or call (800) 755-7597

Issue #246

Weekly Newsletter

by Liya Swift

Student Successes

Seeing the Possibilities,
Reem Rawi Gets a Real-World View in Cinematography.


Film Connection student Reem Rawi

As mother to a young daughter, experienced photographer Reem Rawi needed a cinematography program which would suite her schedule and enable her to learn at a rapid pace. Her search ultimately led her to Film Connection and longtime mentor Zac Adams of Emmy-winning production company,  SkyDive Films (Nashville, TN).   Just two months into the Film Connection for Cinematography program, she’s shot, edited, and even directed several promotional and tourism commercials under Zac’s mentorship. Speaking of Reem, Zac says she’s “extremely hardworking, reliable, and has a great eye for Cinematography.”   Understandably, we just had to speak with Reem about the program, and as it so happens, an experience which has turned out to be downright transformative.   What brought you to Film Connection in the first place?   “I was looking for a fast, quick, hands-on filmmaking program and had looked at so many institutes and colleges. I went to all of them around Nashville, but their curriculum and textbooks were so boring…and there’s no really hands-on experience. And the fact that you have to go to college or to class for a long time during the day, I just cannot live with that because I have a two-year old baby girl and I wanted something that really works with my schedule.”   So far, has Film Connection for Cinematography worked for you?   “It gave me the jump start that I’ve always wanted, away from textbooks and general education. I don’t have to do English Literature and Math. So this is the most awesome part of this program. We don’t have to do general education…That’s what made me choose to do the program. It was so different. I wake up every morning realizing that I have made the right decision.”   So what started your interest in film in the first place?   “I have always loved this medium. Since I was a child, I’ve always wanted to be a director. But this dream has been put off for so long, and as I’m reaching my 40s I’ve just realized that I don’t have much time to make my dreams come true. So I thought that this is the time. If I don’t do it now, I will regret it my whole life. So that’s what made me make the personal decision to take this path as a career, and you guys really helped me make sure that I made the right decision. I’m so happy that I’m with you guys.”   What’s Zac like as a mentor?  

Reem Rawi shoots Nashville tourism video

“He’s a great guy. You feel like you’ve known him forever. He’s easy to work with. At the same time he’s so firm. And yeah, I feel so comfortable working with him. I know we are not in Los Angeles, where some other students might experience different studios and different cameras, but the jump start that Zac is giving me in this program, yeah, I wouldn’t replace with anything in the world. His production company is so simple, but he has so much experience. He’s active, he’s motivated, and I’m really happy that I’m working with him and learning from him.”   The first time you met and interviewed with Zac, how did that go?   “He asked me about my expectations and my goals. I was afraid at that time that he might turn me down because I had zero experience in film. I do photography, but film, I didn’t use film. I didn’t do [any] editing like Premier Pro or video editing. So that was my main concern. But we talked a lot about my intentions and goals [and] he accepted to be my mentor.”   Now that you’re learning something you’re really passionate about, do you feel you’ve changed in some way?   “I’m totally a different person. I have a totally different perspective. Like, two months ago I wouldn’t have dreamed of this. Two months ago if someone would have told me that, ‘In two months you’re going to be like this,” like I’m now, right now, I wouldn’t believe it. My mindset is different, the way I look at myself is different. I feel I have an asset that I’m working on…And it’s brought up the potential that I never thought that I’d have.”   Tell us more about that.   “I didn’t know that I had this potential in filming and editing. Yeah. I’m so proud of myself, first, before anyone else. And yeah, I wouldn’t do it if Zac wouldn’t have told me to do it. He set deadlines, like, ‘I want it by this and this time,’ and ‘Do this and this. Focus on this.’ He told me what I did wrong and what I did right.”   What are your career goals going forward? What do you want to do once you graduate?   “Thinking about it, it feels like a whole world of opportunities is waiting for me…When I was preparing to start the program, I was telling myself, ‘Oh yeah, I love commercials, I love movies, I love to be on set,’ but now with all the doors that this program is making me see, I don’t have a set goal. What I’m focusing on right now is learning. I want to learn and observe everything I can while I’m with Zac and my editor. I’m sure that the best is yet to come. But my main focus is learning.”   Learn more about Film Connection for Film Production & Editing, Cinematography, and more!      
 *  *  *  *  *  


or call (800) 755-7597

Mentor News

Marc Moreau on Wearing Different Hats &
Capturing the Sounds in Your Head


Recording Connection mentor, audio engineer/producer Marc Moreau

Two time Grammy-award-winning audio engineer and music producer Marc Moreau (Ziggy Marley, Madonna, Roger Waters, Rage Against the Machine) of The Root Studio has decades of recording industry experience and insight to share with those he trains as a Recording Connection mentor. Helping aspiring engineers and music makers develop personalized workflows that work for them and incorporating students’ projects into their lessons are two hallmarks of Marc’s hands-on approach to education.   We recently connected with Marc to learn more about his journey into audio, pick his brain on engineering and producing one’s own tracks, and get his firsthand advice on how our students can set themselves up for success during their externships.   What got you into audio in the first place?   “I started like a lot of people, as a musician. Guitar was my main instrument but I played around a little bit on piano when I was younger. I remember as I was starting to try to figure out songs, I had this Beatles songbook. When I got it, I was so excited because I was like, ‘Okay, now I’m going to know what to play and have all the chords…The chords were kind of right, but once I learned it [I realized], ‘Well, this is not how the records sounds.’…So that was my first insight into all the unique things that go on in music, and variations on all the standard stuff…I would listen to the songs and play along to try to see what they were doing. Once I’d figured out the chords, there was this sound, and it was like ‘How are they getting that sound?’”   So many of us who are making our own music find it difficult to get their ideas out of their minds and into the songs they create. Can you speak to that?   “Technology has put an interesting twist on future producers and younger musicians…They’re wearing all the hats at the same time that used to be different people. For the most part, until computers entered the world, you had an engineer, you had an artist, and you had a producer, and they all had their roles. And in the best of times they would all complement each other and they’d come up with a great work of art.   And now with the technology, you’re all three of those. So you’re the artist, and you’re the engineer, and you’re the producer. It’s important to think about those hats as different ones as you’re working so that, for instance, if you’re in artist mode and you have an idea, you need to get that idea out as quickly as possible. Don’t think that you’ve got to then wear the engineer hat and go set up everything just perfectly as an engineer and take the chance that then the artist part of your brain just loses the idea.   Despite all the thousands and thousands of dollars of equipment that I have, if I have an idea, the phone comes out and the voice memo thing goes on and I capture it right then and there. Then you can go make it better with the engineer hat on. And then the producer hat comes in for perspective.”  

The Root Studio

What’s your advice to students on how they can make the most of the program while they’re in it?   “I think making the most of it really is about the time that they can put into it while they’re there, fresh in the moment, and how they can apply it to their productions. Something I’m really big on is encouraging them to take whatever we’re doing within that week’s lesson, or sometimes we’re even talking about other things on top of that which are pertinent to their productions, and applying that.   I like to see when they come back the next week that they’ve taken that concept, run with it and tried some things. Because that’s just the best way of learning and having the retention of what you learned, and then also making it your own. Then that helps them with their workflow.”   Have any students who are really delving in and getting creatively invested in what they’re learning?   “One of my current students Nick Leupen, is a great example of that. He’s a composer/producer in the Ableton program and has an insatiable appetite for learning. He’s not only on it when it comes to the course work and being a great student, but constantly curious about tips I can give him for working with other artists, etiquette with clients and is always looking at the bigger picture of what he needs to know for his career. That’s a great sign of future success.”   What qualities or characteristics do you want to see in the students you train?   “The attitude of somebody who’s really open, ready to learn, eager to absorb the information and to put it into practice in their own work… Because all of the other techniques and things like that, you can teach somebody…The thing that I like to see the most is that they’re just hungry for getting to the next step, and learning more, and absorbing all of that. And I think that’s a great quality and attitude that will help take them far in the long run.   Curiosity is a big thing. When I see the students coming in, I love it when they’re full of questions like, ‘What’s that and why is that going like this and what’s going on there?’…And you see these lightbulbs go off, and then they go back [home], and the next time they come in the following week, their song that they were working on has just taken this huge leap. So that’s neat to see and that’s a great part of being a mentor, too. Being able to help them discover those things and take it from the academic part of like, ‘This is what this thing does’ to ‘Here’s how you could actually use it for the type of music that you’re doing’ and ‘Here’s where you could get creative with it.’ That not only makes their productions better, it makes them feel better. Then they learn it on a deeper level than just like, ‘Oh, that’s what that knob does.’”   Learn more about Recording Connection for audio engineering, music production, beatmaking, Ableton and more!    
 *  *  *  *  *  

or call (800) 755-7597

Special Feature

Spotlight On… Evan Groom, Product Manager at Audio-Technica.


Evan Groom, Product Manager, Audio-Technica U.S., Inc.

  What you do as Product Manager at Audio-Technica?   “So my role is to work closely with our engineering team that are headquartered in Japan, and I regularly communicate with them about different customer and market requirements…I’m also responsible for every aspect of taking a product from an idea to something that can be sold, whether it’s hardware or software. That includes writing product definitions, doing market studies, understanding the competitive landscape, pricing, all the way down to silly little things like assigning barcodes to products and little things like how stickers should be put on the box.”   But you didn’t start in that position. You worked your way up. Could you tell us about that?   “I’ve worked in our shipping department, our production department, which is assembly-line type stuff, packaging, putting labels on things. From there I moved to our Audio Solutions Department for some time, actually working in Audio Solutions and Shipping, doing half a week in each department. In Audio Solutions I was working with end users and dealers just answering pretty much any audio-related question. From there that’s when I went up and moved into the product roles. So I’ve kind of been all over the building, which is really cool. It gives me a good insight to the whole process.”   We’ve noticed there’s a lot of promotion from within and communication between departments at A-T. Do you think Audio-Technica’s success has something to do with that?   “Oh, totally. I mean, the more unified you are internally, the more clear your message is going to be when you market your product. Everybody’s on the same page, all the way from our marketing message down to the customers calling-in and Audio Solutions knowing how to answer questions. Internal communication is a super important part of all that.”   So what gear would you recommend for people looking to set up their own home studio on a budget?   “If you’re just starting out and you don’t know much about audio engineering at all, you’re not really going to be able to get as much out of a super-expensive microphone as you would if you had many years of experience under your belt. [For them] like to recommend they take a look at our 20 series microphones. It’s our entry-level studio recording, content creation type of microphones that have a large diaphragm condenser.   If you’ve ever seen someone gaming or live-streaming a game or a YouTuber, you’ve seen a 20 series microphone. They’re really popular. Specifically the AT2020 and AT2035…They’re very versatile and can really just be used on anything: voice, guitar. I’ve even seen people use a pair of them for drum overheads…They’re really solid, really affordable. The AT2020 is a side-address condenser microphone for $99.   Once you’re ready to upgrade out of that, I’d recommend the 40 series. The 40 series is the next step up from the 20 series, and it’s a little bit more of a professional studio mic with higher quality capsule electronics. If you’re looking to get into the 40 series, the AT4040 is the entrance to this product line. It’s good on a ton of different applications, and it’s one of my go-to mics in my home studio. I use the 4040 on literally everything.”   What, personally, do you geek out on?   “Videogames, especially the music behind them. I listen to videogame soundtracks at work a lot, and think the audio experience is a really important aspect of gaming. And that’s something cool that I never even thought of even when I went into my degree in audio engineering. I never even thought, ‘Oh, I could potentially do videogame music.’ So yeah, that’s kind of what I geek out on. I’m a nerd.”   That’s great. Is video game music actually something the gaming companies invest in?   “Big money. Some videogame brands even hire out real musicians and they do real recordings. It’s not like something produced in a lab. There’s really intricate music. You should check it out. It’s really cool.”   Hmmm. So that’s one field for our students and grads to consider. What are some other kinds of audio jobs out there?   “I feel like the dream when you go to get your degree in audio engineering is to either work for or own your own recording studio, or to mix front of house for huge bands in stadiums, or make beats and make a lot of money selling beats. But I would say, don’t assume that the audio and music industry is only that. There are so many other pockets of this industry that I didn’t even know existed even when I was going to school for audio engineering. I mean, I never in a million years would have thought I would be doing product management for audio, but it’s been great… Just research what else is out there, because there’s a ton in this industry. It’s not just recording music and all that type of stuff. The commercial audio industry is a humongous market right now, and I’m talking about microphones and sound reinforcement for businesses or courtroom applications. Things like networked audio…commercial audio, there’s broadcast. You could get into video and broadcast, you could start your own podcast. That’s a huge thing now. Creating videogame music. I mean, there’s so much stuff that you can do.”       
 *  *  *  *  *  

or call (800) 755-7597

Apprentices in Action

A Day in the Life of Our Students


Recording Connection student Cati Sesana

Congrats to Recording Connection for Advanced Audio Engineering & Music Production student Cati Sesana on earning her first audio mixing credit on a killer track! Her mentor Don Zientara of Inner Ear Studio gave her tips on how to stay organized and provided notes on a few drafts of the mix but the heavy lifting was all her own. Cati wrote in to tell us how she landed the gig:   “Back in April I got linked up with Michael Stettes (who is a member of the band) after I posted on a Facebook group for musicians in DC…Michael reached out and said he had his recordings mostly done but would need someone to do the mixing, so I sent him material from other musicians I had worked on and he was pleased…The session had a lot of tracks so it was a bit intimidating but once I organized them and was able to get to work it was smooth sailing.   I received the files on September 13, and the song was released on September 26. I sent him 3 drafts total and would make adjustments to what he wanted so he could have a product he would be happy with. It was a lot of fun. I really enjoy the song…Overall it was a great experience.”Listen to the track here.   Connect with Cati on Instagram.      

CASA grad Justin Zhao (center), Chef Iñaki Aizpitarte (right) & Sous Chef Antonio

Recent CASA Schools Gourmet Chef program graduate Justin Zhao, who trained with Executive Chef/Owner Jeremy Blaringhem of Bouche San Francisco, learned firsthand how going the distance can pay off better than he could have imagined.   When Gervais Maillard in Career Services extended an invite to Justin, asking him if he wanted to volunteer to work the 3 day Lexus All-Star Chef Classic in Los Angeles, Justin said yes even though doing so meant he’d have to fly into Los Angeles from the Bay Area, put himself up in a hotel, and work some very, very long days.   During the jam-packed culinary festival, featuring dining experiences led by many of the world’s most renowned chefs, Justin was able to use his smarts and newfound culinary skills to his advantage. By the time the event was over, Parisian chef, Iñaki Aizpitarte was calling him by name and having him oversee other volunteers on the line, Chef de Cuisine Holly Jivin of L.A.’s Bazaar by José Andrés had offered him a job, as had an executive with Wolfgang Puck Catering.   Justin also found himself working with one of his personal heroes, Chef Tim Hollingsworth, formerly of The French Laundry and now at his own highly acclaimed Otium in Los Angeles. What came next had him on cloud nine:   “It was a surreal moment to be right next to him, working for him…Then the day was over and they asked me where I was working. I was like, ‘I work at a very small French place in SF.’ And he said, ‘Oh, well we’re opening in SF, in Union Square during New Year’s.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, really?’ And they were like, ‘Yeah, we’d like to hire you if you’re interested.’…   This was totally worth the trip and coming down here and flying over…I was doing almost 14 hours a day. It was tough. It was painful but the whole journey, the whole experience. Learning everything and being able to work for these amazing chefs, was totally worth it… It’s been very eye-opening, and this has really given me a huge confidence boost.” We’ll have the full scoop in an upcoming issue of the newsletter, (so subscribe)!    

or call (800) 755-7597