Have you always wanted to inspire and educate audiences through filmmaking but don’t know where to start?
In a recent SHiFT Community Hub session, our expert Ambassadors, Beccy Finlayson and Karey Billyard agreed that you can start almost anywhere. There is no single path to filmmaking and whatever skill and passion you already have is likely transferable to at least one area of the art.
Beccy works in film as an Assistant Producer and defines her work as environmental communication. For as long as she can remember, Beccy yearned to deeply understand the natural world, this inquisitiveness led her to pursue a degree in Geography. After university, she landed a job in TV and film as a researcher. It was while doing this work she saw the eXXpedition North Pacific Voyage: Leg 2 applicant call out.
To her, the voyage was an opportunity to meet both personal and professional challenges like; learning how to fundraise, getting hands-on with microplastic science and making her own short film. (Watch it here!)
She experienced all of that and so much more. The voyage reaffirmed what she already knew to be true: the best way to engage people on an issue will always be first-hand, but when done well, storytelling is a powerful second.
Beccy’s top tips for engaging filmmaking:
Think About the Audience
- How well do they know the subject?
- How much time do they have?
- What will grab their interest and emotions?
Where to Focus Your Efforts
Developing the Journey
The journey should have a character, an obstacle and a resolution. Set up your story arc with a question or a mission statement, think: who / what / why.
Quality, stunning imagery is important for grabbing people’s attention and engaging their memory. Look for unique viewpoints or uncommon angles to mix it up. If you don’t have personal gear, try to find a borrow or rental program near you.
When searching for stories look for new scientific discoveries or ways to tell a known story in a new way or from a new perspective.
Karey grew up on Lake Ontario and spent a lot of time in nature from an early age. When it came to her career path, she chose to do a degree in Video Television arts knowing she wanted to tell stories that would help others connect to the same love for nature and natural history she had.
Taking advantage of a Common Wealth working visa program Karey traveled to London and landed a job on the public engagement team at the Natural History Museum. Organizing speaking events for filmmakers and producers reignited her passion to get behind the scenes of film production herself. She transitioned into a Production Assistant role at the BBC Natural History Unit thanks to advice and contacts she had gained in her previous position.
Karey stresses the importance of going after you what you want in filmmaking, you never know who is looking for the skills you have.
After working on productions like Planet Earth, Big Blue Live, and more, her visa came to an end and she moved back to Canada. For a while, Karey worked in network television on productions like Dino Hunt Canada and William Shatner’s Weird or What? but soon realized this area of the industry wasn’t for her. However, it had sharpened her character development skillset which would end up serving her in new and surprising ways.
In the meantime, Karey pursued a new passion – sailing. She and her partner bought a boat, learned the ropes and took off to explore the Great Lakes. This adventure ended up landing both of them a job, creating a video profile series with Waterlution called The Great Lakes Project. They sailed around and captured the stories of people who live and thrive around the Great Lakes.
Karey continues to be inspired by people’s stories and is currently working on a series called World Water Journey, featuring women who work on climate solutions and adaptations in Canada.
Karey’s top tips for engaging filmmaking:
Consider the Human Element
Telling human stories is how we can help people connect with and understand what otherwise feels like big, abstract climate issues.
Consider Non-traditional Outlets
When we think of film we often think of the festival, gala type of filmmaking, but you could make films for social media or even classrooms.
Making content, even if it’s only for yourself is a creative outlet, will help you understand how much time and effort goes into filmmaking. You’ll learn how to overcome common challenges and get better at even small, unseen tasks like data management. Overall, it will sharpen your skills and it could even open up opportunities, you never know what a personal project might lead to!
Introducing yourself helps people connect with you, don’t forget to tell your own story.
Put yourself out there!
More about SHiFT Hub Events
eXXpedition runs regular events for our community and beyond. Keep an eye on our social channels for updates on upcoming public events, and browse our blog to find out the highlights of our community events and keep up with eXXpedition news.
Thank you to 11th Hour Racing who are supporting this work.
Post by Nikkey Dawn