“Like many of you working in the business of entertainment I get several calls and e-mails-a-quarter from well-wishing parents of High School and College seniors who have wide-eyed dreams of making it in the industry. It’s mainly to the tune of “My daughter/son is wanting to be a great composer like Hans Zimmer [cough, vomit, teeth brush] and I’d be super grateful if you’d help her/him to get there…” First of all, most fo the great composers and audio people you can think of were far better business people than musicians or talent. And in some cases, that makes them a pretty significant business person. But to just hop on a plane and come to LA/LA/ATL without some kind of plan, to me at least, is suicide. Most of the time I return the kind communication with something like, “Well, the best advice I can give is they go back to school and get a business degree, or start flipping houses, or learn everything they can from TastyTrade and start selling options. Once they’ve got some money flowing in, THEN try to be a super star.” It’s not that I’m trying to be a jerk, but this industry of ours isn’t pleasant and for all its “we’re looking for new blood!” what they really mean is “we’re looking for new blood from the latest studio picture who just made $2.4 million for the role.”
I’ve said this on Sound Advice, Cinema Sound and everywhere I go, this thing called making entertainment is hard. Brutally hard. Harder than anyone realizes. Even Meryl Streep was told she was too ugly to star in a movie when she was in her twenties – and that’s just crazy and nuts. My REAL advice? If you can’t live without doing your craft every day, if you can write scripts or music or mix until your ears and eyes are bleeding, if you’re good with having zero family plans, zero social life, and eating ramen for ten years because the thought of not being in the entertainment business makes you weep crocodile tears and punch holes of rage in walls…then…maybe…you might want to consider a career in entertainment…before doing the reasonable thing and put some money away FIRST.
Seriously, if you’re considering leaving home, hearth, city, career, family, mind, to become a working professional because you can’t NOT do it, then welcome to the insane club. That’s us. We’re nutz. Yep. We can’t NOT do this. Now, look, I personally make money in as many ways as I can, because money doesn’t always come in the way I want it to doing entertainment work. In fact, the most successful entertainment career folks I know personally have made their success in Real Estate.
But if there’s nothing for your burn for fame and glory, if you’re spending your off hours shooting movies with your iPhone 7 and editing them into youtube videos, if you’re taking scenes from Raiders of the Lost Ark and rescoring them with your DAW and musical samples, if you find that you’re compelled to direct hapless people in productions that audiences love, then, against my own better judgement, take the leap. Trust yourself. Try not to smoke too much of the Hopeium. And find the best mentors.
And if you’re so inclined, take a look at Volume 8, Chapter 1 of the Cinema Sound education where I tell you about what to expect, reasonable jobs to shoot for in the beginning, and the powerful contexts that will get you there.”
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