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I'm in the position where I may be offered a job editing and mixing sound for reality television. I eventually want to work in feature films as an editor, working my way up to sound design.

I've only been in Los Angeles for about 9 months and I'm worried that if I start a full time job in T.V. it will become more and more difficult to transition into features. A steady paycheck sounds really nice right now, but I didn't move here for that; I moved here to start down the path of working full time on feature films.

What would you guys recommend if I am offered the job? I'm a bit lost in this decision. I also ask because I have worked on some reality shows before and that work seems to be picking up.

I have a lot to learn about television and film so I feel the decisions I make early on are going to have a long term impact on my career. Am I being paranoid?

Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your help!

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4 Answers

I understand your dilemma, while I have not found myself in the same position, it seems that perhaps this is more a question of lifestyle, rather than just career. Taking a full time job in television allows for a steady paycheck and constant income, and at the same time you could be in a position to impress people who may one day give you a chance at the, "big screen." Also, like previously mentioned, you're guaranteed to learn a lot and gain experience necessary for the big screen. In all the readings I have done about major motion picture sound designers/sound editors like Richard King and Jon Johnson (Academy Award winners by the way) they didn't just become successful overnight, although we would all like that for oursleves! This might be a chance to really learn some new techniques or invent some of your own. Either way, I wish you the best and hope you make the right decision for yourself.

-Blessings

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Definitely. I'm not expecting overnight success- Anyone who does is confusing sound design with acting! I just want to make sure I start on the right path at this point. Thanks for your advice! –  Dan2997 Apr 6 '11 at 7:21
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I would take the job, but set myself a target, a date, where if I'm not moving into feature films by then - leave and try elsewhere.

If you are truly interested in feature films, this may be a great step in that direction by getting into the industry - but that date that you set is your failsafe in case it leads in the opposite direction.

So I would evaluate how long you'll give maximum to move into feature films 6 months? 1 year? 2 years? Whatever it is worth to you, and then stick to it whilst still actively looking for feature film jobs.

And who knows? You might actually prefer Reality TV!

Hope this helps,

Cheers

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I like this idea. Thanks Fred! I've done a few shows so far (as an editor) and I didn't HATE them but as you may know, it's very intense trying to finish on such a tight schedule. Especially being new! –  Dan2997 Apr 6 '11 at 6:53
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I've been in a similar position of late. Leave the job I have for a different one, or stay where I am and climb the ladder? To me, the real question is... What would you be doing otherwise? Waiting tables? Bicycle messenger? Answering phones?

I hope that doesn't sound condescending, 'cause I'm certainly not in a place where I can condescend. But, as my dad always says, "It's easier to find a job when you have one." And I'd say that's doubly true for our business. Another of my favourites is, "If you don't go to the party, you won't get the girl." The best way to meet sound mixers is to be one.

The other way to look at it is that you are guaranteed to learn an unbelievable amount of stuff. The sound design for reality is much less fancy than for film, but you'll have to work your ass off to make the location recordings listenable. I spend most of my time fixing terribly recorded dialogue and VoiceOvers, and I can tell you that my ears have learned more doing that than all of my fun projects combined.

Did you find that working with that kind of content made you miserable? Was it OK? Was it pretty fun? I'd say that if you enjoyed it even a little, go for it. Save some money put together a good system, and start working on indie films. Very rarely does our passion become our job first time 'round, so take every opportunity you can.

Good luck, and fingers crossed.

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Some very valid points here. I completely agree with the learning aspect. No matter what we do or how many times we do it, we'll always continue to learn. I had a semi negative attitude about a student film I mixed a few months ago. I did it for free but a lot of good things have come from it. –  Dan2997 Apr 6 '11 at 7:26
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TAKE...THE...JOB

A) It'll build up your resume within the industry (it shows that other people TRUST you / references) B) It's a steady paycheck. This will allow you to not starve while doing SOMETHING you enjoy. C) Transition to film is easy if you have references and you're networking.

I'd kill to be in your position.

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