First-Ever Podcast Interview with V.O. Artist, Dan Hankiewicz

 


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My first podcast recording was released on October 6th, 2020, hosted by voice-over artist, Dan Hankiewicz, where we talk about my video production career.

Hankiewicz has a history of voice-over work for a client we share, and has always done an exceptional job with his recordings, and lightning-quick turnaround times.

In this podcast, I share a brief history of my work at local news station ABC 10News, transitioning to freelance work full-time, and what the future may hold.

Listen to the full podcast here, and subscribe to Dan’s channel for talks with creative professionals in the voice-over community.

 

Script from Interview

[00:00:00] You’re hearing Voices, a podcast for the voice over community, both of you. Here’s your host, Dan Hangouts.

[00:00:10] Well, hello, my friends, welcome once again to, ‘Your Hearing Voices,’ a podcast for all my friends in the voiceover community. It’s so good to have you with us. My name is Dan Hankiewicz. I am a voice actor based in Springfield, Illinois, the capital of the state of Illinois, the land of Lincoln. And this week, we have with us Mr. Kevin Beckman. And we’re continuing in our series of video production. We had a fine chat last week with Mr. Devin Winter from Minneapolis. And Kevin is also in the same business. Let me give a brief bio of Kevin and then we can get right into it. Kevin is a video operations professional based in sunny San Marcos, California, which I believe is in the greater San Diego area, but if I’m wrong about my geography Kevin will correct me. He has experience in network television, having worked for ABC and ESPN affiliates. Kevin’s areas of expertise include automated production systems, content delivery networks, certified drone operation, and if he’s crashed a few, we’re going to talk about that, believe me-we’re going to get to that, computer editing software, media assist management, multi-camera, directing, amongst many others. And he has very impressive video gallery on his LinkedIn page and on his website. Kevin Beckman dot com. Kevin Beckman, dot com is his website. Kevin, good afternoon, sir. Welcome to the podcast.

[00:01:44] Hi, Dan, and everyone watching. Thanks for the amazing intro. I’m going to have to go back and transcribe that and put it in my LinkedIn bio, now.

[00:01:53] I get you know, I’ve got to be honest with you. I get I get plaudits from my intros, but I got to work on my outros because I’m terrible at saying goodbye. I never quite know how to end the podcast. I’ll get to that. I’ll work on that anyway. Kevin, I read a little bit of your bio, and as I say, we’re kind of continuing on this theme of videography and video production. Give us a sense of your background. Where did this all start for you? How did you get interested in video production and videography?

[00:02:28] That’s a great question. I started really getting interested when I was in high school. My dad, he had a camcorder laying around and I actually got into videography through skateboarding. And so I had some friends around the neighborhood and, you know, around the city that we would go out and make videos for sponsorship or for skate shops. And so from there, I kind of evolved into going to school at the Art Institute in Los Angeles. And I was there for two years. I got my associates degree there. It was very fast tracked. I funny enough, I’m actually going back to school right now over a decade later, and most of my, if not all of my credits don’t transfer over. So I’m starting from scratch. Just to give you an idea of how specialized the classes were, very much focused on production. From there, I’ve worked on a couple of TV shows that and obviously the news directing at ABC 10 here in San Diego right now. I’m a video production specialist at ESPN three. That’s for UCSD, their broadcast. Unfortunately, we’ve been furloughed since Koronis struck, but we’re actually starting to get back into the swing of things this month. So that’s been good. But other than that, I kind of just do a video for a multitude of people. And actually we have a commonality with a company. We do some work with you, help with voiceovers, and I do video production work for them as well. So that’s kind of how we met. But I also do YouTube videos for fun. I like to make the toys for people if they’re having difficulty. And I’m usually the guy people reach out to amongst my friends if they have a question about, you know, video or camera or editing. So that’s kind of a little bit of a glimpse into what I do.

[00:04:24] And Kevin, I have to apologize in the in the podcast intros and outros that we’ve worked on together. I hope I haven’t blown off your eardrums because the client we work for loves those high energy reads. And I, I hope that you’re hearing is intact. Is it is it doing OK? [00:04:39] You know, sometimes I have to bring it down maybe 60 or so everything else up to that level.

[00:04:45] But, you know, it’s a great starting point and I’d rather be a little louder than a little too quiet because then, you know, the noise floor, as you start to do stuff, it gets a little noisy. So I think you have a great signal to noise ratio, and I love it. I don’t really don’t have to do anything to I don’t have compression ECU. It’s it sounds great. Right off of what you guys what you give us. So it’s good.

[00:05:09] I thank you for that and I hope that we haven’t. I hope that we haven’t redefined clipping in the knee or clipping or distortion in the audio production universe. And anyway, it’s been a lot of fun working with you and Craig, and I hope we can continue that for a long, long time. Let’s talk about your work for ABC and ESPN. You mentioned that. What is it about the news business that, oh, folks listening might not know about? I mean, we we kind of have the stereotypical Ron Burgundy anchorman stereotype opinion about the news business, but kind of take us behind the scenes what what goes on on the set behind the scenes that we might not know about or otherwise think about?

[00:05:56] It’s very interesting because I think coming from the actual production side, you may see the anchors kind of stiff or presenting themselves in a certain way. But once they go to commercial break, they’re just they’re normal people. They’ll crack jokes. [00:06:13] They’re looking on their phones, looking, you know, on Instagram or whatever. They’re just normal people. And I think once you get to see that side of them, I know at first I was a little intimidated, like, oh, my gosh, this person’s on TV and this person’s famous. And you do see a lot of people that are pretty well known. But I think you learn to get used to that environment. So kind of the I guess the starstruck ness of it goes away. These are obviously movie actors like Tom Cruise or somebody like that, but they are reputable people. As far as the production side, I think it’s a lot more produced than people may realize. There is probably four or five producers working at once with an executive producer on one half hour block, basically. And what you may not know as a viewer is that content is actually effectively recycled. So you’re watching the same half hour show five times. They may add things as breaking news comes up, maybe tweak the stories a little bit. But for the most part, just because there’s so much that goes into creating a show as far as graphics, videos, animations, titles, video, you know, there’s a lot of packages that people make. And most of those are video compilations that have a voiceover track. [00:07:35] And those are usually done maybe the day before and they rebroadcast them as if they’re alive. Know. So everything you see on TV is actually live either. I think a lot of people have a misunderstanding that everything’s alive. But coming from working in the news, I actually have found an appreciation for organization. What they use is a new system called eNews, and it’s a rundown and almost like a script that has direction for the camera operator, has direction for when you want different sounds or graphics. Everything you see on screen is within that rundown. And the producers are looking at it. The tower is looking at it. So if, say, if you were to get a script from Craig, for example, it’s very, very small amount of text. But that one paragraph would just be one line of probably hundreds of lines of information within a rundown. And so that’s the reason why the show is recycled so much, because you can’t create a whole new show every half hour or hour. And that’s why the news is only usually a couple of times a day, because it does take a lot of energy to create that. But beyond that, I mean, I really had a lot of fun there. [00:08:48] I would like to get back into that later in my career, but I kind of took some time off to go back to school, work on my freelance work and switch what I’m doing right now. And I’m really happy I did that because I’ve had so many opportunities to network and grow my client base by doing that. As you know, when you have a full time job, you don’t have that freedom.

[00:09:09] I want to talk about your freelancing endeavors. I really do enjoy talking to freelancers in other fields or fields related to voiceover, but I want to ask a general videography video production question. Do you sort of see your role, Kevin, is more technical or more artistic? I know that’s an overly broad question, but which way do you kind of lean when you sort of look at yourself and what you bring to bear when you work with a client? Which which way does the needle move for you?

[00:09:42] I think my artistic stuff is definitely funneled through my YouTube and my blogging and things of that nature. But when it comes to working with a client, it’s very much technical and it’s not as technical as it is, I think really producing something from little information that you’re usually given. So I’ve worked with a lot of clients and. They’ll tell me this is kind of what I want, but when they see the final product they use are like, OK, I wanted it to look this way. So there’s obviously revisions and changes that you make, but I think you’re more producing. And I’ve learned that later in my career because a lot of times coming from skateboarding, there’s no narration to that. There’s no structure. It’s just clips of people on a skateboard doing tricks with music. But when you’re getting into maybe a corporate video or something educational, there is a structure and kind of the ebb and flow to it. And you have to be able to work with your talent. A lot of times these people that you work with, that you’re given, they’re not television actors, they’re just common people. And so you have to be able to direct them without getting too frustrated with maybe their level of professionalism, taking that, capturing that media and then going back and editing it. And so as I’ve gotten older, I’ve kind of learned the value of just recording and doing things right the first time. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the saying fix it in post. I don’t I do not believe that because especially in the videography world sound you can I feel like you can tweak a little bit, but if you’re you’re lighting on your cameras that if it’s black, if there’s no picture, you can’t go back and do that. You have to reshoot. I can you sound a little bit more. I feel the video sometimes, but I think you have to get the product right in the camera or in the recorder, whatever system you’re using, because you don’t want to be adding hours and editing later down the line.

[00:11:49] So let’s talk about how you got into freelancing. Was that out of necessity or was that obviously it was a conscious choice. You chose that career path, but sort of tell us how that came about and how you’ve responded to life as a freelancer. Is it treating you well? Is it what you expected? Give us a sense of how that’s going.

[00:12:10] That’s a great question. I would say it kind of fell into my lap, to be honest. And I think I maybe I was doing it before I called it freelancing. I have friends and family. They request me to make videos for them. A lot of times right out of college. You’re just doing it for free, obviously. But then you have people that are willing to pay you and hire you. I started really getting serious about, I’d say, about four years ago when I moved here to San Diego. I’m originally from L.A. County area. And so I was at the time, it was my first time venturing out of my parents’ house. And so I had to figure out a way of living for myself. And so doing the freelance work, I was able to have a steady income while still doing what I loved. And I think that’s what I enjoy about freelance work, is I can kind of pick and choose what I want to do with a full time career. Say you’re probably going to be locked in there five, 10, 15, 20 years. And I do know a lot of people that kind of get bored with their job. And I think I have the personality where I like to be more creative and expressive, just being an artist and have that, I guess, artistic creativity exemplified in what I do. [00:13:24] So I think that’s why I chose freelance. And I would say it’s not as easy as people think it would be. I would recommend people that are working currently and do have a full time salary, maybe start doing freelancing on the side, maybe do maybe twenty five percent of your income as freelance and then start to taper off from your full time work or however that may look, you know, maybe you’re working on weekends doing what you love those passion projects and then you can grow your clientele, understand the business side, because usually as a solo career, you’re doing the invoicing, you’re doing the advertising, you’re making sure you’re taking care of licensing. All of this stuff needs to be taken care of. And those are things that are aside from the actual part of work where it’s enjoyable. So right now for you, that’s surprisingly is actually been really good, even though it’s happening. I’ve been doing a lot of work from home. I think people kind of grasp this remote work side of things, which I love because I don’t have to travel as much. I don’t have to travel to L.A., I don’t have to travel to Chicago, I don’t have to travel to New Orleans. We’re doing our events virtually. And I think that’s a beautiful thing for someone in my field, at least while being in Southern California.

[00:14:42] Kevin and I’m an Illinois native and I’ve never lived anywhere else. But from what I know of your area, just traveling two blocks away in normal circumstances might take an hour and a half. So that’s that’s a good thing. Yes.

[00:14:54] Yeah. No traffic. Surprisingly so. I’ve come from L.A. and they have the 405 freeway and people would call it the four or five hour freeway. Traffic is a nightmare in L.A. Orange County, it’s a little less. But surprisingly, in San Diego, things are really spaced out, so I live in the northern part of the county and I would say probably half of the actual counties in the northern part of it, the proper San Diego is not as dense as it is. I guess population wise, it’s the northern part. So it’s not that bad as far as driving. [00:15:30] Give us a sense of the marketplace and or your ideal clients. Are you are you constrained by geography or do you do work with local businesses? If if a let’s say, a body shop owner in New Jersey wants you to do a video project for a YouTube video, do you do that kind of thing? Who are your ideal clients?

[00:15:51] Kevin, I think ideal clients would definitely be local just because I like having a little more control of the production process, if especially if that’s what people are seeing as images. It’s different from just doing straight audio production. I think you can do that with a lot less money. Just having you know, I have Chira that I own, that I use for recording stuff.

[00:16:16] And if I were to do a commercial, like for a body shop, I’d like to be able to go and record that media myself as opposed to maybe subcontract someone and hoping they get the material right. [00:16:28] But I do have an ad agency that works with me called, ‘Creative Circle,’ and they’re nationwide. They’re actually a great resource. They’ve got me a couple jobs and making a lot of money, actually. And so if you are able to find either, you know, I don’t know if you see a head hunter is the right term, but definitely find someone that has a broader network than what you are limited to locally. [00:16:54] And that may be a YouTube community, a Facebook community, even LinkedIn is a great resource for that. [00:17:02] But clients that I’ve worked with honestly have mostly been people I know and they just refer me to other people. And so I think having good relationships with your existing clients is probably the best way to do it. Word of mouth and make sure you’re giving them a great product. Don’t overcharge them, but also under deliver. So that kind of would be my advice for that.

[00:17:24] I absolutely agree. Referrals are the best way to get business. But outside of that, do you have a preferred marketing strategy? Do you do cold emails, postcards, notes on windshields, anything? [00:17:39] What what is your preferred method of marketing outside of referrals?

[00:17:45] So if I were to pursue that, which is right now, since I’m going to school and I have kind of a lot on my plate, I don’t necessarily do that. But if I were to do that, I would approach it in a very visual way. Sometimes I’ll make fun projects for myself and I’ll tag, you know, for example, there’s a farmer’s market locally here that they just started doing over the summer. [00:18:07] And with my journal and speaking about a drone, which this one I, I’ve only crashed the one I own once, but it wasn’t that bad, actually, unfortunately crashed somebody else’s drone, the end up breaking. But that’s kind of my history of flying drones. That was before I got certified, by the way. But I made a project for my Instagram and I just posted it. I tagged the Chamber of Commerce and the actual farmers market. [00:18:34] And oddly enough, I had the person from the Change Chamber of Commerce that runs the whole event. Contact me and can I use your video. And so that’s kind of a starting point with conversation. I actually was like she was like, do you want to meet up? And we should meet up some time. Unfortunately, I never follow through with that. I probably should have. And I still have opportunity to do that because it wasn’t that long ago. [00:18:57] But I just little things like that, you know, maybe you go to a networking event and you find something really interesting. I go to Nationwide. My favorite place to go is called NEPI. [00:19:09] You’re probably aware of it. It’s in Las Vegas and it’s a huge convention. [00:19:14] I think the biggest convention for broadcasting and it has all the convention halls filled with video equipment, audio equipment, television equipment, radio equipment, software, anything you can imagine, movie equipment. And I actually sometimes go out and record the products that are coming out, you know, getting information from these vendors and then posting to my YouTube. And that’s how I kind of drive, I guess, an audience to what I’m doing. I haven’t as much as kind of what you’re saying, taking that audience and converted it to marketing. [00:19:52] And that may just because I don’t necessarily have that demand right now. But I would say for visual people, look at Instagram, look at YouTube, as far as I’m trying to think about for more your purposes, Dad, I know you don’t do a video podcast, but maybe in the. Future consider doing that. [00:20:10] I think you would get a lot of traction because YouTube is actually the second largest search engine, and if you’re able to get some keywords and create a video with the right content, you can actually start to attract more people to you. [00:20:25] And maybe they’ll be like, oh, wow, this guy’s voice is amazing. Let’s hire him. And so I would say maybe look at YouTube for people that are interested in getting their name out, sharing that to different social networks, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. But, yeah, that’s kind of the gist of what I would answer that.

[00:20:43] Kevin, let me ask you what what is the biggest non videography video production challenge that you face as a freelancer? For me, it’s it’s marketing and getting new clients. I think that’s the universal challenge for all freelancers. But what would you say is the biggest sort of non-technical challenge that you face day to day?

[00:21:04] I have a recent project, actually, and it was for that tech company. Am I going to give their name away? But literally, it took almost a month just in legalities to get the project from, hey, you’re hired to. [00:21:20] Ok, let’s actually start shooting with the amount of internal disclosures, whatever legal things they need to do. And then as we were going with the project, I couldn’t tell you how many times we had to make revisions and they had to submit it to their legal department. [00:21:37] And then we ended up doing a whole complete reshoot and pretty much a whole new video as a result. But I do know companies that are maybe startups or even bigger companies, companies like Johnson and Johnson or, you know, they want to see the material before it goes out. And unfortunately, sometimes I work under tight deadlines and it’s really hard to facilitate that actual media getting to the client to review and then before it’s being posted. [00:22:08] So I would say I don’t know if there’s a way to expedite that process because there is some slowness to getting things, I guess, ironed out and given the final. [00:22:20] Ok, so I think the legal stuff is the biggest challenge that I faced.

[00:22:25] One question I always like to ask fellow freelancers, and admittedly, it’s kind of an esoteric question and maybe just just kind of plain goofy. But whenever you’re in an artistic field, you have certain things that you’re good at and certain things that, well, maybe you’re not so good at or you could be good at if you were to expand your skill set. The question is, do you stay within what you are good at? Do you stay with your sort of bread and butter or do you go outside of that to kind of chase after trends and chase after what’s hot? What’s kind of been your guiding philosophy where that where that decision is concerned?

[00:23:06] Kevin, the I think the first thing that comes to mind is I would say stick 90 percent with what you know is going to work and then maybe take that 10 percent of your energy, your time or resources and devote that to experimenting maybe and trying to I don’t know if following the trend is the right verbiage, but maybe exploring different options or different ways of doing things. And you know that 10 percent of time or 10 percent of your resources that you use, I think you can get away with it failing. But if you’re putting all of your energy into something that is really unknown, I think that would be problematic. So I would say, you know, if you’re comfortable doing what you’re doing, that’s great. But maybe try to do something to push yourself. Maybe that’s taken an online course, maybe that’s studied, I don’t know, something like that.

[00:24:02] What is the most technically difficult thing that you had to undertake and that you eventually ended up mastering? And that gave you a sense of satisfaction? Because I know nothing about videography and I it would all be Greek to me. So something that you didn’t know anything about, you took the time. You took it step by step. Maybe you sought out external resources, took a class or whatever, and then you ended up, hey, I’m pretty good at this or I’m a master of this. What’s an example of something along those lines?

[00:24:35] Very good question. Going back to my news experience, I started basically at the bottom of the barrel doing stage management, and I worked my way up to directing the newscast. [00:24:47] And in that time, I had never been exposed to this form of directing and kind of goes back to Washington with the rundown. Everything is automated. And so there’s actual it’s similar to computer coding. And you have to code the show as as you see it on TV and. So that was the most difficult undertaking I took just because I had never learned how to use automated software I had never had to use, we had multiple live shots going at one, sometimes three or four different sources. You also have the talent in the studio. You have different walls within the studio. You got to send video and graphics and animations, too. So there’s a myriad of things that could go wrong. And then on top of that, there’s effects that if you overlap the affects your computer, your computer actually freezes, which I had a cat in a couple of times on there, unfortunately, which you kind of learn to live with, especially when you see the the guys have been there for 30 years, kind of doing the same mistakes sometimes. But learning how to direct a newscast with an automated production switcher was probably the hardest thing to do. And it’s it’s something I found really rewarding that I enjoy doing. And it was probably my favorite thing ever doing, to be honest with my career, is just having all these things I can control literally with the click of a switch and just seeing it play out in front of me is very rewarding. I didn’t take any classes, but there were people that kind of took me under their wing and showed me how to do it.

[00:26:22] Did you ever witness any full-on meltdowns, any temper tantrums, any behind the scenes, just local stuff that would never have made it to air when you were involved in news?

[00:26:35] You know, thankfully, our crew is pretty, pretty chill and there was not a lot of hostile hostility, at least on camera. So, you know, conflict on the production side is a union. So there are some politics. But as far as seeing people freak out on camera, that never happened. But there was one time that one of the reporters thought they were off air. I said something to the effect that they should not have about, I think, another employee at the station on the air as like exiting, going to commercial break. But that was totally forgiven. And I was a kid, but I never saw anything. No one cussing or doing it. Actually, I didn’t see it. But now that you mention that there was an instance, news reporter, if I like that that stuff in, she she was actually physically assaulted on camera. She was doing a live shot. And they literally somebody came and tackled her and she just started like, oh, and then she said some words and then they cut to the studio like, oh, OK. [00:27:49] And then you can hear Kimberly, she’s really famous. Newscaster woman here be like, it’s OK to the producers. [00:27:58] And then I think they want to watch the break, but you can find it on YouTube. That’s kind of the worst thing I saw.

[00:28:04] And Kevin, finally, where do you see it all going for you? Where do you want to be in five years, ten years? Is there anything that you’re not doing right now that you’d like to do in the future?

[00:28:16] I would like to be a little more involved as far as I think management and making decisions. So probably higher up within a job, which is why I’m going back to school to get my bachelor’s in communications on top of the training that I had at the Art Institute. And I only want to do that not because of I want to boost up my ego or anything like that, but I really want to help the production and the process and just even the the the way people are treated. I want to see it improve because I unfortunately, I did see a lot of things that were maybe not handled the best as they could for management. And I’d like to in the future, maybe five, ten years from now. I don’t know where that would be as far as a company. But, you know, and that may even just be my own company. I would like to venture out to hiring people and expanding if things don’t work out within the production room. I’m fully OK with, you know, expanding my business, too.

[00:29:12] So it’s kind of an open book right now. Kevin, it’s been a lot of fun talking to you and getting to know a little bit more about your background and projects that you’re involved in. For folks who are interested in getting in touch with you, what’s the best way to do that?

[00:29:26] I think the best way to do that is either go to my website, Kevin Beckman, dot com. [00:29:33] You can even email me Kepi photo video at Gmail dot com. That’s my personal email. I’m on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram. It’s not hard to find me. So if you’re interested in any of the work you see and maybe you either want to hire or if you even if you just have questions, I’d love to answer them for you and Kevin.

[00:29:55] I don’t know why, but I’m on this food cake with my guests because they come from all over the world. Last week we talked about Juicy Lucie’s in Minnesota. What’s the hot food item in San Diego? I’m guessing maybe the fish tacos, but I love. I’ll let you have the word on that.

[00:30:10] Ok, so in San Diego, there are probably more. I think it’s the most populated area with microbreweries. I don’t myself drink, but there are literally microbreweries everywhere. So that’s like the hot spot here. Tacos, to be honest, it’s not as big as people may think. There’s a lot of gastro pubs, so like more Americana kind of food. But as far as that, I mean, I love eating pretty much anything American or things of that nature.

[00:30:43] Sounds great. And one of these days, hopefully when the pandemic leaves, maybe I can get a chance to swing by San Diego. We can go for a fish taco and chat more about local news and the legacy of Harold Green in San Diego.

[00:31:00] Yeah, maybe we could both learn to surf together, too.

[00:31:04] I’d have to learn how to swim first. So that might be a bridge too far. I’d go under. But Kevin Kevin Beckman from San Diego, sunny San Diego, sunny Southern California videographer, video producer Kevin Beckman. Dotcom is his orl. Kevin, thanks so much for coming on the podcast.

[00:31:22] Thank you so much. This has been so fun and it’s fun being on the other side because I’m so used to listening into these conversations, but now I actually get to be a part of it. So thank you for giving me that opportunity to thank you so much.

[00:31:34] And we’ll talk to you soon.

[00:31:38] Thank you for listening to your hearing voices, please don’t hear this podcast with anybody and forget about subscribing. We’ve already reached eight subscribers and that’s enough. We’re not saving the whales here. People, thanks again for listening. Know another. Dan pretends to appreciate it very much. Bye for now.