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WEEKLY NEWSLETTER October 24, 2016 by L. Swift and Jeff McQ


Passing it on: Film Connection student Susan Berger hones her skills for a new nonprofit!

susan-berger-1 By the time Susan Berger discovered the Film Connection, she was already a seasoned professional by most people’s standards. Coming from a long stint with DCTV (Washington D.C.’s public access television station), Susan also had years of experience in both theatrical and video production. So why would someone with this much experience seek out the Film Connection to become a student?   “I wanted to get some credentials to show that I’ve maximized my experience in those areas,” she says. “I didn’t want to go back to school because I didn’t want to go through all of these college courses… I really wanted to take classes that you guys were offering for video production without all of the other stuff… When you’re working with a professional such as the mentors that were hooked up to the school, you’re learning industry standard techniques, and this is what I wanted to know.”   Susan was paired with industry veteran Christian Galdabini of Z Force Productions in Washington, D.C. Even before their first meeting, Susan realized she was entering a new level of excellence in the industry by working with Christian.   “His general website…was just phenomenal,” she says. “One of the first things I saw was Michael Jackson, President Obama, Geraldo Rivera, just numerous talent, you know, professionals that he had worked with. And even at our meeting, we were sitting down and we were right next to NBC in Washington D.C., and we’re talking, and some people come in and they just were so excited to see him….I learned that he was really well revered in the industry.”   Taking note of Susan’s prior experience, Christian lost no time in getting her deeply involved in his projects, inviting her to travel with him to Baltimore for a large project at Johns Hopkins.   “With all of the work that he had to perform there, he really trusted me to hit the ground running,” says Susan. “He gave me several jobs to do, and I was able to accomplish them all because I felt confident working in the environment with them.”   Susan says she tried to be an asset on the set while learning the ropes. “Knowing everything that is entailed to do the production, you don’t want to be in the way,” she says, “…but you want to be the best in every role that you play…And so whatever needs to be done, you want to make sure that you’re learning the culture of that production and to fit in properly…I would set certain times to ask about certain questions, and [Christian] really encouraged that all that time. ‘Susan, if any have any questions, please ask.’ And I always have questions, but I would make sure that it would be a great time to ask them.”   Susan says she also gained a lot of insight through the screenwriting component of the program.   Susan Berger “My screenwriter mentor, who is Ron Peterson, was just phenomenal,” she says. “Even though I’ve been writing scripts for a long time, I learned how it’s done in the industry.”   During her screenwriting course, Susan was able to practice her pitch on another yet another industry veteran, Chap Taylor, who has worked on such titles as National Treasure, Changing Lanes and hit TV series The Blacklist!   “Chap Taylor…basically gave me just loads of information in the industry,” she says. “Even though it was supposed to be a pitch, the information that I got from this guy being in the industry… I’m rewriting a couple of my scripts based on what I’ve learned from him.”   When asked about her end goal with all this additional training, Susan’s answer is a bit surprising: she’s working on establishing a new non-profit organization called Various Media Production.   “I have a program that I’m going to propose to D.C public schools, charters, hospitals, organizations for children to help with video production…children who are abused in any kind of way,” she says. “I want to take programs to the schools for handicapped children, children disenfranchised. I just want to take video production to students to help them learn how to create and be creative. So I need these techniques. I need to know how to properly set up video production, pre-production, and post-production so that I can correctly engage these children.”   Now honing her skills even further, Susan offers this advice to students: “Learn from your mentor, get all that you can, do the work,” she says. “When you first come into the program, you have some classes, online classes with some excellent information about the industry that you’re in. And it’s important that you do the work.”   As for Susan herself, she couldn’t be happier with her choice to attend the Film Connection. “These mentors are the best,” she says. “Never in my life would I be placed with these people otherwise…People do all kinds of things to get to these people…I’m heavily impressed that I’ve been afforded these major privileges through the RRFC curriculum.”   Connect with Susan on Facebook.   
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RRFC INTERVIEW: JoAnn Bush, owner
of ES Audio in Los Angeles

If you read this newsletter regularly, chances are the names “ES Audio” and “Donny Baker” ring a bell, because both names show up regularly here. Located in Los Angeles, ES Audio is a world-class studio that does recording and mixing projects for major artists with a client list that ranges from “YouTube Star” Shane Dawson and Emmy-nominated actor Anthony Anderson of “Black-ish”, to Grammy-award-winning-singer Tionne Watkins of “TLC.” Recently, ES Audio enjoyed having Academy Award winner DJ Paul of “Three 6 Mafia” and artist Trinidad James in the studio to complete their latest projects. Likewise, ES Audio’s chief engineer and studio manager Donny Baker is one of our most in-demand Recording Connection mentors.   What you probably didn’t know is that ES Audio is owned by JoAnn Bush, Donny’s wife.   While Donny oversees the various projects coming through the studio, JoAnn oversees the business side, and as such, she brings a unique perspective to the industry while giving plenty of opportunities for Recording Connection students to learn. In a recent interview, JoAnn weighed in on a number of key topics, including the challenges of being a woman in the industry, her take on what’s most important in the music business, and how Recording Connection students can get ahead in a competitive industry. Enjoy!  
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  JoAnn Bush RRFC: What was your journey into studio ownership? Why did you decide to embark on this kind of a career?   JoAnn Bush: You could say it was when “luck met opportunity.” My husband, Donny Baker, was partners in a recording studio he had built from the ground up; however, when his partner decided he wanted to leave to pursue another career, five years into it, it was either we take it over 100%, or just call it quits…So, I was the one who basically said, we have to do this, we have to take it over and see what happens. Call it women’s intuition or just not liking the word quit, I basically took over complete ownership of the previous studio, renamed it ES Audio Recording Studios, and it’s been pure bliss ever since [laughter].   RRFC: What is your day-to-day at the studio?   JoAnn: Whether we planned it or not, Donny and I have defined roles in the business. Not only is he a Mentor for RC Students, he’s also the Lead Engineer and ES Audio’s Studio Manager, who keeps things running smoothly at the studio on a day to day basis—whereas a lot of my time is spent “behind the scenes,” basically making sure the bills get paid and that the lights stay on. I also handle all of the social media for the studio, which takes at least a few hours each day to get the word out on our latest projects.   RRFC: Do you have any muses in audio? If so, who are they?   JoAnn: I know it sounds crazy, but when I was in middle school, I used to record “Dick Clark’s Top 40” onto cassette, and then I would play it back, writing down each song and the tidbits of trivia he’d throw out about each artist. So, yeah, it would definitely be Dick Clark. And I have to say, never in my wildest dreams, as a twelve-year-old girl, did I think I’d go from living in Kentucky, listening to “Dick Clark’s Top 40, to owning a recording studio in Los Angeles, California, where “Dick Clark’s Top 40” was produced every week. Pretty awesome, when you think about it.   RRFC: What’s your most memorable experience in the studio? Any cool stories to share?   JoAnn: Way too many stories, but one that does stand out is when Steven Adler of Guns N’ Roses was in my studio and said to me, “Hold on a sec, I want to go grab my CD of my band “Adler” for you to listen to, so you can let me know what you think.” Yeah, that was definitely a pretty cool moment.   RRFC:  Is the music industry really as different today as people say it is? After years in the industry, what would you say the industry is all about—the music, the money, the camaraderie, for example?   JoAnn: Well, for one, the music industry is definitely not only about the money, otherwise we wouldn’t be here [laughter]. It’s about providing a safe and creative environment for artists to feel free to express themselves through their music or work. And, when they do happen to succeed, it’s an awesome feeling to know that you played a small part in their success, whether or not they give you a “shout out” at the Grammys!   RRFC: As a woman in the industry, do you have any advice for other women who might feel a little out of place in what is often seen as a field dominated by men?   JoAnn: Sometimes, as a woman, it is hard to stand your ground. Growing up with two brothers on both sides of me, I guess it was always easy for me to get along with the guys and fit in. But, yeah, never be afraid to speak up if you have a valid point, and say, “You know what, here’s a different way we could go about this.” Usually, they’ll listen. That being said, even for guys starting out, it can be intimidating for them to fit in as well. Once again, it’s all about trying to understand everyone’s role on a project and finding where you fit in, and following your passion from there.   RRFC: Any other advice for females who want to get into working in the studio?   JoAnn: Personally, I would start with schooling vs. behind the front desk…That’s why RC is so great, because it does give you a “hands on” opportunity to learn different genres of the business. You could be working on a music video shoot one day, then sitting in on an ADR session the next. It’s all about deciding where your passion lies and then following it to the fullest. And, luckily here in Los Angeles, there are so many opportunities available to people starting out in the industry today.   RRFC: Any tips on how Recording Connection students can make the most out of their apprenticeships?   JoAnn: As they say, it’s 90% about showing up. And when you do show up, be prepared and ready to learn everything you can. Believe me, a positive attitude will get you far…But don’t get me wrong, you definitely have to put in the work, in order to learn how to handle any situation that may arise during a session. We understand you’re not going to learn everything overnight, but you have to be willing to at least show up and try 110%…And, as a student, you need to realize that you’re going to make mistakes, but that’s how you learn…You need to know when to put the phone away and give people eye contact, so that they know they are being heard.   RRFC: What advice would you say to those of us with big, big dreams of breaking into the industry?   JoAnn: Very rarely do big dreams happen overnight, like you see on “American Idol.” It takes a lot of hard work, planning, persistence and hustle. And, like they say, you better be ready when opportunity knocks on your door, because nobody is just going to hand it to you. It’s a hustle, Every day, day in and day out. And every once in a while, your hard work will pay off, like when you hear the song you mixed on iTunes, or when you see the movie you recorded sound effects [for] win an Oscar. But, honestly, it’s all of these little moments that add up to the Big Moment when you look back on all of the late nights and realize, “Wow, I’m so incredibly lucky and so grateful to have been given such an amazing opportunity to be doing what I love in this world!”     
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A Day in the Life of Our Students

   Antony Montejo and PPL MVR Recent Recording Connection grad and Jam In The Van audio assistant Anthony Montejo was all too happy to get a nice hug from PPL MVR at a recent JITV session at Vintage King Audio in Echo Park, Los Angeles, CA. Learn more about Anthony’s strange adventures with JITV below!    noahcook Film Connection student Noah Cook has teamed up with fellow students with Deen Olatunji at Rehoboth Pictures (Dallas, TX) to produce his short horror film. For this super-dedicated group of Film Connection apprentices, weekend shoots and going beyond the standard curriculum is the norm. Keep going everyone! Keep on building that on-set experience. We’re looking forward to watching that horrifically thrilling final cut!  
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