Brandon Wasserman is a third year student at Northeastern University’s College of Media, Arts and Design (CAMD), who is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Media Screen Studies. Brandon is currently completing his second co-op in Palo Alto, California, with VMWare, a virtualization and cloud computing software provider. While on this co-op Brandon is able to further explore his passion for film and better his craft in video production. We caught up with Brandon to learn more on how this role has impacted his passion for film and filmmaking, and what it’s like working a creative role in a corporate environment. Read the Q+A below!
What does a typical day working at VMWare look like for you? What were your daily responsibilities?
A typical day working at VMware’s Palo Alto campus varies daily – it mostly cycles between editing and shooting corporate videos, with various meetings to check in on everyone’s workload. It’s a really collaborative and trusting work environment. Down the line there will be more writing/storyboard sessions for me to personally work on.
How did you prepare for your role at VMWare, especially since it is across the country?
I wanted to do a co-op in California, so it wasn’t much of an issue accepting the offer when it came. Prior to starting I did ask my manager about the equipment that they use and he sent me a list of everything in their studio. So, I did some reading up and watched videos on all of the equipment, so I could throw myself right into action without wasting anyone’s time when I started. The video team at VMWare is really busy and I feel they appreciated that I did not need much time having things explained to me.
What are some challenges, highlights, or other notable facets of living and working in California?
I’m in the Bay Area, which has much different vibe than “typical” California (Los Angeles!) – It has an Oregon/Washington feel to it, at least in my opinion. Everyone in and outside the office is really laid back and kind. I’m from New England and my last co-op was in NYC, so it was tough getting used to the trusting and caring nature that VMware employees proudly have. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it throws you off if you are not used to people just being nice for the sake of being nice, or stopping what they are doing just to see how you’re doing. I even caught myself coming off as kind of rude even though it was considered more normal behavior at my NYC co-op. Overall though, it’s a work-life balance type of place, which is pretty sweet.
What has been your favorite project thus far that you have worked on while on your co-op?
I have to do a final project that I need to write, shoot, direct, and edit towards the end of my co-op, so I assume that will be my favorite project when I get to it. But, as of now, I had to edit this one project that required me to gather cinematic, corporate b-roll to accompany a talking-head promo video. That actually turned out to be a much more creative process than I thought. It was super cool finding just the right b-roll and I also shot some b-roll myself as I like when you can get creative, even in the corporate video world.
What interests you in particular about film/filmmaking?
Honestly, every aspect of filmmaking interests me for the most part. From the craft – like writing, shooting, and editing, to just discussing movies and figuring out what they’re about or what they mean in a certain director’s career. It’s all just really interesting to me and it’s comprehensive, you can learn something new about films and filmmaking every day.
I’ve been lucky enough to be able to get paid for video work or to work in the industry. I got my start in high school where I edited highlight videos for student athletes before working as the Videographer and Video Editor for Best Fitness, a health club chain, where I edited social media videos, filmed and produced promotional materials. While part-timing there, I was able to co-op at IFC Films in NYC for my first co-op experience. That was a cool experience because I was quality-controlling their films. I basically watched movies at work and I also got to shadow sound mixing sessions with professionals for film trailers. It was really interesting working within the indie film industry, but it made me realize it’s tough to actually do hands-on video work in film; It’s a lot of luck and a game of who-you-know to get that far.
How did you come to love the art of film and filmmaking/discover your passion for film and filmmaking?
I’ve always loved movies! When I was in elementary school, one of my close friend’s older brother was into video-making, so seeing all his equipment sparked the beginning of my interest. From then on, I got inspired by those early YouTube personalities, such as Freddie Wong and Corridor Digital, because they were producing awesome-looking videos on a shoe-string budget. Naturally, I mimicked their work at first and started moving into my own style (or at least I tried). It has been harder to make passion projects like I used to, because of college and co-op, but if I could come to some happy-medium of getting paid, but also getting to make those passion projects that’d be the dream.
What’s your advice to students who are applying for a co-op or internship?
I only truly know about applying for co-ops as a Media and Screen Studies major, but I would say don’t get stuck in the mindset that you have to be doing this one specific thing. Keep an open mind, you’ll learn more than you think. I had the attitude that I needed to work in the film industry, but also wanted to shoot and edit video. Your ideal combination is just not going to happen as a co-op, so maybe pick something you want but get ready to compromise and make the best of it. In my instance, I got to work at IFC Films, but I was quality-controlling instead of making video content. Now I’m at VMware making videos content, but that’s a software company and has nothing to do with entertainment. I still don’t know nearly enough about filmmaking, so I’m going to keep learning, practicing, and looking for more people to make videos with. Learn whatever you’re interested in on your own and put what you learn into practice.
We wish you continued success Brandon, thank you for sharing your co-op experience!