YBY ep 260: Julie LoRusso and the daily meditation of learning, growing, and becoming a better self.
This week on Yes But Why, I had a wonderful chat with television director, Julie LoRusso.
Julie LoRusso is a multi-camera live and live-to-tape director with over 30 years-experience in television production.
Julie has worked with clients such as MTV, PBS, and Comedy Central. Some of the highlights of her work have been with Sesame Street (2020), Tidal X – Lil’ Wayne (2018), CrossFit Games (2014-Present), and Times Square New Year’s Eve (2016-2018).
Julie is also a triathlete who currently does health and fitness coaching through Team Beachbody.
In this episode, Julie regales me with great stories, from her first kiss onstage to the start of her TV career at MTV. In our conversation, we talk about the ups and downs of the freelance lifestyle. Julie talks about the benefits of doing internships to get your foot in the door. We chat about puppets, Beachbody fitness coaching, and heavy metal music.
Support Julie LoRusso now by connecting with her about health and fitness coaching! As well as directing television, Julie has been helping others reach their fitness goals as an Independent Team Beachbody Coach! She can help you get healthier!
Yes But Why Podcast is a proud member of the HC Universal Network family of podcasts. Visit us at HCUniversalNetwork.com to join in on the fun. #YesButWhy #Podcast #HCUniversalNetwork
This episode of Yes But Why podcast is sponsored by audible – get your FREE audiobook download and your 30 day free trial at http://www.audibletrial.com/YESBUTWHY.
This episode of Yes But Why is also sponsored by PodcastCadet.com. Go to PodcastCadet.com and put in offer code YBY20 to get 20% off your first consultation!
(production notes: recorded zoom meeting with Rodecaster on 3/22/2021…posted on 4/26/2021)
TRANSCRIPT by Otter.ai
Hello, Yes But Why listeners, this is your host, Amy Jordan. Welcome to Yes But Why episode 260 – my chat with television director, Julie LoRusso. But first, let’s talk about our sponsors. Today’s episode of Yes But Why Podcast is sponsored by audible. Get your FREE audiobook download and your 30 day free trial at audibletrial.com/YESBUTWHY. You’ll get a free audiobook and access to hundreds of books and podcasts that are included with your membership. Now’s the time. Get Audible. Yes But Why Podcast is also sponsored by PodcastCadet.com. PodcastCadet.com is all about helping people with podcasting. My husband and I started this company because we want to help our fellow podcasters be the best that they can be. So let us help you sort through all the bad advice online and find the right podcasting path for you. Connect with us now at PodcastCadet.com. Use promo code YBY20 and you’ll get 20% off the first service or workshop you buy! This week on Yes But Why, I had an amazing talk with Julie LoRusso. Julie is a multi-camera live and live-to-tape director with over 30 years-experience. She is also a triathlete who currently does health and fitness coaching through Team Beachbody. Listen in as Julie regales me with great stories, from her first kiss onstage to the start of her TV career at MTV. In our conversation, we talk about puppets, heavy metal music, and internships. I now present to you: yes but why episode 260: Julie LoRusso and the daily meditation of learning, growing and becoming a better self. Enjoy! I’m Amy Jordan. And this is Yes But Why Podcast. Yeah. What was the first time in your life when you really felt taken by the creative spark? What was the thing or creative thing that you were doing? That was like, yeah, that’s a thing I’d like to be involved in that kind of snowballed into your career as
it is. I probably was in grammar school, because I was in the drama club in grammar school, like my older sister was the cheerleader. And I was the middle kid. So I was the like nerdy. Like we all played the flute because that’s what you had to do you like played flute or clarinet in fifth grade. Like that was the thing like you got the instrument and you just did one of those things. And so I remember my sister also was very talented and beautiful and pretty. And you know, so she was very popular. And I was I was the girl who had the glasses, braces and bad perm all in one year. Oh, yeah, it was good times. So I do remember. So I think like they did Cinderella one year, and I played a horse like a dancy horse but a horse nonetheless. And then so that was in like sixth or seventh grade. But then in eighth grade, I played Mary in the library and in Music Man. That was my first like, starring role. So that kind of was like the bug that gave me that. I was like, Oh, yeah. This is this is this is this is my say? Yeah. Until I had to like kiss Craig, who was playing, you know, The Music Man. And I was like, wait a minute. This is weird. Yeah. But we didn’t you know, so wherever we, you know, and he’s still somebody that I talked to on Facebook, and he’s very nice bell. But um, it was weird. But then it was like so then then you go into high school. And you’re like, Oh, so you’re that person. So I was kind of like the, the cool, nerdy person like I played French horn. I played the marimba in jazz band. I did like all the things. I was in drama club. I was in madrigals. I was in choir and all short, you know all the things because we’re like, I’m going to be a star. I’m gonna they’re gonna find me and I am, you know, going to be great. And I was not great in high school. Like literally we did Greece. And of course, you want to play Rizzo? Because that’s the cool part. Yeah. And it’s like they literally made up a a roll for me. I was like, sure. Like it was I didn’t even like have a name. I was like, Oh, yeah, that’s, you know, and then they like I sang like half a song at the prom thing in Greece. Yeah, it was it was weird. But, so I did, but I was like, but I was like, I still think this is what I want to do. And so, you know, as a, as a junior and senior in high school, then you’re like, Oh, I’m gonna do this. So, you know, I did, I went to I got myself to the city. And I auditioned for like the American drama just, you know, college, whatever. And, and I and I auditioned for Montclair State University, their Bachelor of Fine Arts program. And I actually got accepted to both but I, I decided to go to Montclair, they had a big theater, had a very good program. And again, I you know, you go through college, and you’re like, I was, you know, the headquarters in in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Because like, it was like, all right, I like go in anywhere. Like you know, in one of the one of like, the dramas I played, you know, was when I eat so I never got it, but also by like, my sophomore year, in college, I was like,
actors are kind of
I don’t, you know, I don’t feel good about like, they don’t make you feel good about yourself. everybody’s like, telling you how bad you are. You’re like, I felt good dance class. Like that was like, you know, we I took some great modern dance classes. And, but I was like, what I love the technical side of it. So I as a bachelor, Fine Arts, you’re getting a degree in acting and directing. So you know, so you have to take both classes. So you’re, you know, you’re basically a musical theater major. But they’re the degree is an acting and directing. And so you know, I’m taking the directing classes, I’m taking the dance classes, I’m taking all the things I’m taking a makeup class and I, I’m 52 years old, and I still think the only time I ever wear makeup is when I’m going to a wedding. Like I don’t wear makeup. I was like, it’s whatever prettier not it’s just not happening. So
I like it when other people put it on me, but I’m not good at do. You
know what, and I don’t I have my morning routine down to like the minute and I was like, You know what? That’s not one of the places I want to spend my time. I would rather get up in the morning and work out and journal and meditate and do all the things and not spend a second doing my makeup. Yeah. But I did learn in college, that doing an internship can change your life. So I was actually a senior and they were like so then of course, they decide to tell everybody about the internship programs when I’m already a senior. And I am already going to have to do an extra semester because I when I decided that I really didn’t like actors much. I also decided that I’m going to get a minor in math. At this point, I had waitress since I was 14 years old. And we just all through college. And I was like if I have to serve another person, I may kill them. So I’m going to teach kids math. I think that would just be easier and better for everyone. Yeah. So if this whole like theater thing doesn’t work out, I’ll just become a math tutor. So I decided that I was going to do an internship. But to do this internship, because I was going to graduate in December, I had to convince one of my instructors to give me an incomplete so that I could do my internship in the spring. So I was like, come on, like just give me an incomplete. You can just fill it out later. It’s fine, whatever. And so they were like oh, okay, great. So I got my so I went and I did my my interview for MTV. And I think I did an interview at NBC or whatever. I did like a whole bunch of interviews, but I really wanted to work at MTV, because MTV was really cool back then. And it was like everybody, like this is my dream job. Of course I want to do this. So that was the thing. It absolutely was. So I got the internship at MTV. And at that point, there was a very, very small contingent of interns. And like if I wanted to be a studio intern to go into the, you know, production assistant stage managing assistant directing and directing route. There was like seven of us. It was like, that’s what Beth McCarthy was still there before she went to direct john the john stewart show. As Saturday Night Live, I mean, like all these amazing people were there to learn from. So, I was working with the production assistant at the time. So you’re either working with the production assistant who is in the studio, or the production assistant who’s in the office, who will be in the studio the next day. So being that I didn’t have any classes, I was a five day weekend turn, I learned all the things. It was great. until around April, when the teacher that I convinced to give me an incomplete forgot to give me an incomplete and gave me a grade. And then you get the call, like, Oh, hey, by the way, if you’re going to continue this internship, you need to now pay $300 of credit. I was like, oh, because now I’m no longer in undergrad. Like now all of a sudden, I’m a graduate student doing an internship, because he gave me a grade and technically I had all my grades to graduate now.
Oh, so like the school set up the internship for you? Oh, just cuz like every internship I’ve ever done in my life was after I graduated college, yeah, because I also do internships were a thing. And listen, whoever’s listening, guys, you know, you can just sign up for internships, like you don’t have to go through anyone, you can just do it. So okay,
but but engineering college, do as many internships as you can, because they’ll take care of organizing it and making the connections for you. And they will, but they will also they also have like, in like, it’s easier, they’ll have a bunch of people who they already work with, they’ll have a bunch of people and like, doing internships, as you know, is is the best way to get inside a company. So this is what happens because I was an intern. And because I was a five day weekend turn into all the jobs, and they had just hired to god awful production assistants, right before this, who I was doing the work for, because they didn’t know what they were doing. When they did that, I literally went in crying to Helene, who was my supervisor, and I was like,
internship anymore. And they offered me a job as a production assistant. So literally, it was, you know, we don’t know, like, you know, maybe like one, maybe three days a week. So I literally got a job as a production assistant for MTV, making $75 a day. And these are 12 hour days, we were like 830 in the morning till 830 at night, and I was never happier day in my life. You know, I was so happy to be there, whatever you need me to do if you need to. So one of the funny things that MTV would do was, when I started there, we were still up on 57th Street in the city, which is like across the street from CBS. And it was just kind of like, you know, a couple blocks off Broadway. And their funny thing that they would do is Joe, who’s a very dear friend of mine, and one of the directors that was there for a long time, but they’re you know, and Laurie, the TD, they’d be like, Hey, give you like $5. And they’d say, Go buy gum, like just something completely ridiculous. So you run up to the bodega on the corner, and you get a good rite of gum that everyone will be happy with. And this is like your this is like their their hazing ceremony for their for the interns to see the what gum you’re going to bring back for the control room. The variety, the whole thing. So you know, apparently I had a good GM game. And, but this is like, but but that’s what it means. Like we were a family. So me as a college kid going in there. And I was there until 97, probably as so I worked my way up from an intern to a director from 1990 to 1997. Wow. And I was I was I am a very like OCD, like, you know, obviously, many of us are type A personalities who go into any of this type of business anyways, but it was one of those like, I was a production assistant for a long time. And then I was a stage manager for a long time because I did not want to start assistant directing or associate directing, until I knew every nook and cranny of all the other jobs. You know what I mean? So it was like, so I was stage managing and and working with, you know, Jenna, who’s now still a stage manager on SNL. And, you know, and it’s like, no, I need to, I need to know all this. And then at that time they were doing hanging with MTV, which was a three hour live show from four to seven every day, you know what I mean? They were and then after that, we’d still have to do MTV News, where, you know, it would be like this big frenzy because everybody would be late, but at that time, we were so busy that we were in two studios. So with that, by that time, we had gone to national video center which is now like a big gigantic theater that’s closed because COVID but they completely like demolished it, I think when they finally moved to the Time Square Studios in 1997. But It was it was just such an amazing place to learn. I mean, I remember when they first started going and doing like the beach houses that they would do during the summer. Yeah, like I, they weren’t really taking all of us, you know, they might take one person out there, or Jen already lived in Long Island. So she would just do it because it was like in the Hamptons, you know, so I would like be in the studio. So all we’d be really doing in the studio during the summer would be like, we do news. We do 120 minutes with Kennedy, or 120 minutes with Dave. We do like alternative nation with Kennedy. But that but the great thing was is during that time, like all these alternative shows weren’t out at the beach house. So I remember one time as a stage manager, like Tori Amos came in and they brought in like what she only wanted to play on this fancy German piano. I don’t know, I started with the I don’t remember the company makes it and i was i was i was. So they’re like, Okay, well, she’s going to come in and she’s going to do a couple songs. And I was huge train. And so literally, it was like I’m sitting on the studio floor with Tori and her piano. And just like, their little personal concert for me. And that was like the way that my summers would go. And it was it was like the most phenomenal time to be alive because you’re like, Okay, and you’re just like, okay, 321 go, and then you’re telling her to go and she’s just gonna play a couple of songs. So it was it was so amazing. And Kennedy I still like sometimes see when I was directing like New Year’s in Times Square and stuff. And she would come in and do one of like, the hourly countdowns for CNN or whatever, or Fox News or wherever she was working now.
I mean, people that you worked with are like, the bedrock of television now, like not only not only the people on that were on screen, like Kennedy, but like, you’re mentioning, like all these various other personalities that you met, that are now running shows, like at NBC, they’re doing all sorts of other stuff, like the crowd that you were working with at that moment, really, and we were talking about this earlier about how like, we’re Gen X and the Gen X vibe is to have you know, been through all the things learned all the technology as it’s happened. So like the idea that you learned everything I feel like so many people you know, that have come up have that kind of you know, yeah, I want to learn it all I know how to do all the different things every time I hear a story about you know, somebody Oh, they work here. Yeah, they’re not afraid to you know, get their hands dirty. Try this do this kind of thing. They learned how to do all the parts. Do you think that was associated with your theater background? Like because in theater, there’s a
thing I think I I mean, we we The great thing about going to Montclair was they had 1006 seat theater, in Montclair, and we and Montclair is about 20 minutes out of the city. And so all the touring So not only did I end up doing a lot more technical stuff, like I was on the lighting crews and the rigging crews and all that kind of stuff. But guess what, every single dance company would probably do a stop there. I had I had worked on at least five Pilobolus shows. Five Alvin Ailey Dance Company shows, Modern Drummer came in there every single year and did a show, you know what I mean? So it’s like I bet judgment. You know, it’s like all these cool things because I set up his drums, you know, and it was just like, you did stuff because you knew that theater inside and out. So not only were we lighting and rigging and doing the sets and everything for the for the shows, we were like, that became my job. Like I worked at, you know, whatever restaurant also were the catering place. But it was like, but I would I would get hired to light or record be on the rigging crew for Modern Drummer, or police or whatever. It’s always like, Okay, great. Like, I like these people, and you get to hang out and you just kind of, you know, learn as you go. Yeah.
It seems like you’re, you know, you’re right into the work right away. You know, like from it with all that work from school. Like, not everybody gets that kind of a work study. You know what I mean? No. So it’s great that you were able to then, you know, and I did you know, research and when I saw I was like, Oh, she finished college? Oh, that’s when she started at MTV. Like, how is that possible?
Yeah. Wow, I try to tell people that’s why I tell people it’s like do as many internships, apprenticeships, whatever you want to call it. Get in there. Because this is what happens when you give somebody resume. Well, thanks. And they throw it in the garbage. Yeah, they don’t know you. But guess what, the only time now that I’m asked for a resume is 95% of the time when they’re when I’ve already been hired for a job and Oh, can you just send us your resume so we can have that file? Okay, so I can’t you know, it’s like I do I keep my credit list. updated. And all that kind of thing, but most of the time, it’s like, they already know if they’re gonna hire you or not. Yeah, you know, it’s like they just kind of want Oh, we just have to check to make sure. Like that this person who told us You were awesome. We want to just make sure you have the credentials to be on the awesome list. You know? So do you
feel like when you were working at MTV, then that you were in that circle? Is that the like? Was that the circle you wanted to be in? Or were you like, I need to venture out and try different things. You’d been a director now that you’ve, you know, like you’ve done the work, you know that you can do it. Were you looking to do a different kind of thing?
No, actually. So in 1997, and TV, or Viacom, acquired paramount for a lot of money. At that point, they started laying everyone off. So I went and this is so I’m, I’m a baby girl that grew up at MTV, who only knew for MTV family. Now, all of a sudden, guess what? MTV is no longer a thing. Like it’s a thing. I got a severance package. I got all the things. I got hired two days later, to be the lead stage manager on apartment two f that was shooting in Chelsea. While I was still getting severance, however. So that went on for a month or two. After that went away. It was like, Oh, wait a minute. I don’t on all my people are there. And I don’t know anybody else in this business at all. I’m like, Oh, crap. Like, you go from you go from working every single day traveling. Like, Oh, I remember doing the Metallica truck thing from San Francisco that they’re going to they’re going to come with three trucks. You’re going to pick one of the trucks, one of them’s gonna have Metallica in it. And if you pick that truck, then they’re performing at your house or whatever. You know what I mean? I mean, I remember doing like, the, you know, Howard Stern, private parts private party, where he’s like, coming up, you know, 40/34 Street in the Popemobile, you know, so you go from, from literally traveling all over the place. To Wow, I haven’t worked for 10 weeks. Hey, you know, so it’s like, you keep in touch with people that you keep in touch with. But at that point, you know, I’d already worked on the jon stewart show when it was at MTV. But when it went when it went to Paramount, and like Beth and Joe and Jenna went to go work on that I wasn’t invited to that party. And that’s just the way tell, you know, wasn’t anything personally against me, it was just the way television works. So it was, so Joe perotta. At the same time I got laid off, he also got laid off at that same time. And he
a year later. So I’ve gotten some things here and there, some events, some little things, some fill in work here and there. I had also gotten certified to teach Pilates. Because I was like if this you know, I had taken Pilates. I had you know, when I was like, I guess now’s the time to do this. I don’t have a steady job. So I got my certification in 98 or 99. And I was like, okay, because maybe like after I have kids, I won’t want to do this TV thing anymore. Like maybe then I’ll just work out of the house. And you know, I’ll just do that. So that happened and then that fall after I gotten certified to teach Pilates. Joe and I got hired to do a Nickelodeon show called you pick life. So you pick live was a show that was it was like a three hour or two hour show. But it wasn’t really a two hour show it was we would do these little interstitials around the Nicktoons go bail we’d come on we’d have you know, Britain, Candice and we’d have picked boy and that would be a prize wall. And we’d have an audience of like 12 kids that would be in this little tiny insert studio on the 10th floor of the Vikon building. We had two camera guys. We do things were like Antonio was like taking the tape, running it down to the tape room and then handing it to us or we could put the person Nick tune it, you know, and we were just it was so much fun because we were just doing all these crazy stunts. And and just it was it was amazing. So that that ended up going for I would say probably at least a year. So that was that was fun. So that we did that. And I was like okay, so I was freelance but I was still like you know I get a couple jobs I started during that time. I’m doing some stuff for, you know, I get the one off shoots, like one of the directors that used to be at MTV. He’d be like, I’m doing a couple performances for like the NBA Finals. You want to come in AD for me? Sure. In 94, in 99, I worked Woodstock. You know, like, so in 94, I was still working for MTV as a stage manager left my boots at the site, because that was whenever when they poured and everybody was pooping. And I had to trudge through the pool probably for three days. So I was like, I think I’m just gonna leave these bad boys here. And but in 99, we were hired by the pay per view special. So Joe, and I went at that point we had done. So we I would still freelance for MTV, you know, so it’s like, they fire you, because then they don’t have to pay your health insurance. But before that, it was like, they were the ones. They were the ones that convinced you to become permille. And so you had benefits. So it was like by the time I worked for them all that time. And then like the last probably year, I was perma Lance. And then I got laid off. I was like, I just should have stayed freelance. But, you know, so Joe, and I, at that point had done like for Dave Matthews concerts. So when we so it was funny, like they were playing like, they were playing like poker with all the bands that like Woodstock. 99. And like all that there was five director teams that were there. And Joe was like, Well, we’ve already done like things. So I’ll take Dave Matthews and, and Sheryl Crow, and you guys can have Red Hot Chili Peppers. And you know what I mean? It was like a thing. So, like the 10. But we had James Brown, we had, you know, like the, like, amount of just an amazing, amazing weekend that we had at that time. Because the other thing is, when we did MTV, it was like, we had, like, you know, 24 hours a day access wherever we want it to go. Because it was an MTV show, there was no pay per view special.
So we had Kennedy crawling into people’s tents at two o’clock in the morning, like to interview them, you know, and then in what in 99, when we’re doing the pay per view special, my friend Joe DeMaio, was doing the MTV special. They had MTV on like a little tiny corner of one of the stages with like, no access to anything. Because paper views now putting the bill and stuff. So we had we had a truck for each each main stage. But we also had a master control truck. So for those of you who don’t know, television, it’s like master control are the ones bringing in, you know, the lower thirds telling you who’s performing. They’re the ones that have all the producers in the truck that are you know, doing all these things. So it was like, in our truck in our so on the eastern West stage. All they had was like the director, the associate director, the technical director, who presses all the buttons, and the tape guy in the back, and maybe a video back. So literally, that’s it. So at one point, I remember Joe DeMaio comes in. And he’s talking to Joe and I. And he says, Where, where is everybody? We’re like, oh, they’re all in the master control truck. They’re like, well, like, what do you do it? Because basically, for us, it was just like doing 10 concerts. It was amazing. So they’re like, well, the producers like, aren’t they telling you stuff? They’re like, Oh, yeah, they came on and told us they’d like to see more booths. Like that was literally the whole but one note that we got the whole entire pay per view special that we did for MTV. I mean, for pay per view, not for MTV. So that was kind of very cool. You know, so we I was still getting to do some of the music but what you learn in, in a lot of television is music doesn’t get great ratings. A lot of people don’t do you know, it’s not it’s not the festivals. It’s not the, you know, music festivals where people are going to be in the audience. You know, usually if you’re directing a music festival, it’s, you’re directing screens, or you’re directing for a, you know, pay per view type special where people are going to pay, but a lot of like the music shows, even at MTV kind of went away because they were like, Oh, yeah, well after unplugged and after the thing, you know, was like they didn’t like do a lot. They’re like, Oh, it doesn’t really get the ratings, so we’re just not gonna do it. But what did get the ratings was reality. Hmm. So who would ever thought that there would come a time when MTV no longer really played music? You know, when MTV got kind of became a reality TV channel. Yeah, so it was weird because it was like MTV lost their brand. That was you know, they were Music Television and then they weren’t. So you know, I directed I directed you know, eight seasons of that metal show for VH one classic, which was phenomenal because that’s kind of my jam. I like heavy metal hard rock alternative. That’s Those are my people. You know, so I was like, what I got to do that show. So the first four seasons round California, and we go out to California and we do like, a season in a week. You know, we do two shows a day or whatever. And we do it with with Eddie and Don, and Jim. And we’d have all these amazing guests, because most, you know, rock stars, especially the heavy metal guys are, are out in LA.
You know, then we did the next ones. And we did them all up at metropolis, which is 106 and park. So we did that. And I, you know, we did the next bunch of seasons, and then they canceled that show. And it was like, it was very sad because that that show has like the built in audience. Like we had those same guys that were in that audience all the time. They were like, Oh, my God, I love that show. I’m gonna watch that show forever. Until it wasn’t a thing. I mean, Eddie still does all still do radio, they all still, you know, Eddie does a lot of radio, Jim and Jim and Don also do radio. And they’re also stand up comics. So you know, they, they still do their thing, but it was. So the the being freelance was phenomenal, because of the variety of the things that I would do. And that’s why I would say, the reason that after 30 years in the business, why a direct, but I still also assume associate direct and stage manager is because end stage manager is because I can do. They might not hire me to direct the Grammys. But guess what, I got to be a stage manager on the Grammys. So I still got to work on the show, you know what I mean? So it’s like the shows that you might not might not necessarily be directing, you still get to work on? Yeah. So it’s a very, very cool thing. And you find that the live multi camera world is very small. So you work with a lot of the same people over and over and over again. And there’s, you know, there there are those guys that you know that that stage manage that it’s it’s a tough nut to crack like they’re, they’re, they’re a team and they the same people have been working with them forever. And so I became like, the feeling girl like, oh, that guy’s working on another show. And he can’t do it. All right, let’s call Julian because they knew like, I can go in and job. But I’m not one of the regulars. You know, which is okay. I mean, they all do every year, they do the American Music Awards, and they do the CMT awards. And they do, you know, all the big huge award shows, and they’re all great, you know, and that, but that’s kind of their thing. And it’s like, I was like, oh, but so when I get to do it, it’s great. And it’s fun, and it’s but the variety, variety, that being freelance allows you is phenomenal, because you do so many different things. And you get like
you do to be working on the projects you want. Like with the metal show, you were talking right before that, that like music was on uncool and nobody didn’t want it to do music. And then you were like, but I really loved this one bit of music. So I worked on the show. So it was nice, yeah, that you were able to, like get that job and like, have the fun that you wanted. Because you have the freedom of freelancing.
Yeah, it’s, it’s, it definitely takes a while to get there. Yeah, because until you have the patience, and it is it’s consistency, it’s showing up. It’s all the things because if you don’t have the patience, this business will kill you, it will beat you down. It will, it will tell you that you’re not good enough that all these people are getting hired instead of you and you have to just you have to have the grit to stay in it. Because there are so many people that would be like, yeah, I’m just I’m gonna go become a real estate agent. And it is it’s hard. And you have to wait and get to a point where you know, and right before COVID I mean, I was what I’m out here doing now is I’m directing for the CrossFit Games. So we’re doing kind of the opening to their competition season and I worked for them for five years. And then they did away with their production and media department. And then all of a sudden, like a new CEO took over and it was like, Oh, yeah, the coverage kind of sucked last year if we we just told people to just cover it themselves. So now it’s like, you know, so it’s like, we’re trying to build that back up. But everything’s everything’s a process and everything takes time. And you have to be patient. Because there were there were times when it was like, who I haven’t like you were saying, you know, you get to pick and choose. Well, once you get to a certain point, maybe, but there was a lot of jobs that I took because I was like, oh, okay, well, I have a family of four. And we need a paycheck. Yeah, so this job might not be my favorite. But guess what, I’m going to do it because I’m not working this day on anything else. Yeah. So I’m going to do it because they’re going to send me a paycheck and it’s going to be great, and we have groceries and we can pay the bills. So that’s so so it is that I mean it takes you know, and I’m hoping that my kids kind of learn that that that life takes grit. It takes determination, it takes consistency takes showing up and I find The younger people right now, either their passion is so strong for something that they will stick with something. But with digital distractions now, in life, people are pretty darn lazy to do to stick with something, you know, they’re like, oh, give it a month in work. Guess we’ll find something else, you know, it’s like, it’s like, No, no, it’s not the way this works. Like, you have to stick with it. You have to have to have the grit to stay with it, because there’s so many things that that they either they won’t wait for you. Or, you know, having an 18 year old and a 16 year old kid right now they’re like, not on Snapchat. It’s not cool. And if it’s, you know, when it’s like, no, but, but there’s like, put, you need to put your phone away, because you have less than a year and a half left of school, like you have to this has to be your job right now. They don’t want to hear that. Well, you know,
I wonder if it’s because things move so quickly for them. Like, like, think about how, you know, we’re talking about the idea that over the, you know, over the seven or so years, you were working at MTV, the music thing that you were working on, lost its favor through the audience, and then they were like, ooh, maybe we shouldn’t do this anymore. And they made a decision, and it changed. Now that happens in like, a week. Now they’re like, yeah, we’ve put up three music shows, and no one’s watching it. So music no longer available on Facebook, you’re like, What do you mean? And, you know, so like, things are just a lot faster for them. Like, yeah, the world makes a decision. And it turns a TED like so quickly, in three seconds, though, like most famous band in the world could be like, the worst band in the world in like, two weeks.
So I think I think a lot of it is, is there’s no 15 minutes of fame anymore. Because everybody’s an internet sensation for a hot second. Well, yeah, you know, it is and it’s and it’s, it’s sad in a way, because you know what I mean? Like, we we made friends, and we, I rode my bike to my friend’s house when I was young. You know, now that’s like, not a thing, like kids are this.
Staring at their phones to talk to
each other kids. I was like, my six year old
doesn’t leave as
always, like, I was like, Hey, buddy, do friends. Like, you know, because it’s like, and it is he has friends. He’s talking to them online, but everything’s so everything’s driven by digital. That it’s, it’s and now you can’t even get well, I’m taking away your computer. You can’t take away his computer because he does school on his computer. You know, it’s like everything. It’s like, you try to limit their screen time. However, now they have to be on screen time eight times longer than they ever had to be on screen time before because now everything they do is on the screen. Yeah. So it’s hard. It’s almost like I mean, computers weren’t really a thing until I was in high school. I remember taking my first basic class, I believe when I was a junior in high school.
Yeah, I had my first email when I was a freshman in college, and that was 1996. And that was at a computer in the cappuccino bar. That everyone use the same one computer, right? And it was and there were 300 people in my class, but we all use the same one converter. Yeah. I don’t know though.
Like we didn’t have our own computers. Like I remember I literally remember pulling all nighters in college, like with the one typewriter like we all had to do the paper and we had the one typewriter with the little with the you know the thing that you’re sticking into to backspace and then the little whiteout tape like stuff that you know, there was no there was no like, you know, they didn’t even have the ones with the brush. Like it was literally like the little slip of paper that was like white on the one side that you’d have to like backspace and then hit that same key so that it would like white out the thing so that you could type it the right I was like, like Mike It was funny because my grandmother worked until she pretty much died. She ran a company in in on the Upper West Side that like Bill low or no income housing. And it was like everybody and she still worked on her typewriter. It was like she like computers were a thing and she wanted no part of it. She was like, Oh, no, I will just I she’s writing proposals for like grants and all these things like on a computer on a typewriter. Yeah, she want it Yeah. So there’s No, you know, I’ve had to do the thing with my mom. Like, because like, you know, it’s like, like husband and wife, they can’t like, She’s like, No daddy just yells at me. She’s like, Can you just call me and tell me how to do this? And I was like, sure. Yeah, apparently, I’m a little more patient.
I am married. So I understand what you mean.
It’s hard because you don’t the same way that my kids don’t listen to me. Yeah, you do. You’re like, yeah, you like tell somebody? Like, can you just tell him that this is going to screw him up? Like, maybe I’ll listen to you? I don’t know, because he’s certainly not listening. Well, you know, I
want I always think about kids is I try to think of who, myself when I was a kid. And I pretty much just wanted to do what I wanted to do. And I didn’t care what anybody else had to say. And I’m pretty sure that sort of lasted all the way through. I’ve maintained that as I continue. You know, this is an interesting idea, though, the idea of because one of the things that I found really most fascinating what the stories that you’ve told me so far is this idea of you going in and just like learning all the details, and like learning how to do all the different parts. And like, just that the idea of that is so great. And I appreciate that, because I feel like I came from that in the theater world as well, like I came up in was like, production interns and stage management interns. I did a bunch of work in stage management before I ever tried to be an assistant director. And then yeah, you know, and then got an internship as an assistant director, so it was like, I was trying to, you know, work my way up in that way. But I wonder, since you’re still working as a director in television, do you notice that the way that it works is different now like, for the kids that are coming up? We mentioned earlier, the idea that like, in an on a union show, you know, who does what is very specific, and you can’t do a job, that’s not your own job. So is, but that’s not every job. So but do you notice a difference in the way that work gets done? Or like the flow now that things are, you know, faster and online and also separate?
Um, I will say that technology is great. And it’s not great. You know, like, when I do a show, and then the fact that everything’s on frame, I, oh, you know what I mean? So it’s like, all of a sudden, they’ll be like, Oh, we have the rough draft here. And here’s all you need to do, you need to just go in the timeline. And when you want to do something, you just type in your notes. And you know what I mean? Whereas before, you’d have to go to the office, you’d have to sit with the editor, you’d have to have him show you the thing. So now it’s like, in a way things can happen that quickly. But does it take part of the creative out of it? Because you’re not? You’re not there to be like, Oh, wait, can you show me camera fi? Oh, wait, can you show me? You know what I mean? So it’s like, you kind of just relying a lot more on them. Like, Oh, well, what didn’t we do another? Take? Like, do we have a take where Cookie Monster clears the frame? Like? No, I mean, it’s like, but that’s the kind of thing and you’re just trying to go on memory, because you’re not sitting in the Edit room with that person. You know, it’s it’s, I remember working on certain certain shows, with, you know, my very first job as a first ad was a show I did for PBS. So was working with Angela Santa Mero, who is one of the creators of Blue’s Clues. And Michelle ban, who’s a very dear friend of mine, who was executive producing and directing that as well. And they almost didn’t hire me. Because they were like, oh, what have you first ad? They’ll be like, Well, nothing. But you know, like, or, or what have you made schedules before? No, like, we always had a production management department that did that. You know, so I knew it when I got that job that I had to frickin knock their socks off. So I literally came in and I had I had a deck of different colored, like index cards. And I literally mapped out their whole show on on Michelle and Angela’s wall of like, Okay, well, Pink’s gonna be all urgench things. And then this is and then there was a puppet and all the things that I had all the different things and we just mapped out the whole entire season on the wall. And then we’re like, oh, you know, we have that I was like, I was determined. And then the, so that wasn’t, that was more like, I was first a dean. But it was still like stage managing. Like it could still use my normal like stage managing things because it was like real humans and stuff. The first job when I was working on no strings, and when I went in, and I knew I was going to be the first ad and have to call a show from the floor. I literally had gone on Google or whatever and Like, things the first ad says, and I was just going to teach myself and it was like, Okay, last looks like literally like, I had no idea what I was doing whatsoever and and I like your life all the things. Yeah, because as a as a live multi camera director, we’re just counting 54321 go like you don’t say the one but you 5432 and then you point at them and they do their thing. Like, as far as you know, whatever you send makeup in, but you’re you’re doing this live to camera. So there’s no last looks, there’s no anything, it’s like, you get out of makeup chair, you go onto the set, and you do a show. Yeah, you know, I’m not making schedules, because we have a whole department in MTV that makes the schedules. You know, so it’s, it’s that kind of thing was so different. You know, it was like I ended up working. Like when I during my laid off time, I ended up working for some, like horror movie thing in like Hoboken, where we were shooting, that they hired me as like the first thing and I was like, I’d be there like making schedules. And I was like, No, how do you know, like, as the second ad or first whatever it was, and I was like, okay, and I don’t even think we ever got paid for you know, was one of those like, Oh, I was like, Okay, I’ll do it. Because I’m not doing anything else. So I might as well there’s a chance that I might get paid for this someday. So Well, whatever. But it was it was a lot of like, learn by fire. Yeah.
Are there a lot of situations in which the job like description is different. And based on who you’re working for, like, Are there things that or skills that people need to know, that might have like, at this place, it was this job, and at this place, it was this job, so you should learn your mind have to use it.
If like, I come from such a different thing, because I’m from a theatre background, I didn’t ever take a television class to I don’t know, but I would think like, what I would think like the same skills that you would use in news or anything live or live to take multi camera would be the same. If you’re a stage manager, you’re on the floor, if you’re an Associate Director, you’re in the control room, certain certain jobs are different, certain jobs are the stage manager on Sesame is more like a first ad. Because he’s, I mean, there’ll be a studio manager and Teresa will make the shooting schedule. But then Shawn, who is the stage manager is kind of the first ad so he’s the one calling the last looks, because if there’s a human, obviously, if there’s not a human, you get the puppet Wrangler to come in and fix if, you know, some furs out of place or whatever, but you know, or if they need to change out props or any of that. But it’s it’s it’s different based on what you do film is obviously very different film is you have your first ad, you have your second ad, and those are the people that are running the show, right? You have your director who will be interacting more with a talent than with the crew, your first ad is really your, your communication to the crew, and all that. So So the same thing, if you know that you want to more go into film, then that’s where you’re going to try to intern, you’re going to try to get your internship on, you know, a lawn order or or, you know, whatever. I don’t even know what else tapes in the city now. But you know, more of that kind of thing. Well, not much tapes in the city right now. But like Madison’s
lawn order, still taping?
Wow. I mean, I would not put you I think SBU still stills the thing. I think that’s the only one but, um,
they’ll already live together in a single house, I imagine.
Yeah. But as far as like, I think manifest still shoots in the city. Because I have a friend, a very good friend of mine who works on SNL, her husband is a prop guy. So he works, he works on manifest, he works out, you know, a couple of the comedies still shooting the city. But you know, the majority of that’s in LA too. So if you know you want to do film, or you want to do that kind of stuff, New York might not be the best place for you. You know, so it really depends on kind of which place you want to go to. Yeah, you know, there are some talk shows that are out in LA, though, there are some talks there. Most of the talk shows, I would say probably in New York, but there are some in LA as well. You know, so it kind of depends on what you want to go into. Like I was always kind of, I didn’t work on, you know, quote unquote, traditional shows, you know, I kind of grew up I did work on blues room, which was the puppet version of Blue’s Clues. And that’s where I learned like a lot of that stuff as far as teaching myself how to use movie magic scheduling software. You know what I mean? Like they use that there and I was like, Oh, and one, two. So when I started working on those puppet films, like I had to teach myself that like, I don’t know, they’re sending me lists of all the things that I have to then input into this, so that we know what puppets what props we need for each of these scenes and you know that it will automatically populate When we know and what puppeteers are coming in on what days and that kind of thing, so it’s a lot of it is you have to keep learning, because stuff does change, especially now that there’s so much more technology that you want to be in a situation and and you can’t be afraid to spend the money to learn, I actually bartered getting Mooji movie magic software, one of the jobs that I did with Michelle, I think we were doing Oh, we were doing a commercial for Keurig. And it was like it was with like, Jesse Garth, you know, and it was like, and it was in a little tiny thing. And I bartered and one of the girls on the in from the, in the production house was a student. So I was like, Look, you’re not paying me like pre pro day, so maybe she can get me movie magic software with her student discount. And we can quality that. So she did. And that’s how I got like my movie magic scheduling software was like through that job where they, they only like kind of had enough in the budget to pay me for the two or three days of work or whatever that I was going to be doing. But I was like, but that’s kind of you have to be like a little bit of genius in this business to like, you want to keep learning but the pay you might be making might only be paying the rent. So you kind of have to figure out a way or know when you’re a student like that’s when you should get this software because student discounts on that kind of stuff is pretty amazing.
By all software now guys
get them a lot of a lot of the things it’s it’s and you will get with a lot of those, you’ll get unlimited updates, you know, until you need a new Mac because you know that they’re you know, your Mac won’t take the fancy Mac fixer update that is going to happen because, you know, they change it just enough that it’s like oh, yeah, your RAM and swapper not
having it. But all the work that you do on Macs?
The work that I do is on Macs, but I don’t know, no. Okay, interesting. Um, it depends on what you’re doing. You know what I mean, it’s a bit like, they’re still using avid, they’re still using, you know, they are still using Final Cut Pro premiere for some things. But it’s even that, like the software changes, if you want to go into editing, start editing. Yeah, there’s enough ground, you know, edit, edit software that you can teach yourself enough. I don’t care if you’re working on iMovie, you can teach yourself enough of the things so that if you go and do an internship with an editor, you will have that much more knowledge when you go in, and then you just kind of absorb things like a sponge. Yeah. But and even like, it’s like, what are you interested in, there’s so many things, and it’s really hard to ask an 18 year old what they want to do for the rest of their life.
It’s also really hard because like, the way that I’m hearing you describe the path that you need to like focus on is it’s like, you need to pick the lane of television or film that you want to go into. And then just like drive yourself deep into that culture until somebody goes, Hey, have you been around for a while, like, as opposed to being like, like, with me, I did a little bit of theater stuff in New York, and they did a little bit of theater stuff at you know, a regionally you know, in the in other states. And then, and then I did a little bit of short film stuff. And it was just like I did such a random smattering that I never got, like, pulled up into any one of them. And I was always like, trying to just find my way. And you know, I found my way, but at the same time, like, yeah, if I had been like, got this job sticking with it, like there’s just one like, there’s, I’m sure we all have like a job where like you think man, if I had gotten that one, my whole life would
be Oh, yeah. The whole trajectory?
Yeah, if I had gotten that one job.
But then again, like if I didn’t have the theater background, I have worked for the NBA All Star week for this year would have been 12 years. And I’m not saying I did work for this band. This year, I directed the Canadian national anthem in Brooklyn. Great. And it was great. And it was fun. And it was a film shoot. And it was another one of those things where I’m like, I’m directing this thing here. Let’s do it. You know, and I had, but again, it was like, fake it till you make it like you have to, you know, I know. I know enough about directing. Do I know enough about necessarily the lenses and all that stuff? No, but that’s why I had the lovely gentlemen Alex, who is the DP on this shoot, and he will then I’ll tell him what I want it to look like and he will make that happen. You know, but I’ve been the reason that NBA All Star hired me was because they knew that I could show call. The reason I can show call is because I staged Managing theater for years. Yeah. So I’ve been the entertainment show caller for NBA All Star week for 11 years, which means I sit at the scorer’s table with all the gentlemen in their suits. And Dana and Abby were like the only females in this whole entire thing. And I sit there. So the beginning of NBA All Star game, it’s like they do a musical performance on a big stage. And I’m calling the house lights, I’m calling the music, I’m calling the lifts, I’m calling the, all the changes that happen on things. So I’m talking to the corporate tourism, okay. And go, um, I’m having them literally as soon as that that the buzzer goes off for the halftime, they are rolling out gigantic things onto the onto the center court. because somebody’s got something’s gonna happen out there. You know what I mean? So it’s like, so as far as before, the things that we do the pre show all the way through the anthems. And then we do the halftime show, that has grown into Hey, let’s do some stuff for all star Saturday night. Hey, let’s do some stuff before the rookie game on Friday, you know, so that’s that now become like, when it’s not COVID a huge thing. You know, but but the only reason that I got that job was because I have a background in theater. You know what I mean? So it’s like, learn whatever you can learn wherever you can use it, because you never know when you’re going to need those skills. Yeah. Because now I like even the show that I like, I direct that Gala. I direct that Gala. Because I have those stage like directing a gala. Is stage managing a theater show, basically, you know what I mean? It’s like, I have one camera. So I’m certainly not directing cameras, that cameras just kind of the the getting all the information, you know, for their for their? For dkms. It’s not for broadcast anywhere. Yeah. You know, this is their biggest fundraiser of the year. So I’m calling the tapes and the you know, the things and so is some of that from television, sure, I know how to call a show for being a director in television. However, a lot of my skills as a calling audio and house lights, and all that kind of stuff is from theater. Oh, man,
such good advice, like such good. I feel like everything that we’ve talked about has been just like a really, you know, for people who might want to get into television or film, like, it’s just a lot of good stuff to think about when it comes to like, okay, because right now, the The good thing about COVID shutdown is that a lot of people have a little bit of extra time to think about, like, what they really want, you know, sometimes in the, in the fast paced world of going to your job and, and making the decision on the fly, you’re making decisions that maybe aren’t the best ones. But if now, there’s been a lot of people who’ve had a long time to think about what they want to do. And it’s like, if you want to get involved in it, number one, it’s coming back, don’t worry, it’s happening eventually. And then, like, these are the things that you should start teaching yourself. And I think that that’s, it’s just a really great advice for people who are trying to get into it, like all the different kinds of skills that you want to think about finding out how to do try it this way. So you can’t get involved in the TV internship right now. Because you know, there aren’t a lot of them. You could be stage managing for theater, and then you learn that part. So that’s really, that’s really great advice. I appreciate that. Your this has been a really great conversation for sure. So the last thing I want to talk to you about Thank you so much, by the way for being on the podcast that has been so great. The last thing I want to ask you about is about you and you know, what’s the thing that’s like exciting you and right now we’ve talked we talked earlier about you know how COVID is shut down. And you know, there was a big long time when you weren’t working and, and but you’ve stayed into it, you’re still excited, you still want to do this job. Like what is it that’s exciting you What is it that’s like keeping you engaged, and creatively excited that like is moving you forward and, and making you Okay,
it’s so funny because I think the year of 2020 has been the year of reinvention, like a very, you know, we talked about who I was, I don’t know what’s happening, we’re all going to die. We’re not going to die. We’re you know what I mean? It’s been the, you know, so I ended up I ended up starting health and fitness coaching while I was doing that, but I mean, a lot of the stuff I do, I’m a former Iron Man, I’m a former, you know, a sporting trifecta, or you know what I mean? It’s like, I like doing different things always in my life. That’s what fuels my fire. So it’s, it’s, it’s the different people that you work with. It’s the variety of what you do. It’s the different you know, because in a normal year, okay, I’m doing CrossFit it I’m doing Normally, I used to direct New Year’s Time Square. So for three years, I directed the ball drop at all. things and some performances for Univision and Fox and all those things that was amazing. And then it’ll be like, okay, in February, I know, presidents week, I’m going to be out somewhere with NBA. And then usually like, right after that was done, then I would do like three to four to five weeks of CrossFit, then you know, so it’d be like, I kind of have my year mapped out for all the cool different things and like, in between that, I’d be like, oh, and I’m gonna coach some people to try to make them better. And part of that is, is you want to learn everyday you want to learn, you want to serve, you want to grow every single day. So you want to serve as many people as you can, doing what you love to do. Because that’s, that’s what makes you grow as a person. So the more that you grow as a person, the more that the more people that you want to help. So it’s, it’s I, one of the girls I work with, actually, during NBA all star, she started working a couple of years for them. And she was like, I remember, when I came in as a high school student, while you were stage managed to get MTV, and you told me to do as many internships as I could, like, this isn’t new information, this is information, I will tell. And I will shout it from the rooftops like, this is how you get in places like people want to hire from within. So if you do a good job, and you knock their socks off as an intern, they want you to work for them. They would much rather have you work for them, than have somebody from the outside that they don’t know that they’re going to spend that first three, four months being like, is this a good decision or not? whereas they already know you? You know, so sometimes you have to go in and be like, Look, I will work for you for free, and work my ass off because I know I am the right fit for this place. You know, it’s it’s, that’s what’s going to drive you. And I think the variety and the end, just in this business, and that my business, like I said is pretty small. The people that you work with and the personalities and the I came out to California and my team is out here. And it’s it’s we are a family. And I haven’t worked with these people for since 2018. And I came back this year while I worked with some of them last year, but I came back and it’s like nothing’s changed. You know, it’s like, we’re still the same smart alkie crew we once were. And but it’s also they know me, they know how I work. I know how they work, I know they’re going to get me what I need. So it makes it very fluid. So that’s the thing, it’s like, find what you love to do. Like it, do it because you love it. And and because that’s what’s going to carry you forward and learn as much as you can about your craft. The only way to do what you want to do is to do what 95% of the people are not willing to do you want to be in that top 5% you have to be willing to do what the other 95% of the people aren’t going to do. And what’s going to get you their longevity. If you’re going to stay in the game longer than all those other people are willing to. You’re going to make it get you can become a master at it. Because you’re you put in the time and you put in the work and you didn’t give up when everybody else did. Yeah. Man, that’s
so key. I feel like that’s like, right now, with COVID happening. And theaters closing and films not happening. And just like everything shutting down there are a lot of people that are quitting. There are a lot of people like you said becoming real estate agents. Real Estate still selling by the way. Yes. But like, but like
I hope and I don’t even have to hope it When we returned to like full time working. The only people left are gonna be the people who love it. Like the only people who didn’t decide to you know, become a gardener or like or like go move to Cambodia like they’re going to be in it and have been waiting, you know, like cuz like my husband and I run a company that books AV lay labor for events. Clearly not a big moneymaker in the last year. Right. But was for a while. Now. are we holding out on that? Yeah, we are.
Oh, yeah. You’re, you’re chomping at the bit because guess what, when those festivals come back, you’re gonna be like, Oh, yeah, we’re good. Yeah,
we got it.
Yeah, and then you can hire me as a director because that’s my that is my dream. I just want to travel around with like, the music, the music festival circuit, and like, just just just do the big screens at there. Like that’s like my dream job that and doing voiceovers. Like I was like, Oh, yeah, I totally want to do voiceovers. Like I want to work from my pajamas at home, which kind of came became a reality last year so I’m kind of second guessing working from home is one I was like, You know what, I’ll come into your studio and do voice so I
was like they’ve really nice audio studios. I’ve done a jumble of radio commercials I like standing in those booths, and you’re alone. So it’s not like you’re like sharing germs, right? No,
I know I got and I do love that. And it’s funny because I do like even the corporate job that I just did in January, February. They’re they’re like, Oh, they want a voice of God. I was like, Oh, yeah, I do that. So they did they like got a boy. They got a mic and I was like, Now presenting, you know what it was like, Oh, you know, for the dkms gala that I do. It’s like I do the voiceovers for that just because I was like, I had something that I really enjoyed to do. And I was like, Oh, I can put that on my reel now. That’s great. Yay again.
Oh my god. Julie, thank you so much for being on the podcast and sharing your stories. It has been such a great conversation and so chock full of good information for people who might be interested in getting into television. Thank
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