How I got started in video production, and the importance of personal work.

How I got started in video production, and the importance of personal work.

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My background:
I’ve had several freelance jobs and 2 full time jobs so far in the video production industry. It’s hard to believe that next year marks 10 years of working with video.

I went to college for digital media and graduated thinking I wanted to be a graphic designer.

In college, I didn’t want anything to do with shooting or editing video.

I actually avoided it and made my classmates do team projects that required it. Later my focus changed from graphic design to motion graphic design.

When I was first starting out in that, I spent hours watching, reading, and doing tutorials online. I did some personal projects using techniques I had learned from Andrew Kramer and others. At this time I was a full time Assistant Sales Manager in Women’s Clothing Dept. at a Macy’s (glamorous I know.)

Over the years I started gaining interest in video and I decided I wanted to try my hand at it. I used to be in a band, and I thought maybe filming my friends could be my way to stay in the scene. In December of 2007 I got my first camera, a Canon hv20. I tried to shoot videos of bands and edit them for fun and experience but still wanted to do motion graphics primarily. Sometime in 2008, I was thrown a curveball. I had some friends that worked in video production and they were growing their team, so they suggested their boss talk to me. I didn’t have a great body of work but I brought in that personal, un-commissioned After Effects work. They saw potential and decided to bring me on doing motion graphics and I would also be trained as a video editor on the side.

Over the several years that I worked at that job, I discovered that I actually didn’t really like motion graphics, but had a strong leaning to shooting and editing video. I used that hv-20 on one paid freelance job and earned enough to get a Canon 7D and a 28mm f/1.8 lens. I still really wanted to work with bands, so I found time to do a video for some friends. This was an interview type video with b-roll of them playing in their practice space. Take a peak at that video if you want.

Little would I know that the passion project that I loved to do would lead me to my next job. In 2011, I got an email from a company that had seen that video and few other personal projects on my vimeo channel. I got an opportunity to freelance (and within a year become the Video Production Manager) for this growing online marketing company. I was very fortunate to have people put in words for me, but the point I want to make is that it was VERY important that I had some personal work to show them. No one was paying me to do motion graphics or shoot bands. I was fueled by my own desire to learn and create.

For the first job, I had literally no experience, so everything I had was from projects that I had done myself. The second (and current) job was sold on projects that I loved and really put my heart into, not so much just the fact that I could pull a decent key. This recent revelation has re-ignited my desire to do personal work. I believe that this is what will propel me (and probably you as well) into the next stage of our creative and professional careers.

Since 2011, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some really talented people and actually get paid for doing what I’m passionate about. This post would not be complete without mentioning my friend Mark C. Eshleman, who took me under his wing and helped me learn the ropes of running camera for live music videos. As I’ve said, I love to work with bands and this has proven a very important creative outlet for me. Again, personal projects that fuel the creative fire.

If you are just starting out and don’t have a job in this industry yet, I encourage you to start finding yourself in personal work. I had friends who got me interviews, but if I hadn’t have had any work to show, a good reference wouldn’t have meant anything. My first job took a chance with me, but they saw POTENTIAL. My skill set and abilities grew there. Never underestimate starting at the bottom. Everyone has to do it. But the more you learn now, on your own, determines what the “bottom” is for you. It’s different for everyone. But this is my experience. I haven’t really even done that much personal work, which saddens me. But the little that I have done, has gotten me jobs, has been showcased on websites, put in a French production magazine and most recently used as b-roll on German television. It’s been a fun ride so far and I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

Don’t wait until you have the right camera and the right gear.

I tried that, bought it and never got a creative boost. It’s not about that. As you move forward and just DO – you will get more ideas.

I have so much to learn and so far to go, but here’s to getting better, learning, and constantly moving forward.

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I've been in full time video production since 2008. I shoot and edit promotional stuff and music videos. I'm also a proud husband and father. All-day coffee and tea connoisseur.

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