Alumni Spotlight: Zach Garrison works in the film industry, making TV magic
Meet Zachary Garrison, a 2015 Communications alumnus. In his short time after graduation, he’s landed a dream career in the the film industry working as a post production coordinator. We caught up with him in between filming to learn more about his career and how Clemson prepared him for it.
Q: What is your job?
I am a Post Production Coordinator for network television shows and am transitioning to the Post Production Supervisor role. I’ll be credited as Post Supervisor on season three of “A Million Little Things” this fall on ABC. I’ve also worked in the Post Production department for the following shows: “Scream: The TV Series” (MTV), “Pitch” (FOX), “This Is US” (NBC), “Great News” (NBC), “Grownish” (Freeform), “Stumptown” (ABC), and now “A Million Little Things.” Eventually, I’d love to work my way over to the other side of the business to do feature films for theatrical release.
Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is ultimately to contribute in any way I can to a project that will reach millions of viewers all over the world.
Q: What are your three top memories of your job/career?
The first one that comes to mind has to be serving as the greeter at the “Ellen DeGeneres Show” talent door and being acknowledged by Leonardo DiCaprio on the eve of his first Oscar win. The second would be receiving a text from Mandy Moore. The third would be when my boss let me travel to our shooting location in Vancouver, British Columbia, so that I could work remotely while visiting set, build my relationship with our crew, and hang out with the cast.
Q: What is a typical day/week like at your job?
Typically, I’m scheduling ADR (automated dialogue replacement) for the actors on whichever show I’m working on, wherever they may be. Sometimes we need to re-record lines of dialogue because of a technical issue, a desired performance change, or a rewrite. This assignment is usually is given to me with a tight 1-week-or-less deadline and I need to schedule the session to be as convenient as possible for the actor. These sessions have taken place all over the world such as, Thailand, The Maldives, New Zealand, Canada, New York City, Atlanta and if we’re lucky, Los Angeles. Other than doing that, every day is different because every show is different, and every episode is different. Depending on what’s in the script, there are certain visual effects to produce or stock footage to find and purchase. We also get plenty of random requests, all while making sure our editors stay on schedule to ensure we make it on TV! Our department is usually editing three episodes at one time.
Q: Describe your career path since graduating from Clemson.
Right around the time I decided that I wanted to work in the movie biz, I was fortunate enough to make a friend in Nic Pangborn, a staff member on campus at the time. He was willing to speak to me about his experience working with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, and basically offered me a blueprint for picking up and moving to Los Angeles with big dreams. From there I put my head down, followed his advice and tried to get as much experience as possible so I could get my foot in the door with a real production. Most of the big studio lots offer guided tours daily (Paramount, Sony, WB). As Nic emphasized to me, there’s no guaranteed path to success but landing a job with a studio Tour Department is a great “in,” as it enables you to go to work every day where the movie magic happens. You never know what you’ll see or who you’ll meet.
Q: What inspired you to take this path?
I’ve always been fascinated with movies and their ability to transport you to a galaxy far, far away or to an island where prehistoric creatures roam. It’s all imagined and somehow these people are able to work together to create an entire world of fantasy that can be seen and heard so life-like that it’s believable. From what I’ve heard, “The Mandalorian” is shot mostly, if not entirely on a lot or in a sound stage in Los Angeles. How amazing is that? And imagine seeing a real stormtrooper in the commissary having a friendly lunch with his or her on-screen adversary. I wanted to be a part of all that.
Q: How did Clemson prepare you for your career?
Clemson prepared me for my career by providing endless opportunities; the opportunity to travel and perform in front of millions with the Tiger Band (highly recommend); the opportunity to get college credit for an internship at the Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts; the opportunity to broaden your worldview by meeting so many people through all three of those experiences; the opportunity to work with a helpful faculty happy to support, encourage, and instill confidence in me to this day.
Q: What was your favorite Clemson memory?
There are many, but my favorite memory takes place during one of the worst losses suffered by the football team of my 4-year Tiger Band career. I met my fiancé on the sideline at halftime of the 2013 FSU game. Second place would be beating LSU in 2012 on New Year’s Eve.
Q: Any advice for students wanting a similar career?
Networking is everything. Talk to people that have experience doing what you want to do and don’t be afraid to work for free at first, as working for free on an ultra-low budget student film is often a great way to get something production-related on your resume. Get out there and make a movie of your own!