I have a question about mentorship which I am sure will have a variety of answers based on the fact that many of us are from different cultures, different parts of the world which means that the industry is run somewhat differently.

I am originally from Canada where mentor-ship is crucial when entering the industry after finishing your studies. I believe, for me at least, that it is imperative that a person, regardless of their role in the film making process, mentors under a veteran for a few years at least in order to understand the politics of the business, building relationships, dealing with problems without losing your mind etc. As I am a veteran and I encourage all young people not to jump in upon graduation and take on roles that they have little or no experience in.

What are your thoughts on this? as I am a veteran and I encourage all young people not to jump in upon graduation and take on roles that they have little or no experience in.


I'm going to chime in and agree 100%. Mentoring is crucial. I certainly would not have made it to where I am without the mentorship and help of a good many people in a good many things. Sadly, it's something we see less and less of these days. "Once upon a time" (really not THAT long ago) there was no such thing as a "Recording Arts Progam". If you were interested in working in audio (music or post) you started at the very bottom (usually Runner) and worked your way up. In doing so, you had a chance to watch older and more experienced people at work, and learn both things to do and to NOT do. By the time you were actually allowed to go at it on your own, you had a firm base.

Today, we see 20 year olds graduating from Recording Arts programs and hanging up their shingles without any real clue of what's involved in the "really real world". This is not to slam those programs. They serve a number of very useful functions, but they are the BEGINNING, not the END of the learning process. But it's important for people beginning in the industry to realize that the more battle scarred among us have lots to teach, and generally are willing to teach it - IF you drop the notion that you know everything because you have a piece of paper from a recording school. Good mentors will teach you more in a month than you learned in two years of school. Good mentors will call BS when needed and will tell you when you HAVE come up with a brilliant new idea. Finally a good mentor will tell you when you've learned everything that they have to teach, and it's time to find a new mentor! And to the more seasoned amongst us... don't forget to find NEW mentors. Even though I now act as a mentor for younger folks, I still seek those who know more than I (and there's always SOMEONE) to act as mentors.

Here endeth the rant! :)

  • 2
    Well said - pretty much why when speaking and sharing experience to students at my alma mater, I've thought a lot about what I got out of the education and have distilled it down to a concept which I feel is tactfully appropriate, truthful amd accurate: "my time in a sound/film program is where I learned how to learn". Apr 25 '13 at 0:25

Today's world is more connected (the internet etc.) so that it's not necessary anymore to seek mentoring in order to understand or practice something, because there are other ways for finding information and collaborating. Gaining and seeking mentorship can however serve an important step into meeting the today's professionals and businesses and learning from their experiences. That's something that one cannot find by just hanging out with people belonging to the same age group, practicing alone, attending a school where the lecturer isn't a practicing professional or by reading. Thus I think mentoring should be encouraged, rather than seeing it as something that one has to compete for or seek laborously and thus I think that offering mentorship is a responsibility of every practicing professional at some point. Its function is to pass relevant information to newer generations or alternatively train "the apprentice" for a possible future position.

Also, I'd replace formal schooling with mentoring and learning-on-the-job any day. I think most formal programs are "kind of" trying to serve the function of mentoring (which is teaching), but they're a lot more inefficient in as practical fields as this one and the teaching may be unnecessarily theorized and focus on loose concepts, rather than the whole reality of professional practice. If sound production had some actual academic substance, then it would be fine, but I think this field/speciality is really too practical, not to mention that it's also creative, interpersonal and very freeform, to be taught well with an academic or classroom approach and schedule.

  • I agree with both your perspectives that we live in a world where we can download how to videos and manuals which is a great way to learn a program but we need mentoring to learn how to deal with relationships, business deals, tricks of the trade etc. Good feedback!
    – oinkaudio
    Apr 25 '13 at 15:02

As someone new to the wild and--I feel--doing alright in the industry for how long I've been at it, my mentors have been absolutely invaluable. Without mentoring I'd have fewer jobs, my improvement and learning would stagnate, and I'm sure I'd be simply having less fun with it and wasting way more time.


@Sonsey I have only started in this field and would like to share my perspective. Forgive me if this is too off topic. I recently took a recording class at a local Dj academy and since I was the only person who signed up for it, I was able to take the course into a sound design/foley route rather than what it was originally intended to be. The instructor was able to teach me some of the basics of audio and gave me a project to work on. Since, I have kept e-mailing him with questions and looking to him for some advice. I don't consider him a mentor but have found it helpful to contact him and find it really important to have someone you can have help you along the way. Especially when you are going at it alone and with no prior experience. I would love to have a mentor! However, it is hard to come by someone who is willing to take you under their wing. Particularly to find someone who is involved in post audio and is willing to mentor you(at least in my neck of the woods). So this brings me to why I think school for audio is a great option....

I am a year away from completing my undergrad and am putting it off for the opportunity to go to an institute for sound design. The way I look at it is, I can spend time finishing a degree in which I have no interest in or I can go to an institute (which cost a lot of money, I know) where I can surround myself with people who share the similar goals and interests. I can, along the way,build invaluable friendships/connections and hopefully find someone who I can consider a mentor. It's an investment that I plan to make and make the most of. I know it won't teach me everything and I will not be fully equipped for everything that may come my way but its at least a foundation I can have. A close friend of mine who is a visual designer, learned everything on his own. He got a job at a respected company that many people would kill for.I know this is a different vocation but I mention it because unfortunately, he was laid off and missed a great opportunity with another company because he lacked certain skills. Now he realizes that he lacked a lot of the fundamental knowledge that he probably would have had if he had gone to school. Only now is he learning these rudimentary skills in order to apply for the next job. In the company he was in there were a lot of people who knew each other through school and were able to have better connections and are doing a lot with their career. These are the people who made the most of their time in school and that's the point I'm trying to make. I think that it is important to have the opportunity to go to school for anything it is you are interested in if at least for the environment and experience. What you do with it DURING and AFTERWARDS is completely up to you. Then hopefully along the way you can find a mentor(s) that will teach you a lot and later mentor someone!

Sorry, long rant.

  • Hi @Jocé, As I said, schools and programs DO serve a purpose. One of them you mentioned is that you meet PEOPLE. Simply put, PEOPLE will get you a job 1000% more often than any degree, and schools are a great place to meet them. Also School is a great place to make MISTAKES. The worst that will happen is you'll get a poor grade, and odds are you'll learn a lot from the mistake. Make those same mistakes OUT of school, on a gig, and well...you'll likely be switching careers. Harsh, but true.
    – Sonsey
    Apr 26 '13 at 14:47
  • Finally, it's not necessary to be in the same location as your mentor. A mentor is much more than a person who SHOWS you what to do, a mentor is a person who helps you figure it out on your own, allowing you to learn rather than teaching you. The beauty of this internet age is that you can have mentors who are thousands of miles away... I do. However when you do start it is nice to have a physical presence, and a program can also be a good place to find a mentor.
    – Sonsey
    Apr 26 '13 at 14:50
  • That's very true! I guess in a way we're all somewhat mentoring each other here. Thanks for taking the time to reply.
    – jocé
    Apr 28 '13 at 1:37

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