Undiscovered Talent


     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 your work….”

     “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 merchandise.   

     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. 

     I’m sending my prayer into cyberspace.  Please God, help my son make a video that goes viral before he starts that telemarketing job.

 

 

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