TV Timecard and Sound Report Writer apps

Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Social Mixer

Let's say you have a "normal" job. You have an office (or at least the same building you go to everyday), a spot for your car, your favorite lunch spots nearby and colleagues. Now let's say you're a freelance location sound mixer. You have an office a random location hopefully not too far away from your house, a spot for your car probably somewhere inconvenient to park your car, your favorite lunch spots nearby whatever a stranger will guess what you want for lunch and colleagues. It's no wonder explaining what you do for a living to someone unfamiliar with the production industry can be difficult to understand at times. Guess what a normal job and your job have in common; colleagues!

It is incredibly important to mesh with your colleagues. For the purposes of this article, I'm referring to other sound mixers as your colleagues. Obviously, everyone on set is your colleague, but few are more important than other mixers in your market. You may not see the same person at your "office" everyday, but I guarantee you will see them again. Maybe at Trader Joe's or maybe on another production down the road. An economist would probably view other mixers as your competition, but I'm telling you from experience...they ARE NOT your competition. If you can embrace the fact that you can not and will not work every job that rolls into town, you will further understand and appreciate what other mixers bring to the table. 

Knowing other mixers will give you the proper channel to discuss what the current rates are. Or maybe a particular camera is becoming suddenly popular for no reason and you need to borrow a 4-pin Lemo timecode cable. If you don't live next to a sound shop (Gotham Sound, LSC, Trew, Pro Sound, TAI, The Audio Dept., etc.), you're only option is to know your colleagues. Even if you do live next to a sound shop, they probably aren't going to help you on a Sunday at 7am. However, the guy that might just live near where you're shooting wouldn't mind helping a colleague out in a pinch. In fact, most of my friends/colleagues would bend over backwards to help me out because they know I would do or have done the same for them. Whether it's covering for someone in a medical emergency or having a Q&A about a specific situation you're uncomfortable with, scene related or not, your local colleagues are frequently the best ones qualified to assist. Many issues will arise, so make sure you know the right people before an issue becomes a problem.

Ok, but "I live in Intercourse, PA and there couldn't possibly be anyone else!" I would venture to guess if you're living and working in a town as a location sound mixer, someone else is, too. Ask around, poke someone on Facebook, as the internet; do what you can to get together with your colleagues. When I first moved to Dallas, I was extremely fortunate to meet some amazing sound mixers that put my head in the right direction. I followed their paths and ultimately was able to work for quality rates on quality projects. The quality projects thing matters less and less to me, but it's a good goal nonetheless. So I knew a few guys, but I also knew there were tons more in town because I would hear their name or text with them. I never really had much of a chance to meet them all until we started hosting a Mixer Mixer, which has turned into an annual sponsored event complete with vendors and manufacturers' demo gear. It brings all of the guys and gals together that are doing the same thing I am, as well as those interested in sound. Without it, I'm convinced our entire market would be worse off without it. We are able to keep busy and civil because we recognize each other as people. People with families. People with different life backgrounds. They will need you like you will need them. Be understanding.

Our 3rd Annual Lone Star Mixer Mixer - Jan 17, 2016
Don't assume that everyone is "out to take your job" like in other departments. In all likelihood, someone got your name before they were able to move on to someone else. Do you really want your reputation to be one that always has that asterisk next to it. The one that's going to go apeshit because someone else "stole a job out from underneath you"? We all know how producers can be. It's a business. It's also a business with frequently thousands of dollars attached to one random phone call that you really didn't see coming. Just know there's a bigger picture to it all.

The last thing you want for your career is to isolate yourself from your colleagues. Make an effort to meet your colleagues and turn them into your friends instead of your enemies. They are one of your greatest assets already at your disposal.

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