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Video Editor and Videographer (Film and Fine Arts, BA)

Jeff Thompson

Jeff Thompson graduated from Laurier in 2006 with a double major in Film and Fine Arts (2006 being the final year Fine Arts was offered at Laurier). Jeff enjoyed how the film program balanced both world cinema and Hollywood, which broadened his perspective on film and the world.

After completing his degree, Jeff went on to attend the Advanced Television and Film (ATVF) postgraduate program at Sheridan to gain skills in directing and cinematography. For students interested in the film industry, Jeff recommends pursuing additional training and/or education that will offer a practical, hands-on component. This way, the theory learned from a degree program can be applied and integrated with the actual art of working with film. Practical programs, such as the one Sheridan offers, will also help kick start the development of a portfolio, which is key in this industry.

After graduating from Sheridan, Jeff cold-called several studios and went on to complete an internship with Fall Star Films. He has since worked for several video clients and companies in the Waterloo region. Jeff points out that the video job market within the Waterloo Region is more focussed on business and internet videos, versus Toronto, where there are more opportunities in television and film. “Many of the places in Waterloo offering video-related work are small studios working in digital content creation. Working in small to mid-sized studios means that you, as a video producer, have to be multifaceted in your skill set. Often what will get you the job is how diversified a skill set you have that you can offer the employer. So to make it in this industry, you have to be the type of person that is always challenging yourself to learn new programs and processes. You may have to be the graphic artist, animator, videographer, director and video editor for the same client.” Jeff really enjoys the challenge of developing his skills in a more holistic manner.

Some words of advice from Jeff? If you’re going into the film industry, do it because you love it, not for the money. Starting out won’t be easy and you won’t climb your way to the top overnight. Jeff notes that, “at about three years of experience, more doors start to open – and at five years, even more open.” Additionally, working in film can mean long days and a very busy schedule. On that note, perseverance and flexibility is key, as this is a field where it’s important to stick to what you’re doing and push through challenges that arise.

Jeff enjoys getting to use creativity in his job, and says it can be a lot of fun. He also enjoys learning new programs and techniques. Jeff has also begun teaching a course on video editing at Laurier and enjoys teaching students and sharing with them what he has learned and discovered. He’s had the opportunity to work with a variety of companies and projects, and meet many different people in many different fields.

Jeff notes that being in the video editing field requires having a good sense of what people like, and being able to anticipate what style of video is appropriate for their needs. This skill is especially imperative as it is the type of field where clients often have little input at the start of a project, but a lot of opinions near the end. “Most people easily identify what style they do not like, and find it hard to identify what style they want – without examples to eliminate. So you learn to be able to empathize with clients’ personality types to help guess their stylistic choices more accurately.” Developing the ability to assess a clients’ style and preferences early on can help to ensure the video projects are completed on time and within budget, and serve to avoid frustrations.

Jeff provides a few words of wisdom on the videography side of production: “When it comes to videography you have to think composition in motion. This requires you to be very observant so that you can think ahead and adjust your framing or camera motion accordingly. Videography also requires you to monitor many things simultaneously. For example, on small sets you may have to pay attention to camera motion, framing and focus while monitoring audio, and in some cases noticing the performance of the person on camera, so that you can give them feedback as well. Therefore multi-tasking is a key attribute of a videographer.”

If there’s anything Jeff wishes he had done differently, it would be to focus more on gaining practical skills and focus more on practical positions within the field such as art direction. A degree in film does not limit you (or guarantee you) a job as a director or producer in Hollywood, but it does open doors to plenty of exciting opportunities for you to explore.

While television and film may be your career goals, Jeff points out that it is an exciting time for the online video industry with more and more job opportunities. “People in general are spending more and more time watching online videos. This makes sense. We live in a world where people seem busier day by day. By watching videos, people can retain information more efficiently than just by reading content, because video engages multiple senses. Google is reporting that for every minute that goes by, 100 hours of content is uploaded. The fact is simple, people are consuming online video more and more. This means that if someone (or a company) wants their content to standout from all the rest of the content out there, they need to either hire a professional, or take some courses on videography and video editing.