• Making the tough decision

    January 6, 2015 | by Jack Sitch

    Like many of us I found myself at a crossroad with the direction I was heading professionally. After working freelance as my primary source of income most of the past three years, I had to make a decision to continue as a freelance producer and video professional or going back to ‘work for the man’.

    I chose to give up some of the freedom of freelance production in trade for a steady income and more importantly, good benefits. While I still feel young and love to work hard I know reality is that I am not the young puppy I once was and freelance is really more for the young professionals. That’s especially true when it comes to benefits like retirement and health insurance. So I accepted an offer to take over leading a production department and I have stepped back into primarily producing TV commercials and web videos.

    How’s this relate to you and your dreams? It’s a great reality check and a pretty good example of facing and making the hard decisions. I can no longer say that I am focusing all my energies on my own company and that is sad, but the agreement reached with ‘the man’ allows me to continue to teach producers and screen actors, work freelance when possible and continue to chase my dreams – albeit in a different way. I can be comfortable with the reality of steady income, I can now afford the kind of health insurance I need as a diabetic, and if another producer walks away owing me money for work completed it won’t be the end of the world.

    As you examine your personal situation and feel like you really want to work in the business but aren’t sure what you need to consider – I would be happy to help you weigh the pros and cons. Your decision though, like my recent decision, is a personal one and no one else can make the decision for you. Don’t be afraid to make the decision, just be sure to really be honest with your pros and cons. Then the decision is relatively easy to make.

    If you have questions contact me at the Black Hills Institute of Broadcast & Cinematic Arts or email me at sitch.jack@gmail.com. Then please share this post. Thank you.

  • Life and work lessons

    January 5, 2015 | by Jack Sitch

    Wow …it has been since November 3rd since I last posted here. Crazy changes in life and I have been crazy busy. I will see if I can shake off the cobwebs and make sense with my keyboard tonight.

    Let’s start with the life and work lesson(s) I have had the ‘pleasure’ of facing. Last year when I was in the middle of producing the ‘Dakota Sportsmen TV’ pilot show and subsequent second show that never aired (more on that later) for the Sportsman Channel I had to decline an offer to become the producer for a company that supplies TV advertising for WOW and Golden West cable companies among others. It was a decision that I felt pretty good about before the ‘troubles’ began. The ‘troubles’ being an inexperienced show producer that apparently got in way over his head and despite my attempts to work with him he eventually forced me to walk away with a rather large amount of monies past due for the work completed. That’s where the second show ‘not airing’ comes from as I would not release the second show without payment up front.

    While the ‘lost’ money was a hard hit it was not truly unexpected, since that can happen in the production world, especially when dealing with inexperienced producers. Spring and summer allowed me to at least keep my head above water but winter can be fairly tough as a freelance producer. Then by the grace of God in October I was once again in discussions with the commercial production. Their offer was good, the benefits even better – but (here’s the uncomfortable part) I would be bumping out a young man who I am acquainted with and have no beef with. Do I say ‘yes’ potentially hurting this person and his family while taking care of me. Or do I say ‘no’ and face a harsh winter season without a nest egg to rely on. With the hit I took on the hunting show, I knew I had to say ‘yes’. So I did. How did it turn out? Well that’s another story for later.

    If you have any production or screen acting questions contact me at the Black Hills Institute of Broadcast & Cinematic Arts or email me at sitch.jack@gmail.com. Then please share this post. Thank you.

  • Perceiving your journey

    November 3, 2014 | by Jack Sitch

    It’s not how far you still need to go in achieving your dream that should matter – it’s how far you have already come. I think often about how those of us aspiring to become a producer or on-camera actor look at the journey ahead of us – it’s like staring up from where we are to the top of the mountain – and we get discouraged by how far we still have to go. I would like to suggest you change that perspective and look back at how far you’ve already come.

    It’s easy to get discouraged by the journey ahead of us when we are striving to make a goal. However in every journey worth taking each step brings us not only closer to where we want to be but just as important it takes us farther away from where we have come. In my life when I opened the microphone on my first on-air radio show the journey was far from over but – and for me this was a huge but – it was a lifetime away from that shy, introverted kid who was scared to speak up in class or even attempt a conversation with someone I had just met. Even though the actual steps from where I had been to where I stood at that moment were relatively few, when I looked back at where I had been it seemed like I had already crossed an ocean. I had the right to be overjoyed at my success and I was.

    So as you take this journey to achieving your dream remember that you don’t have to think of the steps you still have to take as the only perspective that counts, the steps you have already taken are just as important if not even more so. Remember, when you walked across the stage at your graduation the journey to where you were going had just begun AND at the same time the distance you had come from your first hesitant steps as a baby was a lifetime ago. Those first steps were just as important to your journey as your future steps will be.

    If you have any questions contact me at the Black Hills Institute of Broadcast & Cinematic Arts or email me at sitch.jack@gmail.com. Please share this post. Thank you.

  • You are a success – really

    October 31, 2014 | by Jack Sitch

    As we head into the weekend led by one of my favorite nights (Halloween) I want to give you a few words of encouragement and congratulations on your decision to pursue your dreams and goals – especially if you have people around you who maybe are not as supportive as you would like.

    I remember with more than a little dismay the looks of some of my friends and family members when they found out I wanted to go into broadcasting. I started in radio and I was shy, introverted and had a speech difficulty that kept me from talking much at all around others. Why in the world would someone like me ever want to go into a profession where I made my living off of talking to others? I can understand the doubts of others; however they may never know how much those doubts hurt me as I started the pursuit of my dream.

    You may not face that same type of doubt from others as you aspire to be an on-camera actor or a producer, but if you have, let me tell you how important your decision to pursue your dream is. That’s who you are and that’s the passion God has given you. Your skills and abilities are your gifts from God – what you do with them are your gift to God. Pursue your dream with a passion. Let nothing stand in your way. If this is what you truly want to do and be – give it all you have to succeed. If this is where you are, then remember that I believe in you. I know that you can make it. You’ll stumble, and sometimes fall hard, but if you get back up and keep moving forward with your pursuit then you will succeed. Make this next year your best year ever in your pursuit. You are a success if you want to be.

    Take that first step in your pursuit and then keep walking forward. Contact me at the Black Hills Institute of Broadcast & Cinematic Arts or email me at sitch.jack@gmail.com with any questions. Then remember to share this post. Thank you.

  • Where do your knowledge and skill levels fall?

    October 29, 2014 | by Jack Sitch

    How objective are you about who you really are in regards to pursuing your dreams and goals? Can you give me an honest answer about you – the dreamer? Tell me which of these categories you fit in:

    1. Willing to do whatever it takes to learn more knowledge and gain skills in pursuit of your dreams
    2. Willing to learn more but are quite hesitant about from who and where you will learn
    3. Know you still need to learn more but are afraid of what others might think if you turn to them for help
    4. Already know most of what you need to be successful in your dreams but can still become more skilled
    5. Already have the knowledge and the skills for success and you just need the opportunities

    I ask this question because I’m constantly amazed at how many people I interact with in this region who might answer that they fit in one of the first three categories but live like they’re a perfect fit for number five. For me if you’re a number five then you should retire now… If you really have a self-belief that you already know all that you need and your skills are the best they will ever be then there is nowhere to go but down, so you best just retire. Let’s be honest, if you really were that good you wouldn’t be here waiting for your chance to succeed, you’d be somewhere else already succeeding.

    It’s the other categories I want to work with because they are just like me – they are working at getting better and even when they may be too shy to ask for help they at least know that they could use some help and their skills can still get better. I love working with other producers and actors because I find that I’m always learning something from them that will make me better. And I want to continue to grow and get better at what I do.

    Let’s all work together as a team in improving who we are and what we do. Contact me at the Black Hills Institute of Broadcast & Cinematic Arts or email me at sitch.jack@gmail.com. Then remember to share this post. Thank you.

  • Celebrate taking that first step!!!

    October 28, 2014 | by Jack Sitch

    Wow, you took the first step on the journey to reach your dream and you survived! Maybe you don’t think of the beginning of your journey that way but you should – it’s something you should celebrate and feel proud of. It doesn’t matter if you stumbled or not, the fact that you survived means you are ready to take your second step.

    Many of us though look at the outcome of our first step and begin to pick it apart with statements like ‘It wasn’t good enough…’ or ‘Yeah but I did this wrong…’ Trust me, every one of us is our own biggest critic and we are hard to please, but the simple truth is that taking your first step is so much better than just talking about your dream and the journey. We need to treat the steps in our journey the same way we do a baby who is taking their first steps. We clap and smile and cheer and hug them because they are taking their first steps! Imagine if you criticized a baby for falling as they took their first steps – they wouldn’t want to continue trying. The same is true for you as you begin your journey on achieving your dream. That first step was cool – way cool, and don’t you forget it.

    But what about the stumbles and mistakes – listen, they’re going to happen and you have to understand that each step you take will be better than the last one. Don’t get too critical, next year you will look back and laugh at how far you have come on your journey. The next year you’ll do the same – after all if you aren’t getting better each year at what you are doing then there is a deeper problem. So today when you take that first step take your time afterwards and celebrate that step just like you would with a baby’s first step. You are doing great taking that step and pursuing your dream. And hey, remember that tomorrow’s step will be even better.

    Come on now, no more hesitation, take that step. Contact me at the Black Hills Institute of Broadcast & Cinematic Arts or email me at sitch.jack@gmail.com with any questions. Then remember to share this post. Thank you.

  • That first step!!!

    October 27, 2014 | by Jack Sitch

    You’re a dreamer with aspirations to make it as a screen actor or maybe a producer. You have your plan in place and found a good mentor to work with and sometimes lean on. Everything’s in order and you take your first step …then what?

    That’s probably the scariest moment any of us encounter in our lives, and if you’re like me you’ve encountered that moment many times as you continue to chase more dreams and goals. If you’re finding yourself at this moment currently, you know what that fear feels like. It does really bring you to a pause and sometimes even a moment of self-doubt and hesitation. Don’t feel bad that you feel this way – scared and doubtful, anxious and hesitant – everyone who has ever succeeded in their dreams and goals has found themselves at that exact moment. In the end they all agree if you aren’t scared at that moment then you really don’t care about your dream, your goal. If you really want it with a passion you will be anxious and scared. However you still need to take that step…

    All right – you took that step and maybe you did just fine and are ready for the next step – but you might have stumbled with that first step and maybe you really have some doubts now. That’s cool – really it’s all right. If you don’t ever stumble and find yourself ready to quit because of how hard it can be and how frustrating it is to stumble then maybe that’s because what you are striving for is not that far away from where you are now. Don’t aim low, step out on that bright stage or jump into the deep end of the pool. Take chances, takes risks, face possibly failing – that’s when you‘re really alive. That’s when you’re showing your passion. Life is truly best when you step up to the edge and then leap… I don’t remember what philosopher first said it but it’s a line I find so true – you’ll never reach the other shore if you don’t first leave the shore you’re on.

    Take that step? Contact me at the Black Hills Institute of Broadcast & Cinematic Arts or email me at sitch.jack@gmail.com with any questions. Plus remember to share this post. Thank you.

  • Where are you at with your dream?

    October 24, 2014 | by Jack Sitch

    One of the most awesome things I get to do as I work with others in the pursuit of their dreams is watching as they work so hard towards that aspiration and achievement. I get to know how humbling that chase can be and how hard the struggle is and how great the effort they have to put forward is. I am honored to be watching and sharing their journey.

    As you pursue your aspirations I know that you understand how hard it can be. I think of Steve who has been aspiring to achieve success as a stand-up comedian. Eight years of effort, working in front of small crowds in sometimes horrendous locations, and beginning to see the efforts pay off as now when people see his name on the flyers and on the marquee they know what kind of entertaining and funny show they will get to see. I have watched young and old alike work towards their opportunities to be in front of the camera, sometimes only in a non-speaking roles and sometimes delivering the lines, always nervous and hoping they hit their marks and deliver the performances in ways that help get them to the next level.

    I have great conversations with actors and producers who talk about seeing the progress they have made over where they were last year and looking forward to where they will be next year. I think often of a young actor that I have worked with in the past who is only currently in middle school. He has worked hard with his mom finding opportunities to submit his video auditions on national projects and this fall being accepted for one of those roles and cherishing that moment when he hears the ‘yes’. How about you? Where are you at in this process of reaching for the stars? Are you finding yourself where Kevin is? He goes on stage tonight for his first shot as a stand-up comedian in a professional show. He has ten minutes to leave his mark and begin making a name for himself. His dream’s journey is only just beginning.

    Have questions? Contact me at the Black Hills Institute of Broadcast & Cinematic Arts or email me at sitch.jack@gmail.com. Please remember to share this post. Thank you.

  • Do you consider it an opportunity?

    October 23, 2014 | by Jack Sitch

    If you found a way to work in the industry around your passion but not in exactly ‘the’ dream job you were aiming for would you do it? Would you look at this situation as an opportunity to get your ‘foot in the door’ and get closer to your dream job? Or would you consider this an affront to your dream and passion?

    Let’s say you’re aspiring to be a filmmaker and find yourself with the opportunity to work in the production office or maybe on set as a PA or Grip – would you take that opportunity? How about if the production company offered you the chance to work in the Art Department or with transportation or locations? What if your dream was to be a screen actor and a film production came to the area and you had the chance to work as a PA or a non-paid extra – would you do it? Are you willing to make the connections and get some experience while growing your resume in pursuit of your ‘dream job’?

    These are questions we all need to consider as we work towards achieving our dreams. While we go through the process we need to understand that the world is not just waiting for us to knock on their door. And as we work our way towards our dream job we may even find that we love another part of the industry that we had never considered. I often think of my friend Mike who works in Hollywood on both movies and TV shows. He’s been a Prop Master and Grip and loves the business even though these are two areas he wasn’t dreaming about when he began his pursuit of the ‘dream’. I also think about Tracy who was a commercial producer for years and has now found his passion in being a Grip and a Gaffer and he runs his own independent grip and electric company. He’s so happy doing what he is now doing even though neither of these positions were what he dreamed of. I guess the lesson is to never shut the door to the possibilities.

    Have questions? Contact me at the Black Hills Institute of Broadcast & Cinematic Arts or email me at sitch.jack@gmail.com. Please remember to share this post. Thank you.

  • We’re stronger when we’re creating with others

    October 22, 2014 | by Jack Sitch

    One of the overriding lessons I have had the ‘pleasure’ (not really) to learn through my years in the world of creative arts is how hard it is for many of us to work cooperatively. It’s not that we are not nice people and don’t get along with others because we do, but when it comes to being creative with others many of us want to be the leader and have ownership of our creative ideas and we don’t want to share. It almost feels like I’m being overly critical here but I’m not trying to be, I’m just trying to identify a weakness many of us have as we work in the creative arts.

    What I am NOT talking about here is just creating something and giving it away – what I AM talking about is openly being a part of the creative process and sharing in the process. The really cool thing about creative people like us is that we can come up with some really awesome ideas. Unfortunately many times we tend to think our ideas are best and then we distance ourselves from others who may want to make changes to our ideas. Richard Marx had a great song about this a few decades ago called ‘Don’t Mean Nothing’. It does mean something when our ideas are changed and altered – we take it personally.

    So one of the things I would like you to learn in this business is how to work cooperatively with others in the creative process and production. I know through my many years in the business that we are stronger together than we are apart, and even though I have done this type of work longer than many of you often times it’s the young artist who has the best idea or just the right changes to my ideas. Together we’re stronger – always will be. And if I didn’t believe this lesson before, Improv has taught me that any scene is stronger when we work together. Yes even this old dog can learn new tricks…

    Let’s get better at be creative together. Contact me at the Black Hills Institute of Broadcast & Cinematic Arts or email me at sitch.jack@gmail.com. Please remember to share this post. Thank you.