Why it’s all good
My name is Aaron LaChapelle, I'm 25 years old, and I am a freelance audio mixer on various reality TV shows.
I started out in the entertainment business as an intern for a production company on the Paramount lot. There, I read scripts, answered phones, and did many other office duties. After 7 months of work there I was, sure I wanted to be a producer. I then got a production assistant job with 51 Minds on the show Rock of Love. I absolutely loved it. No longer was I stuck in an office, I was surrounded by interesting people, and I got to see how life was behind the scenes. Immediately I started looking for a way to make more money, and after talking to different people on set, I realized starting out trying to be a producer was going to be a long, stressful, underpaid road. I then started making friends with a lot of the crew, and buddies up with some guys who happened to be in audio. From then on I have focused my energy and time on learning audio.
Shortly after my decision to pursue audio, I got another PA gig, this time with Bunim-Murray, on The Real World Hollywood. Again I loved it, I met interesting people, and I got to work with the crew a lot more closely. I also got the opportunity to travel for the first time with a production and at this point, I thought I was in the best industry ever. I was 22 with no noteworthy college education, and I was being paid to travel and be a part of TV shows.
In the midst of this, I found out my girlfriend got pregnant. At the time I was very scared because I was still on a PA's salary, and was very new on the RTV scene. But in retrospect I don't think I would have moved up as quickly, had I not known I had to provide for another human being. I focused my time and energy, this time 10-fold, and just made it happen. I called every connection I had and finally was given a chance to work in the RGEAR rental house. I interned there for a couple of months unpaid, and was then given a break as an A2. From there I worked my way to becoming an audio mixer and have worked on shows like The Bachelor, Real Chance of Love, Bad Girls Club, and so on. I have traveled to many different states around the country, and been to New Zealand, Mexico, Canada. Most importantly, I have been able to take care of my family.
If you are single, being in this industry is a gift from God, no matter what capacity you are working in. You are paid well to travel all over the world, and you have the opportunity to surround yourself with celebrities and executives who can make your quality of life that much better. And you have no responsibilities. On the flip side, if you do have a family and responsibilities, the industry is still a gift from God, you just have to work harder to stay close to home. It's tough to leave town for 10 weeks when you have a child and spouse, and the irregularity of our RTV schedule poses challenges when trying to make plans. In this business networking is paramount. I think, in order to maintain relationships - going out and partying is a must. This can cause problems.
Pre-child, working in RTV, I never planned for the future, didn't think about insurance, didn't care about saving money, and wanted to get out of town as much as possible, travel and live the rock star life. Post-child, I am totally focused. I try to maintain my contacts, I have to budget my money, I like staying in town as much as possible, I can't go to as many networking parties as I would like to, and I'm not afraid to bug people for work.
As a freelancer there is no health care, so the only person in my family insured is my son, and that comes out of my pocket. If I do get hurt, hopefully it will be at work so it's covered under workman's comp. My girlfriend is not in this business which is a positive I think. We have a child and I think it's good being able to have at least one person with a set schedule. Working in RTV can be a bit overwhelming and it's good to be able to get away from it with someone who is not involved in it.
If I was not working in RTV, I would be waiting tables and partying. Luckily I saw an opportunity and ran with it, because there's no other job which pays well and you don't necessarily need a college degree.
My dream show would involve ninja warriors or anything that shoots in Japan.