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Hi guys,

I am just about to finish my sound-post course at a film school in Australia and I was wondering what would be the best ways to promote myself along with face-to-face networking? I currently have a linkedin profile with my credits of all the stuff I have worked on this year (as both an editor and mixer), however I won't have some sort of showreel until the end of this year/early next year. Would it be also worthwile to invest in an imdb resume and get someone to build me a portfolio site? Do a lot of places/people still take paper resumes for this sort of work, if so how would one structure it?

Any other relevant tips for someone who hasn't 'worked' a day in this industry yet would be appreciated. I am currently in the process of preparing myself for potential attachments/work experience.

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side note, what sound post course are you doing? AFTRS? im in a similar position as you so dont have much to add, im in melbourne and couldn't find any post sound specific courses here, so thats why im interested. –  Third Earth Oct 15 '12 at 5:39
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Yes, AFTRS in Sydney. Definitely a great course! –  Blake Oct 15 '12 at 6:37
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6 Answers 6

Welcome! I was giving your question some thought and I think maybe the keyword here is credibility, not promotion (yet).

Breaking into this profession is very much, in my own experience and that of my close peers, a growth of trust-building and credibility in ones body of work over a long period of time. And it's something we never stop, primarily because every day we are building new relationships with others and facilities/studios (even if we've done the gig already for 5, 10, 15, or more years), and we want to nurture those relationships properly by putting our best foot forward always and having a reason for them to call us back: our bottom-line credibility. In my opinion it's a profession of daily first impressions. Much in the same way a financial miss step can affect a credit score, the same holds true for a miss step here too - it affects credibility, which at the end of the day is what gets out name out by word of mouth and gets many of us work. So to that end, focusing on credibility correctly means that the credibility will speak for itself and promote itself through your body work without you having to do a whole lot but get the job done.

It may sound harsh, but when we all start its a blank slate - nobody knows anything about us, what we're capable of, if they can trust us (both in what we can do, and how we can be trusted under not breaking NDA conditions) how well we can deliver on time, and so forth. Basically, we're in a place of being a huge risk for an employer/contractor - so I believe the first goal is to work toward reducing the risk.

By credibility in our work I'm speaking in the sense that, if you/I were hired onto a feature, are you/I capable of meeting the expectations of what's needed for that show? Can you cut hot car chases or combat sequences? I'm just using this as an example. But overall by credibility I'm referring to having developed credible sound editorial skills and a trained ear/sensibility. Nobody does right at the start, but that's why we all have (or likely have) begin in internship situations where we can increase out credibility by learning the ropes and being granted more and more opportunities on actual shows to help out, to the goal that one day you're running the ship and the show is your own.

My suggestion would be to look toward that route, anywhere you can be to learn from peers in the trenches, hands on experiences where you have some degree of a 'buffer' to help you out as your learning. It's all about learning, and finding somewhere to voluntarily intern like a studio (as well as taking on short films on the side to put into practice what you're learning at your internship) is a great way to begin to develop credibility in a body of work so that your developing credibility is doing the promoting itself.

These are just my 2 cents.

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my best answer would be to begin to do work.

Check out craigslist and mandys and look for the gigs that seem to match your inclination and skillset. Don't worry about money yet (many of the gigs that fit your profile won't pay much or anything at first), but do be careful to choose projects that you ENJOY and can do well on.

Jumping into these types of projects will introduce you to worlds of people you haven't met yet. Some will be flakes and shysters, and some will be up and comers with real futures in front of them. Learn the difference through experience and hang out with the people that you feel will have the greatest capacity for success.

(side note here - the amount someone speaks is often inversely proportional to the capability one has to do good work - judge on actions, not rhetoric)

these projects will also refine your skillset and prove to others in the industry that you are a capable professional. The money and jobs will start working themselves out quickly after you've established that with others who are doing good work.

Be prepared to spend a few years working and building your craft before you start to consider yourself "established"

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Rene nailed it! But I'd like to add;

I taught Location Sound at a post secondary level for 9 years and a very good place to meet up-and-comers is universities, colleges, and tech schools that teach film and video. These students are focused on the camera side and ALL of them quickly come to realize the importance of sound.

For years I told my students to put up a "Junior Location Sound Operator learning like you" poster in the schools - those that did were blown away by the response. Not only will you have more opportunity to hone your skills, but you'll be meeting the next generation of directors, producers, and camera ops - it's like shooting fish in a barrel!

After 23 years of recording in the field, I've been hired by many companies with camera ops, producers, and directors that were at one time getting me coffee!

Stay in the game, it takes time.

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Thanks guys!

This is my current setup in my small apartment bedroom:

iMac 21.5 inch core 2 duo 3.06ghz with 12gb RAM External firewire 800 7200rpm drive Apogee duet Pro Tools 10 Sound Ideas 6000 library, BBC library and some personal recordings. Sony MDR-7506 headphones Zoom h4n Shure sm58

What else should I be looking out for when starting out on my own? Can good results be achieved in sub-par acoustic conditions? Any recommendations for monitors, plug-ins, microphones, keyboard, mouse, acoustic treatment etc.

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you need a shotgun mic and some small diaphragm condensers. then you'll need a windkit and maybe a lav mic. worry about interior acoustics as soon as you start treating your workspace as a studio. if you just treat it as an edit suite you can be fine with just cans and an untreated room. –  Rene Oct 16 '12 at 11:53
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Blake,
Looks like a good set of gear to start with! For your next venture, I would strongly suggest prioritizing a set of monitors. Headphones can work for detail-snooping or for editing sounds on an individual level, but when it comes to balancing elements together in frequency, level, and space, nothing beats a well-tuned set of speakers.

Honestly, our suggestions for monitors can only get you so far—you need to find a pair that helps you do what you do. Burn a CD of a few of your projects that you're very familiar with and take it, as well as some familiar music, around to some pro audio shops. If a shop is serious about audio gear sales, the sales people will let you test speakers in a controlled manner. Always listen on each pair for as long as you can, too—remember, these will be the speakers you sit in front of for hours, days, weeks, years... And after a while, you'll know the sound of those speakers like you know the sound of your mother's voice.

I'm not sure about Australian vendors, but most stores in the US that will allow you to return a pair of speakers within 30 days of purchase. This is a great second step to figure out if a pair of monitors will work for you.

Best of luck!
~Matt

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Thanks guys!

I may actually have a potential project to work on, a paid one too! It was advertised through my school's website and I emailed the director about the 'sound design' position and she is keen to talk to me about it. What should be the things to ask about, to find out if the effort and skills required will be worth the return? Since this could be my First job, should I charge hourly or by project, if there already isn't a set payment?

Anything else I should be wary of? I only have the capacity to edit at home, not mix.

Advice would be very much appreciated.

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Just ask and listen what they/the director thinks you should do. I.e. get to know "why" and then how you should do your job so that it best serves the purpose of the project / piece of media / piece of art and is in line with the vision of the director and meets other requirements (time). And then do your best interpretation of the information that you've gathered and materialize it to a sound track. If possible and necessary, check regurarly that they/the director likes what you're doing by providing them / letting them hear demos. Be nice to them (and they might come back to you for more). –  Internet Human Oct 20 '12 at 22:54
    
Practical problems related to making the sound track are, in a way, easy/easier to solve (unless we talk about something very high-budget or otherwise special or technically difficult sound/music/VO requirements), but failing to come along with the director and the rest of the crew and doing something that they do not like or misinterpreting or neglecting their opinions or direction will lose yourself a potential future project partner. It's team work, so work like it's team work. –  Internet Human Oct 20 '12 at 23:07
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Try to do an estimate of how long it will take you to do your job. If you are ok with your estimate and you can make an agreement with the director or whoever is hiring you about the hours that you'll work for the set price, then charge a project price. If there's any risk that the hours that you've estimated may slide considerably or the one who's hiring you doesn't want to agree on fixed hours, then try to charge hourly. It's just making sure that you won't be forced to work extra or do infinitely many changes to your work without extra compensation/negotiation for everything that is "extra" –  Internet Human Oct 20 '12 at 23:18
    
Get a clear idea of what the director wants from the "sound design" position. Filmmakers have varying ideas about what this means. You will (or should strive to) learn something new with every job; the good and the bad. Mixing should be handled by a mixer on a mix stage. If you are asked/expected to mix the project, be clear with the director about finding a proper space to do the mix. If the director has a mixer or other post sound crew lined up, get in touch with them and coordinate things. Congratulations and good luck! –  glenn eanes Oct 21 '12 at 7:53
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