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I spend a lot of time talking about developing your skills, learning the talents that are of value to the industry and Cross Training yourself to perform in different production opportunities. Those are all critical to know but difficult to learn.

I say, difficult to learn, not because you don’t have the aptitude to learn them but because most traditional teaching only focus on single basic skills and expect you learn the rest on the job. Leaving you with the question, “How do you get the job if you don’t have the skills the industry needs and is willing to pay for?” “Who do I ask what those skills are and where I should go to learn them?”

The world is evolving faster then ever before. Technological break throughs are almost obsolete even before they take hold. Following these new tech break throughs come highly motivated creatives who find new ways to use this tech.  That combination, tech breakthroughs and motivated creatives, yields new exciting content and creates new opportunities for people willing to embrace the new tech. It’s a cycle has been going on since people first started entertaining each other.

For those of you who are already in the cycle you may sometimes feel like your job or careers are being threatened. For those of you trying to get in, you probably find yourself asking the same questions over and over, “What skills do I need to learn to make myself valuable to the industry and who’s answer should I trust?”

The answer to both these questions isn’t obvious and it isn’t just about learning a practical skill or skills. Well… that isn’t the first think you need to focus on. The first thing you need to focus on is adjusting your traditional understanding of how new skills are acquired. 

In the last dozen decades we have been taught that in order to learn something new you need take a course, read books, watch videos, or any other media that will walk you through what you need to know. Those are all good solid proven methods but impractical in the fast-paced evolution of our current industries and rarely do they cover the depth of understanding you will need.

By the time you find the qualified information presented in a traditional “course” it will be eighty percent obsolete. Most of the people on the cutting edge of new tech have no interest or time to stop and write a course, much less teach a course. Most of them are still figuring it out themselves and trying to keep up with the flood of tech and information coming at them everyday.

With no disrespect to professors and institutes who claim to have courses taught by industry professionals, it’s kind of hard to be working full time in an industry that is changing at lighting speed while simultaneously writing curriculums that can keep up with the changes and then have those curriculums go through endless levels of signoffs. Changes that haven’t even been fully developed or accepted as practical by the industry at large.

You can default to You Tube and maybe find pertinent information that will answer “a” question but that assumes you know what questions you to ask. Then you always run the risk of, “does this person posting on YT know what the hell they are saying?”

Remember all you need to post on YT is access to the internet and no one is vetting the value of the content. So, there’s that!! Hahaha

What I’ve outlined so far is about learning and mastering one practical skill of value.  Now here is the secret most overlook.

In order to stay relevant and of value to the industry you need to have SEVERAL skills of value!

Think Navy Seal training verse a foot soldier. Both have value but who will get called on for several different and diverse missions. 

I have “mad respected” for all who serve and I thank you for our service. 

I was am just illustrating the point of Cross Training at the highest level. 

Here are a couple of real-life examples of top-level success stories who have been practicing Cross Training their entire successful careers.

My son, Frank Scacciaferro, is one of the live stage and sport’s broadcast industries first call specialty camera operators. He started out shooting traditional broadcast sporting and live events both off his shoulder and on pedestals.  He then moved to jibs also known as crane cameras. That led him to the Jita cameras and high end robo cameras. Cool uh?

There is a lot of behind how Frank learned those skills, which he reveals in an interview on FerroCity TV. But for now, let’s focus on his Cross Training.

Yes, to shoot with each of those cameras rigs you need variations of traditional camera skills but there is more to know if you’re going to rise through the ranks and stay relevant.  Most good operators, who sit atop the first call list, know how to build those cameras from a pile of components in road cases to a fully operational high tech piece of gear. Then they have to change their headspace and become highly skilled operators.

Here’s where Cross Training comes in. Frank first needed to learn solid camera chops; composing, framing, focusing, aperture, iris setting, etc. Then needed to develop skills that allowed him to take those camera skills and operate the cameras remotely while swinging an eighteen-foot jib arm around. Eventually those skills led him to operating remote cameras set hundreds of yards away.

All of those “new” skills where still based around operating a camera. The real Cross Training came from knowing how to set up and build those camera rigs. Like I said you have to be able to take hundreds of mechanical and electrical pieces out of road cases and assemble them into a complex functioning system. Oh! And you better know how to troubleshoot that system if something goes wrong and SOMETHING always goes wrong. Hahaha

Another perfect example of a Cross Trained professional is, Dave Rosenthal.  Dave and I have been friends and worked together most of my career.  For years Dave has been the Music Director and keyboard player for the Billy Joel. Prior to that he played for several world class touring acts. He has orchestration credits on Broadway, written and performed music for the Hulu network, lectured at dozens prestigious universities, his accomplishments go on and on.  Needless to say, “he’s the man”. 

But his successes didn’t just rely on his musical chops, which are monstrous. 

It’s his mastering of multiple other skills. Skills that he continues to evolve every day in respond to ever changing technology. He is a wizard at searching out and applying new tech into his creative portfolio. His mastery of programming and understanding of synthesizer technology from the Mini Moog to today’s digital sound modeling is legendary. In his cutting edge studio he applies his accomplished engineer and producer skills. The thing that has always blown me away with Dave, in comparison to the hundreds of other accomplished players I’ve worked with, is his comprehension of what’s going on under the hood of all his gear.

Yes, Dave is a close friend and Frank is my son but that’s not why I’m sharing their backgrounds.  The last thing they need is a call out in my Ferro City blog.  LOL.

The reason I’m sharing both Frank and Dave’s backstory is because I’ve seen first-hand their evolution and dedication to growing a diverse set of skills to keep them on top of their game, relevant and ahead of the pack.

I can list hundreds of examples of other successful folks that have purposefully and instinctively Cross Trained themselves to the top.  I can also list hundreds more who didn’t diversify their skills and are now either becoming obsolete or out of the biz altogether.

I hate when people point out problems and never offer solutions. I could very easily just leave it at, “so go get Cross Trained”. How stupid and irresponsible would that be?

I could tell you, you need to intern or apprentice with smart people willing to share their wisdom. Cool… where and how?

I could also leave you to find out there is no place where Cross Training is taught or even recognized as a critical value in places of traditional learning.  

I could … but never would. 

Having tracked and identified what keeps people at the top of their game is why I’ve spent the last ten years developing and collaborating on the establishment of Ferro City.  As of this writing we have released only a small portion of what we will be offering for all facets of the entertainment production industries. From live stage to broadcast to recording studios to virtual production. Over the next few months we will wipe out obsolete careers and empower the next generation of individual production creatives.

This isn’t a sales pitch. It’s just a reality. I have accomplished the dreams I set out to accomplish, as have many of my very successful friends. It’s now time for us to share what we’ve learned with those of you who are still grasping at theirs or trying to “reinvent” yourself to stay relevant.

Join now. Don’t join now. Join later. Don’t join at all. It’s all up to you and how serious you are about putting in the work and meeting the right teachers and contacts.

I am truly excited about all the tech coming at us and all the new creatives that will put this tech to use. I believe the next twenty years will be exploding with thousands of new opportunities and Cross Trained folks will be, as they already are, at the front of the pack.

Fast track your entertainment production career