Ever wondered what it takes to be a video producer? We caught up with Wakelet’s video guy Marcus Brooks to find out
1.How did you become a video producer at Wakelet?
‘There’s something about making videos that drives me. To make something that people anywhere in the world may see, and perhaps take inspiration from to create something new on their own, amazes me.
‘I was probably 9 or 10 years old when I discovered Google Video, and later YouTube. It was suddenly so easy and accessible to create and share something with the world. I spent one summer at a creative program in school, where I was paired with someone who already had their own YouTube channel making their own videos. We worked together on a few of his videos, and my passion grew from there; I never saw myself doing anything else. After taking A Levels in English Literature, Media Studies and Graphics, I started a BSc in Professional Sound and Video Technology at the University of Salford.
‘While I was studying, I was keen to get as much work experience as possible. I volunteered at a community radio station, Bolton FM, helping with their Outside Broadcasts and filming their annual charity events; the Midnight Memories walk and Strictly Learn to Dance. It was through the station that I met someone who had their own production company and I started helping them on a few shoots. One of these was an event at UKFast where we were interviewing attendees at an event. Around that time, my sister mentioned that she’d come across this cool Manchester-based company, Wakelet, and that I should check them out. Coincidentally, we were sitting down Jamil, Wakelet’s founder, that same day!
‘Jamil and I kept in touch while I continued my university course and I helped Wakelet out whenever I could, filming events like Business Rocks and the Business of Science Conference in 2016. I started working for Wakelet in a more formal capacity during my final year, initially making our team vlogs. I joined full time after graduating in the summer of 2018.’
2. What are essential skills for a video producer to have?
‘I think working as a video producer at a start-up requires a specific set of skills. You need a certain amount of self-discipline; you have to define your own role, stay organized and keep to deadlines.
When it comes to shooting videos, it’s important to understand all areas of production especially if you’re working solo. Be a good interviewer, put people at ease and get the quotes you need while also getting a good shot – there’s a lot going on at once! On top of that, any video producer should be open to learning new things (I can now add voiceover and animation to my CV!), able to adapt, and work in a team.
Being able to take criticism is perhaps the most important skill. Don’t get too attached to your work, learn to appreciate other points of view, and always deal with any negative feedback professionally.’
3. How can video support start-ups?
‘Video is one of the most effective marketing channels there is. Not only is it a great way to convey messages to a broad audience, especially on social media, but it also helps us get our company personality across. Start-ups can, of course, work with external video agencies and freelancers but there are lots of advantages to having a video producer in-house. You have a lot more control over your content, you have someone who is familiar with the company tone of voice, and you can make changes quickly.’
4. What’s been your most memorable moment as Wakelet’s video producer?
‘One of my favourite Wakelet videos is Vlog 11. It’s one that also represents a really memorable moment in my life and I’ll always associate it with the relief of handing in my dissertation and finally finishing uni. I’d taken a break from the Wakelet vlogs for a few months and we’d had no vlog for a while, so the pressure was on to produce something special. Luckily, we’d had a lot of cool things going on, including the under 17s World Cup, and I was able to create something I’m really proud of. The thing I like most is how visual it is; it tells a story without relying on dialogue, which I think is powerful.’
5. What challenges have you faced?
‘Start-up life can be challenging and it definitely pushes you to the edge of your limits at times. Dealing with a hard deadline and putting everything else on hold to get a video finished on time can be tough, but it’s also pretty rewarding once you’re done.’
6. What kinds of videos do you produce for Wakelet?
‘Initially, my role at Wakelet was to produce our vlogs. However, when I joined the team full time, we realized that video could support the company in many more ways. Now I create a wide variety of videos, ranging from help videos and testimonials to promo videos, new feature announcements and gifs. I even take photos for the blog on the side!’
7. What advice would you give to an aspiring video producer?
‘The industry is very broad and there are lots of different avenues you can take: TV, radio, online, documentaries, short films and more. When you’re starting out, I’d say you should take any opportunities that come your way and explore those different avenues. It’s the only way you’ll figure out the areas that appeal to you. Take your time, say yes to everything, and remember that you can always switch later. I’d definitely recommend working in a start-up too – it really throws you in at the deep end, you learn a lot quickly and get to try a lot of things at once.’
8. How do you use Wakelet?
‘I used Wakelet before I worked here to create my freelance portfolio. It’s great for bringing your CV alive, telling your story and showcasing your work in different media. I can include behind-the-scenes footage in my collections and add notes to show how my work has progressed. Wakelet lets me bring my personality out and express myself creatively, which is really important for any aspiring video producer. That’s really why I wanted to work for Wakelet in the first place, it served a real need for me.’
Follow Marcus on Wakelet @mbrooksfilms