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WEEKLY NEWSLETTER July 22, 2019 by Liya Swift


Film Connection student Isabella Jones
edits full-length film!

Film Connection graduate Isabella Jones, Hobbiton (Matamata, NZ)

Film Connection graduate Isabella Jones, Hobbiton (Matamata, NZ)

  Say yes, and you never know just how far it can take you. Recent Film Connection for Film Production & Editing graduate Isabella Jones said yes to the challenges brought to her by mentors  Daniel Lir and Bayou Bennett of Dream Team Directors (Los Angeles, CA). When they asked if she’d like to edit interviews for their informative web series dealing with the realities of being a professional in today’s film industry, Isabella said yes. When she was invited to serve as Assistant Editor on Dream Team’s co-produced socially relevant full length film, Tombstone Pillow, Isabella said yes again.   And ultimately, when due to creative differences, the Lead Editor bowed out of editing the film, Isabella said yes to the position of Lead Editor. Never mind the fact that she’d never edited a full length film before. Four months ago, Isabella put her head down and got to work, receiving direction and notes from Daniel, Bayou and other key team members along the way as she edited the film to completion, maintaining a level head all the while. Three days ago, Isabella took a breath. With Tombstone Pillow “in the can” and submitted to a number of big film festivals, only now is the young editor beginning to register the magnitude of her recent accomplishment.   Shot in the cemeteries of Manilla, the feature film shines a light on the communities who, due to economic hardship and rampant crime and corruption, are forced to live in “haphazard shanties, [on]top of graves and mausoleums.”   What got you interested in Film Connection in the first place?   “I have been editing for a long time. I mean, ever since probably 13. It just started out where I was just like, ‘How do you do that?’… I got fascinated by it…I would take clips from movies or TV shows and then I would just edit them together to music which was just something I loved doing. I’ve always loved film. I mean, my whole family, we just enjoy watching movies together. Originally, I was going to go to NYU for an English program, then life kind of got in the way, but it also led me a different way…It was never a clear-cut decision, ‘I’m going to be doing this.’ It was just something that my family had mentioned and I was like, ‘That would be really cool.’ …My dad’s wife was looking up places and she found Film Connection. Then, I did a lot of my own research about it to see if it was something I felt comfortable doing.”  

Film Connection mentors Daniel Lir & Bayou Bennett with grad Mike Dusenka (right)

Then we sent you to interview with Film Connection mentors Bayou Bennett and Daniel Lir of Dream Team. How did that go?   “I think it was just like an instant connection with them. I liked who they were as people. I also liked who they were as artists… Storytelling’s the most important thing to me in the world, and Daniel really understood that from an editing perspective as well, how editing can really skew a story and change it. So it was automatic, I knew I liked them, I knew I didn’t want to meet other people. And thank God for that, because they’re amazing.”   What led up to you nabbing the post of Lead Editor on Tombstone Pillow?   “Just by circumstance. It wasn’t meshing together, [the editor’s] style and what they wanted and whatnot. So they gave me the opportunity to do an opening scene for the film…I did a rough draft of that, [in accord with] what I felt the tone was, and I sent that to them. They really liked it, and they had me do another thing. I think they wanted me to extend the opening, do more of it. So I did that, sent it back to them, and they really liked it. So, very luckily for me they actually ended up having me be the main editor… It was my first time ever doing something on that scale. I was learning along the way…I opened my eyes one day and we were done with the film, and I was just like wow. It was just kind of a whirlwind…It’s definitely a once in a lifetime experience for me. I am still thankful that it happened so young. [That] I can build my portfolio at such a young age, is just really awesome.”   May we ask how old are you?   “I just turned 20.”   Was Film Connection’s approach beneficial to you in learning and developing as an editor?   “Because I was homeschooled, I already had an idea of how I learn best. I don’t learn best in a traditional setting… Just for me personally, I learn better with hands-on work, when I’m actually doing it…We have a textbook [where] I was learning about film history and different parts of film…But I was actually able to apply what I was learning to actual work, and that was, I think, the best way for me to become an editor.”   What kind of work are you doing now and what do you see in your near future?   “Daniel and Bayou have kind of made me their go-to editor, which has been amazing. So we finished two commercials with a brand… I’m working on another kind of commercial-ish thing with a skin care brand…. I believe work is just work. Any work is good. You grow, you broaden your horizon a little bit. Right now I’m doing everything. I’ve done interviews, I’ve done commercials, I’ve done films…I definitely want to go down the drama route. I love period dramas. That’s what I want to do.”   What has your family’s reaction been?   “I have such a supportive family. I have three siblings, and two of them are artists, so it’s within the family. I grew up with my parents telling me that I could do whatever I wanted to do. I’m the only girl in my family. I know in this industry females are not that prominent. It’s definitely male-dominated, and I would like to change that. I never felt like any of my dreams of goals were not reachable. I always felt like I could grasp them…My dad has always been like, ‘Why do what you can do today, tomorrow?’…So it never was a question of, ‘Can I do it?’ It’s just, ‘When will I do it and ‘How will I do it?'”   What’s your advice for other Film Connection students on how they can make the most of their externships?   “Take every opportunity that’s given to you and make the most of it. I know that sounds super easy and simple, but it isn’t. I think not knowing how far you can go is what pushes you because if you’ve already set yourself limits, you’re not going to go as far as you can… Really push yourself and learn that you can do way more than you thought you ever could.”   Learn more about Film Connection’s programs.      
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Recording Connection mentor George Nardo
Teaches the Why’s of Audio


Recording Connection mentor George Nardo, Luna Recording Studios

Talk to longtime Recording Connection mentor George Nardo of Luna Recording Studios in Tucson, Arizona, and you’ll know he’s anything but laissez faire in his approach to audio engineering and music production. Whether talking analog or digital, tape or plugins, for Nardo it’s all about adhering to the principles of making great sounding music through thoughtfully executed recording and engineering, rooted in an understanding that surpasses merely the “how’s” and speaks to the “why’s” of the craft and art form of making music. We recently connected with George to learn more about his journey and to find out what he wants from those who train with him at Luna.   What got you into audio and recording and production in the first place?   “I was nine or 10, I can’t remember. The Beatles came on Ed Sullivan, and I had already been playing classical piano for a couple of years by that time, but when I saw the Beatles, it was just like, ‘Mom, I want a guitar.’ She yelled back from the kitchen, ‘Yeah, but you’ve got to stay with the piano.’ So I did. So I stayed with both, and I got older, bought my first tape machine, was writing some songs, and had some friends come over, we put some guitars down on tape, and, ‘Oh, we need to make that sound better.’ What do you need to make it sound better? Well, you need another microphone or you need a mic pre or you need something, you know? You need a faster or better tape recorder. So, things start to snowball. In order to capture your music, you got to have a little bit better gear. You want it to sound like the Beatles, so you’ve got to have good stuff. So it just all went hand in hand with being a musician.”   So how did Luna Recording Studios come into being?   “I got a job offer in Los Angeles as a musician, moved there, I opened up a little demo studio because I was always a songwriter [and] you need to have a little tape machine if you’re going to write some songs…I had some friends that said, ‘God, I love your demos. Can you do mine?’ So, one thing led to another. My little four track ended up being a 16 track, to a 32 channel board, a bunch of compressors, a bunch of microphones over the course of a couple years, and then the studio was booked all the time…Then Pro Tools came out. It was just really a little add-on to your computer, just really a two track…Then you bought the next one and then you bought the next one, and now it’s starting to sound much better. And my little demo studio morphed into the beginnings of Luna. It’s been in existence from L.A. to Arizona…over 30 years.”   Who were some of the pros who mentored you when you were coming up in the industry?   “I lived in London for seven years. I got to work with Mickie Most, he produced the old Jeff Beck/Rod Stewart records, the great producer and engineer…a lot of great guys back in 70s. [Mickie] could be a task master while you’re recording, but when it came to asking questions and things about why we were doing this, he was more than helpful. He was really excited to get into the if’s, the but’s, and this is why we do this.   I got to Los Angeles I was on a label with Mike Chapman (Rod Stewart, Pat Benatar, Bow Wow Wow)…He was actually a protégé of Mickie Most. So I got to work with him, and he was another one that was just very happy to share the knowledge of why we do this, the production techniques, looking for the hook in the song, bringing this out…it’s all about the musicianship, the songwriting, and the sounds you’re getting. It all has to be one. It all has to come together. You can have a bad song recorded really well, and it’s still a bad song. And you can have a great song, recorded poorly, it’s still a good song, but nobody’s really going to be excited to listen to it. When it all comes together, that’s where a lot of our hits come from…I worked with Roy Thomas Baker, David Bianco, God rest his soul, he was a great mentor to me. I could pick up the phone with him and say, ‘Hey, I’m doing this. Why isn’t this working? And he would…say, ‘Well, try this, try this.’ …So there were a lot of guys that just loved what they were doing and wanted to pass it on.”   What do you look for in the students you take on as externs?   “Passion. Passion. Passion. It’s all about the passion. This is a business where you’re making something from nothing. So even if you’re just moving the dials for somebody else, you’ve got to do this with passion. [And] they can have questions… When I was younger, I had questions all the time. If you don’t ask these things, you’re not going to learn. And it might take you six months to figure out a compressor, but if you talk to somebody that’s used one every day, all the time, and he explains it to you correctly, then you go, ‘Wow, I get this. It still might take you six months to master that piece of equipment, but at least you’re on the road to that. I like interested parties, you know? I don’t want anybody just sitting there not saying anything or not asking anything. Sometimes I go out and make them move a microphone a half inch. And they ask me, ‘Well, why just a half inch?’ Well, let’s listen to it. Let’s see what a half inch does. Let’s move it a foot. What does a foot do? Let’s move it to the back of the room. What does that do? And you get all these different sounds. If you don’t know that you have these possibilities, then you’re never going to use the tools correctly.”   Learn more about Recording Connection for audio engineering, music production, live sound, Ableton, beat making and more.    
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Spotlight On… Kaylee Kainrad, Audio Solutions Specialist at Audio-Technica.


Kaylee Kainrad, Audio Solutions Specialist, Audio-Technica U.S., Inc.

  What do you do as an Audio Solutions Specialist at Audio-Technica?   “In Audio Solutions, we specialize in product knowledge. For any Audio-Technica product, we are the go-to people to answer questions about how to use [a specific] product or maybe if you might be experiencing an issue with the product or anything like that. We provide tech support, application support, and general product knowledge for anything Audio-Technica. So that entails us answering phone calls, answering emails, answering customer questions on our website, things like that. Just anything to help our customers answer their questions about our products.”   How did you get hired at A-T? What did you do?   “Honestly, I just kind of inquired. I called and I emailed a few people here in the building, made some conversation and really showed my interest, my knowledge and my passion for the products and for the industry. So, it’s really something as simple as that. As long as you’re really making that initiation of the contact, you really can’t go wrong.”   What’s your advice for those looking to find their path or get that first job?   “Look out there and be willing to strive and jump and make that leap for it. As long as you’re passionate about it, you can definitely make it happen. I kind of ran through the same thing where I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do back when I was in high school or even in my first year at Kent State, you know, I really wasn’t sure that I was going to end up here, and look what happened.”   When it comes to versatile A-T microphones, what do you recommend?   “If you haven’t really checked out any of our 40 series, I highly recommend checking out the AT4050 microphone. You could put it on just about any instrument…It’s a staple microphone in studios all over the world, mainly used for vocals, especially also for drum overheads, like above your cymbal. It’s very good for bringing out cymbal crashes or, on acoustic instruments, guitars or mandolins, very nice and crisp sounding strings. Even on a guitar cabinet for an electric guitar. It’s a very versatile microphone. [On a budget], check out the AT2035. That’s a great microphone. Very versatile. Great for vocals, but you could really use it on just about anything: guitars, overheads, stuff like that.”   What’s one piece of A-T gear you’re really excited about?   “The AT-LP1240 DJ Turntable…It’s a great turntable. If anybody’s an aspiring DJ it’s very nice quality. It sounds fantastic, even just for casual listening, too…This company started off making phono cartridges for turntables. So that’s really where we came from and what we also strive in. We make very nice turntables, we make very nice-sounding cartridges, needles, and styli to use on the turntables. That’s what I’ve been excited about a lot lately.”       
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A Day in the Life of Our Students


Recording Connection graduate Desiree Holiday

Congrats to Recording Connection graduate Desirée Holiday on landing a new job at BMI!   “A while back I was looking for a new position that was more on the business side of music rather than the production side. I came across a listing…for a position at BMI in their Distribution & Administration Services Department, so I applied for it and got the job! I. LOVE. IT!!!   I’m still working in the studio with my mentor…[and] working with several artists on different projects to be released next year, many of which I’ve either written or composed, so I’m hoping to enter these works into songwriting competitions. I greatly appreciate everything Recording Connection has offered me, the skill set I’ve acquired thus far…The sky’s the limit from here!!”    
Recording Connection student Kaizer Hazard

Recording Connection student Kaizer Hazard

Life is rarely, if ever perfect. Recording Connection Audio Engineering & Music Production student Kaizer Hossain keeps it in perspective and never forgets that learning and building experience and a clear view forward is at the heart of being a successful extern:   “I’ve been a little behind, just been dealing with real life you know. But all of this: music, RRFC, everything… means, well everything to me…When I’m passionate about something and truly care for it, I have no energy to focus on and feed the things that don’t serve me, like dwelling on failure. The only thing on my mind is success; success with music, with others, and with making a difference in the world.   Anyways, I feel focused, I feel like I’m gaining way beyond what I initially thought I would at RRFC and I’m grateful for that…I’m ready to gain more, grow more, and thrive.”    
Film Connection student Omotu Bissong on set of her comedic short film "The Proposal?"

Film Connection student Omotu Bissong on set of “The Proposal?”

  Shout out to Film Connection for Film Production & Editing student Omotu Bissong, who directed her own original comedic short “A Proposal?” Crewed by fellow Film Connection students Robert Galgan, Nick Karangis, Mark Kelly, along with mentor, director/producer Zef Cota of Alphabet Films (New York, NY) the short deals with troubles that arise when partners have differing expectations in romance.   Want to stay in the loop? Subscribe!  

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