I once met with an industry veteran who advised me that I should pick a specialty and promote myself exclusively as that. People want to hire the VERY best person for the task, not somebody who has a foot in two – or even more – camps. I was a bit perturbed by that initially, as I’ve always been something of a jack of all trades, but I dutifully set about building little walls between my various skills and interests. If I were in a discussion on – say – sound design, I would try not to mention that I also edited the piece. That kind of thing.
In recent times, and with all due respect to the aforementioned media stalwart, I’ve come to feel that it was just shitty advice for this day and age. So after much hemming & hawing over what focus this little blog/folio/rambling website is going to take, I’ve decide to just throw it all in. Anything I do professionally is fair game. I do tend to identify primarily as an audio/music guy, but I also know which end of a broadcast camera is which, I love to take photos, and I can get around in Final Cut Pro pretty well. And I think that’s an advantage – not a liability.
I mean, look at the landscape out there – it’s pretty much the renaissance but with computers. Nobody thinks Leonardo Da Vinci was anything other than a first-class painter just because he also knew about anatomy and designed helicopters. And no, I don’t for even a second place myself on that level, but the principle is sound – it’s entirely possible to be good at more than one thing. Particularly if those things are interrelated somehow.
I have the incredible good fortune to have started my career just on the tail end of what I’d refer to as “proper” TV production here in Tasmania. Back in 1995 We were making several hours worth of television per week in the studio, bumping sets in & out, going out and picking up stories, doing outside broadcasts for sporting events, awards nights, dance eisteddfods, produced graphics for the news and for TV commercials… it was all hands on deck. That’s all pretty much gone now, but over the course of nearly nine years at WIN Television Hobart I learned to operate a studio camera, shoot EFP camera, learned how to light a set, record studio voice overs, acquire field audio recordings in all manner of difficult situations, edit tape (audio and video), mix live bands and sporting events, mic up stadiums… it was an absurdly rich training ground. I was also playing in a band 4 nights a week for a good portion of that time, which taught its own set of skills which I threw into the pot.
I couldn’t even begin to quantify how those pieces of knowledge inter-relate on a specific level (well… I could, but it would be dull). I will confidently make this assertion though:
If you work in a field like film or television where there’s a chain of responsibilities, there is NO WAY that having a greater understanding of somebody else’s role is going to make you worse at yours.