Howie Zales

Viridity Entertainment

The TV Sports Course

Entertainment & Studio Production

Howie’s LinkedIn

JOIN THE YOU BOOKED IT COMMUNITY
Chat and Connect with Broadway Performers, Past Podcasts Guests, and People just like you navigating the entertainment industry!

👉 Grab Your FREE Invite Link 

Howie Zales (autogenerated)

[00:00:00] Dane Reis: [00:00:00] You booked it episode 203. Okay. Let’s kick today’s episode off. I have Howie Zales. Are you ready for this? 

[00:00:14]Howie Zales: [00:00:14] Absolutely. 

[00:00:15] Dane Reis: [00:00:15] Brilliant how he is an Emmy award winning camera operator who turned, who turned his passion for television broadcasting into several entrepreneurial endeavors. How we created H J Z productions Inc.

[00:00:28] In 2000 to address the need for professional level sports crew and staffing in the New York market under his leadership, H J Z productions grew to 80.  nationwide provider of top talent in the broadcasting field in 2019. How he and his team founded viridity entertainment services, Inc V E S, which initially focused on staffing in non-union markets with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 20, 20, they quickly pivoted to offering best in class , broadcast quality, live streams, and professional sports shows and events.

[00:01:07] Howie that is a very quick and concise intro of who you are and what you’ve done, but why don’t you tell us a little bit more about yourself, filling the gaps and a little bit more about what you do as a professional in the entertainment industry?

[00:01:21]Howie Zales: [00:01:21] Sure. Well, first of all, I’m honored and grateful to be here. And, uh, thank you very much. I, uh, I live with my wife. Our family, um, about 20 minutes north of New York city in, uh, in our great, uh,in a great neighborhood. And, um, we’d go boating and in the summer, in our two months of summer and, uh, and,uh, some states crazy to have a boat, but, um, it’s a blast.

[00:01:42] And, uh, I right now, currently, um, Entertainment world we produce best in class livestream productions, whether it be cooking shows, word shows, talk shows, demonstrations, you name it, we’ve done it. And that’s where we are. 

[00:01:59] Dane Reis: [00:01:59] Very cool. And how have you found this transition to the live stream world?

[00:02:05]Howie Zales: [00:02:05] You know, um, last year about this time, I had never even touched this or said the word livestream. So, uh, it, it took a lot of intensity. You know, study learning a lot, talking to a lot of the Right.

[00:02:19] people, uh, or watching a lot of videos on how it’s done, but we put together what we think is a great workflow and we tested it out this way, that way.

[00:02:30] And we came up with a way to do it that we think works great. 

[00:02:35] Dane Reis: [00:02:35] Oh, brilliant. I’m looking forward to getting into that a little bit more through the interview, but for now, let’s move in to this first section here and how we look. I am a sucker for a good quote. What is your favorite quote you’d like to share with everyone?

[00:02:50] Howie Zales: [00:02:50] Sure family always comes first. 

[00:02:54] Dane Reis: [00:02:54] love that. And can you. reflect a little bit and talk on that on how that has really worked its way into your career, into your businesses as being an entrepreneur.

[00:03:05] Howie Zales: [00:03:05] Sure. Um, I started out as a counter camera operator for NBC and the world of entertainment and. You know, the states you are as a counter person and, and replay first and then an audio person in the television. And probably most of the film field as well. You’re a freelancer. you only get paid when you work.

[00:03:24] And, uh, it’s not a full-time job. There’s no health benefits or anything like that unless you’re associated with uni. So the mindset is I got to take every job that’s offered. 

[00:03:34] Dane Reis: [00:03:34] Yeah.

[00:03:35] Howie Zales: [00:03:35] they don’t, you don’t, you don’t get paid if you don’t work, but you have to have the mindset that family comes first, because what is all this work and all this money, you don’t have your family to share it with because, uh, you know, you’re too busy working.

[00:03:50] So I found that, you know, family comes first. Sometimes you just have to say no, 

[00:03:55] Dane Reis: [00:03:55] yeah. Agreed. Um, I’m so glad you brought that up because that’s very,  uh, parallel to, uh, the production and the entertainers out there as well. There’s so much of our industry is that freelance lifestyle versus, you know, being on a show, most people don’t in this industry tend not to just be on long running shows.

[00:04:11] Right. Right. Even in the, uh, in the tech world, on the other side of the table, right? Like you said, It’s about finding that balance. And there definitely is that pressure sometimes to keep saying yes, especially if like a big job comes through and it’s like, oh gosh. And you just can sometimes get on a roll and you snowball things into each other, which is really great.

[00:04:27] But knowing your limits that’s is certainly something that we all have to, we have to have learn that lesson. We have to take it a step too far, I think at least once and go, okay, let’s reanalyze. This is like you said, what is all this for? If I can’t have family, if I can’t enjoy life,

[00:04:46] Very cool. Well, let’s dig into this next section here and how, of course you are an entertainment professional, I’m an entertainment professional. And I think that you’d agree that this industry can be one of the most subjective, brutally, honest and personally emotional industries. Existence and, you know, you know, as well as I, that in order to create and have a successful career in this industry, like you’re having now, it takes a lot of dedication and hard work.

[00:05:15] And while there’s an outrageous amount of excitement at times, doing what we do. There are also our fair share of obstacles, challenges, and failures.  we are going to experience and we’re going to have to move forward through. So tell us what is one key challenge, obstacle or failure you’ve experienced in your career and how did you come out the other side better because of it?

[00:05:35]Howie Zales: [00:05:35] Well, I’ll give you two. When I first started out, I was working at a new station and, Um,

[00:05:41] I called ESPN to let them know that I was Howie Zales new camera operator in the world, you know, ready to do live sports. And, uh, when I got the person that did the hiring of the phone, she said, you know, what’s your experience?

[00:05:53] And I said,well I shoot news. I haven’t really done much sports, but I, I know I’ll be good, you know, willing to start. And she said, call me back in five years. Mark my calendar for five years to the day. And, um, I knew that I was going to show this woman that I was going to get it done and I would be ready to get hired. And called her back. I called her back five years from that day and said, you know, I told her who I was. I told her the story that I just told you, and she couldn’t believe that I actually called her back. 

[00:06:23] Dane Reis: [00:06:23] That’s amazing. And did you, did you book the gig?

[00:06:26] Howie Zales: [00:06:26] Yeah. Yeah. They, they, I worked for them a few times, but most of my, most of my work was with, uh, throughout my career, NBC and Semitism. 

[00:06:33] Dane Reis: [00:06:33] Oh, I love that the perseverance pays off. Yeah.

[00:06:37] Howie Zales: [00:06:37] And I guess the other one was I, for a period of my life, I’ve lived in upstate New York, where there really was no vibe sports. And, uh, so I had to, I had to make my own brakes. I drove  you know, four hours to New York city and I’d stay with my family and I do, you know, some Yankee stuff. Or Islanders devils.

[00:06:56] I drive to Boston and I do two or three days in Boston and kind of moved all these days together. And then I go home and then I start over, you know, a a week or so doing the same thing. Uh, and now it’s tough trying to make her career for a living where there was no work. 

[00:07:12]Dane Reis: [00:07:12] Yeah, that is really challenging for sure. I mean, I mean, also lucky that you’re up in the east coast region where things tend to be a bit closer, at least at least big metropolitan areas. Uh, but yeah. That’s no joke. I want to, I want to ask about that. Uh, the ESPN story real quick, when she said, Aw, give me a call in five years.

[00:07:29] Do you think you needed those five years looking back on it?

[00:07:32]Howie Zales: [00:07:32] Yes, yes. To work at the level, uh, of ESPN or NBC or a big network. Definitely. So it was like, it gave me, you know, kicked in, but you know, it said, this is what you need to do to get to that level. What are you going to do to get to that level? So, uh, it, it was like my bear getting in the way and I need to.

[00:07:51] How am I going to get around that fair? I need to get, take smaller jobs. I need to learn. I need to talk to whoever I can talk to. I need to find a mentor or more than one mentor, and I need to get better at my craft. 

[00:08:05]Dane Reis: [00:08:05] Oh, so good. Uh, I think that’s a really important point to make, because I think in. Today’s age of this instant, like ultra instant gratification, these super short, uh, videos and with tic talk and things like that, it’s kind of in a way, has been conditioning. So many of us to expect such great feedback in such great, uh,success, if you will so quickly.

[00:08:27] And the reality is to be good at anything. Takes a long time. There’s no, there’s no way around the work you have to put in the time you have to put in the work. And like you said, you, you know, you went in there, guns blazing really? And they said, oh no, no, no, no, no, no, no,  you need to go, you know, get your chops up.

[00:08:42] And I love that that had that’s the reality of your journey, but also, do you have any, any insight or some, a couple of tips for anyone that’s in that the camera world or the tech industry? About building your chops. How do you, how do you go about doing that?

[00:08:57] Howie Zales: [00:08:57] Yeah,

[00:08:58] And that’s a great question. So, um, last year we started, I started the broadcast sports course. It’s a course to teach people like myself 20 something years ago, how to get into television, sports and entertainment was in business. And, um, it’s, uh, It starts out with a two day bootcamp. Uh, we teach people how to, uh, you know, how to talk to clients, uh, how to talk to clients on the phone and how to follow up with clients who the clients are.

[00:09:25]Um, your fellow freelancers are also clients because if they need to cancel a day at work, cause they get sick, it’s easier for them to call another freelance. Then call the client, say, Hey, can’t you off today? So, um, we teach all that type of stuff. And then, um, we teach a big part of, uh, being in this industry is being physically fit because it’s a physical job.

[00:09:46] We teach physical fitness and how to eat healthy, um, because there’s, uh, you know, uh, you know, you’ll have a longer career. And maybe with say, if you get injured, Come back quicker because you’re healthier. So we talk about teach that. And then, um, the second day is we bring in a lot of equipment. It’s cameras, uh, cables,uh, we showed everyone had, uh, put, put the cameras together.

[00:10:08] We let them do it. Uh, and so the first time when they leave our two day bootcamp, they will have seen a lot of equipment that they’ll see on the job site. And then we pair them up for. six, six to 12 months with a mentor to get them kind of involved in the industry within COVID yet.

[00:10:27] So their internship part of a program, how to be put on hold, and hopefully we’ll be able to bring that back. Uh, maybe hopefully this fall, 

[00:10:35] Dane Reis: [00:10:35] oh, that’s a really cool program. I think that’s, it’s so needed 

[00:10:40] Howie Zales: [00:10:40] cause there’s no training ground. There’s no, 

[00:10:42] Dane Reis: [00:10:42] no, of course not. It’s one of those jobs, I think for there’s so many jobs in industry,uh, like I mentioned, in our pre-interview chat I’ve I’ve done some corporate production working as a producer and things like that, that, that whole world there’s no, there’s no course, no training on that.

[00:10:55] Everyone just kind of finds their way to that fire relationships. And it’s a very interesting world, uh, but it exists. And to have someone like you providing such a, a concrete roadmap, I think is fantastic. Yeah. Well, Well, let’s move on to a time that I like to call your spotlight moment. That one moment in time you realized yes.

[00:11:20] I want to work in this entertainment industry or maybe it was, yes, this is what I need to be doing in the entertainment industry. Tell us about that.

[00:11:31] Howie Zales: [00:11:31] Yeah,

[00:11:31] So I was 14.

[00:11:36] Super early on like high school. I wanted to, I knew I wanted to play professional baseball and I did everything possible in my childhood to get myself to that level. Right. And, but I knew I needed backup. Right. Uh, so in high school there was, uh, I needed one class, an elective and it was, uh, I went through all the courses and the thing that jumped out at me was a TV production course that said it.

[00:12:01] And the description was, you know, Shoot different types of, uh, scenarios with cameras and learn editing. And the biggest thing was a trip to NBC studios in New York, at 30 rock for a tour, and to see them arrive show being taped. So I was like, how cool was 

[00:12:17] that? that can’t be that that can’t be that bad.

[00:12:20]Right? So, uh, I took the class and, uh, halfway through the year I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to. Combined my love of baseball and sports and my new bub and passion TV into a career. Cause I used to go to, you know, uh, Yankee games, met games, Rangers on, and I used to see the camera people there.

[00:12:39] I think that was so cool.

[00:12:40] So I knew exactly what I wanted to do halfway through that course. 

[00:12:45] Dane Reis: [00:12:45] Ah, so good.  And let’s piggyback on that question real quick and talk about your number one, booked it moment. Walk us through that day. What was going on in your life?

[00:12:56] And what about that moment? Makes it your favorite book moment?

[00:13:02]Howie Zales: [00:13:02] Yeah. So my one book did moment is, um, I was doing a horse race. For NBC and it was like an outside package. So what that means is, uh, one co an outside company hires all of the crew and they buy time on the network and Arizona network, but the network sends their production staff, their director, their production.

[00:13:24] You take care of the production of the show. So on this one particular horse, or is it Belmont park? I met NBC’s top director at the time, Zubair hire service, super bowl, who did their, you know, Olympics, they’re the biggest Olympics figure skating and track and field in the summer. And, uh, I knew who he was.

[00:13:44] And so I hustled so much. I went the extra mile. I, I got every chef that they wanted plus more. And, um,my friend said, you should go, you know, give, give me your card afterwards. You know? And so I went up to him and he, before he came in all fall for my car again, he said, wow, he did an awesome job. He said, we’re starting this new football league in, uh, February called the XFL.

[00:14:06] This is in 2000 ish. And, um, you said. We’d love to have you be a part of the crew. And I was like, oh my God, this is amazing. He said, why don’t you come on to Notre Dame? Because NBC does Notre Dame football. You said, you’ll do some games with us. We’ll see how your football skills are. And then we’ll take it from there.

[00:14:26] Oh, my God, I’m going to shoot Notre Dame football. And so, uh, I went and I think I did six games that year. And, um, as a freelancer and having a job that is multiple jobs, right? Six for four games or the XFL, which is 12 football games. That’s like the greatest thing in the world. And, uh, so that was like when I knew that.

[00:14:45]right.

[00:14:45]I kind of, I was making it. 

[00:14:47] Dane Reis: [00:14:47] oh, that is really cool. And that the hard work paid off and that making sure that you got that shot, because look, I think we oftentimes forget, you know, in a way we see what happens on the screen, it comes to us and we just kind of kind of absorb it right. right. What it takes to actually get that shot. And if you don’t have . The cameraman getting the shot, how do you, you know, it makes for a really bad experience. you, you know, 

[00:15:11] Howie Zales: [00:15:11] yeah, and I always showed up camera operator. 

[00:15:16]Dane Reis: [00:15:16] Hm.

[00:15:16]Howie Zales: [00:15:16] And I would ask questions if I didn’t know, you know, what I was supposed to do. And I was fortunate are on the XFL to be on the sideline where I met the WWE people. Because if you remember WWE, NBC owns half the XFL at the time. And so my work continued simultaneously with, for 20 years, I worked for NBC sports and the world wrestling entertainment as a 

[00:15:42] Dane Reis: [00:15:42] Oh, wow. So cool. And in the beginning of this, in your bio, it said that you’re an Emmy award winning camera operator. How 

[00:15:50] Howie Zales: [00:15:50] Yeah. 

[00:15:50] Dane Reis: [00:15:50] story?

[00:15:51] Howie Zales: [00:15:51] So we won an Emmy for our camera work at the Beijing Olympics for gymnastics. 

[00:15:58] Dane Reis: [00:15:58] Oh, beautiful. That must have been an incredible experience as well to go over there.

[00:16:03] Howie Zales: [00:16:03] Yeah, Beijing was awesome. It was an awesome experience. And I’ve had the good fortune to travel the world, uh, at work. But I, and I’ve seen tons of countries and I was in Beijing for almost a month. It was a great, great experience. And I was with the U S women when they won their gold medal. So it was, it was great. 

[00:16:21] Dane Reis: [00:16:21] very cool. Well, Well, let’s take a moment to talk about the present.  What projects are you working on now? What are you looking forward to? And. Look, we’re still admits this global pandemic. How do you see the entertainment industry and specifically your part of the entertainment industry moving forward in the next couple of years?

[00:16:41]Howie Zales: [00:16:41] Yeah. So, um,

[00:16:41]currently, uh, we just started our new company viridity entertainment services. Viridity being a, it’s a cool story. Um, Um, if you’re like, get really upset when things go bad, you’re kind of like in the state of red. Right. Right. And then if you get really excited, when things go good and you’re in the state of blues, my personality is kind of more even keel.

[00:17:03] So that’s the state of green and, uh, the word variety, right. right. Means in a state of being green. So we named our company  entertainment services and we do broadcast quality, live streams are for all different types of events. And, uh, you know, we, we work with a small group of people, dedicated staff, and we produce broadcast quality, live streams for our clients to produce their content globally.

[00:17:33]And, uh, we have a blast. 

[00:17:35]Dane Reis: [00:17:35] very cool. And I’m, I am a, I’m personally quite bullish on the, on the live streaming, continuing in, in the event space and things like that. What are your thoughts? Obviously you have rid of the, so I can imagine you are the same, but, uh, how do you see live streaming playing out and continuing to stay around as we’re able to go back to live events and have go back to the, you know, the pre COVID normalcy.

[00:18:01]Howie Zales: [00:18:01] Yeah.

[00:18:02] great question. I think it’s only going to increase For a few reasons. One, um, if you’re talking about corporate style events, So I still don’t think if you’re gonna have an event with 500 people that would normally showed up pre COVID. There’s no way all 500 people are coming now, it’s just not going to happen.

[00:18:22] So let’s say you got 250 people to come. You can stream that event to thousands now, and you can charge. For the people that are onsite, you can charge for the people that remote. And there are people that are remote will still, you know, uh, get the same benefit as if they were there. They get more work done cause they’re not traveling.

[00:18:41] So those types of events I think will only get, you know, get bigger. Um, and let’s say that let’s take break sports, right? There’s a small and foxing shows and smaller traffic field events and other types of sporting events that don’t have the money to afford. A real TV production in terms of hiring a TV truck, a satellite truck, a full television crew.

[00:19:03] But if we live stream it, we can bring in still professional cameras, but not what you would find on a TV truck. Um, a smaller crew. We can have a lot of our lot of the crew remote. So it saves the travel or the bringing in of the crew. And there’s more productions that will get done because it’s cheaper to do them.

[00:19:24] They have not made more air on broadcast. If they’ll air on the internet somewhere.

[00:19:28]Dane Reis: [00:19:28] For sure. And everything is really this whole, I think the consumption of content, even with some of the biggest companies out there is, and take the MLB for instance, it’s it really is this very niche,uh, streaming. You don’t need to be everywhere. You just need to be where your people are. Right. And I agree with you that I, I also think that.

[00:19:49]I guess what I was hearing is that you also think there might be kind of kind of a a hybrid of the two you’re going to have that live event, but you’re also going to offer a streaming option for a multitude of reasons. Like it increases revenue possibilities and, uh, attendance possibilities. And I think it’s, I think it’s really good as well to also point out that I think a lot of, a lot of times people don’t realize.

[00:20:08]Immense cost of doing live events is, and I think it’s all about accessibility. I think that’s amazing. Like what you said, you can, a smaller company can get their content to their people without having to, I mean, look, it still costs a fair bit of money for sure. But without, you know, the barrier to entry is not so high.

[00:20:28] Howie Zales: [00:20:28] Yeah, we, we, um, we’ve done some live streams recently with, uh, some pretty famous athletes. And what we do is we said, uh, our computer or camera kits out, right. right. Contained, um, um, a high end computer or a high Def camera microphone, or UFC microphone, ethernet cable. And, uh, if they want a tech, we hire a tech that comes in and sets it all up for them.

[00:20:52] And then we remotely log into the computer. Uh, we focus with white balance. We, we zoom the camera and then we over the internet, we bring them into our production and the person sits in front of the computer, our computer, and just literally talks to the camera. They see what that they see, you know, what’s going on over the air, on the computer screen.

[00:21:13]Um, and it’s, it’s a way to get. Big name people into productions that you would never get to fly to somewhere or to, to get them a part of Michele. 

[00:21:24] Dane Reis: [00:21:24] Right. Right. Just for purely logistical time constraints that 

[00:21:28] Howie Zales: [00:21:28] Yeah. And the costs and the cost and the cost factor. Right. We’re sending them, we’re sending it on our cat, our computer camera kit. And they don’t have to read their house. 

[00:21:37] Dane Reis: [00:21:37] Oh, that’s amazing. I really like that. Very cool. 

[00:21:40] Howie Zales: [00:21:40] Yeah. We make it easier. 

[00:21:41] Dane Reis: [00:21:41] yeah. So good. Well, it is time to move on to one of my favorite sections in the interview. I call it the grease lightning round. I am going to ask you a handful of questions. I want you to answer them as quickly and concisely as possible one after another.

[00:21:57] Are you. 

[00:21:58] Howie Zales: [00:21:58] Okay. 

[00:22:00] Dane Reis: [00:22:00] All right. First question. What was the one thing holding you back from committing to a career in the entertainment industry?

[00:22:06]Howie Zales: [00:22:06] So, uh, kind of have retired from being a camera person. And the one thing that, uh, kept me from doing that earlier was fear. Fear of not being able to make it as an entrepreneur. 

[00:22:17] Dane Reis: [00:22:17] Yes for sure. And the second question, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

[00:22:24]Howie Zales: [00:22:24] Learning to say, no, 

[00:22:26] Dane Reis: [00:22:26] Mm, Mm, third question. What is something that is working for you right now, or if you’d like to go pre COVID, what was working for you before our industry went on? Pause.

[00:22:37]Howie Zales: [00:22:37] working hard, 110% stay focused, having a list of what I need to do and when it needs to get done and just staying focused. 

[00:22:47] Dane Reis: [00:22:47] Yes. Fourth question. What is your best resource? Whether that is a book, a movie, a YouTube video, maybe a podcast or piece of technology you found is helping your career right now.

[00:22:59]Howie Zales: [00:22:59] Yeah. Um,

[00:23:00]I have a business coach and, uh, having a business coach and having a mentor, having someone keeping you accountable, uh, of both the van up, are they just cooling? Yeah. Uh, empire podcast and also the YouTube videos on, which gave me a lot of training in the ride sharing world. So a lot, a lot of different things. 

[00:23:16] Dane Reis: [00:23:16] great. Fifth question. If you had to start your career from scratch, but you still had all the knowledge and experience you’ve collected from your career in this industry, what would you do or not do? Would you do anything differently or would you keep it the same?

[00:23:31]Howie Zales: [00:23:31] I operated a handheld camera or S a hundred percent of the time, or we do less handheld camera. Cause it definitely took a toll on my body. 

[00:23:40] Dane Reis: [00:23:40] Hmm. Hmm. And the last question, what is the golden nugget knowledge drop you’ve learned from your successful career in this industry? You’d like to leave with our listeners.

[00:23:50]Howie Zales: [00:23:50] Trust your gut, go with your gut instinct. Cause you’ll never steer you wrong. 

[00:23:55] Dane Reis: [00:23:55] Aw, so, so good to wrap up this interview, how he, it is time to give yourself a plug. Where can we find you? How do our listeners connect with you? And is there anything you want to promote?

[00:24:09]Howie Zales: [00:24:09] Sure you can reach me at my website. Viridity entertainment.com. That’s Right.Right. T Y entertainment.com. I’m on LinkedIn at Howard Zales or Instagram at . Um, and, uh, yeah, we, for all our new, for any new clients that need help with live streaming, we offer, um, a 10% discount on your, on your first production with us for the next star.

[00:24:36] And that promotion is going on for the next two weeks. 

[00:24:39]Dane Reis: [00:24:39] Brilliant. And for everyone listening out there, I have put the links to everything, how he just said into the description of this episodes, you can easily connect with him and also be sure to share this podcast with your fellow entertainers, coaches, teachers, arts, and entertainment educators, and anyone, you know,you know, aspiring to create a career.

[00:25:01] This entertainment industry, you booked. It is the number one resource of expertise on how to actually create a successful entertainment career, case, and point the incredible journey that how he has had through him. Entire career. If you enjoyed this episode, please hit that subscribe button.

[00:25:21] So you don’t miss the next guest. How are you? Thank you so much for being here. It’s been very enlightening and insightful having you on and chatting today.

[00:25:30]Howie Zales: [00:25:30] Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it. 

[00:25:33]