A former co-worker told me she was leaving the company just as they were getting ready to start a new, kind of crazy project. She asked to meet me and told me about what was going on and what the project might be. I told her I was interested and that I would love to come back to work ASAP!!! (as long as I could find child-care). So, she relayed my thoughts to the bosses, we scheduled a meeting and I came in, looking like a new mom, haggard and frazzled.
They asked me about my experience with video production. None, other than what I’ve absorbed through osmosis from my father and growing up around a news studio.
They asked me about my experience with photography.
Minimal portrait taking for a chain studio. I had a vague understanding of 3-point lighting and NO idea how to properly use a camera. Again, I’d picked stuff up through being around amateur photographers, former professional photographers, and former news camera operators but I had never had more than a passing run-down of camera technology, let alone composition, technique, focus-pulling, etc... They asked me if I was interested in learning.
Hell yes. I love a challenge.
Good enough, they said.
I was fortunate enough to have an understanding of where to start and to have bosses willing to hire pros to teach me. We recruited a producer, a director of photography and an editor to show me the ropes. I had a week with the producer, two days with the DOP and two days with the editor. They tried to cram 4 years of film school into that brief time.
That was 3 years ago.
If you go back and look at our early efforts it is quite obvious that we had no idea what we were doing. I was still getting the hang of the camera, afraid to change any settings lest I did something I could not un-do. My “talent” - although a great teacher and an expert in his field- had never been on camera before. He was stiff and formal, obviously self-conscious and just as afraid as I was.
We are still learning ever day. Luckily, I am no longer afraid of my camera. I have read and re-read the manual so many times, trying to figure out how to get the most out of it. The pros we hired gave me a starting point. They gave me enough information to pick up the camera to shoot and sit down to edit the resulting footage. The main thing I needed to start producing our videos was the confidence to learn.
We started with nothing more than a goal. We wanted to make videos instructing customers how to properly install 500 of our top-selling parts. We knew how to provide the instructions. We had a clear idea of what we wanted to show customers so all we had to do was shoot it.
Video production takes time. I am constantly learning. I continue to read books, I am still taking courses and attending workshops but the most important thing I do is I shoot. I keep shooting videos, I keep editing, I keep writing scripts and I keep experimenting with my camera. Practice will never make me perfect, but it will make me better.
Get a camera, start shooting, read the manual, prepare for terrible footage, learn.