How to Become a Master of More than One Skill in the Production Industry

Published on in Advice / Tips & Tricks

Main image: Patty Mooney as Producer on a green screen shoot with Adidas tennis star Ana Ivanovic

Something I’ve learned in the 30+ years I have been involved in the video production industry is this – It’s better to wear many hats than one. 

It’s better to be a videographer who knows how to edit because your shooting skills become more thoughtful and concise. You’ll be more efficient and aim for quality versus quantity. And you won’t slip into that sloppy way of thinking that the editor will “fix it in post.”

It’s better to be a lighting pro who knows how to shoot because you’ll know exactly where the lights should go during an interview, and the talent will be more attractive on video. You will avoid those deep, dark eye sockets or overblown faces we see so often on the news.

It’s better to be an editor who knows how to mix sound so your sound bites will be clean and concise.

It’s better to be a teleprompter operator who knows how to write, so you can help your client eliminate any tongue-twisting scripts and recognize redundancy in the copy.

Having more skills than one also doubles or triples your potential job offers. 

How do you become a master of more one skill in the production industry?

1) Engage in constant learning. Observe and ask questions of crew members on a shoot at appropriate times (not while the camera is rolling) and absorb their wisdom.  

2) View tutorial videos. Just google the topics in which you are interested and you’ll find hundreds of videos that explain how to properly light for green screen, how to interview someone, how to make a background interesting but not too cluttered, etc. and will keep you busy for quite a while.

3) Read the masters. Even though video production has been constantly evolving for the last few decades, there are certain rules that remain the same.  Find out what they are and THEN you can break them. Video Production Handbook by Jim Owens and Gerald Millerson (now on its 5th edition) and Making Movies by Sidney Lumet are two you can start with.

4) Attend local industry meetings.  Depending on where you live, there may be one or more industry groups which you can join. You can meet people in the industry and share tips and stories.  The MCA-I (Media Communications Association International) has chapters all over the world.  They are a community of professional media communications experts recognized as the definitive source of current comprehensive information, skills and connections needed to succeed in a highly competitive environment. This is the sort of group that can help you become a master of many skills within the industry. Perhaps there is a chapter near where you live.

5) Practice makes perfect. Set up an area in your home for a video production. Experiment with lighting, background, props, camera angles and proper sound. Maybe even incorporate two cameras. Interview a family member or friend. Make sure to do everything in a professional way. If you get stuck on something, refer to #2 and/or #3. Edit your show into a short piece that you can share with someone you trust.  Get their feedback.  Absorb any criticism, improve your skills and move forward.

DP Mark Schulze checks the picture on Convergent Design’s Odyssey 7Q+ during a shoot for Houzz

Understand that it is not an overnight process.  It takes years to become a master.  Think of the people who study for their black belt in Karate. Your black belt in Video Production will be attained through hard work, dedication, creativity, communication and love. When you love what you do, it shows in your work. It’s not an easy path, and that is why only the best can claim that black belt.

About the Writer

Patty Mooney is VP at award-winning San Diego video production company, Crystal Pyramid Productions.  She is a Video Producer, Editor, Sound Technician, Voice Over, Script Writer and Teleprompter Operator.  

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  • Crystal Pyramid Productions said…
    Monday, August 29, 2016 4:51 PM
    Great article with good info for all to read .... Mark :)
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