[Tig] from James Wicks - Learning the trade

James Wicks jim at jimwicks.com
Sun Aug 5 22:05:32 BST 2012

It's been my experience that there is no one way to climb the mountain.
My story started out 30 years ago in film production, deviated to on-camera talent, and then transitioned to post-production as a Colorist.

I started working full time in television in 1981 in Toronto, Canada.
Prior to this I had worked summer jobs on both television and motion picture productions, mostly as a production assistant.
In 1981, however, the only job opened to me was as a television news reporter.
Funny thing, that. The number 4 rated station, number 3 rated station, and the number 2 rated station all turned me down because I lacked experience.
The man who hired me at the number 1 rated station said he did so because he liked my tenacity.

I moved up the ranks and soon was a television news Anchor.
Yet, throughout the early stages of my on-camera career I can truthfully say that I was never fully accepted because many felt that I was inexperienced or untested.
But I kept at it, honed my craft, learned, watched, and was mentored by some of the best in the business.
My tenacity and belief in myself paid off.
By 1989 I accepted an offer to move to the United States and worked steadily as a News Anchor.
Throughout the 1990s and the early 2000s I worked for network affiliates in top 20 markets.

My on-camera career careered over a cliff in late 2007 due to the economic recession.
Younger and cost-efficient talent became all the vogue to cost concious television stations, and I needed a job.
Fortunately, I had a strong creative background and had been shooting and editing for years.
I landed a job as lead Commercial Producer at my local CBS affiliate. 
Yet, my being there raised eyebrows from people who knew I was an experienced television News Anchor and an unproven commercial producer.
Initially, people were skeptical that I could produce a :30 second spot.

Like I did before, I kept at it, honed my craft, learned, watched, and was mentored by some of the best in the business.
Within my first two years I had racked up a number of awards and nominations for producing top flight TV commercials.
Additionally, I learned that clients were swinging their production budgets to the station citing the quality of my work.

Unknown to the station and the clients was one of my secret sauces to making quality commercials: color correction and grading.
In spite of the fact that we used high-end, brand-new, state-of-the-art HD cameras, the camera output was not stellar - in my opinion.
I began researching, and soon learned about the art of color correction and grading.

I jumped into Apple Color, and learned it. 
I read everything I could about color correction and grading.
In the process, I struck up an internet-based friendship with Colorist Jack Tunnicliffe at Java Post Production in Western Canada.
Jack became not only a friend, but soon he was my mentor.
I traveled to Jack's post house, which I paid for myself, and became his first student in a Master Class training session.

Jack liked something he saw in the way I graded, and urged me to consider color correction as a full time career.
I sought out and studied under Patrick Inhofer and Warren Eagles, yet in my mind I wondered where all this was going.

I have lived and worked in West Palm Beach, Florida, for 15 years. This is not known as a mecca for Colorists.
A good friend of mine, an independent film director, pointed me in the direction of my future; he brought to my attention a job listing for a Colorist …in West Palm Beach.
I interviewed for the position, and found that it was more than was advertised.

The company I work for hired me to create the color department from the ground up, design and create the color suite, and help hire and train junior Colorists.
I am in charge of the color correction and color restoration of hundreds of classic Spanish language films from the 1930s - 1980's destined for U.S. distribution.
The New York Times, one of my former employers, has written about the restoration work being done on these old movies now appearing on the Verizon cable channel.
To summarize, I can say that throughout my career, I was never taken seriously when I started down a specific path simply because I lacked the work experience.
Looking back on it, I can say that I never believed what they said. Yes, it hurt to hear it; but I never believed it.
I always believed in myself and what I could do if I had the chance.
Like I said before, I kept at it, honed my craft, learned, watched, and was mentored by some of the best in the business.

It's something that I still do, even now: tutorials, reading, helping, asking, and so on.
The learning never stops. The passion never dies. It pushes me on to be better than I was yesterday, and to learn from my failures.

Keep at it, believe in yourself, and don't give up!

Best, James Wicks
Senior Colorist, 
Olympusat Networks
West Palm Beach, FL

James Wicks, COLORIST 
digital, film, television, web 
Website: www.JimWicks.com 
Phone: 561.721.5187 
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