Ep157: What Every Recent Graduate Needs to Know About the Realities of Working In Hollywood Pt2 | with Zack Arnold (interviewed by Austin Coburn)

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In Part 1 of my conversation with college student (and now graduate) Austin Coburn we discussed the many pitfalls that so many young, ambitious creatives fall into when they enter the working world hoping to “make it.”

Today’s conversation is part 2 of our conversation, and in today’s episode we flip the script and Austin interviews me from the perspective of a college student who is interested in creating better habits for both a successful career and a healthy lifestyle at the same time (Spoiler alert: The two do not have to be mutually exclusive). We talk about habits and strategies for working better and living healthier both in college and after graduation. And we discuss the important life skills that aren’t taught in film school but are necessary to survive & thrive in the entertainment industry.

This conversation will not only benefit recent graduates but anyone looking to improve their decision making skills and enhance their well being and creativity through the development of proper habits and systems.

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:

  • How to manage the transition from being a student to taking your first career opportunity job.
  • How to redefine and create balance between career, family/social life, and rest.
  • The habits I learned in college that were no longer serving me and how I corrected them.
  • Why you need to learn to turn the creativity switch off once in a while.
  • Tricks I use to focus, increase creativity and reduce procrastination.
  • How I use mindsets and environments to get the most out my productivity and creativity.
  • What is the triangle of quality and why you can only have two of the three.
  • The three pieces of equipment that I take with me to any office to facilitate movement throughout the day.
  • How to manage the workaholic culture and the stigma around taking movement breaks.
  • Finding strength in community.to create healthier work environments and cultures.
  • Red flags to look for in job postings that indicate a poor work environment.
  • Two core questions to ask yourself when considering a job.
  • What positive qualities to look for in potential employers and what negative qualities to avoid.
  • Learning the skills of what to say no to and what to say yes to.
  • How students can start investing in their health for a long and successful future.
  • The one skill that students can implement to set themselves up for good working habits in the future.

Useful Resources Mentioned:

Spark Foldable Standing Desk

Topo Mat

CAP Barbell 15 Pounds Kettlebell

Tribe Resistance Band Set

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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, which is the second of a two part conversation.

In part one of my conversation if you haven't already listened to it, it was with college student and now graduate Austin Coburn. And in that conversation, we discussed the many pitfalls that so many young ambitious creatives fall into when they enter the working world hoping that they are going to make it. Today's conversation is of course part two. And in this episode, we flipped the script. And we do something a little bit different where I allowed Austin to interview me, and he does so from the perspective of a college student who is interested in creating better habits for both a successful career and a healthy lifestyle at the same time. And spoiler alert, the two do not have to be mutually exclusive. We talk about habits and strategies for working better and living healthier both in college and then after graduation. And we also discuss the important life skills that are not taught in film school, but are necessary to survive and thrive in the entertainment industry. This conversation is not just going to benefit recent graduates, but anybody that's looking to improve their decision making skills and enhance their well being and creativity through the development of both proper habits and proper systems. And you know me I love me some systems. Now before we get started one quick caveat. This interview was in fact recorded a few years back in the Fitness in Post days. Austin has since graduated and if you want to learn more about him, you can find links to his most recent work on Instagram, and I have a link for you in the show notes.

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 two of my 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.

Well, I think that is an excellent place to turn things around. So now what I would like to do is switch roles and we can't physically switch chairs because we're on Skype. But let's pretend that we're swapping chairs. It's halftime we're you know going to other ends of the court and obviously we can kind of Do the whole interview that we did in person, because that was like 90 or 100 minutes. But

Austin Coburn 5:05

You're very patient with me and I appreciate that.

Zack Arnold 5:08

Absolutely. No, this is something I believe in, we'll we'll do whatever it takes. And I'm more than happy to support what you're doing. So having now gone through it, and I know you probably haven't watched the footage, or, you know, God spent any more time with it, but just based on the experience, and you had the questions prepared, it would flow very, very well. I mean, you were you were better than a lot of professional interviews that I work with. So you I give you kudos for that, because they were really well thought out questions. It was a well structured interview. But what were some of the biggest takeaway, so in this sense, I guess you could kind of re ask the question, and I can help reframe it, but kind of if we were going to, you know, gel it into, you know, just another 20 or 30 minutes, kind of what what were some of the key points where you had great insights, so we can kind of get through again.

Austin Coburn 5:52

Um, so I guess starting right off the bat, a big thing that a lot of students talked about is that this this pressure, this exhaustion, it's happening right now, because I'm not just a film student. I'm also an undergrad that has Gen Ed's, and other classes outside of this, that when I'm able to fully focus on film after graduating, that that is the only thing I'll be doing that the all nighters the bench working, that won't be a problem is is that true?

Zack Arnold 6:19

Yeah. I think one of the things that I mentioned in the interview with you is that it actually gets worse, in my opinion, because I know that you had asked at one point they're like, and I don't remember exactly how you phrased it, but it was something like, it can't get any worse than this, right? Like, we're already doing all nighters. And I'm a student, and like you had said earlier, it you kind of have 24/7 access to all this. And in my opinion, and in my own personal experience, it actually gets worse. Because when you're in college, yes, you're pulling these late nights, and you're doing all these things, but it's so driven by passion. And it's so driven by this need to make it like you said, so it's just kind of this, whatever it takes mentality. But one of the other differences is that you're actually making stuff in college, you are the editor, you are the director, you are the cinematographer. Now imagine removing most of the creative responsibilities, and now you're a production assistant, or you're an assistant editor, if you're lucky. I mean, you're out of college, if you're an assistant editor right away. That's fantastic. So if you walk into this thinking, Oh, yeah, well, I'm I'm totally going to be an editor right out of school. And I've talked to graduates that are very highly decorated graduates with great records, thinking, Well, I'm looking for editing work. And I just kind of shake my head in a very friendly way, thinking it's not how it works. Like you take a huge step backwards. So you're not doing the creative work that you love, but you're putting in the hours with more pressure. Because, you know, granted, you're getting pressure because you have an assignment and you have to get it done, you want to get good grades. But now the pressure is if I don't give them everything that I've got. And if I do say no once or whatever the case may be, I can get fired, and I can be replaced. Not even tomorrow, I can be replaced this afternoon. So I feel like it can actually and I hate to, you know, be the bearer of bad news, but I'm always very honest with people. So that's why I think it's so important that you have to learn the skills of developing balance early on. And one of the things that you and I talked about, and it was funny, because I kind of had this revelation, as I was doing the interview with you. It's something I hadn't really talked about that much before. But what the idea of balance really is. And to most people they see balance is this 5050 weighted scale, where you know, you have like the old timey scale, where it kind of Bob's up and down and balances where everything is perfectly aligned. And they're at the same level. And I don't believe that that is attainable in really, most industries. At this point in the 21st century, we're culture, I don't believe that that balances that attainable unless you have a very standard 35 or 40 Hour Workweek and you know that you're out the door by 430 or five every day, then maybe it's possible. But if you're thinking I'm going to work 40 hours a week, therefore, I'm do 40 hours a week to myself. So that means either time to myself time with my spouse time with my kids. That's definitely 100% guaranteed not going to happen in the film industry. But what I've strived to find is not necessarily the 5050 balance of hours or time, but in quality of time. So if I'm going to put in 60 hours, I'm giving that job, everything that I've got for those 60 hours, but I'm also very protective of that time. And I'm definitely one of those editors and I didn't used to be but I this is a skill that I had to learn where what I'm about to hit, you know, the 12 hours at the end of a regular day, which by contract means that I'm supposed to get over time. I no longer say yeah, I can do another two or three hours. It's no big deal. I just want to get it done. I want to get it right. I don't do that anymore. Because that adds Up cumulatively very, very quickly and can cause a lot of health issues. But it also takes away time from my family. But again, if we're talking about balance being 5050, that part's not possible. But I make sure that after I've given the 60 hours a week of intense focus and dedication to the job, I give an equal amount of focus and dedication to my family. So the balance for me is not so much in hours in the day, but as in the quality that I give. So when I get home, the phone is put away, I'm not texting my boss, I'm not responding to emails with notes, I'm not reviewing cuts, like my job disappears. And if after my family goes to sleep, there's still stuff that I need to take care of, sometimes I will go back into work mode. But even then, when it comes to the idea of balance, I protect my own time away from the office, no different than if it were my kids. So for example, if I'm going to work a 10, or 12 hour day, which is pretty much the standard for me, if I get home at nine o'clock at night, or 10 o'clock at night, my wife and my kids have already gotten to sleep. So what I'll do is I'll try and get home a little bit earlier. So say, seven 730, I can do bedtime, then I go back into work mode for an hour or two if necessary. But then I protect my own time, no different than if I were with my kids. So if I were let's say that I'm at my daughter's soccer game on a Saturday is fired a gun to my head, I would not be dealing with text messages and emails for work like that stuff is gone. And when it's 10 o'clock at night, that's my time to protect because of I don't recuperate and find that balance. I can't give them the 60 hours. And frankly, there's so much science out now that's proven definitively without a doubt. Then once you get past about 40 to 45 hours a week, your productivity plummets anyway. So I frankly think a 60 Hour Workweek is absurd.

Austin Coburn 11:49

I think that's a really good perspective, especially with kind of the quality of work. That is something that even as a senior in film school, and it's not just this college, it's lots of other colleges to across the country, because I've asked students about it, that we get to four years here, and we learn all the shortcuts in Premiere, and we learn all these other tools and techniques that are helpful, but we don't learn how knowing when to close the laptop, when to mentally switch gears and when to fully be present instead be something outside of this thing we've been studying for four years. And so I think what I'm curious about is what sort of ideologies or work habits did transfer from your undergrad into the workplace that you would end up having to eventually correct?

Zack Arnold 12:37

Well, I think the first one is that sense that my brain is on 24/7, and if it is to in the morning, and I have an idea, and most likely in college, too in the morning, you're still awake, are you I'm never awake at two in the morning anymore ever. Like I'm like an eight year old man with my sleep like 10, 11 o'clock at night like at the latest. But anyway, when I first came out here, working until 1, 2, 3 in the morning, that was really, really normal for me. And it was even when I wasn't working physically in my office in front of a computer at my first job when I was the trailer editor. And I started as an assistant editor for a few months. And then I was bumped up to editor. But it was about 10 minutes away from the apartment that I lived in. And I basically had a 400 square foot studio apartment with a mattress and dishes and a TV like it really wasn't even a place to live. It was a place to sleep. And it's found something super cheap. So I could survive out here. So there will be times really, really late at night, where I'd be like, Oh, man, that's a brilliant idea, I should do that. And I would get in my car. And I would drive back because I had a keycard. And I had 24/7 access. So that was a horrible habit that I had to undo. And it gets even worse, because I started working from home and I worked from home for years. And that would be something like I'd never ever switched off. Even if I had close my office door shut off the lights shut off the computer. I could be sitting there watching TV or you know what I probably the one thing I would have been done outside of working was like just being a complete blob and watching television because I didn't have kids at that point. So it would just be the same thing. Like I would be dozing off, I'd be in front of Breaking Bad or whatever it was. And I'd see something happen in the show. And my eyes would open up like Oh, man, that's genius. I should do that on the project I'm working on. So what do I do, I walk back into the office, I open the door, I turn my computer on, and I start working and all of a sudden it's three hours later. And it's two in the morning again. And that was by far the worst habit that I had to break. And it's very difficult to learn how to slow your mind down and turn that creativity off. Because if you don't you just burn it out. It's like if you're I've used this analogy before, but if you're on a race car, if you're a NASCAR racer, you don't just put your pedal to the metal. There's a strategy for when you speed up when you slow down when you draft other drivers when you take pitstops but unfortunately like you said in college They're not teaching you that stuff. Well, guess what? Nobody's teaching that stuff in the real world either. I mean, it's it only gets worse, which is why I started what I started. Because I was self taught, I spent years and years figuring out how the hell do I do this? How do I survive? How can I stay creative and fresh, and not allow myself to constantly burn myself out over and over and over? But nobody really teaches that stuff, especially in this industry? So that's kind of why I decided I wanted to see if this this idea had any legs. And it turns out that it did.

Austin Coburn 15:32

I think that's one thing that I really liked that we talked about was this idea of how do you how do you turn it off? Because you talked about there's a dopamine rush kind of a solving problem specifically with editing of that it's it's really into it like, it's something you enjoy, it's something you're passionate about, on a like neurological level. So I guess my question is not necessarily how you turn it off. But when you do go into work the next day, it's in the morning, and you don't have that we work very impulsively. Yes, college students. And you you have that feeling of like, oh, man, that's so cool and Breaking Bad. And I want to go do that. And then we can and we can learn that. But it's it's difficult when we go to the workplace The next day, and we don't have have that drive there. And and late at night, that's when that drive happens. But I'm curious during the day, how do you harness creativity? How do you put yourself in a position that you can work as intensively as you do at 10pm?

Zack Arnold 16:31

Well, it really comes down to building habits and triggers. And this is something that took me years to learn, because one of the problems that I had is I was a night owl. So I would stay at work. Like I remember when I first started and I was editing trailers, I just had this memory of everybody would leave around seven or eight o'clock, and I would be there and there was a the gym that I went to, was right down the street. So I would go do a yoga class for an hour. And then I will come back to work around 930 or 10 o'clock at night, and I would work for like another four hours. So I would stay until one or two in the morning. But it's a job, they expect you to show up in the morning. So I would still be there at around nine or 930. And I was useless, completely useless. because like you said, in college, it's just kind of on demand creativity, like when you have it, you go work on it. But if you want to sleep in until noon, fine, do it, like you missed a class, like they're not gonna penalize you, like, you know, it's you get to make your own choices. And in the real world, you don't really get to do that. So what I first did, which was just a crutch, and I'm not really recommending that a lot of people do this. But I talked my boss into letting me switch my schedule. So I wouldn't even come in until 12 or one o'clock. And then I would work until one to three o'clock in the morning. But then I found that Well, that doesn't really help me at all, because then I'm equally as exhausted because my circadian rhythm is so messed up. Because I would still be waking up at 839 o'clock in the morning, I've never been more I've never been in other than maybe when I was in high school for a year or two, I've never been able to like sleep until noon, like some people do. And boy, do I envy them because I wish I could. But I've worst case scenario I can I'll be up at 830 in the morning. So it's like, Alright, well, I feel exhausted, and I feel kind of crummy. So I'm just gonna, like hang out at home and do nothing for three hours and then go on to work. So I felt like I was accomplishing anything else in my life per se, I was just being useless and exhausted at home instead of being useless and exhausted in front of my boss. So I had to start learning, how can I be in a space creatively in my head, where I just really don't want to work on something. And at the snap of a finger, I can kind of turn it on and turn it off. So that's really what I teach in my move yourself program. And I've talked a lot about it just on my blog, and another podcast as well, where for me, the greatest spark for creativity is I have to be moving. So you know, if I just feel I'm not in the zone, then I just I got to do some form of exercise or movement, like one of my favorites that I'll do to get ramped up really quickly is either jumping rope, or I'll jump on a trampoline. So I have a little mini trampoline in my office and I have a jump rope that I take with me to any job that I go to. And the idea is that I just do 60 to 90 seconds. And that doesn't mean that all of a sudden, you know, I'm going to become john Nash from A Beautiful Mind. And the numbers start pouring off of the wall. And I can you know, solve quadratic equations. But it just gives me enough of a start. And then I've just developed a lot of very simple tricks that I use to get me to a space where I don't feel that sense of procrastination, which is very, very common in Creative People and also very common for people that have attention issues, myself included. That's something I've been very open about where you just constantly procrastinate. And a lot of the reason that you procrastinate is the sense of overwhelm. So one of the tricks that I actually had this conversation last night with one of my students that's in my coaching program, he had said, Well listen, I I have such a hard time standing up and getting away from my computer when I'm in it when I'm in the zone. And I said, Well, what are the reasons that you feel you can't stand up? And he's like, well, there's two reasons. The first is that I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to get that focus back. But the second is, I just feel this desperate need to finish what I started. And that's a very common thing with the human mind is that we need completion. And I think you and I talked about this as well, where if you're reading a really terrible book, or you're watching a horrible movie, you still finish it. Like how many like, you know, when I'm laying people will say this all the time, they'll say that movie was so bad, I didn't even finish it. But most people will say, yeah, the movie was bad. But I had to get to the end, I had to say I finished. That's the human mind, requiring this need for completion. So one of the tricks that I use to both eliminate, not eliminate, but reduce the sense of overwhelm, and also allow myself to be able to step away is a technique that I talked about this called the back to one technique. And this is one of the techniques that I teach in my program. So this will be a nice little freebie for my listeners and for you. But in the world of filmmaking, if you're on set, and you want to reset your shot, what does everybody say? What's the vernacular back to one, everybody back to All right, so back to first position. And that means that everybody's resetting, so they can get ready for the next shot. But if you're in front of a computer, you don't really have a workflow like that. But I developed a workflow that I call the back to one technique, where when I'm doing like, let's say that I'm cutting a scene, and it's something I've been working on for two or three hours, I've been really involved in it. First of all, I haven't worked on it for three hours straight, I would have a few years ago. But nowadays, I would have taken two or three breaks in between very short breaks, where I didn't really break my focus or my creativity, I just stepped away to move or take a drink of water, whatever it is, but I don't allow myself to finish it. So what that does is, and what that means is, let's say it's a three minute scene. And I have, I don't know, 50 edits for dialogue, I leave the last two lines of dialogue unfinished. And the reason I do that is that when I do take a break of 10 or 15 minutes, when I come back to my computer, and I looked at the timeline, I still feel this desire to finish the work, because I haven't finished it. So it's still in my mind as I'm taking the break. Got to finish that scene got to finish that scene, which tape do I want to use for the last line? What angle do I want to use? But then when I get back in front of my computer, it's so easy for me to finish, because I'm looking for, like you said, that dopamine hit of solving that next problem? Well, once I've solved that I'm already back in the creative space. And I can jump right into doing my next scene. So rather than finishing something, polishing it, it's perfect. You walk away. I experienced this for years where I would do that I would walk back to my computer and it's like, oh, man, now I got to do another scene. I got to start from scratch all over again. I've got two hours of dailies for this three minute scene. I'm going to go on Facebook. I'm gonna go on Twitter. Oh, look, somebody emailed me I'm going to respond to me now. And I said, I said, Okay, let me open the band, open the dailies. Okay, oh, I just got to text him, I said, I have to respond to the text message. So you just you procrastinate, because you don't want to start something new. But if you don't allow yourself to finish the previous thing, then you have the sense where you're kind of resetting, you go in, you finish it, you start the next one. And then the the other part of the technique, which is kind of the flip side is let's say that you want to work for an hour straight. And you can't just let's say you finish your scene after 30 minutes. You don't want to say well, I don't I don't want to walk away, like I want to finish this and move on to something else. So let's say you're going from editing a scene to doing a visual effects shot and After Effects. So what I would do personally, is I would finish the scene, I would start the After Effects shot. So I would open After Effects, I would open the band, I would create the folder, I would import the shot, I would put the shot on the timeline. And maybe I would even add the first keyframe for example. But then I walk away. So that's so what I'm doing is I'm resetting. So that's the back to one part as I have it all set up. And then I say alright, I'm going to walk away, I'm going to take a 10 minute break. But then when I step back in, it's right, exactly reset where I needed to be so I can continue my creative thought process. So that's one of my psychological tricks that I use to kind of get that creativity and focus on demand as opposed to what most people do, and I've heard this firsthand is they're waiting for the inspiration to strike. And, you know, this is something that I've heard about writers because I've done a lot of research into what it takes to write a book and be an author. And the best ones always say it's great to wait for inspiration to strike as long as it's at 9am every single morning.

Austin Coburn 24:44

Yeah, I that's it. That's a huge thing with writers. But I think that mentality that you were saying of almost it's a reward to come back to the work. That's a really good perspective to have because I think a break in itself is seen as a reward for doing work and To be able to have that really nice door open there for you to return to, I think helps both sides there to not get carried away.

Zack Arnold 25:08

Yeah, absolutely. So it's it. That's, I mean that there are other techniques. And I mean, I could go much, much further into it. And that's really what I do in depth in my move yourself program. But that's, that's kind of one of the the little little easy ways that I get around it. And I'm, that's not to say that I don't have moments where I get in front of a computer and say, Oh, I just don't want to work on this right now. And then I still screw around like, I'm, I'm not a machine, trust me. But I find it a lot easier to be more efficient and be creative one I need to be by instituting some of these techniques, and basically, hacking my own psychology.

Austin Coburn 25:41

Mm hmm. Yeah, I have no worries. I am also this is also something I struggle with on a daily basis. It's, it's difficult, I think, in anyone's perspective to get into that both zones, I would say, of, of being fully in the zone of editing and fully in the zone outside and having a life. I am curious about this feeling because I haven't done this technique before. But as someone who has done this technique, I think a big aspect of a break is getting outside the editing of changing and shifting gears for a little bit. Is that distracting while you're taking a 10 or 15 minute break and walking around at all?

Zack Arnold 26:17

Well, it depends on the environment that you choose. So it I will choose my environment based on whatever mindset I'm in at the time. So there's, there's kind of two or three basic mindsets that we'll have throughout a busy day of editing. So the first would be I'm completely in the zone laser sharp focus, I have a mountain of dailies that I need to get through and I don't want to be working until four o'clock in the morning. So for me, the environments that I will choose will be to get out of the edit bay, absolutely. But I'll choose for example, like a walk around the block where I know that I'm still not going to be interrupted. And I find that a lot of times what happens is when I take those walks, I'm able to work through creative problems that I can't work through when I'm in front of the computer. So actually, I had an experience very specifically that I remember, I think it was on Season Two of Empire, where I had a really difficult sequence, it just wasn't making sense. I knew that I had to restructure the episode. But I was just working, working, working and moving the pieces around and using my Trello board. And I just couldn't get it to gel. And I was like Screw it, I'm going to get out of the room. And what I did was I just ran the steps of the building three or four times. So just five minutes, balls to the wall running up and down the steps like a madman. And it wasn't like the main It was like the backfire step. So nobody was in there. But as soon as I was done, I remember getting to the top of the steps. And I was like, I got it. And I ran back to my edit suite. And I went to my assistant, you can ask Natalie, she probably still remembers this and like I figured it out. I know how to fix it. She's like, why are you sweating? Why are you out of breath, oh, I've just been running in the stairs for five minutes. So that's an environment that I chose that was so conducive to creativity. However, and this is very common for people where they're kind of in the zone, but then maybe they're a little creatively exhausted. So they kind of drift into the common area to the kitchen or they drift to somebody's cubicle. And then they get into a conversation and that train of thought is completely derailed. And if you're in that laser sharp focus mode, that can be a bad thing. However, if you're at a place where you have either finished something and you've kind of set it away, and you've used the back to one technique, and you have your next scene set up or your After Effects project, whatever applies to you, and you know that it's ready to go, you don't need to think about it. So I will actually seek out distraction breaks throughout the day as well. And depending on how busy I am, it's not something that I do for hours at a time, but at least probably twice a day. And if Natalie is listening, she's like Yes, because He always comes in distracts me, but I'll just we'll just kind of knock on her door, make sure she's not busy. We'll just kind of chat about maybe it's the show. Maybe it's something completely off topic. Maybe it's Hey, I you know, saw this episode of the show or you know, my kid said the craziest thing. But those little breaks are like mental pitstops rather than burning and burning and burning and burning and just being creative endlessly. By taking 15 minutes and chatting with a co worker and finding out how their weekend was. And as much as I hate small talk, I actually find that it's useful for re engaging my creativity because I come back with a fresh mind. And one of the most common questions that I get is how do you maintain objectivity. If you spend months and months in a room with the same 90 minutes of material and getting away is one of the best ways to do it?

Austin Coburn 29:34

Yeah, that's something that I've been hearing from a lot of editors is if you're going to take a 15 minute break, take advantage of that, go to the waterphone and then pop into like an office like don't just use your break as one thing, use it as a couple different things even if it's only for 15 minutes. As students we have been sitting in desks for years. That is how we have have learned when we go to classes, some are like two minutes half hours that you just sit in a desk and learn the material. I'm curious, because finding a way to be active and and learn at the same time and do your work is pretty foreign to us, I guess of where I'm at right now and where other students are at is we're very used to just sitting and doing the work. What are some things that are very easy to do that that a students could do at their workstation? Or the big aspect of college is like, what can I get fast? And what can I do easily? And what's cheap? What are some fast and cheap? I guess, advice or techniques of movement that you would give to college students? As they're working?

Zack Arnold 30:35

Well? Are you this is gonna not it will sound like a tangent, but it isn't. But are you familiar with what's called the triangle of quality?

Austin Coburn 30:42

I am Yes, yes.

Zack Arnold 30:43

Cheap and good. Right? To you get to. So it's, it's really no different in this aspect where like you said, Well, you know, something that's, that's easy, that's fast as cheap. Like, I want something that's high quality, like, you're not going to get all those. So if as a college student for me to say, Well, I really highly recommend that you get a height adjustable workstation with a push button, that's not going to happen, like number one, where are you going to put it because you work at different desks every single day. And number two, where are you going to get the money. So that obviously doesn't work. But if I were knowing the things that I know, now, if I were to take that and kind of time travel back to college, the first thing that I would do is create a travel kit that I could bring with me that would work for any workstation, where I could adjust it from sitting to standing. And I actually just went through this where I was teaching for lynda.com for three days. And they had these really, really tiny sound booths, where it wasn't a standing desk, it was a very is a desk very low to the ground. I mean, the room is so small, that you can't even like extend your arms without like one of them being shorter, because you're going to hit both sides of the wall. So it was so this little, little tiny recording booth with a computer. And I said, I'm going to be in here for three days, and I have to be high energy and I have to perform. Basically, this is my voice. And like I wasn't on camera, I did a little bit of on camera for introductions, but for the most part, I recorded like 30 lessons in this tiny little dark booth that I could barely breathe in. And I thought, there's no way I'm gonna make it through three solid days of teaching, if I'm just sitting. So I just have a kit that I bring with me that you know, it's not the kind of thing you're going to be able to put in a backpack. But there are some things you can fit in a backpack. But the three pieces that I will have with me are number one, it's called the spark. It's created by airgo driven, and it's basically a foldable cardboard standing desk. So you put it on a seated desk, and it's about the size of a briefcase, but you can fold it. So just think about, you know, like, you could probably fit it into a large backpack. So in five minutes, it's just like this origami thing where you just kind of fold it out and you put a couple pieces together and bam, you have a really sturdy standing desk that holds like I put a 27 inch iMac on it and it was fine. So that's the first thing that I always make sure that I have with me if I'm going to an environment where I know I'm not going to be able to stand. The second is I have my topo map, which is also created by Ergo driven and I promise this isn't a commercial for them. But they make they make the best products that I use every single day. Because I know that if I'm going to be standing more, I want to continue to move and I'm standing on my topo mat right now. And frankly, it's become the number one popular product that I've ever recommended on this show. And almost everybody that I talked to that says Well, I only want to make one change, but the telco matters, the investment I made and it's changed my life. So that's the second thing I travel with everywhere. Because if you're just standing in, you're not moving in, you're not fidgeting, you're still sedentary. So that's the second thing that I travel with. And so far between those two, the investment is about roughly $140 maybe 150. So it's for I know for a college student, that's like a million dollars you know, but it these are things that you can use for years and years. So this is the kind of thing that you're like, Well, you know, mom's gonna get me a nice Christmas present. So I'll ask her for the cardboard standing destiny Oscar for the topo map. And then the third thing that I have with me which I don't use that often but I have is kind of a backup is my mogo seat. And I know that I showed you that when you were here, but it's basically kind of like you know, what looks like a bicycle seat on a pogo stick. And that you can fold up to put in a fairly small backpack, I've traveled with it in my carry on backpack on planes doesn't take up a lot of space. So that allows me to both sit and stand throughout the day without having to constantly take my desk apart. So those would be the hard like pieces of equipment that I would travel with. If you're a college student and you have to move from eBay to eBay every single day. This wouldn't be as efficient. But thinking back to college now and some of the crazy stuff I was doing even then this is probably something I would still even do. I would just put a small kettlebell in my backpack. Not a big one, but maybe like a, you know, a 15 pounder. So that way when you're walking from class to class, you're pushing yourself Little bit more getting a little bit more active, and that activity is actually going to push your creativity more, but then you can just throw it under the desk in a corner, nobody's gonna see it. But there's so many different exercises you can do in an extremely small space with a kettlebell to keep you active and engaged. So there are certain activities that I'll do where when I'm watching footage, I might just be holding it, just holding on my hands like switching from hand to hand or kind of rotating it around my body or doing very simple squats. But that's the kind of thing where I'm always restless. When I'm watching footage, it's hard for me to just sit. And when I do just sit and watch dailies, I will be the first to admit that sometimes I fall asleep watching dailies, because I'm not moving. But if I just have something to fidget with, that keeps me going as well. So that would be another one. And then the last one and the easiest one would be a resistance band. Because those are super tiny. They wave I mean, like two ounces, they're super super light. That's something you can throw in any front section of a backpack, and have the ability to do some form of resistance training once again, not breaking out a 15 or 30 minute workout just moving around while you're watching footage or stretching or whatever it may be. So those are probably the easiest, simplest things that I would do. If I had a time machine, I can go back and reshape all of my habits.

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 36:41

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 37:04

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

Brad 37:09

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 37:37

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 37:50

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 37:55

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 38:11

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 38:26

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 38:49

I think those are great suggestions especially with the kettlebell of carrying that around all day. I think I think that's a really good I don't know kind of two birds with one stone thing.

Zack Arnold 39:00

Well, it's funny though, the one thing that I just thought of that's interesting. It really dates me and maybe this is a dumb question but college students don't really carry around books anymore Do they? Don't you guys do everything digitally?

Austin Coburn 39:11

It depends I think with me I carry I carry around equipment with with my bag and stuff are probably freshmen and sophomores. They're trying to do Gen Ed's and stuff and they have those those big, honkin, expensive physical science or different kinds of books. Those are the people I would say freshmen and sophomore that primarily carry bags

Zack Arnold 39:30

Got it because I remember when I was in school, I didn't need to carry a kettlebell because my backpack was 40 pounds. And part of the reason for that is that I lived off campus. So if I had four classes during the day, I needed everything with me. So it was a 40 pound backpack, so I didn't need a kettlebell. And I was carrying that damn thing around all day. But it just occurred to me that a lot of students might not have that much weight anymore. So yeah, just throw a 15 pound kettlebell on your backpack and nobody's going to see it. it's small enough that it would just look like books, but then you get into your your Edit suite or wherever you are. And yeah, you've got a way to stay active and do a little resistance training.

Austin Coburn 40:04

Yeah. And I think, Well, I mean, a lot of books and stuff are going digital now too. So that I think has definitely lighten the load of backpacks and whatnot. I guess I'm I'm curious, this isn't something we talked about in our interview. But I'm curious about the social element to doing these kind of techniques and stuff. And we talked a little bit about on Empire when you would do planks in the morning, I'm curious about, is this something that you should be doing on your own? Is it? Is it something that you should definitely should you be social about this? How can you reach out to another person, another 22 year old who kind of has that mindset of like, I just need to push themselves? How would you reach out to a person of that age and, and basically be like, hey, do you want to do this with me?

Zack Arnold 40:50

Yeah, this is a really big challenge and objection that I hear from a lot of people, I know that I have thousands of people that are listening and reading emails, I will send out surveys, I'll ask questions, people send me their life stories. And one of the most common things people say is, there's no way I can take a 15 minute walking break, like they're gonna think I'm lazy, and I'm going to get fired, people are gonna think I'm not working. So it's that workaholic mentality that's in our culture, that you know it, I've had people that said, I am terrified of stepping away just for a walk, I love everything. You're saying, I love the program, love the idea, but I just can't do it, because I think I would get fired. And I think for some people, I think that might actually be true. I think for the vast majority of people, they're kind of making it up in their heads. And they're just too afraid to take that step of walking into their supervisor, and just having a very simple conversation, which is, listen, you know, I really want to make a better attempt at being more focused and being more energetic in my job. And I think one way to do that is I just, I need to be able to step away a couple of times a day, get some air, get some oxygen, if your boss is a halfway decent human being, they're gonna see Oh, well, this is really about still the quality of the work and you bringing the best to your job, like, Yeah, I don't care, go take your walk. That's great. So a lot of people find, oh, I kind of made it off in my head. And then on the flip side, if you go into a boss and say the same thing, that you're really interested in taking your productivity to the next level, but you think that's going to require stepping away, and they're like, there's no way you're taking a 15 minute walking break, I need you tied to that computer. 24 seven, that's a really big red flag that you need to find another job. And I'm not being facetious like, the question that I ask people that attend my workshops, or in my program, as I say, is whatever service you're providing worth dying for? And most likely, the answer is no. But if you're not giving yourself any breaks, that's what you're doing, you're shortening your lifespan for whatever it is that you're working on, and not stepping away from. So if you work for somebody that is oppressive enough to say, No, you are not allowed to take walking break, number one that's against like all basic OSHA and workplace regulations. But number two, you don't want to work for people like that. Most likely, you are already putting in 12 to 16 hours a day like that 510 15 minute break, who cares? Like it's a drop in the bucket compared to the time that you're spending. So I think that that that would be the first thing as far as. So going back to what you're saying about Empire, yeah, we would do these breaks. And it was in the afternoon, not in the morning, because usually in the afternoon is when you experienced brain fog. So we would it wasn't everybody every single day, because a lot of times you are in the zone, or you have something that needs to be delivered, or you're working with a director or producer. But it became a community thing, where like you said it was this something I should be doing on my own. My suggestion is, once you if it's your first day on the job, you probably don't want to be caught swinging kettlebells in Europe, bad idea. But if you've established a relationship with people go into a colleague's office and say, Hey, you know, I was thinking of taking a five minute break and you know, you want to do a plank? Or do you want to take a walk around the block or see who can do the most pushups, whatever it is, very rarely are people gonna say, Oh, that's a horrible idea. They're gonna be like, Oh, yeah, that actually sounds kind of fun. And in the back of their mind, they're thinking, I kind of wanted to do something like this. But I was afraid to ask, but then that social aspect kicks in. And then all of a sudden, you have this sense of an entire community that all not only is willing to step away and take breaks, but they're embracing this idea in this culture, that it's okay to take these breaks. And then what I found is that when we were doing some of these breaks, that people would come in and be like, Oh, man, I just I had this really heavy launch. And I just, I can't can't focus and I don't know if I Oh, alright, I'll do the plank break. And then we'll do the plank break and a couple other exercises, and they're like, man, I feel so much better, and then they're productive the rest of the afternoon. So it actually saved them several hours of productivity after they did it. But it's really important to just start that conversation on a cultural level so you don't feel trapped. And for years, I always felt like the outcast like I was the you know, The Healthy editor and I have to add, the joke that I make is that when I started fitness and post, that was me coming out of the health closet. That was me saying, No, I'm not going to have peace in beer at nine o'clock on a Friday, I actually care about myself. And I really, I didn't think that was going to come off successfully, but it did. So now I'm very clear, when I go to new jobs, like, Listen, this is just the way that I work. And most of the directors and the producers that I work with, now, I have relationships with them, it's, it's fairly rare at this point that I just have a job completely out of the blue where I don't know anybody. So because they know the quality of the work I deliver. And they know that I meet all my deadlines, and I meet my commitments, they don't give a crap. They're like, you want to take a 20 minute walk, I don't care if that allows you to get the work done, do whatever you need to do, like I have no objections whatsoever from anybody. And usually, I find that by leading by example. It allows more people to come out and say, You know what, I didn't want to order from the Thai place, either. I'm glad you said something, because I'm just tired of all the heavy food, like, I want to have healthier options. And then all of a sudden things start to change throughout the office. So if you are a college kid, or you're a recent graduate, don't be afraid to just you know, very gently speak out. You don't want to sound defiant. But you know, you might find there other people that want all the same things that you do.

Austin Coburn 46:16

That's a great piece of advice there. I know with with me and making this documentary, it wasn't as much a defined kind of thing towards that concept. It was more of a concern. And I think finding balance in that as well in the way that you work with people is important. One thing that Norman Hollen said that was was really some really good advice in our interview was that rather than working on good projects, you might want to think about working with good people. And I think that's some really solid advice. Because as coming out of college, you're like, man, I want to work on the best project. But probably the best situation is to find really good people. I'm curious. And I'm sorry, I know we're going a little bit later here. But this is what wasn't something I asked in our interview. But what are some other red flags that students should be kind of honing into our listening for when they are getting employed? coming right out of college?

Zack Arnold 47:10

Yeah, there's I mean, if you we've I've seen threads on Facebook and in forums where they just post the most ridiculous job postings, and you think Who in the world would ever take this, but somebody ends up taking the job. And it's usually a recent graduate that's willing to, to do anything to get something on their resume, where I mean, it's like huge red flags would be where you can just tell that they're going to take advantage of your time. And it's, you know, where the expectations for the job are, you know, 80 plus hours a week, you should know, after effects, avid fusion, photoshopped color correction, lighting, like we expect you to do some work on set, you might be doing some shooting, and we pay $75 a day, like that's a giant red flag that whomever they hire for that is going to vastly be taken advantage of, because their expectation of skill versus what they're willing to pay. and the value that they will provide for that skill are so diametrically opposed, that these are clearly people that don't get it that even if you're thinking, well, I just need to get something on my resume, if they're not paying you. What's the point? So I did a podcast God knows. I'm not even sure I did the podcast in my series, or if it was a guest interview that I did, but I had a lengthy conversation with editor Alan Bell about this. And basically, you need to ask yourself two questions. When you're looking at a job opportunity. There are obviously many other questions as far as location and like, you know, the logistical stuff. But the two core questions are number 1am, I either going to be paid what I'm worth, or if I'm not getting paid what I'm worth, am I getting paid and experience and connections. So an example for me would be an anybody that's listening to the show extensively, they probably heard the story. But for new listeners, I can kind of tell them the transition story from doing trailers to features where I'd been editing movie trailers for about three years, I'd actually want a couple of awards, I had been working on the entire theatrical and television campaigns for the Passion of the Christ. And that was kind of a huge career bump for me, where I really started getting noticed, I got a significant pay raise. I had other major trailer companies that were now aware of me, a couple of them recording me. And I just had this realization that I really, I don't want to be as successful trailer editor in 15 years. That's not what I came out here to do. I love telling long form stories. I love feature films. And that eventually transitioned to TV, just because the quality of feature films and television has changed dramatically in the last 15 years. So that's kind of why I ended up in television, but I was at the point where I was making really good money and I was on the road to making a lot more money and getting offers that were way more. But then I had an independent feature film come up and it was really small, really low. When I say really low budget in those days. It was low budget. I think it was about a million dollars, but nowadays a low budget film was like $27 in stick of gum. But you know, back then when it wasn't as easy to make films with the equipment, it was a million dollar film that was sell financed by producer. But it was a very successful Hollywood producer. And the line producer on it was also very successful and had a lengthy track record of films. And in my mind, I'm thinking this pays garbage. I mean, I went from making six figures to making $600 a week and barely scraping by. And that was a conscious decision. But I decided to do it because like I said, I wasn't getting paid. But I knew that I would get paid in connections, I knew that I will get paid an experience, because I had never edited a feature film. And I told them that. And they said, well, we're also looking for somebody that has trailer experience, because we need to sell the film to raise more money. So that was my entrance into this project was editing a four minute sales trailer, which they absolutely loved, that I cut two of the iconic scenes of the film, and it was a comedy film. So I'd cut two of the comedic scenes that were attached to the trailer. And they said, We love the direction you went with us Do you want to stick around and be the the feature editor and I had to quit my job and commit to this full time. But I was never thinking man, they're just they're so taking advantage of me because they're not paying much. That was their budget, they would have paid it to anybody. It was better than any MBA program I could have taken if I and I was at the point where I was thinking, should I go to F II said, I go to USC film school to get a master's degree like is that going to be worth the investment for the connections? The amount that I learned for those for that year and a half that I was working on that film was better than any education I ever would have received at the top school in the world. And I was getting paid not a lot. But I was getting paid just enough to cover my bills. So that was of tremendous value. So really ask yourself, are they paying me what I'm worth and valuing my skills? And if they're not, am I getting something else out of this, because if you're not getting either, and it's just Well, you know, I need to be doing something and it might lead to something down the road. If you work with people that don't respect you, that's not going to change when they have money, they may because what they're always going to say is, well, if you do this, we have a lot more projects down the line. That's the number one thing I see in these horrible job opportunities on these job listing websites is, you know, this one, we're going to get your free pizza. But if this works out, and we like you, there's going to be a lot more opportunities down the road. Well guess what if their first impression of you is you're a doormat, that will do anything for the job, and they don't value you that impression will never ever change.

Austin Coburn 52:26

I think that's a good story in in the sense that like, coming out of college, you have no idea what you're gonna want to do. And I know quite a few students that are like, oh, maybe I should go the Masters route and stuff. And I think that's a, that's a very honorable way to go as well. But finding those good people to work with in my experience is they will, they will call you back. And that's also just from a film student standpoint, too, because I know there is a big shoot, you go to film school or shooting you or you You shouldn't go to film school kind of debate that's going on. But I know for me, in my experience in film schools, I came here for the people. I'd been doing like a one man band thing for about four years. And all I wanted to do was work with people. And so opposing to that other question, what are some really solid qualities you want to look for in people? Because I know you're saying like, these are good people to work for. But what are some things that you should maybe queue in and kind of and be looking for?

Zack Arnold 53:22

I think the first one is just do they respect you as a human being? And I know that that sounds obvious, but it really isn't. Because you do get lost in that fog. Going back to what we said in the earlier part of our interview about this feeling of failure that am I going to make it. So you have these rose colored glasses thinking Well, I've got the job, I'm sitting in front of an edit bay, I'm getting footage, I'm getting paid for it. And you kind of lose sense of do the people that are paying me do they actually respect me as a human being. Because a lot of times as much as you want to think that everybody would in this industry, they will not, they will just take every ounce out of you and they will squeeze blood from a rock and tell it is dead. And I you know, hate to be the bearer of you know, honest news. But I've worked with people like that. And I run from them kicking and screaming and I never worked for them again, because I value who I am. And I respect myself. So that's the first basic question. Do they just have human decency? Do they care about my well being, because what will inevitably happen is you're going to be in the trenches and things are going to be busy and there are going to be late nights when I'm in the trenches with somebody and I'm working a 16 hour day just because there's no other choice. If I feel like we're all in this together, and they respect who I am, and they're, they're giving me all kinds of disclaimers. I'm like, Listen, I know that this stinks. I don't want to be here, either. But you're the best person for the job. We really appreciate what you're doing. And we're going to get through this and we're all on this together. Like that, to me is not taking advantage of somebody. That's the circumstance. But if you have somebody where they're leaving at five o'clock and they're doing whatever and they're not even paying attention to what you're doing, but you know, you're You're there until four in the morning. And it's just a cycle over and over. Well, that's probably somebody that is not really looking out for your well being. Because at an early stage in your career, like I said, if even if you are getting paid, you're just getting paid probably barely enough to live, especially if you're in Los Angeles. But are you getting education and part of that education is the job that you're doing? Part of it is learning how to work with people, but also is this connection going to be worth it. And if somebody isn't treating you with that respect to kind of feel like you're in this together, they're probably not going to recommend you for other jobs. So like, is this a genuine relationship that I can build. And when I look back at that first producer, that hired me on that feature film, which, my god, that was 13 years ago, I cannot believe how old I've gotten this, it's this is terrifying, like, You're making me feel so old. But anyway, I still have a relationship with that producer to this day, where when he has a new feature film, or he needs a main title, sequence design, whatever it is, I'm generally the first person that emails, he's like, Are you available, because if you're not, I'm going to start reaching out. That was 13 years ago, that was a movie where that I got paid nothing for. But it's led to three other feature film jobs, and offers on two or three more just because I built that relationship. And I knew that it was worth that sacrifice. So think to yourself, you know, is, is this person, really somebody that is probably going to help me out in the future, like, anybody that's worked for me, they'll know that I can be demanding when things are tight, and I'm a perfectionist, I really want you to work hard. But I've gotten a lot of people a lot of really, really good jobs over the years, because I have a tremendous amount of respect for everything that they've done for me, so I bend over backwards for them. So just think is the person that's pushing me this hard? Are they going to look out for me when the time comes? And if the answer is no, then maybe it's not worth it?

Austin Coburn 56:45

I think I think that's a some really good advice there. Especially if like, if I do this for you, or are you going to scratch my back as well, I think that's a good way to sum that up, not not in the sense of like it being like a selfish thing. But I think that is something you as coming out of a college student stance, it's it's difficult to not have the mindset is I'm just going to be a doormat. I think you kind of spent quite a few years expecting that's what the conditions will be like.

Zack Arnold 57:14

Yeah, I think that it's one thing that's interesting that you said, and you may not even realize that you said it. But you know, it's not about being selfish. And I always had that mentality of Well, I don't want to sound like I'm selfish and put my needs first. But and this is coming from somebody that's a little bit more seasoned. and dare I say, a little cynical, after having been run through the studio system for many years. Now. nobody's looking out for you except you. So if you're working for a giant studio, yes, they're paying you a lot of money because you have a skill. But at the end of the day, you personally, they're not really looking out for you, you're just a cog in the machine to make the product that's going to generate millions of dollars for them. So if you can find and I wish that I learned this lesson way earlier, but I was always terrified of being selfish, terrified of doing that. Like that's just not my personality. I'm not a selfish person. But that's what got me into so much trouble with my health. So I think in a sense, like the you scratch my back, I scratch yours, you do kind of need to think that way and think to yourself, Well, yeah, he's asking me to, you know, run his dry cleaning off to some place at one in the morning on a Friday? Is this the kind of person that you know, by me doing this? He's gonna remember that later on? Or is he taking advantage of me. So you do kind of have to be selfish in a way, and either speak up and say, listen, dear, like, this is not what I signed up for. Or, you know, just leave because you realize this isn't really going anywhere. And this, you know, this job market, sometimes that can be tough, but I always tell people, whether it's their health or their career, you always have to look at the long game. And yes, you might have to take something short term that doesn't fit into your greater vision. But always think, how does this apply to the longer game, the longer vision that I have? And I talked about this extensively with Norman Holland for two hour podcast episode that I can link to, but just really talking about this idea of make sure that you're you're climbing the right ladder, because once you get to the top wrong, if you're not on the right ladder at all, and you let go like you just crash.

Austin Coburn 59:10

Yeah, yeah, I think it's not it's not just learning the skills to say no, it's also learning the skills of what to say yes to

Zack Arnold 59:17

Yes, that is that is another tough one where it's a good problem to have. It's certainly a very first world problem. But it's still a problem where and I've I've been in that circumstance, I went years where I was unemployed, and I like the it's like the word yes was a dirty word in my life, like I couldn't get anybody to commit and I was in very bad financial shape. And I just bought a house and the market had just crashed and I was like, Oh, this is the perfect time to not be able to find work. But then the table's turned a few years later, and then I'm getting multiple job offers at once. And clearly in the world of editing, you can't like take multiple things like you can as a composer or a graphic designer, like you take one thing on. So that's a very difficult process as well. And for me, I am thinking about all these same things, it's the same decision matrix. All right? Well, who are the people that I'm working with, because the people are so important, once you start to establish yourself, and I don't mean establish yourself with a list credits and awards, I just mean to the point where you're clearly a professional people are hiring you, and they they count on you. And that's something you can just stop, we're talking in less than a year, you can establish that kind of rapport with people. But once you get there, no matter what level you're at, my first question is, well, who's the studio? Who are the producers? Who's the director? So I don't even ask about the script anymore. It used to be Oh, what's the script? Like? What's it about? Because for me, it was all about the right content, because I had a very specific type of thing I wanted to edit. But now the question is, who's producing it? Who's directing it? And I don't mean, like, is paramount producing it? Or is Disney producing? I mean, like, Who's the actual producer or the showrunner that I sit in the room with? Like, who's gonna be on my couch at 9pm? On a Friday, keeping me for my kids? Is this somebody that I'm willing to miss my kids bedtime for? And if it is, then the next question is, can you send me the script? And for a lot of people, they want to read the script first? Because Is this something cool? Is this creative? But for me, it's just the opposite. Because working, finding the right people versus finding the right project, is one of the gigantic differences in your quality of life, when you're working 60 7080 hours a week, if it feels like a family, and you're all in it together in the trenches. Sometimes it's incredibly rewarding. If it's creatively a great project, but you hate the people, you end up hating the project anyway. So it's not worth it.

Austin Coburn 1:01:34

Yeah, I think it it all goes back to the thing that Norman was saying of you don't want to necessarily work on good projects. You want to work with good people. And I think that that's hard to, to get in that mentality. Because I think the last four years, that's all that college students think about is what's going to be the film that gets on my reel, what's going to be that film that gets out there, and they think about the actual quality of the film, rather than the people that they'll be working with on that film. And so the skills kind of get a little bit put pushed under the rug.

Zack Arnold 1:02:02

Yeah. And I can say, from my own experience, that like going back to the the film that I talked about, where I transitioned from trailers to features, it's not a name that I drop often. But that movie was called fat girls pH at GIRLZ. And it started Monique. That was not the film that I wanted on my resume. When I started becoming a feature film editor. I did not, I would love to do a really low budget, urban goofy comedy. Like that's it. And the funny thing is, I've actually been doing a lot of projects in the urban space, which it's very bizarre tangent that I could go off on that I won't but anyway. But like I said, when I looked at it, I mean, I remember reading the script and thinking, Oh, my God, like this is so not the right fit for me. But what an amazing opportunity this is, is all about the people and the experience. And just jumping in the deep end and saying like, I other than cutting a student film, I had never cut anything more than a few scenes. I done mostly short form work commercials, I'd done weddings, I'd done commercial videos, but I never actually caught narrative drama, other than a few scenes for one student film. So I really was way under qualified. But I sold myself and I said what what better way to learn how to edit a feature film than to edit a feature film. So that was my education was editing a feature film in a real world environment. But the project was, I mean, dear Lord, like it's, it's not certainly not something that ever led to any other of that type of work. And it's not something that I would put on a reel or a resume, why do I have it on my resume, but because it was picked up by Fox Searchlight, but I don't have it is something that I feature on my reel. So I think that it's easy to fall into that trap as a student and think, well, the only way that I'm going to be recognized as this amazing creative talent is if I have amazing creative work, which means I have to be so super selective. And you don't want to take a job working on a reality show for MTV, if what you really want to do is dark character drama, like, you know, you kind of have to be somewhat selective, but at the same time, don't limit yourself to the point where you can't take anything when you're 24 years old, because it doesn't fit the model of where you want to get people are going to have to get you there projects are not going to get you there.

Austin Coburn 1:04:22

I think Yeah, and as a senior it's at this point, you know, it's it's a bit of a scramble and you're in the same way of kind of a blank page you're looking at your reel and you're like oh man, what do I put on there and I think that also that that leads to people having trouble saying no to the projects is not having anything on that roster is to grab anything you can

Zack Arnold 1:04:44

yeah cuz it's just all about filling up the credit so I I've been there myself, I've done it where I I will just take anything I can get but I was my perspective was a little bit different in that I essentially started out as an editor from day one, other than the first I think I was About four months that I was an assistant editor in trailers. But pretty much the vast majority of my career, I was an editor. So I was just trying to get editing credits, I wanted people to always recognize me as an editor, and not have this image of me as an assistant, because I know very skilled editors that take assistant jobs. And that's all they're seen as. And they make that step backwards, because they might be doing high profile documentary films, but they want to get into scripted, and everybody says, the only way you can do it is by stepping back as an assistant. And then for years, they're perceived as an assistant. And it's very, very hard to make that transition. And I didn't know all that back, then I just knew that I wanted to cut. So I made the choice to cut all the low budget stuff, all the other jobs, nobody else would take, I took them because to me, it was a learning experience to get better at the craft of editing rather than being an assistant on something higher profile and watching somebody at it. So for me, it was a choice of building the credits and building the experience rather than getting the high profile credits. And there are people that I've interviewed, that were assistants for 10 years, and then all of a sudden their first editing credit, you know, they've rose to stardom. So, you know, it's it's not like there's one right or wrong answer. It's just what what makes the most sense for you. And there's no real way to know which one makes the most sense until you jump in the pool and start swimming.

Austin Coburn 1:06:20

Yeah, yeah, it's definitely it feels kind of like a limbo, in, in the sense of like your careers not necessarily started and your education is definitely, in a academic sense has ended. And so I think sometimes the educational learning element gets tossed out the window, and you're just like, I need to just work

Zack Arnold 1:06:39

Well, and plus, once you get out of school for four years, the last thing you want to do is get education, right. Like I'm not for this, I just want to work.

Austin Coburn 1:06:47

Yeah, I think there's Yeah, I mean, it's the first time that you haven't been sitting in a sitting in a classroom for most of the day. And I think also the debt element to it is is a pretty big contributing factor to just scrambling to just get any work. What should students invest in right now, in their health? I know we talked a little bit about how people will invest in this, this $5,000 equipment, but they won't invest in the things to improve their health. So we talked about what students should be looking at in employment and what they shouldn't be, but in themselves in their own lives. And this could be a physical thing, this could also be a social thing or with relationships, what should they invest in, in this in this point of their life?

Zack Arnold 1:07:32

This is a really good question. I don't know if I've ever been asked this. Having the hindsight, I would say that you don't want to spend a lot of money investing in a bunch of tools, or like, you know, the few that I told you about that you can travel with those are good start. But that's not really an investment that's, you know, combined, maybe a couple 100 bucks. But if I once again, kind of using the Time Machine analogy, if I were going to invest in anything, I would be investing my time and learning how to reshape my work habits. Because that's really the foundation of everything that I've been doing myself for years, is yes, I spent a long time learning, nutrition science and learning physical activity and biomechanics. So I can eliminate the Lord, like, you know, I didn't learn how to eliminate lower back pain, because I thought it would be fun. I did it because I needed it. I needed to figure out myself, how do I get rid of my lower back pain? How do I not feel like my body's made of concrete at the end of the day. So that was a necessity for me. But really, most of the problems I had to solve were created by bad habits. So for me, if I were going to invest in one thing, it wouldn't be in a lot of money and a lot of fancy equipment, it would be knowing that it's going to take a little bit longer, and there's not going to be an immediate payoff. But I would be investing in the time to learn how to reshape my habits. So that way, I'm starting when it's much easier when I'm much younger. And I haven't already gained the 30 pounds. I think there was a I don't remember the exact number. But you know, everybody's heard of the freshman 15. And somebody had mentioned like it's the post production 30 or something I don't remember. But it's like that heavy like yes, that happens to everybody happened to me, like I was a beanpole, when I moved out here. And within two years, I gained almost not two years from coming out. But in a two year span, I gained almost 40 pounds, I was like what in the world is happening. And that's when my journey started. Because I said I can't, I can't weigh this much at this age and feel this way like this. I can't survive. But it was all about my bad work habits. So that would be the one thing I would do is I know that time is the commodity that no graduate has, because they're all their time is spent is investing in how do I either find the job or how do i do the job well, but really dedicating even if it's just 15 minutes a day to learning how to reshape your habits so you can have more longevity, more mental stamina, that's where I would invest my time and my money and my energy.

Austin Coburn 1:09:56

I absolutely agree. I think that's a great summary of kind of one But the documentary I'm working on is supposed to be about us. Because I think, I mean, eight months ago, I wasn't even thinking about this. And I'm very fortunate that as a senior i, this kind of came to my attention. And I saw this kind of metaphorical rug under my feet. And if I didn't do something about it, I was just going to look at my feet and watch it get yanked out from under me. What can students do with these bad work habits? What can they do right now while they're still in school to change those because I know it, you know, a lot of these work habits don't just come from editing and post production and from the film industry, a lot of them carryover from their other classes. So what are what are some things they can do right now, to combat those bad work habits?

Zack Arnold 1:10:44

Well, I would actually go a step backwards. And I would say, if you're a senior in college, junior in college, or recent graduate, you are already so overwhelmed, the last thing you want to do is say, I have to start changing all of my habits, because that's a recipe for failure, what I would actually step back and do is just start to develop a sense of awareness, and start to think, alright, for the next 30 days, I'm not really going to change anything, I'm not going to make any major strides. I'm just going to start paying attention, I want to develop awareness, what are the things that I'm doing that, let's pretend I'm 40 years old, that I probably don't want to be doing, and just start to think, alright, well, I can see that my sleeping habits are complete garbage, probably want to do something about that I'm not eating very well, I'm not getting a lot of exercise. And I'm frankly not moving at all. So it's really about developing this awareness and thinking, here's my baseline, here's where I am now. Alright, what do I think is going to be the biggest thing I should focus on first, and then just focus on that, once that is taken care of, and you build a few habits, then you can move on to the next thing. But the last thing you want to do is get overwhelmed and think well, I need to change all this now. So really, I would systematically work through one thing at a time, after you've identified what are these habits that I most likely need to change for the long term,

Austin Coburn 1:12:00

the awareness element, that's, that's a really good, good little piece there. Because I bet I still struggle with this a lot. And I know I make an entire film about it. And I know that I talk a lot about it. But that that is a huge element of it is the awareness, because when I was first trying to start make changes, is it's so overwhelming, it really isn't. So I would have to I, I kind of put all these different changes, like I'm gonna walk on this one, I'm going to start charging my phone outside my room, and not by my bed, and I put them on these posted notes, and I kind of just threw them on the wall. And each week, I would take one. And then I would keep doing the last. And it's a difficult thing to just pile on top of the other of these other responsibilities you have in your life, but taking it like one step at a time. And even just like being aware, like being aware of not just for yourself, I think for others is you start seeing it in other people. And that in its own way kind of is is a little bit of a push to make some changes in her life, I think that that happened with me is I didn't just see these kind of really bad work habits and health problems. And myself as I saw it, and a lot of my friends and a lot of the people that I love to work with. And I think that led to a lot of my push to make some changes in my own life.

Zack Arnold 1:13:16

Yeah. And there's no doubt that looking in your environment around you and the people that you surround yourself with, they're often going to be a mirror of your own behaviors. So that's a great place to look for awareness as well, as long as you're not overly judgmental and saying, Why are you doing this you should be doing? So that's a different story. But yes, I think that in that was that was really what I recognized as well is that, you know, I was living the lifestyle that everybody else around me was but I had to fight back. And it's it says it. I mean, it's trying to turn an aircraft carrier, it does not happen overnight. And like you said, like I'm making this whole film about awareness, but I still struggle with it. Like, I I'm not here doing this podcast, because I've solved it. I'm doing it because I'm solving it every single day and sharing what I've learned. But trust me, I deal with all these problems every single day. And I'm not solved any of these problems. I'm just searching for solutions and sharing them when I find them so So on that note, I'm going to switch back over because I know that you have been the interviewer but now I'm going to take the mic away from you and we're going to switch our chairs, proverbially. And I just want to thank you for taking your time as a college student taking two hours out of your life is not an easy thing to do. So I want to thank you for being on the show. I love how this ended up becoming kind of the this two part episode and I really really hope that either students or recent graduates or anybody that struggling with this is able to get something out of it and I really commend you for the work that you're doing and I when I say this, I don't mean this to be polite, like I cannot wait to see what you put together. And assuming it's not total garbage I will do everything I can to publicize it and get it out there and and you know give you any kind of a review Whatever you need, you know, as long as it's not crap, which I don't think it will be. But you know, I'm more than happy to to help you in your journey. getting it out there because I know what it takes to make a passion documentary film and in the Share, share something that is really important. So I'm, I'm I'm your biggest fan now and we'll do whatever I can to help you.

Austin Coburn 1:15:11

Well, it's it's been a pleasure meeting you and also in back at you have taken the time just to let some some kid from Oregon interview you and fly down there. It's I think it speaks volumes to your program and the work that you do, Zack, and that I think not just as a podcast, Fitness in Post, but also you are you're doing a lot of great stuff. And I'm excited to see kind of where Fitness in Post is going to and I'm going to be listening.

Zack Arnold 1:15:40

Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being here. And it's been an absolute pleasure and best of luck with everything that you continue to do.

Austin Coburn 1:15:46

Thank you, Zack, have a good day.

Zack Arnold 1:15:48

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 1:16:13

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 1:16:32

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 1:16:39

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 1:17:12

Well my goal is that for anybody that is a creative professional like myself that's stuck in front of a computer. Number one, they're doing it standing on a Topomat. Number two, they've got a glass of New Standard Protein next to them so they can just fuel their body fuel their brain. So you and I, my friend, one edit station at a time are going to change the world

Kit Perkins 1:17:30

and even better for your listeners with code optimize on either a one time purchase for that first, Subscribe and Save order 50% off. So if you do that, Subscribe and Save that's 20% off and 50% off with code optimize it's a fantastic deal.

Zack Arnold 1:17:45

If you're looking for a simple and affordable way to stay energetic, focused and alleviate the chronic aches and pains that come from living at your computer. I recommend New Standard Whole protein because it's sourced from high quality ingredients that I trust and it tastes great. To place your first order visit optimizeyourself.me/newstandard and use the code optimize for 50% off your first order.

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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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).”