It’s graduation time for college kids & I suppose people have read a lot of “do this do that” crap from various writers & heard a lot of “Believe in yourself and all good things will come” graduation speeches. As a very “standard” video/editor dude (that’s what I put on my business cards, brilliant stuff) I’ve been asked 3 or 4 times for some advice coming out of film school. It’s not a great time to be coming out of college and it’s an even worse time for film school kids, who often believe that jobs are handed to them on major movies upon accepting their diplomas. So recent grads- here’s what I’ve said. I hope it’s of help to those of you waiting for a call from Chris Nolan asking what you for your next great movie idea.

As you know, I chose a pretty odd path after graduation. But I think I have some thoughts you might find interesting.

1. The first job out of college always blows, always. It’s the nature of things, but you can’t expect much right out of college. People, especially in this economy, know you are vulnerable and will exploit it. It’s tough and it sucks. (As if young people in Film/TV don’t take it in the ass enough, right?)

Consider yourself lucky to be employed, always keep that attitude. Lots of people are envious of you and I.

2. L.A. is not the end all and be all of ANYTHING. I moved to Phoenix last summer and I’ve had more work as an editor/producer here than I ever had in L.A. Shit, I had so much work at one point I could have given you half of it. So keep that in mind too- for sure there is a lot of production in L.A., but people in L.A. are selfish and assholes. It’s not like that everywhere else. There are plenty of cities to consider that are better, especially in down economies. That’s not to say I won’t come back to L.A. or still keep contacts there, because I do. But for right now, in this economy, work is work.

3. Broaden your goals. Right now my day job is in PR. I do video, a lot of video, but sometimes my job title reads “Public Relations Coordinator.” Not exactly what I set out to do when I left LMU, but let’s consider my situation: I’ve got tv/film experience. This is unique. It’s not so unique in L.A. (back to the geography business) So what I’m saying is that you should look for jobs in marketing/PR. Always have at least 2 different resumes prepared for different types jobs.

It sounds like you hate your job- if so, get a move on looking for jobs in these somewhat related fields. Honestly, my job isn’t glamorous but I’ve got a fantastic boss, my hours are flexible (more on that later) and I work with decent people.

4. Writing jobs SUCK anyways. The writing only jobs you and I are going to get until we’ve proven ourselves are technical writing gigs (i.e. write this IKEA manual) or non-paying jobs. So why bother? Instead, use your time after your job and a few hours on the weekend to start a screenplay, write a blog and see what develops. My current project started as a “Hmm maybe I should do… THIS!” thought. And then I started it. On my own, shot my own footage, cut my own promo reel and reached out to follow up with my own contacts.

Certainly you can try and be someone’s bitch as an assistant (I speak from experience here), but frankly it’s better to be earning money and networking. Being someone’s assistant is a guarantee of nothing other than meeting some interesting people. And honestly, you can do that on your own.

5. Network.  Lots of companies in AZ are hiring. I could get you outstanding references here just based on people that I know. So, I’m glad that you dropped me a line, just because I’m willing and able to help you out if you are interested in spending some time in AZ. Let me know.

But beyond me, reach out to people. Who have you always enjoyed being around? Network with people who you WANT to spend time with. Otherwise it comes off as fake and that person isn’t going to do fuck all for you anyway. Reach out to high school buds, family friends etc. etc.

To wrap up, do everything you can to stay creative. I went through a period of 6 months where I didn’t write a goddamn thing. How pathetic is that? Keep writing. My writing sucks, but I’ve got to keep doing it.

Take risks, make changes. Swing for the fences (insert another phrase here). I mean it. If you aren’t happy move to Austin, Texas. I hear great things about that city.

You’ve got a lot of talent. Working 40 hours a week is tough, but guess what- when you come home you get a nice paycheck a place with shit that’s all yours and if you’re lucky a nice girl who wants to touch you. So college is great, but having money to eat at nice restaurants with attractive interesting women is better. Don’t be afraid. You can still take days off at any job.

Good luck.