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WEEKLY NEWSLETTER June 20, 2016 by L. Swift and Jeff McQ


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‘What is a Grind Opp?,’ you ask? It is a job opportunity. A help wanted ad.
    

From MRI tech to screenwriter: Film Connection grad Geoffrey D. Calhoun pursues his passion

  
Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

For Film Connection grad Geoffrey D. Calhoun, the realization that he wanted to pursue screenwriting as a full time career came to him suddenly while working as an MRI technologist.   “I actually started screenwriting as a bet,” he explains. “I was at work, and a guy was an editor in film, and it was his side job. And he bet that he could write a better story than I could. And I’m a bit competitive, so I went home that night and started researching how to learn screenplay. I wrote a treatment that night and came back to work, and we compared stories and I won. And my wife read it and she goes, ‘Wow, there’s really something here. You might want to consider just writing the whole screenplay.’ So…I started writing just really as a hobby.”   During those “hobby” years, Geoffrey wrote a script called Pink Bunny, which he now describes as his “calling card.” “This is one that I wrote to really push myself as a writer,” he says. “It’s done in a Rashomon style, but it’s actually done in a style that really nobody has done it before…I’ve won a lot of awards for that one.”   Then came the epiphany.   “I was at work,” he says, “and one of my patients said to me …‘Do you love what you do?’ And it just hit me like, I just realized I didn’t…And there was this big moment where I realized I need to pursue my passion. I hadn’t even realized that I could make screenwriting an option.”   Having already done the college route before entering the healthcare profession, Geoffrey wasn’t big on the idea of going back there to study screenwriting. “I’m not really a college guy,” he admits. “I wanted to find a program that I could really have a mentor…and really learn from a person and not become lost in a crowd…And then I found The Film Connection, and it was perfect. It really felt like it was tailored to my learning style.”   Geoffrey was paired with Los Angeles-based writer/director Richard Brandes, and the two hit it off quite well from the initial conversation. “He said, ‘Oh, it’s just going to be a quick 20-minute interview.’ I think we were on the phone for about an hour,” says Geoffrey. “He was just so great to talk to, and I was picking his brain. I told him about Pink Bunny, and I told him how people either hate it or they like it. It either wins awards or people just slam it as they don’t get it. Then he said, “It’s probably really good.” So he asked me to send it to him, and he read it…He liked it. And I thought, ‘I really need to learn from this guy’…And so he took me on as his apprentice.”   Since the screenwriting program of the Film Connection can be done via Skype, Geoffrey was able to do his apprenticeship from his home in the Detroit area without having to move to L.A. He says Richard was very specific in helping him to up his game. “He really taught me how to descriptively make a scene more appealing to read,” he says. “And that really is the difference between a good screenwriter and a great screenwriter.”   Now graduated from the program, Geoffrey is continuing to write screenplays and hone his craft. His recent script, a zombie comedy he co-wrote called Hipster Z, won First Place at the International Horror Film Festival and is getting some interest from several producers. Perhaps even more significantly, his former mentor is continuing to work with him to knock on doors in Hollywood.   “I have developed a few projects with Richard,” says Geoffrey. “He is giving them some exposure to some of the contacts he has specifically at a few network channels, which is pretty exciting. And there’s a lot of potential there for some development deals.”   He admits it’s a waiting game but it’s obvious Geoffrey is in it for the long haul. “These things take a long time,” he says, “but for me, it’s super exciting. I’m happy to wait, even if there’s a sliver of chance of getting a deal made. [Richard] believes in my writing. For me, as an emerging screenwriter, I feel it’s a when and not an if, and that’s a really great place to be.”   Geoffrey gives the Film Connection a lot of credit for where he is today. “You can call it fate, or just the people I had interviewed with really had a good take on my personality and just matched me up with the right mentor,” he says. “I was worried I would get a mentor that wouldn’t understand me, or I wouldn’t be able to click with. But I mean, Richard Brandes and I, it’s just such a nurturing relationship. He’s taken my screenwriting to a whole different level.”   He also says the Film Connection helped him with his branding as a screenwriter. “They really stressed having an online presence,” he says, “and so I put a lot of work into that. And now if you Google my name, Geoffrey D. Calhoun, that’s my brand per se, I’m the whole first page, which is super cool. I know my kid gets a kick out of it because he Googles me at school and shows his friends.”   At the same time, Geoffrey stresses that you get out of the program what you put into it. His advice to other students? “In order to be successful you need to stay humble and you need to stay a student,” he says. “So, even after you graduate, you should still be a student. You shouldn’t go into it expecting The Film Connection to do the work for you…The Film Connection has set up a nice program that gives you 200 hours of screenwriting time to provide you an opportunity for you to prove yourself. And then they give you a mentor to guide you through the process, but you are doing the work, and you have to be able to do it. If you’re not self-motivated, if you’re not hungry, then you’re not going to succeed.”   Connect with Geoffrey D. Calhoun:   LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/geoffreydcalhoun
Twitter: @GeoffreyReviews   
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A Day in the Life of Our Students

  
Fetty Wap and Dominick Eagles

Fetty Wap and Dominick Eagles

Congrats to Recording Connection graduate Dominick Eagles aka Nick E. Beats, who went from Recording Connection student to chart-topping producer within months! Dominick made the most of the connections, experiences, and real-world business advice he learned through our program and his mentors at Konscious Studios (Santa Monica, CA). Being enterprising in his approach, Dominick started selling his beats and tracks online. One buyer was none other than Fetty Wap! The track that Fetty purchased went on to become “My Way” one of the artist’s most successful songs, peaking at #7 on Billboard’s 100 and garnering over 242 million views on YouTube. Listen to a beat by Dominick in the Apprentice Media section below!    Daniel-Matiushenok Russian-born, Film Connection apprentice Daniel Matiushenok shares a few words about a recent shoot with mentor Matthew Leslie of Arx Axiom in Chicago, IL: “It was [the]second shoot for the same company, at this point I was already familiar with the crew. I was helping lighting department for the third time and their job, I think, is the most complicated, actually all of the people involved were working very hard and [it was] at least a ten-hour shift. It was fun in some ways but again it’s a very hard job to perform, the whole experience was worth it. The best part [is] that you learn the hard way so you’ll never forget it. Part of the set was in the green room, this room is a mind-bending, literally. Got the chance to meet fellow Film Connection students, one of them was actually getting paid for the job as he already graduated, not a lot of course but it’s already a return on 10K investment.”    Luis Jimenez Luis Jimenez who apprentices at Slam One Productions (Riverside, CA) was just one of the Recording Connection students to attend the The Pensado Vintage King Gear Expo and shake hand with the pros, listen to the panelists, and connect with powerhouse Gear Expo Producer, Shevy Shovlin!   
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Dave Pensado, Herb Trawick, and Brian Kraft at Pensado Vintage King Gear Expo

We are honored to have taken part in yet another amazing Pensado Vintage King Gear Expo. It’s truly heartwarming and inspiring to see so many talented, hardworking music lovers come together. Our community is rich beyond comparison. Recording Connection’s very own Chief Operating Officer, Brian Kraft, was on hand to talk to the people and to announce the latest winner of our Learn From Legends scholarship! That’s right, one fortunate individual won a full scholarship to train with one of music’s most renowned engineers or producers (more info). Details to follow in coming weeks!     
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NUGGETS OF TRUTH: Recording Connection mentor Sharrief Thomas on studio etiquette and getting the pros
to want to hire you

  
As a musical artist, writer, producer and engineer, Sharrief Thomas offers a well-rounded knowledge of the industry for students who want to break in. He initially got involved with the Recording Connection while recording an album at Quad Studios in New York with another Recording Connection mentor, Sax DMA. (Several Recording Connection students were involved in the project and even received album credits for their work.)   Today, as a Recording Connection mentor himself, Sharrief apprentices students at Water Music Publishing in Bloomfield, NJ, just outside of New York City. Partnering with Big Bub (another Recording Connection mentor who recently released a new track with Snoop Dogg, Sharrief continues to focus on getting his students plenty of experience with live recording sessions with seasoned artists. In a recent conversation with RRFC, Sharrief offered some exceptional advice for up-and-coming audio students on proper studio etiquette, as well as how to make positive connections with the pros that can lead to getting hired.  
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  Recording Connection mentor Sharrief Thomas ON HOW HE GOT INTO MENTORING FOR THE RECORDING CONNECTION:   “I was approached by one of my other partners…Sax DMA. He had a lot to do with engineering a lot of known people, like Wu-Tang and Missy Elliot, in the Quad Studios. So we got together one day…I was like, ‘What if you use me as an artist to one of your engineering students, saying I’ll come in, record, work on my album. And then, I’ll give one or two students that do the best [work] credit on my album.’ And it was a great idea…We had to turn down kids that wanted to join. So then, I said, ‘Okay, so now what we’re going to do is…we’re going bring in some of my friends that are famous to record…So, I had Big Bub come through from the group Today…He had a couple of platinum records and stuff like that. And I had him come in. And then I had Sky Heavens, the backup singer for Eminem…She’s working on her album, so I had her come in, and do a song, too, with the students. So, the thing was, it was just the students getting to be in a live situation with a real, live artist”   ON HOW HE IS CONTINUING THE PRACTICE OF MENTORING STUDENTS IN ACTUAL RECORDING SESSIONS:   “I joined forces with one of my partners, Big Bub from the group Today. He wrote, like, Bobby Brown, “My Prerogative.” He wrote some of Mary J. Blige’s My Life album. He did some songs with Snoop Dogg and Puff Daddy…So we got together and joined forces, and what we’re doing is we’re going to be working on his album and my album at the same time. So…we thought it’d be good to mentor students in a real-life situation.”   STUDIO ETIQUETTE-IN-STUDIO DO’S AND DON’TS- RESPECT IS VITAL:   “Have a great attitude. No matter what goes on, just have a great attitude…Do not open your mouth unless they ask you a question or what do you think. You’re there to just watch and pay attention, because it’s a live session going on and you don’t have a right to say something to the engineer…He needs to stay focused. If you’re a student, you just need to pay attention. Don’t just be playing music in there. I had a situation with guys playing their own music in a live session, and when the artist was in the booth, he could hear the other music instead of the music he recorded…That is a really big no-no. You should be honored that an artist even allows students in their sessions…Take notes. And then when that session is over, then you can go to the engineer. You’re students. You’re there to learn and watch. Not to comment. Not to start rapping. And it’s not to try to tell the artist what they should do.”   HIS ADVICE FOR STUDENTS ON MAKING INDUSTRY CONNECTIONS IN THE STUDIO:   “When you are taking a class and you’re working with people in the industry, don’t be afraid to collect information from other engineers, their numbers, their email. And don’t be afraid to hit them up on social media. Stay connected with them because you just had the chance to be around them. By staying connected to them, and if you end up doing something that’s really good, they’re going to be able to see it…Don’t be afraid to get connected, but you’ve got to know the right points, when to do it and when not to do it.”   KEY ADVICE FOR NEW ENGINEERS ON HOW THEY CAN GET THEMSELVES HIRED:   “You’ve to love the work…you’ve got to have fun. You’ve just got to be that guy that can change the attitude of everybody in that studio with the way you engineer…Not afraid to do long hours. Not afraid to travel, [because] when an artist loves that engineer, they want to bring them on the road. Just someone that is serious about engineering, not looking to just meet people. You’re looking to meet people but not looking to meet celebrities all the time…We know that some kids think that that’s the way in. So, we got to say, ‘Listen, the best way to get to know the celebrities, is to learn how to be an engineer. And be the best. And that’s when they’re going to love you. And that’s when they going to want you around. That’s when they hire you. ”   
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