Steve Clark, Writer & Improv Actor, on Interning for Conan, Going Viral, & the Value in Creating Content for New Media.
September 30, 2015
I’m originally from Tampa, Florida, but have been moving from city to city since I turned 18. I’ve spent time in Tallahassee, Chicago and I currently live in Los Angeles.
I’ve worked for television shows, television networks, new media networks, and advertising agencies in my young but eclectic career.
I’m also an improviser and have been performing in different cities for the past 4 years.
First Job in Entertainment
My first paid entertainment job was on “Family Feud.”
I had been doing an unpaid internship at a local production company on weekends when I applied for a casting assistant position on Family Feud during the Chicago auditions.
I remember being shocked that I was expected to work 12-hour days (a normality in most TV production jobs) and so incredibly excited when I brought home my first television paycheck at the end of the week.
As an improviser, my peers in the community inspire me. I have the good fortune of being able to perform with some of the funniest people in Los Angeles on a weekly basis.
Living in Los Angeles also allows me to see some of the best improv in the world whenever I want to.
Cook County Social Club, an improv group originally from Chicago, is a constant source of inspiration for me. They consistently do incredible work, and are the reason that I started taking long form improvisation seriously.
Jobs Held in Entertainment
I’ve held a number of different positions in Entertainment spanning from Production Assistant to Writer.
The position that most people start off in is Production Assistant, and I’ve done that on multiple TV shows.
You’re essentially there to do anything, and I mean anything, that the crew and producers need. It’s a fun way to learn the different roles on a show, and you make great connections doing it.
I’ve Paged for CBS and 1iota, which means I handled audiences for live shows and events.
I would highly recommend doing audience coordinator work if you like interacting with people and enjoy live shows.
I’ve been a writer and an editor, but those are both pretty self-explanatory.
If you want to be an editor, make sure you know how to use Adobe Creative Suite.
Don’t listen to what they tell you in school, Premiere and After Effects are what people in Los Angeles are using.
You don’t get the same thrill of working on a show as you do working for a network, and that was something that was very important for me to learn early in my career.
The entertainment field has changed dramatically with the improvements in technology.
A perfect example of this is that I was able to make a living writing and editing for a YouTube channel when I graduated from college.
That may sound absurd, but there are hundreds of jobs for new media popping up everywhere.
With the growth of online content creation, websites are getting huge (look at Buzzfeed, Funny or Dieetc.) and you no longer have to focus on getting a job in television or film, but you can now find work in the growing world of new media.
The best advice I could give to anybody who is looking to get into writing, producing, or whatever it is that you want to do, is to do it yourself.
The best thing you can have at this point is a portfolio full of samples of what you’re capable of.
Make your own content, and use that stuff to show companies and shows that you are capable of doing what they need.
Most jobs I get require a reel or writing samples, both things I have been building up for years.
Your resume will only get you so far, make sure you can impress people with your work.
My creative process is very simple: do as much as I can.
I typically have 5-8 improv shows a week, and on those nights when I am not performing, I make sure to get some writing done.
I try to do something creative every day, because if I don’t, I feel guilty about it later.
I’m still figuring this stuff out myself. I think the key is to be focused on yourself.
It’s very easy to get wrapped up in what other people are doing and get jealous of the success of others, but if you just focus on what it is you’re doing, then things will work out.
Specialist or Jack-of-all-trades
This very much depends on what you are planning on going into.
For new media, I’ve found that it is extremely helpful to be a jack-of-all-trades.
You will often have to write, shoot and edit something if you’re in a small start-up company, opposed to advertising or TV, where you typically have a focus that you need to excel.