From Urban Planning to Film Production

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Our latest blog entry is another in a series of first-person accounts from the Revelator staff. Today’s entry is a candid, funny and personal look into an unexpected career change, made by Revelator’s own Production Manager, Alex Bronner:

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They say the average person switches careers seven times in their lifetime. Alright, that “statistic” is a bit overstated. After all, it only took one switch to find the career I love. But more likely than not, you’ve felt it at least once in your life. That feeling where you realize your path isn’t heading in the direction you once thought it would. For most people, I’d imagine it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact moment in time when this happens. I’d imagine it’s more of a gradual process. A process that takes time and reasoning. Deep, self-reflecting consideration. A process I saw come to a monumental halt, just a few sips into one harmless cup of coffee. Before we dive into the glaring implications surrounding this one cup of joe, we’ll turn back old father time to help paint the urban picture. A few months prior to those transformative sips, I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. My degree of choice: Urban Planning (currently Urban Studies). Now, as shocking as it may be, I didn’t grow up with aspirations of one day becoming an Urban Planner. I wasn’t constructing grids and roadways while other kids were playing Astronaut and Doctor. No, it was the summer before my junior year of college when I decided I’d go into urban planning.

I’ve always been inspired by architectural and structural design. Masterfully combining innovation and creativity with form and functionality. It was the ideal blend of creative juices and logistical pulp. The perfect concoction. I could feed the left and right sides of my brain the fuel they both needed – nay, deserved. And I really enjoyed it. I relished debating the impending doom Austin and its city planners were facing (I-35 standstill anyone?). Learning the why’s and how’s of 6th Street’s gradual mutation into Dude, 6th Street!!..the Frank Lloyd Wright’s…and the Le Corbusier’s. It all drew me in, and I felt like I had finally found my calling.

With my Urban Planning degree in one hand, and my recent-graduate’s optimism in the other, I began the incredibly intimidating task of initial career networking. It was emails and phone calls followed by more emails and more phone calls…and eventually I found myself sitting across from one very kind Urban Planning professional, having a simple chat over a cup of light roast. He was giving me “the spiel”. It wasn’t exactly a new spiel. In fact, on the surface, it was the same spiel I had heard many times before. “This is the industry, this is my advice and this is where I can help.” It was a spiel I expected and was fully prepared for. It had the same setting and same plot, just a different supporting cast. And I really appreciated it. Any 15 minutes a professional can spare is truly a generous favor.

We were a few sips in to his personal adaptation of “the spiel” when it began. Somehow, for some reason, I instantly saw my entire future laid out in front of me… the day-to-day life of Alex Bronner, the Urban Planner… and I loathed it. This career path I had paved with years of classes, projects and student loans had led me straight into a dead end – a mental wall if you will. This isn’t what I want to do, I started to realize, this isn’t at all what I want to do. I couldn’t understand it. How was I just now realizing this? Four years of blood, sweat and tears. Countless conversations of hearing exactly how this day-to-day life would look. And out of nowhere this happens? This immovable wall derails my entire career path, not four months into my career? I was in the middle of getting the inside scoop from a real industry professional, and all I could think about was this freakin’ wall.

And that’s when it happened. This mental barrier towering in front of me slowly began to dissolve back into reality. And behind it? The face of the gentleman offering me his invaluable advice. Only now it was a face filled with true bewilderment.

You see, whilst having this monumental shift in personal perspective, the little voice inside my head telling me: “This isn’t what I want to do,” wasn’t a little voice. And it wasn’t inside my head. Yup. That’s right. I actually said it. To him. OUT LOUD. A whole 37 inches from his face. “This isn’t what I want to do.” The awkward moment that soon followed was the longest possible minute to ever transpire. Guinness would later write it into its book as the longest 60 seconds ever recorded. It was closer to a scene in a film than a moment I thought could exist in real life. But it happened. And there we were.

I know what you’re thinking. “What the hell was in that coffee?” But it wasn’t the disaster I figured it to be. The time that transpired between that terrifying moment and the eventual shaking of hands may have been the single most import span of time in my production career. Somehow, bless the guy’s heart, he got it. He was patient and understanding with this young kid in front of him. He understood I was second-guessing my career choice. I was just a young kid fresh out of college back then, and a kid without a clue. So we had a real conversation. We talked about my interests and my hobbies. My previous dreams and aspirations. And I talked about the camera my friends and I had cemented to our hands as kids. The debilitating thought I had grown to believe, that a career in film wasn’t feasible if your zip code didn’t begin with 90 or 10. And it became incredibily clear what I wanted to do. The dream I wanted to chase. The perfect concoction of creative juice and logistical pulp.

So I began the incredibly intimidating task of new career networking. The only problem? I had no experience. None. Yea, my friends and I used to make home movies as kids, but there’s a reason why no one will EVER see them. I didn’t go to film school, and I had never stepped foot on a set before. So I did what I knew how to do, and had a few more cups of coffee. I was eventually given the opportunity to PA on a hamburger commercial. And like many PA’s out there, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do within the industry – I just knew I was on board. It didn’t take long for me to realize I had made the right decision. I was exactly where I wanted to be. Every day was just as new and exciting as the previous. And there was a noticeable buzz on set. An energy you could actually feel. The creative juices were abounding, in every possible flavor you could think of. I was in the company of 30 other people looking to squeeze their own juice, and now all I needed to find was the, uh… pulp. Is my drink metaphor getting us side-tracked? Anyway…that’s where I found production, and eventually, a company called REVELATOR.

From casting and location scouting, to budgeting and scheduling, I’d found the perfect combination in a career. The creative innovation and efficient functionality that drew me to Urban Planning was fluent and thriving in my newfound path. And I was smack dab in the middle of some of the best sets I’d worked on, and with some of the best crew members in Austin. Whether it’s a tech-video shoot at SXSW, on a soundstage set here in Austin, or a live performance video at ACL, there’s no better “work” in the world than being on a video set with your friends, and having some savvy clients always helps too 😉 . I found exactly what I had been searching for. I had found the perfect drink. (See I knew I could tie up that drink metaphor.)

-Alex Bronner
Production Manager, Revelator

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ABOUT REVELATOR: Revelator is a full service film & video production company in Austin, Texas. We like to write, produce, & edit projects for t.v. and the web. We specialize in brand films, corporate identity work, as well digital advertising and t.v. broadcast advertising. If you need help with your script, production, or just an idea, give us a call.

REVELATOR SERVICES: Video Production, TV Commercials, Brand Films, Virtual Reality, VR Experiences, Script Writing, Music Videos, Lifestyle Videos, Technology Videos, B2B Videos, Product Videos, Feature Films, Motion Graphic Videos, Turnkey Solutions, and Live Event Video Production.