An Interview with Charles Ackerman

14 12 2009

Charles “Chack” Ackerman was very dedicated to his TV and film studies. President of the Rowan Television Network and a previous intern at NBC Universal, he was always one of the best people to go to in terms of help or advice related to television, film, technology or electronics.

I figured Charles would be a wonderful person to interview. What can I say, he knows his stuff. On top of that, he’s a real friendly guy and a natural leader.

His interview responses may shock you though…

Q & A with Charles:

Q: First off, how is life after college in terms of living back home or finding work?

A: I’m living at home right now with my parents. I work pretty regularly with a wedding company shooting videos and helping out as either a second videographer or an assistant to the photographers, and I also sometimes get calls to work in the electric department with Law and Order: SVU. I’m trying to get out of the world of making my own independent projects for other people for money because it’s been nothing but headaches and I’ve always walked away feeling under-compensated.

Q: Can you explain what the job search is like?

A: I work freelance so nothing is steady but I have been able to avoid working at the mall or something like that. With unemployment near 10%, people with years of experience can’t find jobs, so I’m just happy to have what I have right now. I feel like it’s also a blessing for me right now because I’ve had the opportunity to work in three different sizes of TV/Film careers – big (Law and Order: SVU) , medium (I interned at NBC10), and small (shooting weddings). The problem with this field is that at the big levels nobody likes their job because despite great compensation you work long, hard hours; at medium levels (NBC10) everyone is afraid of losing their jobs because of downsizing due to lost ad revenue or being replaced by new technology; and at small levels you’re poorly compensated and don’t get to do any work that really matters.

Q: Would you go back to NBC10 for a job?

A: Initially I did, but I’m no longer really interested in making a career in Television/Film. While I was there they put in a new control room that reduced the number of people needed to run a show from around 10 to around 2 or 3. Since the economy crashed I’ve spoken to people who work there and they’re all worried about their jobs, even the best and brightest are fearful for their jobs. So in short, no, I want more stability than that. I don’t want to be working somewhere for 10 years and be out of work and have to move to another area of the country or something to fight for a declining number of jobs.

Q: Would you live in New York City?

A: New York City is the greatest city in, and capital of, the world. That said, it’s crowded, polluted, expensive, and a very nice place to visit. I wouldn’t live in NYC because I live close enough to take a bus, but far enough away to enjoy the peace of suburbia. Plus, in Paramus I can go shopping almost as well as I could in the city.

Q: What do you think your next step will be? Will you stay in New Jersey?

A: I’m taking the Florida Teacher Certification Exam this Monday coming up to become certified to teach English for grades 6 to 12. I’m planning on moving to Florida as soon as I get a job in the state. The cost of living is considerably cheaper down there, the pace of life is much more relaxed, and the temperature is always higher. It also helps that in many areas of the state starting teacher income is higher than the average per capita income.

Q: Online I noticed that you have your own website. How did you get your name in the web address? Do you have to pay to use a more advanced web design site? Please, explain.

A:, it costs $10 for a domain that you have to register every year and I think around $8 a month to keep it running. I used WordPress (free) and a template that I modified (also free). It’s very cheap and easy with a little bit of technical knowhow.

Q:If you could go back in time, is there anything you would do differently at Rowan or do that you never got to do during your time there?

A: Nope, I would have just not taken a few courses that were useless and replaced them with literature courses so I could be exempt from taking the FTCE in its entirety and already have my certificate.

Q: What was going through your mind at graduation?

A: “I wish I already had a job lined up!”

Q: Lastly, do you have any advice for soon-to-be TV and film graduates from Rowan University who are nervous about their future and don’t know what to expect?

A: You better really love it and be really good at it. And if you don’t have either a strong connection or a lot of luck, you’re already doomed. I hate to sound pessimistic, but with the number of graduates I’ve seen who’ve gotten a good job right out of college without knowing someone in the business, your odds are probably 50 to 1 or worse.

'09 Grad

Thank you Charles!

Keep in mind everything that Chack has said and stay tuned for Tina and Adam’s interviews coming up next!

Final Project Interview 1 of 3