Life After NU: The End of the Beginning

I’ve been out in perpetually sunny LA for nine weeks now. The time has certainly flown by! Now that I’ve passed the two-month mark—I think I got an A+ for this quarter (oh wait, I’ve graduated, no more grades!)—I can stop counting. Because I’m here to stay. And I haven’t taken a math course in five years, so I’m a little rusty…

In the past month since my last post, nothing has radically changed. Work is consistently great, the sun is dependably out (except when it reluctantly retreats for nighttime), and the ground hasn’t shifted yet (i.e., I still haven’t experienced my first earthquake). Everything has continued to settle down as I’ve settled in. And that’s a good thing. Although there will always be more things to see and do, and my list is still growing, I’m becoming increasingly comfortable in this new city that I can now call home.

My job as a Post PA at Abominable Pictures has continued to be fantastic! Several episodes of Childrens Hospital are approaching picture lock, and multiple other shows are in the delivery pipeline. For the approaching second season of Newsreaders, I’ve been able to sit in on, and take rapid-fire notes for, a few ADR and voiceover sessions. It was a great learning opportunity to see how a professional sound mixer works (with an impressive setup) and listen to the executive producer’s detailed feedback. Plus, I got to meet some big-name actors!

Hanging with my cousin at the beautiful Getty Villa.
Hanging with my cousin at the beautiful Getty Villa.

In addition to my main PA work, I’ve been given new tasks that have utilized my tech skills. I’m still hard at work on that poster, though I’m afraid I’m slowly killing my computer with the humongous file size…I’ve also been using Photoshop to make DVD cases. I’ve enjoyed having the creative freedom to come up with my own ideas while also receiving notes to refine each image. It’s important to be able to collaborate to create a final product, and it almost always turns out better for it!

Even more exciting, I’ve had a lead role in researching and making proposals for a complete post production upgrade. We do all of our editing in-house, which means we have to keep on top of the current technology. It’s been my job to decide which computers and peripherals to purchase, how to upgrade Avid, and to help orchestrate the whole operation. Between this and the multiple shows we’re juggling, work has continued to be perfectly busy. So busy, in fact, that I’ll be staying on at Abominable! I couldn’t be more enthusiastic to continue working at such a phenomenal company!

In my first post, I made some initial observations after just a few days here, so to conclude this blogging series, here are some additional stray observations made over the past two months:

Valet parking companies, not the films studios, run the city.

There are countless donut shops here. Not the fancy artisan donut shops that have invaded Chicago, but shops that are neighborhood institutions. Interestingly, there are several that also serve Chinese food. Whatever floats people’s taste buds!

Ikea is a frightening place.

Lots of movie theaters have assigned seating. I can’t decide what I think about this practice. You have to plan in advance to reserve prime middle seats, but this method means you don’t have to show up to the theater inhumanely early. LA certainly is a city that revolves around movies.

Everywhere is “far.” In this sentence, “far” means twenty minutes away.

After two months of real world experience, I surely must have some overarching bit of wisdom to impart on those still in college, right? I’ve racked my brain for the best thing you can do to prepare for a long-hour job in the entertainment industry, and I’ve settled on one final piece of advice: Eat Your Vegetables.

Robbie Stern is a recent graduate of the School of Communication and majored in RTVF. He now works for Abominable Pictures.

Life After NU: A Month of Changes

The days of ten years at a company have passed, I’ve been told by multiple people over the past month. Things change rapidly in the working world, especially if you’re in the tech industry. Although change can be stressful it also opens up opportunities to demonstrate what a valuable asset you are to a business, and explore skills you may not have even known you had.

The Duo Marketing Team, despite all of the changes, I still feel like I have a lot to learn here.
The Duo Marketing Team, despite all of the changes, I still feel like I have a lot to learn at Duo.

It’s been a month of changes here at Duo. We’ve seen a new Outbound Salesman join the team, as well as a new UX intern, and we’re looking forward to a few new faces in different areas of the company. We’ve also seen a Business Developer, Project Manager and, my supervisor, our Marketing Manager Ariel leave. With several years at Duo and even more in the marketing industry she is one to new challenges at a larger company, unlike anywhere she’s worked before.

What has all of this meant for me? What was supposed to be my twelve-week training plan was shortened to six. I’ve spent the last two weeks finalizing a marketing strategy for one of our clients, laying the groundwork for a Marketing summit that we plan on hosting in the winter or spring, and preparing myself to take on all new responsibility.  As of August 18th I’m responsible for all things marketing (two clients and all inhouse marketing) at Duo.

All in all there have been some stressful moments. I’ve taught myself several of our media management and web analytics softwares. I’ve had make calls asking for help when I’ve been in over my head. But I’ve also become much more resourceful and confident in what I do and how I do it. That’s the benefit of doing things on your own, of learning as you go, you develop a holistic understanding of your job, rather than the easily digestible bits and pieces someone feeds you.

It’s hard to go from training, with someone constantly reading over your shoulder, or holding your hand through the whole process, to making decision for yourself about a company, with little guidance except your own intuition. But more than anything else I’m excited for a new, unexpected challenge. I’m looking forward to making my mark on this company, to making decisions with an appreciable impact, and seeing what other opportunities open up because of this change.

I’m looking forward to managing a client’s account on my own, to putting on my first summit for people in the industry, I’m even excited just to be in charge of the day to day aspects of the job from Social Media posts to Blog Writing.

When I first met Ariel she said that everyday you should be learning something new at your job. And if you ever stop learning that’s your signal to leave. If that’s true I imagine I will have several years and a lot to learn here at Duo.

Jon Gleason is a recent graduate of the School of Communication, and majored in RTVF and English (Creative Writing). He now works for Duo Consulting in Chicago.

Life After NU: I’m an Angeleno Now.

Last week, I watched SNL’s hilarious “The Californians” sketches for the first time. I don’t know how I missed them. While no one I’ve met is obsessed with his or her own reflection, the inescapable compulsion to discuss directions and brag about your private shortcuts is absolutely true. I’ve even fallen into the habit myself. Didn’t take long! I guess that means that after a fast month, I’m officially a Los Angeles resident.

Aside from driving—and getting used to the not-so-patient drivers that cruise the LA streets—my transition to post-grad, full-time working life has been going smoothly, with nary a hiccup. Though that may be due to the fact that I haven’t hiccupped in years, as opposed to me growing accustomed to this new stage of life. Let’s put bodily musings on pause for a moment (for the rest of the post, don’t worry) to get to the thing that occupies most of my time: work!

The excitement that exclamation point conveys is absolutely true. My job working at Abominable Pictures has definitely been fun. I’m kept busy, my coworkers are great, and the shows are hilarious, so what more can I ask for? As a Post Production Assistant my tasks vary, but they usually include: making and managing hundreds (only a slight exaggeration) of Google docs to handle everything from post production budgets to producers’ notes on episodes, organizing dailies for producer and director viewing, backing up precious footage, transcribing cuts (allowing me to vicariously live as a TV writer), and searching for stock footage (why is everything a time-lapse when you never need it to be?).

On the set (in the production office area) of Childrens Hospital.
On the set (in the production office area) of Childrens Hospital.

Childrens Hospital wrapped two weeks ago, so we’re now fully in the throes of post. After a fun wrap party, work transitioned from preparing dailies to readying cuts for the higher-ups. I get to watch the incremental edits of each episode; reading the producers’ comments, then seeing how the subsequent versions reflect their compromises, is a fascinating process. Abominable juggles an impressive number of shows, so while four shows are in various stages of post and finishing, we’re gearing up for two more productions. Everyone’s hands are always full, hopefully with comedy gold.

I also often get little random tasks thrown my way. For example, one of my most amusing jobs was ensuring every curse word for a show was fully bleeped out. I found myself playing the bleeps on repeat, making sure every “f” and “t” and “k” and “sh,” not necessarily in that order, was covered. Needless to say, these were the most risqué—and potentially offensive—notes and emails I’ve ever written. Another project I’m in the middle of is creating a poster for an old web series. If it gets approved, my work will adorn the office walls!

At home, I’m now fully moved in to my apartment. The best part: having a parking space. That thing is priceless. Another best part: there’s a Ralph’s (much better than Chicago’s Jewel-Osco) at the end of the street. Plus the apartment itself is great! It still hasn’t rained here, apart from a few raindrops that got lost and accidentally fell over LA, and it looks like that won’t be changing anytime soon. Unfortunate for the drought conditions, but fortunate for…no, the place really needs some rain.

To conclude the post, here’s today’s parting wisdom: Explore! I definitely want to get to know the area I’ll be calling home. Also, you need to have stories when coworkers ask how you like LA. My list of accomplishments includes going to the Pacific (very different than my home Atlantic), visiting the Getty Center, seeing the Walk of Fame, and general exploring. In other words, a lot more to do! Which is fine, because I’m here, and an Angeleno, now.

Robbie Stern is a recent graduate of the School of Communication and majored in RTVF. He now works for Abominable Pictures.