Zack Perl was literally one of the first out of state IPR candidates I worked with. He came all the way from New York to tour IPR in October 2008. He was with his Dad, who asked a lot of tough questions about industry and job opportunities because he knew that Zack was a kid with a lot of big ideas, and he wanted to make sure Zack was going to take this all the way if the family was going to invest in his education. Zack’s Mom also took time to ask the tough questions, and, in a subsequent trip to Minneapolis, brought Zack here to take a second look at IPR. These guys weren’t fooling around. Zack’s parents were two of the most invested parents I’ve met then and since, and Zack is lucky they’ve got his back.
For me, there was never a question if Zack was a good match for IPR. Finding success in the media industries is something that can take an insane work ethic: one which I credited to Zack before his Minneapolis arrival. It was a long road getting Zack’s admissions paperwork completed because he was always working, and connecting with him by phone was a tough thing. He and a friend were running a painting business in 2009 as Zack was saving and preparing for college. This was just one of the reasons he didn’t start IPR until almost a year after we’d first met. As his Admissions Representative it made me want him here even more. I knew he was going places, and I was happy to take a tiny ounce of credit for his IPR connection.
Even before Zack was a student at IPR, I knew there was something special about him. When I told him to look for every opportunity, and to be thinking about jobs from day one, he listened. He didn’t blow me off with attitude, but seemed grateful that I was “coaching” him. It came as no surprise to me that those who made the biggest impact on him here, his instructors, offered him the same consistent message.
During a short visit this week Zack dropped by a class where he too passed on a message. As he recounted the experience, he had a huge grin on his face and said, “Scooter told me my first day of class, if I was ever offered work I didn’t know how to do, to never say no. And I have never forgotten that”. He went on to explain that he has used that philosophy persistently now that he’s working in the industry. He’s discovered that his credo matches that of those who taught him; to his credit, he’s learned his lessons well.
Zack is now a graduate and an industry professional that I’m honored to write about. It’s been a joy getting to know him and watching him map out his place in the industry. I hope you enjoy his story.
Zack Perl, born in New York and raised in New Jersey, always found ways to be involved with the industry. While in high school he co-developed a local entertainment company (Mirror Image Entertainment) handling event coordination and promotion. Throughout his time in New Jersey, Zack has contributed to several startup entertainment companies, as well as his own, while utilizing his creative abilities with local businesses. Shortly after high school Zack attended the Institute of Production & Recording where he studied music production, graphic design and photography. After returning to New York, he moved to Los Angeles, to help develop 4HM Talent Management, the managing division of 4Horsemen Films. His responsibilities include roles of Artist Representative and Head Graphic Designer at 4 Horsemen Films, the umbrella company to 4HM Talent. Zack currently represents 16 actors, 2 models and 1 musician while overseeing all visual branding and marketing aspects of both the production and management divisions of 4 Horsemen Films.
What would IPR students and instructors say they remember most about you?
Students knew I always was involved and engaged with class but couldn’t help but crack jokes. Once the class clown always the class clown, but I could back it all up with my work. You could ask any student in any of my labs from production to post, I always went all out with every project. As for my instructors, I don’t think there was a teacher that didn’t know my name after my first day in their class.
Were there any big projects you undertook in your production or engineering capstone that laid the groundwork for some of the things you’re doing now?
My production capstone was definitely my best experience here at IPR. Well worth the wait. Not because of any particular project but because of the overall message the class gave us, as well as the content and the way we were given the freedom to complete projects. I learned that there are no boundaries, ceilings, skies or walls. You can take this industry as far as you want to.
Out of all your instructors who would you say worked most closely with you and had a special interest in your success?
That’s a hard one. I definitely learned a lot from Andrew Lucas and Nick Bochek although I would say overall Kevin Bowe was my greatest mentor. The guy was on a whole other level and showed me exactly how to get there. Kevin made it clear from day one what it takes to become successful, how to do it and most of all that it’s possible to love what you do. He is definitely someone who cares about your personal success and was one of the few people who told me to pursue LA. And it paid off.
How do you feel your IPR education prepared you for the industry?
IPR encourages and provides a wide range of classes to take. Photography, Graphic Design etc… Not just music based classes. A lot of students resist these classes thinking it’s a waste because it’s not what they came to do, but when you graduate you’d be surprised at how much it will benefit any position you land in the music industry. I took advantage of that and it made me well rounded. Gave me the ability to be a threat in the industry and above all put me ahead of the game. IPR gave me a bag of tricks that no one else had. I was called to interview for a graphic design position at suburban noise records, one of the top indie labels in LA, and during my interview I sold them on my experience in not only video editing but music production. I ended up passing on it for another job though.
What types of things did you have to wait for industry experience to learn?
Dealing with people and problem solving. IPR teaches you just about every way to avoid problems in the industry, but, no matter what, you will encounter them. You got to remember people will see you as a strong asset to any company if you cannot only problem solve, but also problem solve creatively in a way that will put you ahead. Think of every problem as an opportunity to get ahead and show off, and I guarantee you can pull off just about anything. Chicks dig problem solvers. For real.
What do you think it means to be successful in this industry? What advice would you offer to students who are either just getting ready to graduate or who are wondering how to find their place in this industry?
I believe if you love what you do and you can pay your bills, it’s definitely a base for success. I stand by that completely. For someone like myself who has this entrepreneurial need in my blood, I’m not throwing the success title on my life until I’ve created a product or service that can change lives as well as develop several innovative business’s ranging from clothing design to creative development. Using the profits I would like the ability to invest in innovative ideas that can change the world for the better. The day I’m on the cover of Forbes with the title reading, the man who changed the word…. I’ll say ok… I’m almost successful.
As for students getting ready to graduate, I promise, if you don’t spend every day of the week networking and looking for a job, you won’t find one. Don’t just email your resume and say “why didn’t they call me for a job?” They won’t call you. You need to market yourself and network every single day. Don’t sleep in and play video games half the day and wonder why you’re not an engineer at your favorite indie label. I woke up 5:30am returning emails and researching companies for months from the day I graduated to the day I landed my dream job. Loose the bad habits fast. Remember this… when you were hanging out or watching television, someone else was out networking and getting a referral that got them that interview the following day. No one is going to just give you a job. If they were, you wouldn’t be in school right now.
Do you have experience with audio and video editing?
I was lucky enough to be given an opportunity by Nick Bochek (previous principles of design teacher) to co-edit the Bare Naked Ladies last music video “You Run Away.” Talk about a resume builder. Kevin Bowe’s capstone alone turned my resume from a piece of paper into a playboy spread featuring the hottest girl in the world to the eye of an audio engineer looking to hire. I learned all of my Audio and Video editing abilities from IPR and have used them to my advantage both personally and professionally outside of class. No one really realizes how many different companies and industries are looking for video editors as well as audio editors especially outside the studio.
How important do you think attitude is when it comes to success?
Attitude is everything. It’s the reason you were hired, and they were fired. Have attitude but don’t catch an attitude. People want to be working with people who are genuinely interested and committed to what they are doing and can get the job done. Not someone who sees his or her job as a chore looking to get it over with. People see through that bull (ship) in a second.
What one trait/ability/skill do you feel has helped you more than any other to be successful in this industry so far?
The ability to be personable. To not only be comfortable in any given situation, but also to embrace it and take control of it. You’re competing with thousands of others who have the exact same thing on their resume. The only thing you got going for you that’s going to set you ahead of the game is your ability to network, branch out, and make people aware of what you can do. Donald Trump once said, “If you don’t tell people about your successes… chances are they don’t know about it.” Learn to talk to everyone and love it. Every night you stay home and every day you don’t go out you’re missing opportunities. No one’s getting hired playing Xbox until 4pm on a mother (freaking) Tuesday.