Spotlight: Erin Pennington, Entertainment Business Instructor, SAE Institute Nashville

Erin Pennington

We met with Erin Pennington, company owner, content creator and Entertainment Business Instructor at SAE Institute Nashville, to learn more about his career, his passion for the entertainment industry, and to hear his must-know tips for aspiring entertainment business students.

Please tell me a bit about your background.

I studied video production at Western Kentucky University while also pursuing a music background with local bands in the city.

I came to Nashville after I found this city to be a great mix of production and music. After a few years in town, I became the Lead Video Technician at Lipscomb University, where I would coordinate video recordings and live streams to large arena events, ESPN broadcasts, classroom recordings, and many other things. This job helped me to learn not only the video world for major live events, but I also got to help with lighting, audio, graphics, and many other departments.

I then left Lipscomb University to start a production company that focuses on bringing quality content into the brand’s online presence.

What do you like most about teaching at SAE Institute?

I love SAE Institute’s mission to be hands-on and project and experience focused. I believe that is the number one way to learn in the entertainment field. No one learns how to play a guitar or drums without actually using the instrument, and SAE Institute wants their students to be hands-on.

What’s your favorite part of the curriculum?

Videography is my favorite part of the curriculum to teach because there is traditionally so much mystery as to how television is produced, and to deconstruct this for the students and see their eyes light up is great.

What is the most important thing you took from the classroom to the real world when you graduated?

Some days it is just as important to do something at all rather than do something perfectly. Being a perfectionist will slow you down if you can’t finish anything.

Anything you regret in your career? Something you have or haven’t done?

I spent a lot of time thinking instead of doing. A lot of times you find out that all that thinking still cannot prepare you for what will happen when you put yourself out there and begin the process of a project.

5 tips for an aspiring Entertainment Business student

  • If you plan on working for yourself in the entertainment business, you really want to focus on working in the areas that make you the happiest. Passion shows in your work and it can really work to your advantage.
  • If you plan on working for yourself in the entertainment business, only work for free/discounted to get enough experience. Once you feel you have the experience and you’re now working for your rent/business/family, never look back at discounted rates!
  • Many places will offer internships in exchange for free work even if they do not advertise it.
  • There are many great programs and resources on campus to use, and the more you are proficient with certain software and equipment, the better chance you will be hired.
  • If you have the time, never say no to a gig!

Who inspired you to pursue your career in the entertainment business?

Not one person in particular, but a love for creating something out of nothing was a huge motivator for me.

Who is your inspiration? What made you “you”?

We are in a world as digital creators where we can never really stop learning, and there is a huge community around the live production world that really tries to help each other and make us better. Nashville’s creative community is very giving, and I wouldn’t be where I am without the many people who took just five minutes to explain to me how something worked.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’ve seen a growing trend to try and be good at so many things but I want to tell the students out there that it’s okay to chase after your one passion in the entertainment business and learn one skill to the best of your ability. Many people strive to learn everything, which is great, but not many are chasing after one thing and learning it really well. That’s becoming a more unique thing today and it’s well worth pursuing.

Erin is the owner of XPLR, a local production company, as well as a video editor, live broadcast director, and the producer and co-host of the podcast, Nashville Daily.