Welcome to another week of Side Hustle Spotlight where I interview actors and filmmakers at different levels of their career who have used their other passions to capitalize on a fulfilling side hustle. These folks no longer or have never had to do serving work that drained their energy and made them miserable. This week’s actor has the professional editing skills to not only perfect his own projects but also to fund his life and acting pursuits. He proves that even though building momentum might take a lot of time and energy, it pays off with a steady flow of work.
Name: Alejandro Cardona
Side hustle: Video producer and editor for NYU
Years acting: Six
Favorite acting credits/opportunities: One of my favorite projects was “Hey Coach,” written by my friend Mike Turzilli. We shot it in an afternoon in Connecticut. It was done with zero resources and I was really proud of the result. We won second place at Channel 101.
What do you do when an audition or shoot comes up?
I’m lucky enough that my schedule is flexible and I usually have enough time to prepare for projects. I’d say the hardest part of being a freelancer is creating space for your own projects since paid work always takes precedence and it’s easy to let your own ventures fall by the wayside by overloading with small side gigs.
Have you ever felt like your side hustle was in jeopardy because of acting? How long did it take you to feel like you had security at this side hustle, even if you took time off for an acting project?
I haven’t felt like my side hustle is jeopardized by outside projects. This usually comes at the cost of having any semblance of a sleep schedule, but what else is new?
I started feeling secure about my side hustle when I started consistently paying rent as an editor and I didn’t need to supplement my income by doing other production work. Creating that initial momentum is difficult, but maintaining it is less so. I definitely don’t take it for granted, but I feel a lot more confident in my ability to continuously find work while pursuing my own projects.
What skills or talents did you need for this side hustle? How long did it take you to qualify or complete training for your side hustle?
Being a producer and editor for digital projects requires a very diverse skill set. You have to know how to produce, shoot, edit video and audio, do at least basic graphic design, and probably have some animation skills. I got a lot of this experience in college, where I would shoot and edit live music performances for the campus radio station and make promotional videos for local businesses and nonprofits. I cannot overstate how valuable it was to edit endless hours of simple video content: it made me a faster editor and it forced me to learn all the basics of video production, often through painstaking trial and error.
I’ve met a few people with basic editing skills who want to do it full-time. My advice is to spend as much time as you can with your editing tools until using them becomes second nature. Many digital editing jobs are about cutting a high number of very simple videos, so you have to be fast.
How does this side hustle fulfill you? Do you feel like you’re helping people/society/humanity in a tangible way?
I don’t think I’m helping humanity in any huge way but educational video content is particularly satisfying since it’s making knowledge available to people who may not be able to access it in other ways. I am profoundly fulfilled on a personal level. My side hustle constantly pushes me to grow as an editor and expand my job description, which has allowed me to learn about design and animation and deepen my ability to communicate and collaborate with others.
Has your side hustle made you better at acting or achieving your acting goals?
I definitely see my work as a video producer, filmmaker, and performer as a part of a continuum. I’m constantly finding analogies between my respective creative processes for acting and videography. And those connections can lead to breakthroughs. Editing the simplest video still requires exploring the material, trial and error, and the ability to scrap a whole process and start over. In that regard, it’s the same as breaking down a script prior to shooting, or approaching text for performance. Being behind the camera also gives me insight into what does and does not translate into video, which I hope makes me an easier actor to direct.
Why did you choose to do this side hustle instead of more stereotypical acting side hustles like serving?
I get restless easily, which means I can’t work monotonous jobs for very long. The uncertainty of pursuing freelance work can be really scary, but I’ve learned to trust that opportunities will continue to present themselves if I keep honing my skills.
Do you have any advice for actors that aren’t sure what path to take while they are waiting for acting to pay all the bills?
I like to think that we all have a couple of different passions and at least one or two profitable skills. This is especially true of artists. I’d simply suggest looking into your own skills and the fields that interest you and start there. It’s hard to know what kinds of jobs you will find fulfilling until you actually try them. If you can afford to jump around and try different jobs, do that. It might be scary at first but the satisfaction of excelling at a job while struggling as an artist can be enough to keep you going.
Linnea Sage is an award-winning actor, voiceover artist, writer, and producer in NYC and LA. She is the creator of the animated series, “Brainless Agenda” (@BrainlessAgenda on Instagram). She starred in the comedy series “WILDCATS” on the Fullscreen Network. She also voices superheroes in the Marvel video game, "Avengers Academy.” Follow her @LinneaSage on Twitter. If you have a fulfilling side hustle and want to be featured in Linnea’s column, Side Hustle Spotlight, please introduce yourself at [email protected].
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