Tuesday Crew Day: Mark Totten

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Tuesday Crew Day: Mark Totten

Where are you from, where are you located now, and what are your ties to WV?

I’m originally from Belle, WV, and moved to Hurricane in 2009. I’m a lifelong resident of the state, and while I get to travel a lot for work, I’m always glad to get back home.

What was your first job in film production and what was the experience like?

I started out shooting wedding videos in 2006 and began working as an audio-visual assistant at the University of Charleston in 2008. My first on-set job was shooting some of “Porkchop II” for Razorsharp Productions in summer 2011, and it was great. Although I had a bit of experience already, nothing can really prepare a person for their first experience working on a film outside of getting in there and actually doing it. There is something about a whole team of people coming together to create something that you couldn’t do on your own that is amazing to be part of.

What was your last job and what were you responsible for?

Outside of my own projects, one of the last jobs I had was as a production assistant for a show called “Paranormal Lockdown,” which premiered on the Destination America network in March. Being a production assistant will always have its positives and negatives, but since a lot of companies from out of town only need a production assistant, it’s still some great experience to get. Your responsibilities can vary greatly from job to job. Aside from the normal production assistant responsibilities of moving gear, handling lockdowns and such, my fellow West Virginians Stephen Hanson and Jason Hively and I ended up filling a variety of background roles in the show. So even as a production assistant, you never know what opportunities may come your way during a job.

What advice would you give someone wanting to work in the film industry?

Don’t give up! Take a break if you need to get refocused, but get back in there and keep going. It’s a very feast or famine business, so be prepared to be super busy or having some down time occasionally. Also, networking is very important in the film industry. Even if I see someone on the street with a camera in their hand, I will introduce myself and try to talk to them about their projects. It could be you they call the next time they need some help, or vice versa. While it’s important to stay up with industry standards, don’t get too worried about keeping up with the latest gear, but rather, stay focused on finding work instead. If you are out there working, you will get to work with and learn about the latest gear simply by being on set. It seems like more and more people are shooting, editing, and creating these days, but with a greater demand for content, I believe it works out for everyone involved in the end. The work is out there, and you will find your way to it if you stay at it long enough and work hard.