Alec Albury, Class of 2012

Alec AlburyWe all know finding work after University is or will be tough. I’m not someone that actually felt that panic at first, as I was very lucky.  You may hate to read this, but I owe it all to the Research and Development module. Through this I and two other friends decided to look into writing a case study on Envy Post Production.

We found something we all had in common in media interests and that was post production so we put our heads together and went for it. Envy were and still are a big company so it was hard at first, but after a few emails and couple of calls we had secured a date to take a tour and have an interview (all for our case study of course). A week later we received emails inviting us to come down to do a week’s work experience and during that week we all secured jobs as runners. That is what I did for the next year. Running is of course a bit of a pain. Long hours, degrading jobs and it’s just generally difficult to maintain a smile on your face.

That said, I met some fantastic people and learnt a lot about post production processes that aren’t necessary at University. It wasn’t all doom and gloom either; the jobs are never too hard and essentially running is a waiting list to get somewhere else.  With the skills I learnt in Envy’s machine room using Avid and FCP I applied to a job posted for a Trainee Edit Assistant at Universal Pictures.  Lo and behold four months and three interviews down the line I secured the job. This all said I found a year of running to be very tough, like I was stuck in a rut and couldn’t find another job. I did various interviews at many different post houses but some wouldn’t come back to you, others sent you a generic unsuccessful email and some would ask you to come back for a trial, although when it came to post production there always seemed to be someone better at the trial.

My friends that were also running have both also seen ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. One is now an SFX artist for a corporate company which sees the digital mapping of places like Centre Parcs, the other has been doing all sorts of different roles for many different TV production companies, building a portfolio.

My job deals mainly with unreleased feature films, a lot of it to do with distribution. Films, trailers, rushes, TV spots, sizzle reels, etc. all come in from LA to the London dub-room which is where I work. Jobs come in throughout the course of the day asking us to do all sorts of different things with footage, whether it be to cut it, send it somewhere, duplicate it, convert it, etc. There’s a lot of admin involved as well, emailing clients when their work is ready or if there are problems, setting and meeting deadlines and generally organising jobs on a global scale. As most of it is unreleased a lot of the job concerns itself with anti-piracy, making it impossible for an outside party to rip the material we send, whether it be physical or via a connection.   I love everything about this job. I’m learning a huge amount and having fun doing it. I feel like I am in a much more integral part of the industry and it’s great. The other day I was involved in cutting a lot for ‘Despicable Me 2’ and this is something I do daily with a lot of other films, so it’s hard not to enjoy this job.

Given my current position it may seem weird that I’ve always wanted to get into production, mainly camera operation and composition of the frame. I love lighting a scene, finding the shots, planning the shots etc.  On-location production or studio production, it doesn’t matter, I love it. However, when I started studying and found myself in an edit suite, I realised that editing is just as creative as the production side of things: Taking the rushes (or shots) from the set, viewing them all and then putting them in an order that suits your taste; changing them, colouring them, playing with the structure of the film. In a sense you are creating the film, the production crew shoot the scenes as best they can to match the script but the editor can change everything, as cutting at the right moment can produce the emotion in a film. I still very much want to get into production, but I am training at the moment to hopefully enter into a production company with a post house. I continue to do a lot of freelance work as a camera operator for music videos, live shoots and short films where I can and if there isn’t any work then I write my own.

Websites like Grapevine, APA, Mandy and just generally searching Google is a great way to find jobs, if you just keep applying and make sure your CV is professional and not too crammed.   Anywhere is good to find jobs though, be it a friend who knows a friend, a person you meet at an event, a Facebook post for a three day job. If you take on this sort of work all the time you’re guaranteed to find something eventually, or something will find you.

My advice to students:

  • Build your confidence at University, and if you’re already quite confident in meeting people, then utilise it.
  • Interviewers want to know you’re skilled of course, but if you’ve put the work in and outside of University then you’ll have no trouble telling them this as yourself.
  • Too much confidence looks bad and being too nervy is off-putting, try and find a balance, be yourself, be calm and try to have a conversation with the interviewer. Don’t think of them as intimidating or as a boss, they are just another person and they are interested in YOU, so show them you’re a lovely person with a drive to achieve and evidence to prove it.
  • Maybe focus on some of your weaknesses, list them out and think of how you could turn them into strengths, then tell your interviewer this, don’t shy away from obvious weaknesses as they want to know you’re human.
  • Make as many friends as you can at Uni, develop contacts and keep in touch as much as you can. These contacts and friendships will prove long term.
  • Do the best you can in your R and D module as you never know, they (staff at the company) may like you and it may be the start for you there!
  • On top of that, do a lot more of work outside of University.  Try to develop your skills as much as you can and build a huge portfolio before you leave, as it is a big part of what the employer will look at.

One thing is for sure, I developed a lot more confidence from studying at Lincoln. Meeting lots of new people, learning to trust and work with these people and eventually making long-term friendships and partners to work with in future. This was a key aspect to my time at University and it is still growing.

LSM showed me the world I wanted to enter, allowed me to choose which aspect I preferred, and then developed those skills into a professional standard. With those skills I took part in projects outside of University to develop my CV and skills, learning how to use new equipment and different tricks in the edit suite. With all of this, I was ready to enter the ‘real world’.  The main thing I took from Lincoln though is friends and confidence. Friends came with me to London so it was less daunting at first, for one we’d all managed to get a job so were all in the same boat, but also moving in with them felt much more comfortable. The confidence helped me meet new people at work, allowing me to develop relationships there and push myself to talk to people that could one day prove beneficial.

Finally, graduation and leaving Lincoln was a very emotional time for everyone.  I do remember it as one of the best days I’ve had in my life, a milestone in my timeline that I will never forget. It’s a celebration and summation of your achievements not only in work, but with your friends and growing up. Don’t take this for granted, put the work in, try and grab what you want from life and then get absolutely rat arsed at the Grad Ball… trust me, it feels so good.