Pulley guitarist Trey Clinesmith is a punk rock cameraman
Of all the veteran punk rock bands claiming to have the most unique jobs outside of the industry, there’s a good chance Pulley will end up in first place.
Not only is vocalist Scott Radinsky a former MLB pitcher, but guitarist Trey Clinesmith also actively works as a cameraman for several popular TV shows (modern family, The right placeby Netflix Lincoln’s lawyer). Hell, Pulley’s other guitarist, Mike Harder, works on jets when he’s not on the road.
While you could say they all have “weird” jobs, it was Clinesmith who spoke with SPIN (during the filming of HBO The sex life of college girls) for this week’s edition of Small jobs.
SPIN: How did you come to work as a cameraman in Hollywood?
Trey Clinesmith: Being born here in LA, my dad was an industrial truck driver, so I was raised on set. I was always around film sets as a kid, and I found it fascinating. It was so different from everything else. It is a glorified circus. I always liked that it was very free and fun, and I always liked being on set. Growing up, I knew I wanted to do camera work. I started driving trucks when I was 18 with the idea that I was going to drive the camera truck, make friends with the cameramen, show them I was a hustler and get involved there -down. So I did exactly that, and moved up in the camera department and pushed my way forward. Sometimes I even get a little director’s job, like on modern family.
How does the film and television industry compare to your experience in the music business?
They are both very creative. Cinema is creative, but as a cameraman you have creative input but you always respond to a higher God in the director. What I love about music is that it’s your creative outlet. It is what you choose to be. Cinema doesn’t necessarily have that as much as an operator, because there’s supposed to be a definite direction for a show.
How do you balance the schedule between your two careers, since they both require large chunks of time when active?
It’s a bit difficult right now with Pulley, because we’re looking at April and May next year, and I don’t know what job I’ll be on or if I can schedule it. Basically, I just have to commit and say “Look, we have three weeks to cross Australia.” Luckily my career isn’t like a desk job where I have to use vacation days, it’s more that if I get a job offer I have to tell them I won’t be available during that time. It gets a bit tricky, because you never know what job you’ll be doing or how understanding they’ll be. But I’ve been working with some people for a long time now, and they’re very enthusiastic about the music. They encourage me. We just did three weeks across Europe and Canada, and they were like, ‘Do it. Have fun.” So it’s working for now, but it gets a bit difficult at times.
Are there any skills you learned on one side of things that help you on the other?
Collaborating and having an open mind to an idea that is not yours is huge. I might have an idea of how I think a shot should be executed, and someone else might have a different opinion on how we should do it – and by being open you learn that it there are a lot of smart and creative people on both sides. You have to be ready to see other sides because there are brilliant people you can learn from. Quite often you come up with an idea that’s a great concept, but you have to be prepared to have an open mind to make it work.
Is there any advice you would give to your younger self or someone looking to follow in your footsteps?
You must like it. The first thing must be passion. You have to take advantage of it, because you also have to be flexible and open-minded. Being a movie fan, watching movies and enjoying the work you see is also very important. You can learn so many things by watching movies. There are so many great movies that have been made. I think that’s kind of a big takeaway – just look at different film ideas and approaches. You can give the same script to seven different directors and essentially have seven completely different movies that are all good. There is no wrong way. There are just different ways. There are no absolutes in cinema – although sometimes people treat subjects as such – but there are no absolutes as an art form. When you embark on a project, you should think of it as liquid. It is free form. It’s an ongoing creative process – and I think both translate into music as well.
From a creative point of view, how similar or different are cinema and music to you?
Writing music usually comes completely from inspiration, so sometimes you’re in a dry spell, but other times you can’t write fast enough. Often in film you don’t have the freedom to wait for inspiration. It is demanding work with long hours, and the product must be produced at the end of the day. It’s not as loose as songwriting. Songwriting can really wait for inspiration to strike, but the reality with filmmaking is that you’re there for 12 hours and you’re going to go about your day.
Is there anything else you would like to share about how cinema and music intertwine for you?
Between cinema and music, I couldn’t do anything else. Sometimes we shoot in an office for like three weeks, and I realize that’s a lifestyle that I couldn’t have done. I wouldn’t survive it. I like that every day can be different in music and cinema. No two days are really alike. They both let you use your creative side, and that’s a blessing for someone like me. I don’t know if I could survive in the regular workforce doing the usual pencil.