So as summer rolls around--I'm now an entire month past my one year anniversary of being gainfully employed in the television news industry. It is indeed a cause for celebration. One year into the biz, and I'm not bored yet...not any jaded than I was before, and still aware that I have a lot more to learn before I'm even half way decent at my job.
If you're keeping score at home, at the end of May of last year, I hurriedly moved my life to small-town Smithers, BC, to work as a remote-correspondent video journalist for a small television station in the ugly mill-city of Terrace. Got my feet wet as a photographer and editor, had my stories run on their horribly low-budget newscasts for about 5 months, and got the hell out of dodge. Lovely place up there, abyssmal television news organization.
I landed safely in a new job at a larger TV station in a larger, but still rather small city in BC's southern interior. I've now been here for about 8 months. I've made mistakes, I've had some successes, I've learned on some new video/editing equipment, worked with some people who are a lot better than me, and I now feel comfortable doing just about whatever needs to be done on the job.
I'm still learning as much as I can, but I'm itchy again. It's time to get moving to a bigger place with more daily news stories. If I have to shoot one more story about community gardening, bears wandering the city, or the fricking Walk for MS, someone is going to die.
At any rate, a couple of resumes are out there as we speak--telling prospective employers that I'm on the hunt for a new gig in the big smoke. This industry, however, is incredibly frustrating when you don't have a ton of friends who are plugged into major markets--friends with references, friends with friends in high places. I'm hoping my demo tape will catch someone's eye--that's really all I can do. That, and just WAIT.
In the meantime, I have taken it upon myself to soak up as much as possible on my own. At my office there is next to ZERO feedback on my work. If my stories sink or swim, I'm the only person who seems to care. This really bothers me. I could come back with crappy video and a whole shit load of nothing--the only thing that matters is that it fills the time slot and doesn't air anything "too fictitious". It's a sausage factory--as I'm certain most TV news programs are--but the quality control and organization just aint there, and that's really why I want to leave.
So...how do I learn when I'm not being told what I could be doing better, you ask? Well, sir,
the only way I can--by asking people with more experience than me to give me the lowdown on what I'm doing.
you will find an international community of television photographers and editors who basically whine, bitch, rant, and rave about everything to do with television news. There's video on there of some of their best work, and blooper reels of some of their worst. There's also a forum where young photographers, editors, and journalists can ask for a critique of their work.
A few weeks ago I put out an 'ad' requesting a critic with a lot more experience than I have. A number of people responded--I mailed out out three of my demo DVD with different types of stories that I've shot on it (spot news, human interest, general assignment, sports, etc.). It's the same DVD that I send out with my resume. I picked three photographers/editors from different parts of the US to send it to.
Yesterday I recieved my first critique from a 10 year-experienced photographer/editor in Austin, TX. And although it's better than nothing, I have to admit...I was pretty disappointed. The critique was basically a page long...consisting mostly of compliments for my work which he thought seemed more mature than my one year of experience with a camera and in an editing suite. He told me the pacing of my stories was a little slow for his liking, which was semi-interesting (but if you watch American TV news, you'll understand that this is a pretty fundamental difference between news in Canada and the US), and told me I could work on capturing emotion a bit better with my closing pictures. These were the only nuggets of interest I could take out of his critique. It was far too short for my liking, and I wish he could have been a lot more specific about things.
But...at least it's got me thinking...and inspired to scrutinize my own stuff more often.
Two more critiques to go...followed up with another DVD every four months for a new critique.
It's all about learning, people.
What else is there to life?