or call (800) 755-7597

Issue #237

Weekly Newsletter

by Liya Swift

Student Successes

Recording Connection grad
Collin Jacka Gets in, Get’s Hired!


Recording Connection grad Collin Jacka

Recording Connection graduate Collin Jacka (Sacramento, CA) completed both the Audio Engineering and Music Production program with mentor Matt Young at The Press Recording Studio (Stockton, CA) and the Advanced Audio and Music Production program with Shane Anderson at Unique Recording Studios (Sacramento, CA). Now, Collin’s making a name for himself as the new hire at Unique.   We recently touched base with him to learn more about how he’s building his future, and how he secured his first in-industry job.   What got you interested in Recording Connection in the first place?   “I was in bands and I was always the sound guy. Eventually I just realized that it was a lot more fun…My goal was just to be a recording engineer just so I could be around music all the time.”   Have your goals changed now that you’ve completed the programs?   “Yeah,  quite a bit. Right now my plan is to focus more on producing, both making beats and producing artists. And then also mixing confidently and creatively, which is something I’ve been working on lately. So I’ll be testing mixes and Shane will tell me how I could do better. I’m also getting the opportunity to help on the Instagram page and take photos and promote the studio. So it’s cool to get a bunch of different experiences.”   So let’s go back to when you first interviewed with Shane to do the advanced program. Were you nervous, excited?   “I was definitely nervous because I was changing studios from the one in Stockton, and I hadn’t planned to move up here. But within a few minutes I was feeling completely comfortable with Shane. We ended up spending an extra hour and a half just talking about music and stuff. But it was a really good interview. It was more like hanging out than an interview.”   When it comes to mixing, what was it like learning how not one, but two different mentors, two different pros handle the mix?  
Collin Jacka and Shane Anderson at Unique Recording Studios

Collin Jacka and Shane Anderson at Unique Recording Studios

“So there’s two different approaches from the two different studios. When I’d watch Matt mix, it’d be fast and on the fly, because he’s always very sure. When I watched Shane mix, he mixes very creatively, but while still keeping the artist’s vision for it. Both experiences were very, very beneficial.”   What have been the highpoints of training with Shane?   “Since I’ve been with Shane here at Unique Recording Studios, I’ve really learned how to listen, without just revealing too much of Shane’s mixing stuff, you know, like search and destroy. You just narrow it down and you find that one little noise that’s bringing the mix down, and you find it. And it’s surprising, like, one little cut can make the whole track a lot better.”   So how’d you get hired at Unique? What led up to it?   “The first time I came in for an interview, Shane asked what my intentions were. And I told him my intention was to earn a position here at the studio by the end of my externship. So I put 200% in for my externship, and Shane followed through.”   Have your parents been supportive of what you’re doing?   “100%. They’re all for it.”   Are there any projects you’d like to tell us about?   “Two different artists, Hunnit F. Roundz and Fresh B (Spotify). I engineered their sessions. Two hours recording with me, then Shane comes in and does the mix and master so they leave with a completed song. Also, when I first started the program, Shane set up this project for me to work on with this artist named Era…So I’ve been working on that project at the studio, and I’ve been cataloging my own beats that I make at home. And then I have a few songs that I’ve been messing around with that may see the light of day sometime soon.”   What’s your advice to other Recording Connection students on how can they make the most of the program while they’re in it?   “Definitely take a bunch of notes, because you could always refer back to them. Even if you don’t know what you’re writing down, it will make sense someday and it will keep your head in the game. And also, I know a lot of students can’t afford all of this analog gear that the big studios have. Something that Shane taught me was that mixing in the box doesn’t mean you have to think in the box. It just helps to be creative. No robot could take my place in 20 years, because a robot can’t feel that emotion.”   Check out W.O.M.P (Weapons of Mass Production) the VST plugin brought to you by Recording Connection mentor Shane Anderson of Unique Recording Studios. This beast runs lean and comes stocked with sounds made in-house at URS. Releases July 1st. Special discounts will be offered to confirmed Recording Connection students and grads in good standing.   Learn more about the Recording Connection for Audio Engineering & Music Production Program.    
 *  *  *  *  *  

or call (800) 755-7597

Mentor News

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.    
 *  *  *  *  *  

or call (800) 755-7597

Apprentices in Action

A Day in the Life of Our Students


Recording Connection grad Connor Donald

Congrats to Recording Connection for Audio Engineering & Music Production graduate Connor Donald for getting hired at global event production company PSAV, where he’s working full-time as an audio/visual technician and he’s just 20 years old.   So far, the new job has enabled him to work shows with big talent including ZZ Top but that’s not all. Through his mentor, Connor was also able to play on the musical recordings for Miss America 2019.   Learn more in our interview with Connor.    

Nate Crockett and mentor Geno DiMaria framing shot for “Hindsight”

Congrats to Film Connection for Film Production & Editing graduate Nate Crockett (Charleston, SC) on getting hired on his dream crew! Nate recently told us all about it:   “I’m part of the crew on HBO’s new show called “The Righteous Gemstones,” which is Danny McBride’s new show…I finally got my foot in the door for what I’ve always wanted to do, which is be on a feature or TV show that’s narrative-based and with people that I’ve looked up to pretty much my whole life. John Goodman’s on the show. Being able to stand right next to him and help him with things, like get him water or food, just small things, but being able to do that is really surreal, and the fact that I’m getting paid for it is even more surreal, because I would definitely do this for free if I had to.”   And there’s more good news! The short film “Hindsight,” which Nate worked on alongside his mentor Geno DiMaria (Block One Studios), also a co-producer of the project just screened at the Cannes Short Film Corner at this year’s Cannes Film Festival!   Directed by Ian Kent, the film was shot on location in Charleston, South Carolina. It tells the story of what happens when a young, troubled white artist is forced to deliver Meals on Wheels for community service and forms an unexpected friendship of sorts with a blind, African American ex-Dobro guitar player.   Learn more about Film Connection for Film Production & Editing.    
Radio Connection student extern Lady Rocka Chi | Washington DC

Radio Connection grad Lady Rocka Chi

Recent Radio Connection for Radio Broadcasting graduate Lady Rocka Chi, who trained with Victor Akoko of VPS Media, has a zeal for learning and discovery that’s downright infectious. Turns out, that curiosity goes way back:   “This was a cool assignment. I reported the weather in sunny L.A and then in cold Boston…My mentor said I should smile [while] I’m reporting the weather and be friendly like I’m in conversation…   I always wondered how I would do at reporting the weather. As a child, I used to practice playing ‘weather girl’…I thought it was interesting on TV…Then, as I got older and wiser, I realized the actual process. They don’t even have that board in front of them. It must take some getting used to when it’s all green screen!”

or call (800) 755-7597