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5 Minute Mentor: Rudy Chung

Rudy is the music supervisor for Silicon Valley on HBO

Rudy Chung
Rudy Chung, Partner HTGR & Pusher and Music Supervisor, Silicon Valley on HBO

How does your career compare with what you envisioned when you started pursuing work in this industry? How did you discover and get onto this career path?

I never could have envisioned being on my current career path when I started almost 20 years ago. I was a total outsider and knew nothing about the music or film & tv business, but I knew this was something I wanted to explore and pursue. While still in college I looked at what was around me to try and prepare me for such an exploration, so I applied to every internship around me. I ended up working for a startup website interviewing bands, and interning at a small rock venue in Philadelphia. I then packed up my car and drove out to Los Angeles without a job or apartment. In hindsight those experiences were so valuable to me; not because of what I learned necessarily but because it put into action an aspiration and made me go out and find opportunities.

Tell us about a mistake or bad habit that you had to overcome early in your career. How did you do it?

Like many people, I have a habit of naturally prioritizing things I like to do first. And letting things I prefer not to do fall by the wayside. At my first job, I was thrown into a situation where I was forced to learn everything very quickly from the bottom up. It was like learning a new language. I had no background or experience with record labels or music publishers or managers or agents or artists or directors or editors or screenwriters. When you’re in such a foreign environment, you’re forced to survive by learning everything as quickly as you can. I think to this day that has fueled a professional curiosity and desire to always know more, and to do better. I knew from day one that I had so much to learn, and I still carry that with me. And I’m not afraid to take on tasks that I’m not immediately comfortable doing.

What’s the best piece of advice you can offer to aspiring writers and filmmakers who are looking to network and make industry relationships?

I think you should start with what’s around you. Watch everything you can, and form an opinion. Engage people around you by having discussions with them about what you just saw or read. I think a hugely intangible skill in this industry is being able to confidently articulate your opinions and thoughts. The more you talk out loud about it, the more comfortable you become speaking about it in professional or networking-type settings. If your passion for film is entirely cerebral and internal, and you’re first put in a position to discuss your thoughts on a film or screenplay etc at a meeting or event, you may not feel comfortable articulating your feelings in a way that feels confident or informed. Practicing that now will only help in your future.

What's one industry myth you can debunk?

That anyone knows what the hell they’re talking about. I have met a lot of people in positions of power and influence who are just trying to figure it out like everyone else. There are people with lineage, background and privilege (i.e. their parents work in the industry) that may have a head start, but they can’t match your knowledge, work ethic, and willingness to learn. Most of our interns who come from a lineage of industry experience don’t work out. They come in with certain preconceptions and expectations. The ones that generally succeed are the ones that come in with the eagerness to learn, and the willingness to do what it takes to grow.

Tell us one of your favorite success stories from the industry, whether it was your success or someone else’s.

I was approached by a young guy from Boston who emailed us saying he loved our work and would love to work with us. At the time, our internships were unpaid (that has since changed - we pay all of our interns now). I thanked him for his interest but told him we were based in Los Angeles, and that given that our internships were unpaid I told him to check back in if he ever found himself in LA and we could meet for coffee. A week later, he emailed saying he was here and asked for the name of my favorite coffee shop. He had packed his car and drove cross country to make the commitment. This summer we celebrated his 10-year anniversary of being with our company, where he is considered a bright, young industry leader and a senior executive at our company.


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