“Newhouse gave me insight into how many different jobs exist in the filmmaking industry, but also how new media is changing those traditional roles.”Cameron Hill G’18
How did you obtain your current position?
It all happened kind of fast. I knew I needed an internship to complete my graduate degree, and a former high school teacher reached out to me saying a former student of his, Tony Valentino, had a production company and was looking for an intern. I had met Tony as a high school senior at an alumni event but hadn’t talked to him since. I didn’t let that discourage me, though, and I contacted him. Next thing I know, I’m flying to L.A. for the first time. I hit the ground running and was able to PA [production assist] on a couple shoots Transit had been contracted for. More often, I found myself in our studio space filming content for stand-up comedian Tony Baker’s YouTube channel. As my internship was coming to an end, both of the owners, Tony Valentino and Brennon Edwards, asked what my plans were and offered me a position at Transit. I accepted, and I’m still working there today.
What’s an average day like for you on the job? Take us through it.
Since I started working for Transit, there hasn’t been a “typical” day on the job. A Monday can start as early as a six a.m. call time for a full day of production, and then Tuesday I may be recording a podcast. Most often, my job entails prepping cameras and other gear for productions happening during the week. That involves doing camera builds based on the type of production. If it’s a multi-camera shoot then you have to configure the camera per its use on the production, meaning attaching shoulder mounts, balancing gimbals, using specialty lenses, etc. Along with prepping gear comes the production days, in which I’ll usually help with lighting or camera assisting. We also do a lot of our editing in-house, so I’ll sometimes assist in editing as well.
How do you feel Newhouse prepared you for your current job?
Newhouse prepared me through the production classes I took. Neal Coffey’s cinematography class gave me a very good technical understanding of working with cameras and lighting equipment, from getting proper exposure, lighting a green screen, to safety on set. All of that training directly transferred to the work I’m doing now. The TV production capstone also was a good experience in how it shows what goes into running a production as a whole and your part in a bigger process.
Did Newhouse open your eyes to new professions or aspect of your field you may have not considered when applying?
Newhouse gave me insight into how many different jobs exist in the filmmaking industry but also how new media is changing those traditional roles. Podcasts are no longer solely audio and now many have video elements too. The YouTube, Netflix, and Disney+ streaming ecosystem works differently than the broadcast mediums, and Newhouse helped to explain that and how it’s important to remain adaptable in this growing world of media.
What unique features of your graduate program drew you to it in the first place?
Newhouse’s reputation and alumni drew me to the graduate program and the unique features of it being a one-year program for the television, radio and film degree. And I’m from Syracuse, so there was already a connection to the school.
What are some obstacles or misconceptions about your field that students ought to be aware of?
Everyone’s path into the production field is completely different. My opportunity came from a connection with a former high school teacher, yours may be another PA you meet on set. A misconception I think students should be aware of is the idea that you have to work for one of the large companies to make it. I went the opposite route and wouldn’t change that approach. I chose to intern and then work for a smaller production company, which allowed me to have a hand in all of the different fields because I had to fulfill multiple positions. I find it to be an intense environment at a smaller company, but it’s rewarding because I have a closer relationship with the content we’re making.
What moments in your career have been most exciting or defining thus far?
In the almost three years I’ve been in L.A. there have been a few exciting moments, the first being bringing Tony Baker’s YouTube channel to its 100,000 subscriber milestone through an almost daily release of content. The most recent defining moment is still ongoing: I’ve been working on “Keep Your Distance”, which is a stand-up comedy show created by comedian KevOnStage that came about because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Audiences can’t attend live events so we thought of a way to safely bring it to them through a live-streamed stand-up show. “Keep Your Distance” is now on its 14th show (at the time of this writing), and from these shows we have been able to expand into creating even more content that will be released throughout 2021.
What advice do you have for current or incoming students? Any classes or professors that you recommend?
My advice to current and incoming students is stay aware of the state of the industry as much as possible; and not just in the field you want to work in, but also other aspects that you may not know you’re interested in. Watch and listen to all types of media; you have access to more than anyone before you so use it to your advantage. Also, your time in school is the best place to make mistakes because no one’s job, including yours, is at stake — experiment as much as possible in school so that you can avoid small mistakes when it really counts after graduation.