Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Livin' the Movie-Making Dream! Graduate Spotlight of Jimmy Dempsey - The F.I.R.S.T. School

We interviewed with a F.I.R.S.T. School film and video graduate, Jimmy Dempsey. He's now working on some really awesome projects across Florida!  Check out our interview and photos below!
Hello, Jimmy! Thanks for taking the time to sit down and talk to us.

It's my pleasure.

Well, Tell us a little bit about you and what program you attended here at F.I.R.S.T?

Well, my name is Jimmy Dempsey. I'm 25, grew up in a little town called Bradenton, FL and just graduated recently from the F.I.R.S.T. School about 2 months ago, getting a diploma in Comprehensive Film and Video Production.

What made you decide to choose the F.I.R.S.T. School over other schools?

Main reason why I decided to go to F.I.R.S.T. School first and foremost was the financial factor! Every school I wanted to go to was at least $80,000 for 2 years or so! The F.I.R.S.T. School offered me what I needed in only 8 months for far less! Also, other schools were way over-crowded and too large of classes when my classroom was only a total of 7 people. I got to actually get close with my teachers and classmates and learn everything I needed to know one on one, unlike most other schools.

What were your career plans while attending F.I.R.S.T, what did you want to do?

Originally, my main focus was going to learn more about post-production. Final Cut Pro, After Effects, DVD Studio Pro, etc. I loved everything about it and wanted to learn to my utmost capability to do it for a living. Thanks to F.I.R.S.T., I started off interning at a studio in Sarasota, Florida while in school, called Sanborn Studios. It's a state-of-the-art sound stage and post-production facility with the 2nd largest green-screen in Florida. I got to use these tools in the field, the chance to work side-by-side with the V.P. of Productions, and did a lot of editing for different projects.
Have your career plans changed since then, how so?

Absolutely! Later on in school, I got hired on at Sanborn Studios full-time, and got pushed a lot to be a camera operator for different productions. Then a day came around and I had the pleasure of working as a 2nd AC for my first TV Pilot called Workers Comp with Morgan Fairchild (General Hospital), Robert Carradine (Revenge of the Nerds), Jay LaRose (Saw III, Saw IV), and Charley Koontz (Community). 

After that experience, I started enjoying that more than anything else. Now, if there's a camera in front of me, there's not a chance I won't be messing with it and different primes! Now, I'm always pursuing different productions doing AC work and I've never enjoyed life as much as I do now.

What have you been doing since graduation? I hear you're working on a lot of cool productions right now?

It's been crazy actually! Immediately after graduation, I ventured off into the freelance business and had the chance to do my first full feature called The Perfect Wedding with Jim Rebhorn (Independence Day) and Kristine Sutherland (Honey, I Shrunk The Kids). I was a 2nd AC/DIT, living out of a mansion for 3 weeks in Sarasota, Florida on the bay, and got to work with the most amazing crew I could ever ask for... Probably one of the most amazing experiences of my life by far. 

After we wrapped, just 2 days later I was picked up for a new TV Show called Magic City for Starz Miami Productions, LLC, which I was completely stoked about! So, I packed my bags, and am now living out of Miami, Florida! It's been pretty epic so far, never seen such a massive set and crew before.
Neat! So what are your plans for the future?

Right now, I'm planning on staying down here in Miami until at least Season 1 is over. I'm gonna keep pursuing other productions around here since there are so many opportunities in the area. It's unreal how many there are! I will be also launching a brand new website within the next month or 2, so please keep on the look-out for it! I also have some other stuff my sleeve but I won't be announcing that for some time now.

If you had one thing to tell future students wanting to get into this career field, what would you tell them?

All I can say is NETWORK NETWORK NETWORK! Getting in the field is hard; you can send hundreds of resumes out there constantly and never get a reply. Trust me, I know... But, the minute you do get an opportunity, work your hardest, work diligently, and work smart! Also, take any internship opportunities that are available up, it's the best way to start your networking and to make your starting mark in the industry. Experience is power! 

Also, be someone YOU would want to work around with! You could be the greatest camera operator I've ever met in my life, but if you act stuck-up, high and mighty, and/or a jerk, why would I ever want to work with you again or refer you to someone else... The industry is big, but it's a small network, everyone knows everyone so never burn a bridge and always make a great first impression. Make your first opportunities your foundation, and build your network from that point on.

Great advice! Well thank you so much for sitting down with us Jimmy and we look forward to hearing more good news from you in the future. 

Would you like to be livin' the movie-making dream like our graduate, Jimmy? 

Would you like to work with beautiful, talented people on major movie sets in places like Miami? 

If you answered, "Yes!", then call today to start livin' your dream tomorrow! Call (407) 316-8310 or visit the F.I.R.S.T. School website.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hot Chicks and Cool Cars - "Hood and the Wolf" Film - F.I.R.S.T. School

Check out some still shots from F.I.R.S.T. School's Film and Video class #111. They're shooting their final senior project which is their short, action-packed film titled, "Hood & The Wolf." Here's a couple of shots of them working on our green screen sound stage!

If you would like to get in on the excitement of a career in film and video production, visit the F.I.R.S.T. School website to watch videos, see more photos, and learn about all the financial aid avialable to help make your dream come true of becoming a film director, videographer, editor (and more)!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

10 Resume Writing Tips - Career Development - F.I.R.S.T. School

Tip 1 - Use Titles or Headings That Match The Jobs You Want
With employers receiving hundreds of resumes you must make sure that your resume hooks an employer's attention within a 5-second glance. A great way to do this is to use job titles and skill headings that relate to and match the jobs you want. For example, compare the headings Roger used in his before resume to the headings used in his after resume.

Before Resume:
Accounting / Recordkeeping
Computer Skills

After Resume:
Management of A/R and A/P Accounts
Computerized Accounting Applications
Departmental Administration / Recordkeeping

Which set of headings are the strongest for an Accounts Payable / Receivable Manager position?
Even though Roger's title was Accounting Assistant, he actually managed over 1,000 A/R and A/P accounts. Using skill headings that market the true nature of Roger's job duties will generate him more interviews and higher salary offers. 

Tip 2 - Use Design That Grabs Attention
Employers make snap judgments when glancing at your resume. If they see unrelated job titles or skills the likelihood is very high that they will make an immediate assumption that you are not qualified for the job you want. Adding to this problem is the fact that employers don't have the time to read through each of your job descriptions to determine if you have the skills they need.

You Must Do That For Them! The design of your resume must highlight the most important information about your work experience, skills and education. At first glance this information forms the image that employers have of your skills and abilities.

Tip 3 - Create Content That Sells
Resume design should get attention but it's really the content of your resume, the descriptions you include of your skills and abilities, that determine how many interviews you generate--as well as the level of salary offers you receive. Compare the before and after statements from Roger's resume shown below:

Before Resume:
Maintained records for accounts receivable and accounts payable accounts.

After Resume:
Managed over 1,000 accounts receivable and payable accounts working directly with the Chief Financial Officer.

Which of these examples presents Roger as being more qualified, having higher skills and worth a higher salary? As this example illustrates, our image of Roger is changed and elevated when we read the after example.

Tip 4 - Quantify and Use Power Words
As Roger's after statement demonstrates, using numbers to describe your achievements and responsibilities can greatly expand and elevate your image. Using numbers and quantifying creates vivid images in our mind when we read them, whereas general statements like the before examples are easy to skip over or forget. Typically the more specific you can be in describing your duties the better.
Another strategy that is extremely important in controlling the image that employers develop about you--is to use Power Words or verbs that match the level of position you want. For example, Roger wants to use the experience he's gained to move into a management position. To strengthen his image he should use as many "management oriented" words as possible. Which example below do you think is the strongest?

Typical Verbs:
Gave work assignments to staff of entry level accounting clerks.

Power Words:
Directed workflow, supervised and trained accounting staff performing posting to general ledger, accounts receivable and payable accounts.

Tip 5 - Analyze Ads and Job Descriptions to Identify Key Words
Learning how to analyze the key words that employers provide in help wanted ads and job descriptions is a key element in creating powerful resumes. For example, read the ad Roger found for an Accounts Receivable Manager below and see how many key words, phrases, or skill descriptions that it includes.

Accounts Receivable Manager
Seeking experienced A/R Manager to oversee accounts, manage billing and collections, train accounting and clerical staff, develop status reports for management and prepare monthly balance sheets. B.A. Degree or A.A. Degree with minimum of 2 years experience required.
Even though this ad is small it contains 12-13 key words or phrases that should be addressed in Roger's resume. Roger can also key words from an ad like this to create headings for his resume such as:

Key Word Skill Headings
Management of A/R Accounts
Billing and Collections
Supervision of Accounting and Administrative Staff
Balance Sheet and Management Status Reports

Tip 6 - Identify and Solve Employer's Hidden Needs
In addition to the skills or needs listed in the ad shown above, the employer will have many more needs that Roger should identify and address in his resume and cover letter. For example, this employer will need someone who can deal effectively with other departments, research accounting issues and records to solve problems. To beat today's heavy competition for jobs, it's important that you identify and anticipate the full range of needs each employer faces and show how you can solve those needs.

Tip 7 - Sell the Benefits of Your Skills
Most resumes provide a list of duties that each applicant has been responsible for--without explaining the benefit of those skills to employers. For example, a secretary's resume might state she can type 80 wpm and is extremely accurate. This statement lacks an explanation of how her typing speed and accuracy benefit an employer's bottom line. The real benefit is that the employee can produce more work and ultimately save the employer money. A better statement for this person's resume would be:

Selling The Benefits of Skills
· Achieved top production volume by maintaining high degree of accuracy with typing speed at 80 wpm.· Cut labor expense over $6,000 annually by eliminating the need for part-time wordprocessing staff.

Tip 8 - Create An Image That Matches The Salary You Want
As you write your resume, keep in mind the level of job and salary you want. Be sure to create an image that presents you at the appropriate level. For example, language used in a resume for an $8 an hour position is much different than the language used for a $16 an hour position. I recently met Lynn, who had held a Health Insurance Claims Management position making $42,000 per year. She had retrained for the accounting field and hadn't yet gained any "direct accounting experience" although she had prepared monthly accounting reports as a Department Manager.
I was appalled when she shared the resume she had been counseled to create. It began with this statement:

Seeking an entry level position in the accounting field.
Now what pay rate do you think this statement would motivate employers to offer Lynn? A much better statement would be:

Seek an Accounting position utilizing my experience:
· Managing a department and accounting for up to $250,000 in monthly claims.

Tip 9 - Prioritize the Content of Your Resume
Another big mistake that job seekers make is to list very important data in the lower sections of their job descriptions. As you compile statements for your resume, prioritize them by importance, impressiveness and relevance to the job you want. Remember that a strong statement which uses power words and quantifies will affect every statement under it. Read the two examples below. Which one has the most impact?

Maintained records control, filing, office supply purchasing and equipment maintenance.
Managed front office functions to support the President, Vice President and staff of 20 Sales Representatives.

Managed front office functions to support the President, Vice President and staff of 20 Sales Representatives. Maintained records control, filing, office supply purchasing and equipment maintenance.

Tip 10 - Tweak and Target Your Resumes and Cover Letters
You will generate many more interviews by tweaking your resume and cover letter so that they address the specific skills each employer requests. For example, Sally originally wanted a customer service position, then found an ad for a Retail Management opening. How well qualified do the headings in the left hand column present her for the Retail Management position? Do you think the headings in the right hand column will generate more and better interviews for Retail Management positions?

Customer Service
Cash Accountability
Computer Skills
Retail Management / Customer Service
Cash Accountability / Supervision of Retail Stations
Retail Accounting Applications

Sally's actual title had been Lead Cashier, even though she managed her own retail cashiering station in addition to 6 other cashiers and stations. Once Sally had created her original resume, it only took about 5 minutes to tweak and relabel her skill descriptions to fit Retail Management positions. This "relabeling" is entirely truthful and is extremely important in landing more interviews because it allows job seekers to apply for, and look qualified for, a wider range of jobs.

Do you need more help with your resume writing skills? Contact the Career Development Department at F.I.R.S.T. (Florida Institute of Recording, Sound, and Technology). Call (407) 316-8310 or email: CareerDevelopment@FIRST.edu