• Category Archives Filmmakers
  • The day dreams died…

    September 11, 2013 | by Jack Sitch

    Dreams, we talk a lot about them. Chasing them and achieving them. But today I want to remember a day when dreams ended for so many. 9-11-2001 …a day I won’t forget for the rest of my life.

    I worked as the Promotions Director and lead AVID editor at KEVN Black Hills Fox at that time. I was on my way to the station on Skyline Drive and listening to Bob & Tom on the radio. It was a little before 7AM. They were discussing what they thought was a small plane hitting one of the twin towers, so when I arrived at the station I immediately went into Master Control and asked the Operator Todd what was happening. He was watching a feed from Fox News Channel about the one tower burning and they were discussing what had happened. As the two of us were watching the feed the camera caught the second plane flying towards and then hitting the second tower. Life as I knew it changed instantly. We were at war.

    When you work at a TV station during times like that the news is never-ending and you have to watch it so that you can do your job. For the better part of the week we spent hours watching the moment our world changed and the aftermath that ensued. We caught our breaths as we watched people jumping from the towers, knowing they were dying. We cried, some of us openly and some of us to ourselves as we saw the towers fall. I will never forget that day, those that died so needlessly, and mostly those who made it happen. Sometimes it’s hard not to hate…

    As I remember that day that dreams died for so many, I want to say to each of you don’t ever stop chasing and achieving your dreams. Do it for those who can’t, we owe them at least that much. Do it for yourself and those that love you, because it’s the right thing to do. Never say you’re too busy, or it’s too hard, or there’s no time or it cost too much. Achieve your dreams. Don’t stop believing because when you do those that attacked our country 12 years ago win. Please don’t let them win…

    I hope to see you at the Black Hills Institute of Broadcast & Cinematic Arts when I get back in the studio. Let’s make sure we can achieve your dreams. Please contact me here for more information, or email me at sitch.jack@gmail.com. As always, please share this post, friend us and like us. Thank you.


  • Filmmakers …it’s your time

    September 8, 2013 | by Jack Sitch

    Filmmakers …it’s your time. Starting Wednesday, Sept. 25, the Black Hills Institute of Broadcast & Cinematic Arts will be holding their five-week Film Producers training session. This session is designed to help you begin your journey as an aspiring filmmaker.

    We’ll be covering topics pertinent to the career of filmmakers including script-writing, directing, acting, lighting, camera, sound and editing. These are the areas a good producer has to understand. The goal will be to have you ready to take your projects to the next level as a filmmaker.

    You will have a firm basis in understanding what a good story means to your project, how to work with actors, how to understand proper camera techniques for your project, basic lighting and audio skills, and why your editor needs to achieve rhythm and good pacing. The training will highlight the role of the Producer in the production of a film or TV show. You will learn how each role interacts with the production team, from PA, Set PA, 2nd AD, 1st AD, Assistant Producer, Associate Producer, Line Producer, Unit Production Manager and Director to Scriptwriter and more.

    The class will be held Wednesday nights (Sept. 25 thru Oct. 23) from 6PM-8PM and is limited to 10 students. This class was originally scheduled to begin on Sept.11 but has been bumped back two weeks while I join the Travel Channel production team for location work in Deadwood.

    So mark Wednesday, Sept. 25, on your calendars and plan on attending the Film Producers sessions at the Black Hills Institute of Broadcast & Cinematic Arts. Contact me here for more information, or email me at sitch.jack@gmail.com. I look forward to working with you and as always, please share this post, friend us and like us. Thank you.


  • The filmmaker dream

    September 4, 2013 | by Jack Sitch

    The worlds of filmmaking and broadcasting are full of dreamers. I too am one of those dreamers. And I hope your journey will be as exciting and fulfilling as mine as you join this world.

    The excitement is real whether I have been the producer and director of a production or worked hard as a PA for someone else’s production. I remember seeing the “Camaro Cash” commercial for the South Dakota Lottery play on TV for the first time and being so excited by seeing something I wrote, directed, produced and edited play like that …and that’s after over 30 years in the business. The excitement doesn’t ever really go away.

    As you take this journey you too will feel the excitement, no matter how long you are a part of it. Does that mean it’ll always be without stumbles and mistakes? Not at all. We all make mistakes and nothing is perfect. What matters is how you handle them when they happen. That’s one of the reasons the Black Hills Institute of Broadcast & Cinematic Arts exists. To help lessen some of the mistakes and to help you understand how to handle them better when they happen. The real goal would be to give you a foundation so that most of the career ending mistakes are eliminated. Things like doing too much yourself and not knowing what you don’t know. We are also trying to get you networked with other aspiring filmmakers so you have someone to talk to when it gets tough, and to help you find the right people to work with. That’s a topic I see professionals talking about constantly on LinkedIn.

    So do yourself a favor and invest in yourself with the “Film Producer” training sessions on Wednesday nights beginning September 11. The classes are for five weeks, two hours per night and I know you will leave with a new appreciation for the profession, your knowledge and your chance at success in this business that I love.

    Let me know if you would like some more information. Contact me here, stop by our studio at 230 Main Street in Rapid City, or email me at sitch.jack@gmail.com. Please share this post, friend us and like us. Thanks.


  • Achieving my dreams

    September 1, 2013 | by Jack Sitch

    Over the past month we’ve talked a lot about achieving your dreams in this business of film and broadcast. I’ve even mentioned having achieved my dreams, but I never really talked about the journey. So why not scratch that surface today.

    That journey is actually a very important reason why I started the Black Hills Institute of Broadcast & Cinematic Arts. When I began my journey into the world of broadcasting in the mid 70’s (yes they had TV back then) I took the standard road suggested by society and broadcast professionals. Yes, I went to college. I earned my four year degree in Mass Communications Broadcast Emphasis from Black Hills State College. How prepared was I for the real world of broadcast? As a radio personality I was very well prepared, but as a TV broadcaster I was lacking a lot and as for film…

    As my journey continued from college I found that most of what I was doing was learned from work experience. It made sense since my radio background was filled with work experience before graduation and TV and film were not. Sure I could be on the mic in radio and on camera in TV. I could even operate all the radio equipment (including the transmitters) and some of the camera equipment in TV. But my knowledge of what it took to be a production professional or on-camera actor was weak. No one taught how to be on-camera in TV or film unless you counted a semester of sitting in the TV studio, and no one taught me how to be a production professional. Not because they didn’t want to, but because they didn’t have that type experience in the profession to teach it. So I learned by working in the business and that’s how the journey began.

    Now jump forward to recent times and the young aspiring on-camera actors, producers and editors that I encounter all the time in this profession. What do I find? People that can act on stage (and do it well), and people who know how to run a pro-sumer camera and operate pro-cumer edit programs. But they do not know how to be an on-camera actor or production professional. Not because they don’t want to, but because there has not been a place to get ahead by learning from professionals in the business. So I could sit around with other professionals and complain about the young people coming into the business with a lack of working knowledge, or I could step up and offer my experiences in the profession to those willing to learn. So here I am, offering to help others with my experience and knowledge, something that I would have killed for back when I entered the profession. For you, you have a choice. You can take advantage of what I am offering or you can learn the hard way like I did. Either way I wish you the best on your journey in obtaining your dream.

    If you would like some more information on what I have to offer contact me here, stop by the BHIBCA studio at 230 Main Street in Rapid City, or email me at sitch.jack@gmail.com. Please help us by sharing this post, friending us and liking us. Thanks.


  • The executive producer

    August 23, 2013 | by Jack Sitch

    So you want to be a filmmaker. What does that really mean to you? Most aspiring filmmakers I know are creating, shooting and editing their projects themselves. They are gathering the actors and other resources needed to make the production happen. They are working hard to fulfill all parts of the production process.

    On the professional level they would be known as the Executive Producer. That’s the person who either writes the script or hires the screenwriter to write the story the producer has chosen. They hire the staff, find the funding, create a budget, find the locations, secure the rights, oversee the production and post-production and work the distribution …they are responsible for it all.

    Unfortunately for many of us creatives, they are more responsible for the business of filmmaking then the day-to-day creative process we all love to do. But they do have to have a good understanding of the process. Legendary filmmaker Richard Zanuck once stated “The producer is like the conductor of an orchestra. Maybe he can’t play every instrument, but he knows what every instrument should sound like”. Steven Spielberg started by producing and directing short movies in film school, before moving on to Universal Pictures to direct television shows and made-for-tv movies. He then moved on to direct films and become and independent producer.

    So how about you? How do you become a professional filmmaker? The best way for you to become a professional filmmaker is to gain work experience on a professional production crew. The direct path is to start as a PA (production assistant) and work up in positions like 2nd AD, 1st AD and Director, or as an Assistant Producer, Associate Producer, Line Producer, Unit Production Manager, Production Manager and then Producer. The requirements are a strong writing background, production experience, business acumen and good people skills (especially when under stress).

    This is where the BH Institute of Broadcast & Cinematic Arts can help. We offer training from working professionals, not theory, and we help you make the contacts that start your journey as a production professional. We can work with you on your short movie productions to help you make a better product. We are here to help. It’s up to you to reach out to us though. Contact me here today, by email at sitch.jack@gmail.com, or in person at our studio at 230 Main Street, Rapid City. Like us, friend us and share this post. Thanks!


  • Job options in the film industry

    August 22, 2013 | by Jack Sitch

    As we have talked about filmmaking in the recent posts from the BH Institute of Broadcast & Cinematic Arts, the subject of other jobs within the industry of filmmaking have been brought up. I’ve done that for a reason. I believe it is best for all of us to know what jobs are a part of the process so that we could find the right fit for our dreams.

    For instance, I love working with audio and found a great use of my skills in Location Audio. A friend and former student of mine was active in theater stage production and found a great fit for himself as a Prop Master with such shows as “Jericho”, “Justified” and recently “Arrested Development”. So as you dream about being a part of the filmmaking industry, remember to not pigeonhole yourself into a job area that may not be the best fit for you.

    Last fall when I worked with the Italian Feature Film “I Found America” there were 49 production crew positions in South Dakota not counting Casting, Editing and Catering. This was a mix of Italian and American crew members. The jobs included Producer, 1st AD, Associate Producer, Production Manager, Director, Production Coordinator, Production Accountant, 2nd AD, Set PA, PA, Animals Wrangler, Set Decorator, Prop Master, DP, 1st AC, 2nd AC, DIT, Crane Operator, Costumer, Wardrobe, Craft Services, Gaffer, Best Boy Electric, Electrician Swing, Key Grip, Best Boy Grip, Swing Grip, Key Make Up, Key Hair, Hair Make Up, Locations Manager, Medic, Script Supervisor, Security, Sound Mixer, Boom Operator, Stunts and Transportation. Recently the numbers were at 47 production crew members for the “Sturgis Raw” production with the Travel Channel.

    As you see there are many options for the aspiring filmmaker. So as you start your journey towards the dream of being a filmmaker contact us here at the BH Institute of Broadcast & Cinematic Arts and let us work with you on achieving your dream. We’ll help you explore the options, learn the tradecraft, and find positions working in the industry as you begin this journey. You can contact me today at the studio location (230 Main Street in Rapid City), here on this page or by email at sitch.jack@gmail.com. Friend us, like us and share this post. Thanks!


  • The filmmaker dream

    August 21, 2013 | by Jack Sitch

    The last couple of days I’ve focused on the dream of being a filmmaker. It is an inspiring dream for many. We also talked about how you can get there from here.

    Today let’s talk about why you should consider taking classes to supplement your “on the job” experience as you make your short films. One of the top reasons is simply that you can gain from the experience of the instructor and maybe keep from making some of the mistakes that aspiring filmmakers’ experience. Good classes can save you a lot of time and effort in the learning process and reinforce your skills and hand-on learning.

    With the proper class experience you may find that you want to focus on certain aspects of the filmmaker vocation other than just as a film producer. Knowing about all the positions, their job descriptions and duties may lead you to choose a job that you may have otherwise not understood or considered and that can help to better ensure success.

    So, do you take classes locally or at a university level? If you are choosing to stay in the Black Hills region your choices are limited. Black Hills State has a Mass Communications program, one that I graduated from in 1981, but I would not recommend that if filmmaking is your ultimate goal. No disrespect intended, they just do not have a program designed for that vocation.

    That is one of the many reasons I started the BH Institute of Broadcast & Cinematic Arts. Supporting the growth of the independent film industry in western South Dakota means offering training for the aspiring artists, not just lip service. With over 35 years of experience in the broadcast and cinematic arts, along with the experience of my connections and their support systems offers the aspiring filmmaker something I never had …a place to gain a solid foundation for success in the broadcast and cinematic arts.

    So whether you aspire to be an actor, director or filmmaker, we have the training that can support you in the achievement of your dreams. So take the time to talk to me today at our studio, or contact me at sitch.jack@gmail.com. Find out how the BH Institute of Broadcast & Cinematic Arts can help you begin the journey towards achieving your dreams. I look forward to working with you. Please share this, become a friend and helps us to help others find success in their dreams.


  • Being a filmmaker

    August 20, 2013 | by Jack Sitch

    Yesterday I spoke about being a filmmaker, a title that I believe a person earns over time through hard work, education and training, perseverance and creating a body of work that others look at as they acknowledge your skill level and attributes. It’s not something that is easy to achieve and even harder to do when you reside in South Dakota.

    I know there are many aspiring filmmakers in the Black Hills region and I celebrate them and their dreams. Dreams that are worth pursuing. Do you need to attend classes or a film school to achieve this dream? No you don’t. Your pursuit may be easier if you did, since you would be able to build a support system and contact list while there, and learn so much from those who are teaching the profession. However, there are many examples of successful filmmakers that did not attend film school.

    So where does that leave you when you have this dream while residing in western South Dakota? A question many of us ask. From my perspective the aspiring filmmaker needs to gain as much professional experience as possible while striving to achieve this dream. Work as a PA on productions that come to the region. Not glamorous work but an incredible chance to learn so much from the professionals who are a part of the production, and it’s your chance to make and impress contacts as you build your important network. As you gain experience your opportunities to move up in positions on the production team improves.

    Network with other aspiring regional filmmakers, production houses and the production professionals from ad agencies. Again, the experience and contacts can be invaluable. Find mentors who will work with you and teach you from their years of experience. Take classes if available and possible. Work on experiencing every aspect of filmmaking to see where you would best fit in this profession.

    Love what you do and do what you love as much as possible every day. Continue to work on making movies, whether as a one-man band or with a team of others. Never give up on your dreams. Achieving your dreams is possible, but it isn’t easy and is wholly up to you. Have questions or want to begin to build a support system for your dreams? Contact me here, or at sitch.jack@gmail.com. Let’s make your dreams come true. And do me a favor. Pass this on to your friends and like the BH Institute of Broadcast & Cinematic Arts.


  • Are you a filmmaker?

    August 19, 2013 | by Jack Sitch

    Are you a filmmaker? I speak with many people that use the term filmmaker fairly loosely. Maybe you have a DSLR camera or video camera that does a nice job of videotaping scenes that friends and aspiring actors perform for you. Does that make you a filmmaker? Not really. Maybe you are a great creative with the ability to write a good script and can get people to join you in the production of your script. Does that make you a filmmaker? Getting closer but probably not.

    Am I trying to be a butthead with what I am saying? No I’m not. The point I really want you to understand is that filmmaking isn’t a one-man vocation. And it isn’t something that can really be done over a weekend or even a couple of weekends. Okay, maybe in a 48 Hour Film Fest …otherwise no. Filmmaking when done correctly is a work intensive and team sport. There is so much to becoming a filmmaker, a successful filmmaker, that you really need to go beyond the “I have a camera thusly I am a filmmaker” idea.

    I can make a pretty good chocolate chip cookie, but by any real standards I am not a baker. I can play some pretty good football, but I am not a professional football player. So you can probably make a movie, but that doesn’t make you a filmmaker. If being a filmmaker is your dream though, we can help you get there at the BH Institute of Broadcast & Cinematic Arts. Contact me here or at sitch.jack@gmail.com today and we can explore what it may take for you to fulfill your dream. Yes, you can become a filmmaker…