You press play.
The film moves quicker than you thought it would, flashing images of your childhood best friend, laughing and jumping around. There’s a crackling that touches every sound the camera recorded. You didn’t have a boom back then (let alone know what a boom was).
Still, there’s a joy that was captured in your first home movie that you hope you’re still able to touch on now. Goofing off in your backyard, you were just starting to learn what a camera could do.
Now, your camera is basically an extension of your arm; you know every inch of it, every angle it can shoot. In fact, even though it wasn’t easy, you’ve turned this love of video into a career.
Laura Lindauer discovered her love for film at an early age. She decided to follow this interest to the University of California, Santa Cruz and got her degree in Film and Digital Media in 2012.
Now she works as a freelance Video Producer and Editor and a Video Editor at Shmoop. She’s done some video work here at AfterCollege as well. We asked Laura to share her career journey and what it’s like working as a professional video producer/editor.
How did you become interested in the art of video?
Growing up, my mom always had the camera rolling. I loved being in front of the camera and grew accustomed to it as an everyday utility. As I got older, I wanted to control what was shot and began making goofy videos with friends.
That general interest sat in the back of my mind until I decided to go back to school to further develop those skills. Studying film theory provided me with a well-rounded understanding of the importance of film and video within our culture and allowed me to think critically about the film tropes I wanted to continue in my own work, and those I did not.
What was your transition like after college? What was your job search process like?
My transition was pretty difficult, actually. I wanted to work for a small production company and that proved to be very difficult for a new grad. Like many other industries, there weren’t a lot of opportunities for people with less than five years of experience. This led me to begin acquiring my own video equipment so that I could create opportunities for myself, and I did!
I gave myself the position of Producer/Editor and when someone said, “I need video,” I responded, “I will do it!”
How did you get to your current position?
With Shmoop, I saw that the company was looking for a video editor and thought it could be a fun job. I then remembered one of my classmates from UCSC was working for Shmoop and asked him about the job. He gave me a great recommendation and that was that.
What is a typical day like? What sorts of filming / editing do you do?
With Shmoop, my day involves reading a script and coming up with visuals to express those ideas. I work in Photoshop and After Effects to create limited animations for educational content.
As a Producer/Editor (freelance work) I work with companies to create web content for their audience. Depending on the client and project, I take care of some or all aspects of a video from development to post-production. My day can be anywhere from discussing ideas with a client, to scripting, to shooting and editing. I have worked on projects for Discovery Channel, Ford, TriNet, and many projects with AfterCollege, which is always a blast.
What are your favorite parts about your job?
My favorite part about my job at Shmoop is that I get to make goofy videos from the comfort of my home, and on my own time.
My favorite part about my producer/editor work is that I can be involved in all aspects of the projects, which can be really exciting and rewarding.
What are the challenges?
Challenges as a freelance producer/editor are endless, but that is part of the fun!
How do you balance your creativity/artistic inclinations with making a living? Do you do any side projects?
Making fun videos for Shmoop takes an edge out of the corporate work I do—it’s a nice balance. But I also work on video projects on the side from time to time. I worked with the Production Designer on a short called Forgetting, and more recently worked on a film for the SF 48 Hour Film Project. I’m always looking for fun projects to work on.
What advice do you have for students who are interested in pursuing a career in videography?
For all students: Work on as many school projects as you can and work hard. Help in all aspects of film/video to get an idea of what you like doing best.
Create a portfolio/reel. This is extremely important and is expected for any creative role. One trick to bolster your portfolio is to create a spec or a ‘fake’ commercial/project to add a professional example. Just because you don’t have the clients, doesn’t mean you can’t create the work yourself.
Get an internship at a production company, but make sure they produce content you like or admire!
Stay connected with the people you’ve worked with!
For students who want to work on features or in television, the best thing you can do is work as a Production Assistant any chance you get. It is grunt work at the bottom of the barrel, but if you work hard and efficiently, you will most certainly be asked to come back.
Homework time! Interested in a career in video? Start investing in your own equipment. See if you can work on some freelance projects to start building your portfolio and making a name for yourself. Don’t discount the projects you can do yourself. Like Laura recommends, try out all aspects of videoing to see what you like best. When applying to jobs, don’t be afraid of doing the grunt work. Even if you’re working at the bottom of the barrel, give it your all. Build your reputation on being hardworking and reliable so that you’ll be called back.