Dean, have you ever used a Schoeps shotgun? Compared to an SQN, what do you think of the Filmtech mixer? Which shotgun mic, field mixer, headphones, lavaliere, and wireless system would you buy if you had a $5k budget?
Since I started teaching location audio I’ve fielded more questions about equipment then any other concern or issue. What’s the latest gadget to automatically fix my sound problems and prevent me from screwing up? Really! Rarely do I get asked about protocol, coping, and most importantly attitude. Yet that’s what makes and breaks most careers. It’s time to take a look in the mirror.
My career has given me the opportunity to peek into the lives of some incredible people. From world leaders and business tycoons to top ranked MMA fighters and ironman triathletes. People who don’t look at any one thing harder then their abilities. People who take responsibility and own their short comings and mistakes. That’s what makes them so good. That’s why they are seen as mover shakers, ranked #1, and game changers. And you know what’s the most common thing about these great people I’ve met… they’re nice. They’re considerate, kind, nonjudgmental, and enjoyable to be around. There is no attitude, no threat, and no ego!
Now what has that got to do with you as a location sound operator? Well among those high profile people are thousands of amazing people who posses the same characteristics and are just as influential in their circles. Whether they’re nurses, teachers, auto mechanics, guitar techs, camera ops, and yes location audio operators. They are just as successful for the exact same reasons and they are #1’s to everyone who is lucky enough to be around and work with them – is that you?
So here’s two more cents.
The successful location sound op is a good person. They make the shoot fun and enjoyable. They are aware of how their attitude effects the production. They understand the people, the industry, and they know their craft. Crew members enjoy being around them. Producers, camera ops, interviewers want to work with them. How often have you heard, “that was the best shoot ever, the equipment was awesome!” I can’t think of a single shoot in my entire career where we sat around congratulating our equipment. Come to think of it, I can’t think of a single shoot I was hired for because of the equipment I owned? It’s the people, the comradery, the human experience.
Over the years I’ve stated to hundreds of students “Someone’s gonna give you a chance to do sound, whether they hire you again is going to be based on whether they liked you or not”! No one wants to work with an arrogant jerk, no matter how good you are at sound or what gear you own. I tell the story of how I spent 3 days laying in the snow (-20°C) waiting for the elusive burrowing owl to show itself. The camera operator, who I had never worked with before, had people skills comparable to a paper clip. Guess what, I just happened to be busy every time he called me for a gig – his career in our town was short lived.
It’s you and you alone that will make or break your career. The saying “just because you can afford a guitar, doesn’t make you a guitar player” rings true in every profession including location sound. Try smiling and be easy to be around with interesting conversation. Then notice how people react to you. Kill’em with easygoing kindness, and reap the rewards.
Happy 2013, you can make it an enjoyable one.