Finding Work in Entertainment During COVID

Social Sanctuary
Film Production alumnus Oleg Tcherkas on set at Social Sanctuary. Photo provided by Oleg.

How this Film Alum Gained COVID-Compliant Production Experience 

Oleg Tcherkas was born in Redding, California, but grew up in Moscow after his family had to leave the United States as the USSR was collapsing in 1991. Oleg’s parents were both theater actors and planted the entertainment bug in Oleg from an early age. Although Oleg spent most of his life in Russia, his goal was to return to California and pursue the film and TV industry. 

“Even though I already had some experience in film and TV back in Moscow, the problem was the language barrier. I did not know how to say certain “film” things in English, so it was challenging to get into the biz,” said Oleg. 

“At some point, I stumbled upon an ad online for The Los Angeles Film School. I applied for the [All-Access Studio] tour and signed up as soon as the tour ended.”

Photo provided by Oleg Tcherkas

Life After Film School in a Pandemic

Fast forward to 2021, and Oleg is a recent graduate of the Film Production bachelor’s program at The Los Angeles Film School. He scored a camera operation gig with Anaconda Street Productions based in Whittier, CA, and has been working on COVID-compliant production sets ever since. 

Oleg gained COVID-compliant production experience through working with Career Development at LAFS. Oleg knew he had to proactively reach out to as many contacts as he could including Steve Longo, who is a film and entertainment advisor in Career Development. He eventually found work helping the Film Department shoot online video sessions on the Selma backlot. Every production followed strict COVID guidelines, and that’s where Oleg gained valuable experience to bring to other COVID-compliant productions around town.

During the pandemic, Oleg worked as a camera operator on set for Social Sanctuary, which is a safe performance venue for artists, comedians and other creatives to record sessions and stream them to a larger audience. Social Sanctuary allowed Oleg to work safely on a variety of projects for the music, film and TV industries.      

“All of this was just a beginning. Anaconda Street Productions started introducing me to more of their projects outside of Social Sanctuary including working with Mario Lopez and his wife at their home in Los Angeles,” said Oleg.

Alumni Oleg Tcherkas on set at Mario Lopez’s home in Los Angeles. Photo provided by Oleg.

Finding production work during the pandemic has been difficult for everyone, especially recent college graduates. The good news is that the State of California deemed film and television production cast and crews essential workers, which has allowed more people like Oleg to stay employed or find COVID-compliant jobs on sets. 

If you are a recent graduate or about to graduate from your degree program, use CareerConnect to talk with your career advisors. Career Development is an excellent resource to help you network and find job opportunities in the entertainment industry!