New York Professional Encounter: Learning From The Pros In The Big Apple
Professional Encounters are an exciting time as an apprentice. Not only are the trips a time to see one of the apexes of film and television production in the world, it’s a chance to learn from people that live and work there. The most recent professional encounter was no different. CCM went to New York seeing the sights, taking in the local culture, and, of course, meeting with professionals — all with the goal of immersing us in the real world elements of working in the business in the Big Apple and training with professionals at the same time.
This time around, we met with six production professionals. What made this trip different from the trip to Los Angeles last Christmas was the eclectic variety when it came to their professions. We met with a photographer, two producers in the vastly different fields, a musical producer, an actor, and a dancer. The variety reflected the artistic culture of New York. The city has multiple artistic focuses from Broadway to television, to photography, to the underground poetry scene and many other artistic avenues.
Something that’s always interesting about these sessions with professionals is how much you can get out of them even if the person speaking doesn’t work in the field you aspire to go into after graduation. All the apprentices that I talked to were highly impacted by the session with Marcus Cheong, the musical producer, even though none of the current apprentices aspire to produce musicals. That’s because the information these professionals give isn’t limited to their field — it’s almost always applicable to all fields and even life in general. He told a story of resiliency. Through every hardship, every setback, and every perceived failure, he never gave up and he never stopped chasing after God. It was after he took a step back, talked with mentors outside of his field, and gained a new perspective from the Holy Spirit that he realized that God was leading him the whole way. What he perceived to be a failure was God’s provision and protection from something that would have been far worse. That kind of story speaks to all, whether we be writers, producers, DPs, actors, directors, editors, graphics artists, or anything else in between.
Through every hardship, every setback, and every perceived failure, he never gave up and he never stopped chasing after God.
Another professional I greatly enjoyed was Nick Urda — an actor. He led three sessions: two about acting and a Q&A session with his wife Alana, a dancer who also led a session. As I observed how he interacted with the acting apprentices, as well as those who elected to try their hand at acting, I took note of how Nick directed the actors. I took the opportunity to really observe and take mental notes on how to interact with actors. As he directed, he was never discouraging or angry. He always spoke to the actors softly and kindly. He built them up, and at the same time asked them to go deeper. He asked questions instead of barking orders. That was probably what impacted me the most. When I think about the stereotypical director on set, I often they think of a larger-than-life personality who stomps around egotistically and yells out instruction. Nick didn’t do that. He talked to the actor often at eye level, built them up, asked what their motivation was, and built from that.
I took the opportunity to really observe and take mental notes on how to interact with actors.
His Q&A session with his wife, Alana, was great, as well. As previously stated, his wife is a dancer, so they have to juggle their work schedules and their personal schedules considering they have a young son. Many apprentices got the opportunity to ask questions about the industry that had been burning on their minds. They also got to ask about how to balance a career with a home life, and to best keep that balance while always factoring in time with God. Just by surveying the room, I could tell that many apprentices were impacted by that session regardless of their professional focus.
There are many other stories about the other sessions with the professionals that I could share. Regardless of their job title, we all got something invaluable out of each session that we will apply to our professional and personal lives. I know that all of the apprentices, including myself, will be thinking about and drawing from those sessions for a long time to come.
Matt is a 23-year-old producer, director, and writer from DFW, Texas, who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Film, TV, and Digital Media from Texas Christian University and is now an apprentice at the Center for Creative Media. His ultimate goal is to bring glory to God as a showrunner on TV. He is fueled by laughter, music, and donuts. Lots and lots of donuts.