Ep156: What Every Recent Graduate Needs to Know About the Realities of Working In Hollywood Pt1 | with Austin Coburn

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Every year at this time there is an influx of energetic and passionate young filmmakers as they graduate from college ready to take on the world and become the next great filmmaker. Most graduates (including myself) enter their career ready to take on the world and do whatever it takes to “make it” in the industry, including:

Working ridiculously long hours,
Consistently staying up all night,
Taking on multiple jobs…
Saying ‘Yes’ to everything (because you never know if another opportunity will ever come along).

This was my mentality as well, until it inevitably led to my first massive bout of BURNOUT.

Today’s guest, college student (and now graduate) Austin Coburn, began to notice that his all nighters and fast food eating habits were not the proper fuel for long-term success. His curiosity about finding work-life balance led him to talking to other students and professionals in filmmaking about their experiences, and he was so inspired by this topic he turned it into a documentary.

Because he was an avid listener of my ‘Fitness In Post’ podcast at the time, he reached out to me to be an interview subject for the film, and I found his questions and his perspective so engaging I wanted to invite him to be a guest on this show to share the student’s point of view, one I don’t get to share too often on this show.

This episode is part one of a two-part conversation. In part 1 I interview Austin about his experiences and the challenges he will face upon graduation. And in part two, we flip the script and I become the interviewee. Both parts of the conversation offer a fresh perspective on an important topic that most of us grapple with regardless of what stage we are in our career.

One quick caveat: This interview was recorded a few years ago back in the Fitness in Post days. Austin has since graduated and you can find links to his most recent work on Instagram.

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Here’s What You’ll Learn:

  • Why Austin decided to make a documentary on work life balance.
  • Austin spent his high school years on the computer editing his projects and wore his all nighters as a badge of honor.
  • He ate a lot of fast food and decided to go vegetarian to force himself to eat healthier.
  • What he learned from students he interviewed about their view on the demands of the industry.
  • The perception of what it takes to “make it in the industry”.
  • Why students develop bad working habits while they’re in school and how they carry over into their careers.
  • Why it’s dangerous to think of the human body as a machine.
  • The dangers of developing bad eating habits while working.
  • How Austin learned to say no.
  • The different ideas of work life balance between students and Hollywood veterans.

Useful Resources Mentioned:

Ep34: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less | with Greg McKeown

Ep11: Making It In Hollywood as a “Creative” (What They Don’t Teach You In Film School) | with Norman Hollyn

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Episode Transcript

Zack Arnold 0:00

My name is Zack Arnold, I'm a Hollywood film and television editor, a documentary director, father of two, an American Ninja Warrior in training and the creator of Optimize Yourself. For over 10 years now I have obsessively searched for every possible way to optimize my own creative and athletic performance. And now I'm here to shorten your learning curve. Whether you're a creative professional who edits, writes or directs, you're an entrepreneur, or even if you're a weekend warrior, I strongly believe you can be successful without sacrificing your health, or your sanity in the process. You ready? Let's design the optimized version of you.

Hello, and welcome to the Optimize Yourself podcast. If you're a brand new optimizer, I welcome you and I sincerely hope that you enjoy today's conversation. If you're inspired to take action after listening today, why not tell a friend about the show and help spread the love? And if you're a longtime listener and optimizer O.G. welcome back. Whether you're brand new, or you're seasoned vets, if you have just 10 seconds today, it would mean the world to me if you clicked the subscribe button in your podcast app of choice, because the more people that subscribe, the more that iTunes and the other platforms can recognize this show. And thus the more people that you and I can inspire, to step outside their comfort zones to reach their greatest potential. And now on to today's show.

Every year at this time, there's an influx of energetic and passionate young filmmakers as they graduate from college, ready to take on the world and become the next great American filmmaker. Most graduates, including myself, enter their career ready to take on the world and do whatever it takes to make it in the industry. And that, of course, includes working ridiculously long hours, consistently staying up all night, taking on multiple jobs and saying yes to everything, because hey, you never know if another opportunity is ever going to come along. Right? You know what this was my mentality as well until it inevitably led to my very first round of massive burnout. Well, today's guest college student and now graduate Austin Coburn began to notice that his all nighters and his fast food eating habits were not the proper fuel for long term success. And his curiosity very early on in his career, about finding work life balance led him to talking to other students, and professionals in filmmaking about their experiences. And he became so inspired by this topic, that he ended up turning it into a documentary. Now, because he was an avid listener of my original podcast, Fitness in Post back in the day, he reached out to me to be an interview subject for that film. And I honestly found his questions and his perspective, so engaging, that I then invited him to be a guest on this show, so he could share the student's point of view. And that's one that we don't often get on the show. So this episode is part one of a two part conversation. In part one, I interview Austin, about his experiences and the challenges that he's going to face upon graduation. And then in part two, it gets really fun, because we flip the script and I become the interviewee. Both parts of this conversation are going to offer a fresh perspective on an important topic that all of us grapple with, regardless of what stage that we're in in our career. And as I already briefly mentioned, one quick caveat, this interview was recorded a few years ago back in the Fitness in Post days, and Austin has since graduated, and you can find links to his most recent work on Instagram at Coburn Films c o b u r n films. Whether you work in a creative industry such as Hollywood, you're already right here in Hollywood, or you want to know what it takes to make it in a business like Hollywood. I've got great news for you. I just released my brand new ultimate guide to making it in Hollywood as a creative. That is an absolute manifesto on the practical steps that you can start taking right away to either get started with or advance in your filmmaking career. No matter what creative craft you specialize in. The strategies that I provide in this guide will absolutely help you move forwards. I cover such topics as how to figure out which ladder you should be climbing and how to clarify the niche that's the best fit for your skill set. How to Become awesome at your specific craft, as well as how to pitch yourself. And most importantly, I do a deep dive into the art and science of networking. Especially if you're an introvert like me. This is 15 years of everything that I've learned throughout my own professional journey, distilled down to one jam packed guide, and I'm offering it to you 100% free to download your ultimate guide just visit optimizeyourself.me/hollywoodultimateguide and I will send it to your inbox immediately. Alright, without further ado part one of my two part conversation with college graduate Austin Coburn made possible today By our amazing sponsors Evercast and Ergodriven, who are going to be featured just a bit later in today's interview, to access the show notes for this and all previous episodes, as well as to subscribe so you don't miss the next inspirational interview, please visit optimizeyourself.me/podcast.

I'm here today with Austin Coburn, who is a film student documentary filmmaker at George Fox University. And it is a pleasure to have you here on the show with me today. Hey, Zack. So this is going to be a little bit different than some of the shows that I've done, because we're going to kind of turn the tables a little bit. And this is going to be kind of a co interview, where I'm going to spend a little time chatting with you and talking about what life looks like as a student filmmaker, but then we're gonna we're gonna flip things around, and I'm gonna have you interview me for a little bit. And the background for that is because you were actually at my house recently, because, well, you know, instead of me telling, why don't you tell me why you reached out to me and ended up coming out to my house?

Austin Coburn 5:59

Well, I started working on this documentary film, which is about finding out if it's possible to achieve life balance and post production specifically for young professionals who are making their way from an educational standpoint, to kind of a workforce standpoint, there's a lot of things that can happen in those five to 10 years. And so I was doing the research on this project, and I came across your podcast, and I was like, This is exactly the type of information and the things that I feel students should be talking about at this age, but aren't. And I know that your podcast was extremely applicable to people who are already in the industry. But I think from a student standpoint, those kind of topics of being healthy and having life balance aren't talked about at all, at this age, because we're so busy learning all the shortcuts and After Effects and, and learning how to color correct and do things that after four years, it kind of just dissipates and doesn't really get brought up and you end up having to go on those problems on your own. I think that's how I came across your, your podcast, and I flew down to LA there to interview you. And it wasn't great. And you were very patient with how long it was. But yeah, I think what you're doing with this podcast is, and it kind of just talking about that topic, I think there needs to be that kind of conversational conversation about this to young people in the film industry as well,

Zack Arnold 7:25

Well. And I've found that after having done this for I guess it's been about two and a half years, just sort of three years now that I have a lot of demographics and Google Analytics and whatnot, I find that I don't have a lot of listeners that are in your age range, which is interesting, because I have so much content that really helps people learn how to break into the industry or move forward in their career. But I found that, really the the majority of my audience starts in their mid 20s, and goes more kind of into the early to mid 40s. Because they've already kind of hit that wall. And you and I discussed a little bit how most students film students or otherwise are still young enough, that from a genetic and physical standpoint, they can just biologically detoxify all the horrible things they're doing to themselves, like the poor eating habits, the overwork, the lack of sleep, and all that. And usually mid to late 20s is when your body says yeah, I don't think I want to do this anymore. And I'm going to start fighting back. So that was something that you and I talked about. So I'd I wanted to have this this different perspective, because I spent several semesters teaching at USC, and I have some film students and former film students that are in my program, and I know listen, but I don't have as many as I would like, because I think it's it's just one of those things that like you said, it's overlooked and not thought about. So what I would actually like to do is go before you decided I want to make this documentary film and I want to fly out and do this interview. Let's talk about your own journey, where the end of the story is, I'm going to make a documentary about this.

Austin Coburn 8:59

So I came into college, kind of knowing that I wanted to do something in filmmaking. I've been making movies for about eight years, I started as a freshman in high school. And in that eight year time period, I've spent a lot of hours and hours in front of the computer. And it wasn't until last semester that something clicked in me and I realized that's not good. That's not normal in a way of how much time I'm spending. I think I specifically started in high school I didn't have a computer and so I would spend all my one shoes breaks I would stay there till like five or six every night working in the labs just because I wanted to I wanted to edit on Final Cut, I think was Final Cut Express we had there. And so I would already at a young age, I was spending hours in front of the computer editing. And then I got to college here and it was kind of was a no rules kind of thing in a way right. I had 24 hour access to labs and I could edit as long as I wanted and just like I I would say environment wise in our film department and cultural wise, I think there was a very misunderstood conception that lack sleep, it was a badge of honor, that lack of sleep contributed to good work, because a lot of the people who would stay up all night would end up having really strong projects. And I was definitely one of those people who, who embarrassingly now who advocated for that. And so I, it wasn't until like, last semester, in my senior year that I started last summer, I took on three different editing jobs, and I was working remotely. And it was the first time that I had like, done full time, freelancing work. And I realized that this is a problem that I've made myself kind of available too often. And I thought it would, just like in, in my classes and things, if I, oh, I can change a cut at 8pm or 10pm. And that will look really good. And that really took over my life in a way that I couldn't, I never realized it would. And so I was lucky to have that experience and go into the senior year and be like, okay, I can make some changes this last year before I really actually go out into the real world. And yeah, and so senior years happened. And I've been interviewing students and also learning on my own big change I had to make was, I would eat a lot of really unhealthy food at night, specifically fast food, I knew the closing times for the fast food places in in the area. And so I made the decision to just go vegetarian last September, just so I would not eat fast food. Because if you make that decision, there's not a lot options there. And the options that are vegetarian are Don't, don't taste that good. So that was a big change I made and also a big change I made last semester was reading and walking more, I would walk to school every day. And I would also get audiobooks. And I got a library card. And my breaks didn't consist of watching 30 minutes show in front of the screen, it was like I would just read for a half hour instead. And that just tremendously also improved how much I was enjoying working and how much I enjoyed reading. So a lots happened. But that kind of has led to where I'm at with this documentary and going into production is I kind of had to change a lot of these attributes about myself before I started making a documentary on this topic. And then I started pursuing and interviewing other students as well to see what they struggled with. That was either similar to my own struggles or was different.

Zack Arnold 12:36

And I would love to know what you heard in some of those student interviews, because that's a perspective that I don't get that much anymore, because I've now been in this industry for over 15 years. And as much as I like to believe in my mind that I'm still a young Spry student right out of school. I'm not anymore. So that's a world that I'm not exposed to that much. So I would love to know if you heard other people saying, Oh, yes, the same struggle for me or them saying No, man, I'm a machine and I'm unstoppable. I can work 22 hours a day. So I'd be really curious to hear what they had to say.

Austin Coburn 13:06

I was I was surprised to find how divided it was. I was expecting it to really sway more in the way of this is really bad. But I was surprised to find people who were similar to myself, but we're big advocates for this. And I think I think at this age, that's a very common mindset that the the all nighters in the binge working that this is this is what you need to be good in a way. I think I also found people who were who were very nervous at that idea that were staying up all night, but didn't like that they were but kind of embrace the inevitability that that was what it took in this industry kind of like, I they're one of the first people I interviewed, they were talking about that if you see people pulling these all nighters, and you you kind of come to the conclusion that this is what it makes, it takes for me to be good. It's what it takes, like, people are valuing this kind of work that I'm doing that the way I work is valuable, that that's going to kind of be just ingrained in your work mentality as you go into the workforce. And in that transition of just doing it for an A and for doing it for your friends. I think a lot of people were worried about what they would do when i a paycheck was waved in front of them, or not even a paycheck just even free work, I would say. And people really, they were also really worried about having families and having kids in this industry. Just because there was a little bit of your at this fork, I would say when you graduate college, and I feel like with being in this major when you get to that, that end game of graduation, it's like you have to choose one or the other. One student was saying like you can't just like immediately have both you're going to have to go No, I'm going this way or I'm going that way. And a lot of people were worried about that they wouldn't they would have to be D hatched from their families, from their kids from their wife quite a lot more than they would with being another industry. And I thought that was interesting, because I've seen a lot of really good relationships in the industry. And I've seen a lot of bad ones as well. But I think the mindset there is about sacrifice. It's not about balance in that, at the age of 23, and 22, that you feel at this ultimatum of graduation, you have to make a decision, like you have to go one way or the other. And I think that those are some of the interesting perspectives that I heard.

Zack Arnold 15:35

Well, I know that it's interesting that you say, this idea of, well, when I graduate, I need to choose, I need to either say, I'm all in on my career, or I'm gonna have to, you know, just settle because I want to end up having a family. Is that kind of the idea?

Austin Coburn 15:52

Yeah, I think it's very difficult not to fall in that mindset of your personhood being one thing after you spent four years and like thrown 1000s of dollars at it, yeah, it wasn't just about being employed or getting a job. It was interesting that these that these students, and they were really worried about just what it would look like, in a way.

Zack Arnold 16:14

Well, and I think that one term that I hear very commonly, especially the younger age is, like you said, it's not about getting a job or being employed. It's about quote, unquote, making it. So there's the you know, nobody says, Well, I want to make it in banking. You know, like, that's a career path. It's a very, I mean, it's a very admirable career path, if that's something that you're interested in. But nobody says, Man, I just, I got to figure out how do I make it in banking? You know, how do you get a job? How do you get employed? How do you move up in your career? But I feel like there's this sense in Hollywood, in the film industry in general, that you have to make it? And is that is that something that you've heard where it's like, I think it's a really good analogy, and a good a good observation that you had about this idea of you've just poured in for years and 1000s of dollars, or 10s of 1000s, or hundreds of 1000s of dollars, depending on the school that you went to, you're not gonna walk out of that and say, Oh, yeah, I need some life balance.

Austin Coburn 17:11

Yeah, I, I definitely think that that concept of like, you have to make it in the film industry is, is really over a lot of people's heads kind of there. And what it takes, I think, like that, that's something I heard also is like, like, it takes this or what it takes kind of, and I think a lot of people are worried they're worried about talent. And they're also worried about, like, what it takes is based on your physical durability, that you can, you can take those late nights, and that you can take the binge working and, and that kind of stuff. And I thought that was also interesting that after like four years of skills, that it wasn't about being worried about the talent, it was about being worried about the the physical endurance that can come from this job. It's funny, because that's actually where my journey started, as well, when I had my first kind of hit my first giant wall was my mentality was not, yeah, I need to find some, you know, real solid work life balance and relax more, it had nothing to do with that. It was how do I survive and treat this like I'm a professional athlete, because it's like you said, I need to have the durability to endure these hours. And it wasn't until I started raising kids. And I'm like, there's a lot more to this than just being durable and surviving. There's There's got to be more out of life than just living in front of a computer for 16 hours a day. I completely agree with that. And that's also in my experience, too, I think you you hit a like, I definitely hit a wall that made these changes. And unfortunately, I think for a lot of students who are entering the industry that well doesn't happen for another five, five or 10 years, in some of these really bad working habits that they've developed as an undergrad, stay with them in that time period.

Zack Arnold 19:00

Yeah. And there's no better time to start thinking about this and start making better habits when you're younger, and you have the energy to do it. But the problem with that is you don't have a reason to because you don't believe that it can happen to you. You just think man I I barely slept last night. And I'm a little tired today. But I'm back at it and you've got the red bowl or whatever it is that that's the keeps you going. And because you're young enough, your body for the most part can withstand it. But it doesn't take long for all that stuff to add up. And I used to use the word machine when people would kind of compliment me on my ability to turn work around. And in my mind, that's how I define myself. I'm a machine. And I remember I was in a meeting once with a very accomplished legendary editor. She's somebody that is one of the teachers at USC. So I think it was a meeting for USC and I'd use the word machine and she It was almost kind of like I was getting scolded. She's like you can't you can't think about yourself that way like this. You You have To treat yourself better, you have to focus on your health more Otherwise, this business is just going to burn you out and spit you out. And you can't use the word machine. I used to think the same way too. And it almost killed me. So that was a really, really common way that I looked at myself. And I know that I hear that from a lot of younger people as well.

My sincerest apologies for the interruption in the middle of this interview. But if you are a content creator or you work in the entertainment industry, not only is the following promo not an interruption, but listening has the potential to change your life. Because collaborating with Evercast is that powerful. Here's a brief excerpt from a recent interview that I did with Evercast co founders, Brad Thomas and award winning editor Roger Barton

Roger 20:41

Living this lifestyle of a feature film editor has really had an impact on me. So I was really looking for something to push back against all of these lifestyle infringements that are imposed on us both by schedules and expectations. When you guys demo to Evercast for me that first time my jaw hit the floor, I'm like, Oh my god, this is what I've been waiting for, for a decade.

Zack Arnold 21:05

I also had the same reaction when I first saw Evercast two words came to mind game changer.

Brad 21:10

Our goal, honestly, is to become the zoom for creatives, whatever it is, you're streaming, whether it's editorial, visual effects, Pro Tools for music composition, LIVE SHOT cameras, it's consistent audio and video, lip sync, always stays in sync, whether you're in a live session where you're getting that feedback immediately, or you can't get it immediately. So you record the session and you can share those clips with people on the production team where there's no room for any confusion. It's like this is exactly what the director wants. This is exactly what the producer wants.

Roger 21:37

What matters most to me is it makes the entire process more efficient, which then translates to us as creatives who spend way too much time in front of computers. We get to shut it down and we get to go spend time with their friends and family.

Zack Arnold 21:50

The biggest complaint and I'm sure you guys have heard this many, many times. This looks amazing. I just can't afford it.

Brad 21:56

Tesla had to release the Model S before they released the model three. So by the end of the year, we are going to be releasing a sub $200 version a month of Evercast for the freelancer, indie creatives. Anyone who is a professional video creator outside of Hollywood.

Roger 22:12

I think what we've learned over the last few months is that this technology can translate to better lives for all of us that give us more flexibility and control while still maintaining the creativity, the creative momentum and the quality of work.

Zack Arnold 22:26

I cannot stress this enough Evercast is changing the way that we collaborate. If you value your craft, your well being and spending quality time with the ones you love, Evercast now makes that possible for you and me to listen to the full interview and learn about the amazing potential that Evercast has to change the way that you work and live visit optimizeyourself.me/evercast. Now back to today's interview.

Austin Coburn 22:50

With the homerun machine thing, I think a big aspect of it too is not just like the binge working and just hyper focusing and working. I think a big part of kind of being a machine, at least for students that I've seen is this idea that being like sedentary and buckling down and just staying in a seat will enhance like your work will enhance your creative process. And, and like I see a lot of people trying to force inspiration out of themselves just by sitting there and just trying to do it. When I hear machine. That's also what I think of is I think of this machine that's kind of just like grinding its gears at a computer desk.

Zack Arnold 23:28

Yeah, it's as we've learned, and as I've learned, and as I've tried to share with others, it's the polar opposite, the more that you want to focus and the more that you want to be creative and be productive. The worst thing on the planet you can do is sit. But that's exactly what I did. As well as I would just lock myself in the darkroom and put myself in the chair, and just have this crazy laser vision just as tunnel vision. And I would go I remember when I first met my girlfriend at the time, she and I moved in together fairly quickly. And she's now my wife, so it all worked out. But she would constantly have to knock on the door and say, Have you eaten today? And looking back at that now it's absurd, because I have very very regimented eating habits. But at the time, I would sometimes go 12 to 16 hours without anything because I was just that focused.

Austin Coburn 24:17

Yeah, and unfortunately, that's that was the case for me as well. I think that's also what causes people in the editing days and at the studio at night is it's 10pm I haven't eaten all day what's open. And so you go to to McDonald's or Burger King or the fast food place that can you can drive through and grab the food and come back to the studio and eat and in front of the screen. That's I think the unfortunate situation that happens with a lot of people as they get sucked in and they forget to eat and then the only alternatives that at late at night are those

Zack Arnold 24:55

Well and just the width the way that the brain and the body work. If you go on All day long, all of a sudden, your appetite hormones are going to get completely out of whack. So by 10pm, you're ravenous, like you will receive anything. And I can say from firsthand experience, and I'm not proud to say it, but there's nothing in the world better than it's 1130. At night in the edit suite, you haven't eaten all day, and you have a frosty from Wendy's. It's magical, because your brain is like, this is so good. Certainly not a good choice. But I've been there myself many, many times where like that big mac or whatever it is, I've never been a McDonald's fan even way back in the day when my eating habits were horrible. But when I would do fast food or sandwiches or like there was this, this great place right down the street on when I was in school at Michigan, and I would just get chicken euros, I lived off of chicken euros, and you just go grab them at 11 o'clock at night and you walk across the street and you start editing again. And part of the problem is that it's just so stinking good, because you're starving. So you associate, it's almost like it's a reward. It's like pleasure. You know, it's like, oh, man, I did so much good work today, I feel great about this, I'm gonna reward myself.

Austin Coburn 26:05

Yeah. And for here, at least the big one is this this Mexican restaurant here called Muchas. And it's also interesting because it's like, a lot of times it's it's almost a social thing, where if there's three or four editors in the lab at that time, then it's kind of like a collective thing, or you ask other people to get it. And it can be really hard to say no to that. Because you can see other people eating and you're kind of like, Oh, I'd like I'd like something here just while I kind of go in through these. These dailies are sinking footage. And that can be really hard as also the social aspect of the eating to

Zack Arnold 26:42

where on the problem is that that does not go away, that gets worse. So if people that are listening are saying, Oh yeah, I have the same problem at school, but I'm sure that it's gonna change once I get into the real world. That's even harder, where every like once you get on to like a union job. And it's a little bit different when you're in the indie world, because there's no money whatsoever. But once you get into the union world, basically, every lunchtime and every dinner time, there's a knock on the door, they hand you a menu, they give you a budget, and they buy your food for you. So from a social perspective, knowing everybody is ordering from the same place. And if you're lucky, they will sit down at a table and be eating the same thing. It's very hard to say yeah, no, I brought my own thing. And then you sit down at the table, and you're the only one that doesn't have the Thai food or the pizza or whatever the meal of the day is. That's a really hard barrier to overcome. And it took me years to really have the confidence to just basically just say, No, you know,

Austin Coburn 27:38

well you bring it up? I think saying no, is a is a huge problem for young people in this industry, whether it's with the hours of work, whether it's with the people you're working with, I think saying no, in your mid and late 20s is a very difficult skill to even fathom as you're graduating.

Zack Arnold 27:56

I'm curious to hear why. And I certainly can understand where this answer comes from. But I'd like to know why you've had that epiphany so early because most people don't don't get a sense of that for a while until they've entered the industry.

Austin Coburn 28:08

Well, I like I was saying, Last summer I took on three different editing jobs and, and I, I had this mentality of I was juggling in my junior year, I was juggling the effects projects and animation projects and editing projects all together. And I was like, you know, I can do this I can. I can do the exactly what I was doing in school. But with actual work. I mean, I did get the work done and things for these clients. But I had such a hard time saying no. And with my phone, I made myself available. And I thought it was a plus to be able to be called or emailed at eight o'clock at night and fix that cut and fix these changes. And that would make me make me look like a more dedicated and harder worker. And so it got to a point after I had finished those three jobs that I basically I had to just just unplug and turn off notifications on my phone. And the only thing that would make my phone buzz was a phone call. That was one outlet that I would say that I started learning to say no, I had also I had recently read. What's the I forget the author, it's the essentialism the the art of doing less. I'd recent

Zack Arnold 29:21

Greg McEwan. And I'll put a link in the show notes as well to the interview that I did with him.

Austin Coburn 29:26

Okay. Yeah, it's a great book. And I had recently read that and I was like, you know, the texting, these kinds of things that that is an outlet that I can say no to that the people who really need to call me the people who really want to talk to me, I'm not going to send them 10 texts, I'm just going to have a two minute conversation with them. And that was that was kind of revolutionary for me, because I wouldn't use my phone as much. And so when I was in public, I would never have my phone or really any tendency to grab it. But I think it's difficult with how available we are and how easily we can be communicated with and talk to that in person and with a job that I don't think a lot of students are prepared to say no, that we go kind of gung ho gung ho into conversations into our working view and being like, I'm going to say yes to everything right out of college. I don't know what's going to happen. I don't know if there's going to be a next a next one coming up. So there's a little bit of anxiety and that I think, as people are graduating,

Zack Arnold 30:25

yeah, there's no question that it's really about that fear. And I've talked with a lot of different editors and assistants about using Word know when, what is the psychological reason behind it, and there's always that fear that another opportunity is never going to come up. And I don't know how I'm gonna pay my bills. And you know, if there's also the mentality of, well, if I'm super busy, even if I'm on a full time job, and I've been through this many times where I'm on a full time job, but somebody reaches out to me, and I know, there's no real way I could take on something else. But I'm thinking, Man, if I say no, are they going to ask me the next time they have something and I am available? So maybe I have to find a way to fit this in. And I've worked two full time jobs because of that, like, and that's really what led to, to my demise more than once was the fear of saying the word No, because I never thought they would get back to me again. If I did.

Austin Coburn 31:16

Yeah, I think that's that's on a just spot on. I think that fear of when someone asks you something, I mean, it is you have an option you have yes or no and insane. No, always feels very, I don't know, it feels like you aren't committed in in in a way that like you fear that they're going to see you as less in I would say maybe that that you are disinterested for all eternity, and not just in this instance, and not just in this, this time in your life that saying no is an ultimatum for everything in the future. If I want to exaggerate, I guess,

Zack Arnold 31:53

well, I don't think it's that much of an exaggeration, because I had that thought for years and years as well. And I still have that thought. I went through this process several months ago, where I had a few different job opportunities that came up. And I was thinking these are fantastic job opportunities. But the timing isn't right. But if I say no, is the studio or this producer ever going to reach out again, it's it's tough, that never really goes away. So saying no, and learning how to do it and when to do it is a very, very important skill, in my opinion. But now I want to transition a little bit, there's one further question that I wanted to ask him that we kind of flipped things around, like I said in the beginning. So you talked to a bunch of film students. But you also have talked to some other industry veterans. And I'm interested to see what some of those other industry veterans had to say about this topic that may have been the same or different from what you heard from students.

Austin Coburn 32:42

Yeah, I that's that was a huge part of this documentary was to kind of make a bridge between the bridge that goes across this unknown area. And so it's been interesting hearing people's kind of encompassing what they feel is life balance. Some people have pointed to scheduling some people have pointed to identity. And one of the people I interviewed was Marvin Hollen at USC, it was interesting talking to him about the differences of training in post production now as it was back when he was training, in post production and the pressure to be a jack of all trades in a way that we have, and not to complain, because I love the technology, I really love that I can just open an after effects project and make it communicate with premier and do all this stuff. And it's really cool and exciting. But there is a huge pressure to be a jack of all trades and be able to know a little bit of color correcting and a little bit of the effects. And not just in I mean, in his day it was you he was working on 35 millimeter film, and he was doing cuts only, not even the fade ins and fade outs were done, or the dissolves. And that's so difficult for me to kind of comprehend that idea. Because I spent the last four years not just focusing on one thing, but focusing on many, many, many things. So I think that's another thing that was interesting to hear is that a lot of these people who are professionals and are so skilled and I've talked to Kelly line, who's been an editor for SNL and portlandia. And she's outstanding in the editing she's done in the comedy world, but it's it's from a very early age, she was educated she was like I'm gonna do editing. And I think, I don't know, it's difficult to choose that as a young person. It's difficult to choose, I'm going to be an editor and or I'm going to be a writer, I'm going to be a director because you you do have so many options. And I don't know if this sounds kind of first world problem me when I've seen them like, Oh, we have so many options and we have it's so hard but I think that adds to the anxiety a lot and the fear of maybe I chose wrong. Maybe I should have spent more time maybe I need to spend more time on this skill and spend more all nighters learning it. And it's not as focused the way that we're learning. Now, we don't have a mentor above us or this knighthood that I'm going to do this job. And then I'm going to go to this one, and then I'm going to go this one and build skills. Between those, it's, I'm going to learn color correction for this one project, because it needs color correction, but I don't know how to do it right now. And so you stay up all night watching a tutorial, which is okay. But I think that's perpetually the way that people learn right now. And in that the information, I love having been able to Google that and stuff, but it's, I don't know, it can it can really thin a person out, I would say,

Zack Arnold 35:40

Well you can just you end up also getting into information paralysis, where there is so much information. And so many tutorials, and so many different ways of doing things, and so many different websites, that it is so easy to just jump from one blog post to the next or one tutorial to the next, or one podcast to the next, and constantly consume information and feel overwhelmed by it. And never feel like you're actually moving forwards because you always have to be learning. And I'm very much coming from a place of personal experience, because I have the same problem where when I decide I want to learn something new, like for example, how do I create a website? How do I put a podcast on the internet, I was just so overwhelmed by the amount of information. And even when you've done it successfully, you're thinking, well, should I done it this other way? Should I build it that way, this way, like so it's it, I know that feeling very, very well. And one of the reasons that I've developed the programs that I have is to help people focus in on one specific idea and start taking actions one after another and building habits because of that paralysis,

Austin Coburn 36:43

definitely. And the ability to do those things and learn how to make a website is so cool. And it's so cool that if I want to do a certain effect and After Effects, all I have to do is Google it now. But also I know that if it's 3am, and I want to learn how to do that effect I can and I don't have to wait till morning to ask maybe a professor or someone else. And it can get it can kind of get away from you. And I think that's what I've seen a lot of students at least in the lab is, is part of being an undergrad is learning while you're working and making lots of mistakes and failing a lot. And that's a really good thing. And so, but I think the tutorials and in the ability to do so much can really get away from you and that this very rhythmic focus that used to be in this this kind of hierarchy of training with post production in roles of sound mixing and editing. And it's much more individual now. And that was an interesting thing to kind of that I've been hearing from a lot of the the experts that has differentiated from the students is health focused their careers were and how, how focused? They are now because of it.

Zack Arnold 37:58

Yeah, and that focus is fantastic. But like we've already talked about, I can certainly get you in trouble as well, which is the genesis of this entire program. And the reason that you're on the show right now. So I want to flip it around. But before I do that, I do have one further short question that I think may help you transition into kind of becoming the interviewer and the interviewee. But being in the position where you are, I'm not speaking to as somebody that's talking about their past experience as a film student, you are still a film student getting ready to graduate going out into the world of filmmaking trying to have a career. What's the greatest fear that you have trying to break into this industry?

Austin Coburn 38:40

I you know, we kind of talked about it, but I think this idea of making it film is is a commitment, a commitment that needs to be above all else. And I think yeah, I think that fear of of, of saying no to everything else, so you can say yes to this one thing in your life in in that decision right out of college. I think I think there's a fear of that happening to happen that then needing to happen right then I would say that's my biggest fear that making it as spent.

Zack Arnold 39:14

Before closing up today's show, I would love to ask for just a couple additional minutes of your time and attention to introduce you to one of my new favorite products created by my good friend Kit Perkins, who you may recognize as creator of the Topomat, here's a brief excerpt from a recent interview that I did with Ergodriven co founder and CEO Kit Perkins, talking about his latest product, New Standard Whole Protein

Kit Perkins 39:38

I'm into health and fitness generally, but I want it to be simple and straightforward. About a year, year and a half ago, I started adding collagen into my protein shakes. And man, the benefits were like more dramatic than any supplement I've ever seen. So I thought if I can just get this down to coming out of one jar, and it's ingredients that I know I can trust, and you just put it in water. And you don't have to think about it.

Zack Arnold 39:57

When people think of protein powders they think, well, I don't want to get big and bulky. And that's not what this is about. To me this is about repair.

Kit Perkins 40:04

So big part of what we're talking about here is you are what you eat. Your body is constantly repairing and rebuilding and the only stuff it can use to repair and rebuild is what you've been eating. Unfortunately, as the years have gone by everyday getting out of bed, it's like you know, two or three creeks and pops in the first couple steps and that I thought you just sort of live with now. But yeah, when starting the collagen daily or near daily, it's just gone. So for us job 1A here was make sure it's high quality, and that's grass fed 100% pasture raised cows. And then the second thing if you're actually going to do it every day, it needs to be simple, it needs to taste good.

Zack Arnold 40:37

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Kit Perkins 40:56

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Zack Arnold 41:10

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Thank you for listening to this episode of the Optimize Yourself podcast. to access the show notes for this and all previous episodes as well as to subscribe so you don't miss future interviews just like this one, please visit optimizeyourself.me/podcast. And as a quick reminder if you'd like to download my 50 Plus page ultimate guide to making it in Hollywood, where I detailed the three most important steps for anyone to follow if they want to build a successful career in the entertainment industry just visit optimizeyourself.me/hollywoodultimateguide. And a special thanks to our sponsors Evercast and Ergodriven for making today's interview possible. To learn more about how to collaborate remotely without missing a frame and to get your real time demo of Evercast in action visit optimizeyourself.me/evercast. And to learn more about Ergodriven and my favorite product for standing workstations the Topomat, visit optimizeyourself.me/topo, that's t o p o and to learn more about Ergodriven and their brand new product that I'm super excited about New Standard Whole Protein, visit optimizeyourself.me/newstandard. Thank you for listening, stay safe, healthy and sane and be well.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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Guest Bio:


Austin Coburn

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Austin Coburn is a filmmaker and animator who graduated from George Fox University near Portland, Oregon. His latest works can be found in his Instagram & Vimeo accounts.

Show Credits:

This episode was edited by Curtis Fritsch, and the show notes were prepared by Debby Germino and published by Glen McNiel.

The original music in the opening and closing of the show is courtesy of Joe Trapanese (who is quite possibly one of the most talented composers on the face of the planet).

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Note: I believe in 100% transparency, so please note that I receive a small commission if you purchase products from some of the links on this page (at no additional cost to you). Your support is what helps keep this program alive. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Zack Arnold (ACE) is an award-winning Hollywood film editor & producer (Cobra Kai, Empire, Burn Notice, Unsolved, Glee), a documentary director, father of 2, an American Ninja Warrior, and the creator of Optimize Yourself. He believes we all deserve to love what we do for a living...but not at the expense of our health, our relationships, or our sanity. He provides the education, motivation, and inspiration to help ambitious creative professionals DO better and BE better. “Doing” better means learning how to more effectively manage your time and creative energy so you can produce higher quality work in less time. “Being” better means doing all of the above while still prioritizing the most important people and passions in your life…all without burning out in the process. Click to download Zack’s “Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Creativity (And Avoiding Burnout).”