Seminar Survival Kit

Tomorrow I run off to Hollywoodland to sit through the two-day seminar on getting films funded. To prepare, I’ve gone out and bought the necessary supplies to ensure I had the tools to cover the occasion. These essentials will actually be appropriate for most journalistic events, so whatever the occasion may be, here’s a good starter pack. My survival kit includes:

  1. Pocket Notepad: The kind that’s spiral-bound on the top and fits inside an inside coat breast pocket. These two facets are important because first, the spiral lets you flip pages quickly and easily without having to move the hand holding the pad, and second, the small dimensions lets you tuck the pad away discreetly. You don’t even have to flip the pad shut when you put it away. That way you never lose your place. Plus, the spiral bind can hold your pen in a pinch. Just slide it in from the side. It’s the ultimate holstered weapons for any journalist.
  2. Pens: Have at least three of them; one in your coat pocket and two in your bag. Test your pens before you leave. Last thing you want is a pen that won’t write when a literary agent or producer is giving you her number.
  3. Legal Pad: Or at least a bigger pad. It’s nice to have a large writing area when the occasion allows you to sit down and listen to someone, like during press conferences, roundtable interviews or seminars.
  4. Recorder: Digital recorder, preferably. This is especially important for one-on-one interviews. When you have a recorder, you can have a more natural conversation with whomever you’re talking to, rather than having your face buried in your pad, scribbling furiously. For all other events, it really just makes the experience that much more meaningful for you when you can actually take a moment and absorb what the speaker is saying, knowing that you have a recording of it in case you don’t want to forget it. Combine the recorder with note-taking by using your notes to highlight key points. Digital recorders are the most convenient since you won’t have to worry about flipping cassettes around or swapping them out when the tape runs out. My Olympus WS-100 acts as a USB storage device so I can just plug and play when I need to transfer the recording to my computer.
  5. Camera: Hell, a camera is useful anywhere you go. You never know what you’ll need a visual of. Don’t worry about lugging around something that requires a telephoto lens. Just bring your point-and-shoot that fits in your pocket.
  6. Extra Batteries: Keep your recorder and camera powered when you need them most.
  7. Bottled Water: Some places/venues *cough* Hollywood *cough* will charge you upwards $6 for bottled water. Bring your own. Plus, it’s nice to have a wet whistle when you need to start asking questions.
  8. Cash: $40 should do it. It’ll buy you lunch, pay for parking and cover enough gas to get you home.
  9. Business Cards: I haven’t actually followed this guideline until now, but I see the folly of not having had business cards for networking purposes. Now I try not to show up without them. You never know who you’re going to meet, so be prepared with your contact information.

That’s all I have for you. I hope this was useful and hope to see some of you there!