Everyone takes a different path to their first media job. Some people land their first choice right out of college. Others need to apply to dozens of places before landing an interview. There’s not a perfect way to get the job you want, but it can help to learn from the experience of others. In our feature “How I Got the Job,” we talk to some of the best people working professionally in media about what they did to get a foot in the door, and what it took to finally sign the contract. This week: David Heil, director for Desert Adrenaline Multimedia LLC.
I started looking for my first TV job before I even graduated. During spring break of my senior year I hit up a broadcasting job fair and also hand delivered my resume to the coordinating producer at Fox Sports Arizona. I kept in touch with those contacts as I finished up my degree, and once I got back home in September 2010, I hit them up and started the hunt for a full time job.
Do you remember what you included on your first tape/work sample?
I don’t remember a whole lot of my first tape. When I applied for MCTV I included some newscasts, but mostly just had clips of the sports broadcasts I did, along with a copy of the one theater performance we recorded/edited with GUTV. Fox Sports Arizona didn’t need a tape, and other than when I started doing high school sports, I haven’t ever needed a tape since then. Though instead of having a tape with my examples of work, I display them on my YouTube page as a kind of “work samples” that I’ll update from time to time.
Did you have to change anything about your approach to the job search?
My first “TV job” once I left college was doing freelance work for Maricopa College Television (MCTV). And I realized that I wasn’t going to make enough money doing just freelance at first, so I had to pick up another job and worked at Petsmart for six months, then for my dad who was self-employed at the time and did home remodeling. What ultimately got me the part time work with Fox Sports Arizona was that I emailed the coordinating producer once a month for about six months. Persistent, with just a dash of annoying. But I kept the emails short and very proper.
What happened in your first interview?
So much has happened since then, it’s really hard to remember. I know that when I got work through MCTV, they brought me in, and it seemed more like a formality then anything. Asked me some questions, what I’ve done before, what I want. The big one was when I first started working for Fox Sports Arizona. And that one went really smooth. They brought me in, I talked with the executive producer at the time, talked with him and the coordinating producer. They asked me a bit about my background, college and where I wanted to ultimately go. All I remember was saying that I really wanted to be a sports director, but first I wanted to learn and work all the other positions in the truck so I knew how to do everything. Then I could be an effective director and leader.
Did you ever turn down a job offer? Why?
I’ve turned down freelance work. Either too busy, or wasn’t going to get paid enough for the frustration. But I can’t ever recall turning down a work offer. I only applied and worked towards the jobs that I wanted to get. Which wasn’t a lot, so it took longer to finally get employed.
When and why did you decide to form your own production company?
I decided sometime around the beginning of the summer of 2014 that working as a production assistant for Fox Sports Arizona wasn’t going to take me in the ultimate direction I wanted to go, which was sports directing. If I stayed on with Fox Sports Arizona I would ultimately have become an editor, broadcast engineer, or a producer. One – I’m not a huge fan of post production Two – Most engineers are the station/office making sure everything is working and the broadcast is getting out without any problems. And I rather be in the truck, on the front lines so to speak. Three – I don’t know or care enough about the actual teams to be a great producer. The interesting thing about sports directing, is that as long as you understand the sport, you can direct and learn and get really good. To be a great producer, you need to know the story behind the team, and create a storyline for each production.
In addition, I was getting really good at the Tricaster and web streaming and I wanted to explore that option more. I knew Tricaster and webcasting were the future, and I didn’t want those skills to get rusty. Well, Fox Sports Arizona was dropping pretty much all their Tricaster work. In addition, I was tired of doing the work for other companies. When I did freelance Tricaster work for other companies, I’d only get a fraction of the cost to put on the production, and I was doing a lot of the work to make it happen. That might be a bit egotistical of me to say, but it’s what I believed, and still do to a degree. So when I went full freelance again, I decided I was going to start up my own business, with two guys I did a lot of work for in the industry and we would go out and find our own gigs, instead of working for someone else. And it’s very interesting and stressful to be on the ownership side of things, versus just showing up and working the Tricaster.
As of November of 2014, we started Desert Adrenaline Multimedia, LLC. And things started slow but are now just picking up. My partner finds the work, I crew get the equipment and figure out the over all logistics, my other partner brings the creativity to the team and is also really good with the Tricaster.