What will happen to Max—and all the
other talented college grads—who want to be in the entertainment business? A lucky and persistent few will succeed. Most will struggle, fail, and give up on
their dreams. They’ll take whatever job they can find, or go to graduate
school. So far, Max has not been able to
find full-time work in television, film, or writing. He’s had a part time job editing a
documentary, and occasionally works on Saturdays as a low-priced SAT
tutor. Like many other recent grads,
he’s frustrated and discouraged. He’s
ready to accept a job as a telemarketer for $10 an hour, just to earn some
money and keep busy. As a mother, I have
to wonder if there isn’t something better out there for a Vassar College
graduate with a 3.65 GPA?
Max has gotten lots of advice from
comedians, actors, and various people in entertainment. Mainly, it boils down to putting himself “out
there” in various ways. As advised, my
son goes to open mikes nearly every weeknight.
“Go get headshots. You’ve got a great look,” he was told at the
end of his summer acting class.
“Subscribe to Back Stage and
go on auditions.”
“Put together a ‘best hits” reel of
“Take your comedy sketches and put
them on YouTube….”
Meanwhile, we urge, keep networking
and sending resumes to Vassar Alums, TV stations, comedy shows, digital
magazines, talent agencies. For Max,
this feels like emailing into a black hole.
He gets one response to 200 resumes, but still presses the “send” button
at least one more time each day.
His father, Henry, came up with a
new (and hopefully, better?) idea. What
if he and Max formed a small independent film company, and invested in some
film equipment? Henry could take a tax
deduction on the film equipment, and Max could have a chance to follow his dream. If he had the equipment, Max could start
making video sketches and putting them on YouTube, and maybe, just maybe, one
of them might go viral, or attract the attention of an agent. Max loved the idea. So last week Rory Ellis Pictures was born,
and on Sunday we planned to shop at B & H—the best store in Manhattan for
professional photo, video and audio equipment.
Before we made the investment,
research needed to be done. As the
majority shareholder of Rory Ellis Pictures, Henry knows zero about movie
equipment, so he relied on Max to figure out the best camera and sound
equipment possible on a limited budget.
Faster than a speeding bullet—or at least faster than Max usually does
anything—Max talked to friends, met with a former professor, and went to down
to B & H earlier in the week to talk with experts and navigate 3 floors of
Owned and operated by Orthodox
Jews, B & H is not only enormous, but like no other store I’ve ever
visited. For Max, it was the adult
version of FAO Schwarz, offering a seemingly endless array of technical toys
spread out on floors as large as city blocks.
Perhaps because B & H is closed on Saturday for the Sabbath, the
store was crowded and buzzing with people on Sunday afternoon. All of the salespeople wore green
aprons. Those who were Jewish also had
beards and wore yarmulkes, tefillin, and peyis.
Everyone was knowledgeable, helpful, and nice—qualities not exactly universal
to New York stores.
Experts at numbered stations
greeted the fast moving lines of customers in each department. When it was our turn, Max did most of the
talking and asked nearly all the questions.
Henry and I marveled at our son, who seemed to be speaking another
language. After over an hour of
discussion, the decision came down to two cameras: the Canon 5D or 6D. The difference in price was $1800—not
insubstantial, considering there was still sound equipment and other essentials
to buy. In the end we chose the 5D because it offered a higher quality image,
longer shelf life and was more durable.
Our next decision was focused on the sound
equipment, It was either Adobe Premier for $739 or a very low quality competitor
for $139 – nothing in between. Guess
which one we chose? Then came all the mysterious-but-essential
accessories: the Sennheiser MKE
Condenser Shot gun MIC KI, the Pearstone
DLX Shock Mount, the Sanken Rubber
O’Ring, the Hoya 77MM Variable Density Filter….
The receipt was 7 pages long and fractured our budget, but we still may
have to return for a few odds and ends. It was 6:15 PM, and the store was closing.
We filled the trunk of our car with
boxes, bags, boom poles, hard drives, adapters and cables. At home, Max put the pile of boxes and bags
in the middle of the living room floor, creating the chaos usually confined to
his bedroom. I was about to object when I saw the joy on my son’s face as he began
tearing open boxes as if it were Christmas. My grown up boy was playing with
his new toys, reading the instructions and trying to operate his camera. Then —surprise,
surprise— he began lovingly stowing away various accessories in the carrying
case. He talked excitedly about filming
the sketches he’d already written and about how to get paid to make videos.
Doesn’t every young adult with creative
talent deserve a chance to be discovered?
We think Max does. Even before he
gets a big break he can write, direct, film, edit and perform in videos. If any readers out there need any kind of
video, Max can now do the job from soup to nuts.
sending my prayer into cyberspace.
Please God, help my son make a video that goes viral before he starts
that telemarketing job.
Labels: auditions, Back Stage, college graduates, comedy, digital magazines, employment, entertainment industry, film, media, open mikes, publishing, talent agencies, television, Vassar, videos, writing, YouTube