, losing friends and people not being who they say they are or who they say they will be. So you definitely go through that, and just the pressures and struggles of trying to push a career, trying to push a dream. That is the album in a nutshell.”   You recently hired someone who also demonstrated a proactive mindset—Recording Connection graduate Chelsea George who’s now your assistant engineer. Why did you choose to hire Chelsea?   “She’s good, super talented, and she has the work ethic that I look for. So for me, picking up on the material is one thing but understanding the drive, to have the drive to do stuff…these are the type of people that I like to align myself with, people that are going to grind for life. Because nothing is going to be given to you no matter what your accolades are. Nobody really cares at the end of the day what school you went to but as long as you understand what’s going on, then, you know, you can move around once you get the opportunity. It’s about opening up the door for yourself.”   Are there other Recording Connection students or grads who have impressed you?   “Rion Teshon. That kid is awesome.   Brendan [Robinson] is perfect. This guy is on top of everything. He actually just came by here. He’s not my student anymore, but he came by to see me the other day and just play some of his productions that he’s doing and seeing is his EQ and mixing going in the right direction. So I keep a tab or at least try to keep a tab on all my students and check up on them, see how they’re doing and, ‘Yo, you still pursuing? What are you doing?’ And for the most part, the ones that had the stick-to-it-iveness to actually practice the things that I showed them, those are the ones that are still doing. They’re doing what they want to do.   Mario [Rice], he was here this morning. I had a class with him. He’s very talented and he’s catching on extremely fast. We’ll see in due time if he’s going to stick to it like he should. But he’s on the road to success, too.”   What can students do to make the most of Recording Connection while they’re in it?   “The way to make the best of whatever they’re doing is to stay hungry. Stay hungry and stay open to knowledge more than anything. Those just feed into each other. The hunger for knowledge in itself is going to lead you to keep running into roadblocks, which is going to lead you to keep asking questions, which is going to lead you to more knowledge.”   Learn more about Recording Connection’s programs in audio engineering, beatmaking, and more!    
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or call (800) 755-7597

Apprentices in Action

A Day in the Life of Our Students


Screenwriting mentor Ron Osborn and Cheryl G. Agbunag

Congratulations to Film Connection student Cheryl Agbunag (San Francisco, CA) on “Cold War Charlie” advancing from the quarterfinals to the semifinals of the WeScreenplay Television Contest 2018! That’s not all! “Cold War Charlie” has also been nominated for a Spotlight Award for “Best Role Written for a Leading Woman.”   Cheryl’s TV pilot is an adrenaline inducing fictional dramatization based on her amazing Air Force career experiences as a tough, courageous female officer during the Cold War era.   Learn more about Major Cheryl G. Agbunag’s TV pilot, her experiences crushing the glass ceiling, and training with Film Connection screenwriting mentor, Ron Osborn (“The West Wing,” Meet Joe Black).   

Film Connection students with mentor Deen Olatunji

Mark your calendar! A number of Film Connection students and graduates’ films will be premiering at the PressPlay Film Festival! Speaking of the festival, mentor Deen Olatunji, owner of Rehoboth Pictures says:   “Whenever we do anything, Film Connection students are always involved. Either they’re involved directly, being part of the client’s work, or it’s actually their own project. So right now, out of the 10 films we’re going to show, seven of them are originals from Film Connection students themselves, written and directed by Film Connection students…I feel it’s a great opportunity.   We’ll have more on this in our next issue so be sure to subscribe!   

Recording Connection grad Sebastian Lefeld

Congrats to Recording Connection grad Sebastian Lefeld (Miami, FL) on his new release “Steal You Away.” Since his graduation, Sebastian has worked with numerous artists including Shawn Mendes and Santana. He wrote in to tell us about his self-produced solo project:   “It’s a pop track that has a little bit of a tropical vibe to it with a little drop. It’s pretty much just about a guy that’s in love with a girl that’s in a relationship. So it’s kind of him convincing her to to let him steal her away. So the whole track talks about that. So it’s got a little romantic side to it. But it’s got a really cool vibe to it, and I’m super, super excited about it.” Check it out on Spotify.  
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or call (800) 755-7597

Apprentice Media

Check Out Our Students’ Work

    Heard our Student Music Mixtape yet? In partnership with Symphonic Distribution, we’re excited to help our students get their music out to the world!     The Recording Connection is now offering this great opportunity for our students to broaden their understanding of the new role digital distribution companies like Symphonic Distribution can play in helping release their tracks and propel their careers forward!