Cameron’s 5 Lessons from 15+ Years in Video Production

Cameron working on the cameraCameron Grimm is grateful to have been able to spend the majority of her career in various roles related to video production. From an intern/editor at a startup (Modelinia, RIP) to the lead editor of a YouTube channel (also, RIP), from the head of creative in an academic institution to my current role as a manager of a video team, I’ve worked in a variety of environments and held a multitude of roles. Although the duties of the job change, I’ve realized some lessons remain the same no matter what shoes you are trying to fill:

  1. Listen to your clients, but don’t do what they say. Yes, listening to your clients and hearing their goals/pain points is vital to creating content that fits their needs, but clients aren’t video people. They don’t have the same understanding of what will work or won’t work. As content creators, it’s our job to creatively meet their goals without following their instructions word for word. Take what they say and offer (better) solutions to meet their needs.
  2. Brevity is an art. To use video as a means to tell a story is an effective, but not easy, thing to do. To distill a complex idea into a short, meaningful and engaging message is no small feat. But it’s the core of good content. Content is EVERYWHERE, so to make something that stands out, captures attention and gets a point across is everything. The ability to do this takes time and experience. It is an extremely valuable and underestimated skill.
  3. Know your strengths. Starting out, I was always the only woman in the editing room. At some points, I felt very out of place, until I realized I was bringing a different and important perspective to the table. Never one to geek out on gear, I understood the basics of the technology and excelled at storytelling (English major) and I was a fast and creative editor. I played to my strengths and tried not to compare myself to others who brought different skills to the table. It doesn’t take a team of all-stars to win the game, equally as important are players who get out on the field day after day and bring creativity, reliability and fresh ideas.
  4. Stay up to date. I shot my undergrad thesis on mini DV. I edited it on Final Cut Pro 5 and bought a very expensive and large 500 GB external hard drive to save it all on. In my early days as a freelance editor in Los Angeles, I carried around a flash drive that housed all of my Final Cut preferences. The point is, that technology moves fast. When Final Cut X debuted, I remember thinking my career was over. Instead, I pivoted to Premiere and never looked back. Be prepared to make changes in your workflow, constantly. Share updates with your team members and stay nimble. Don’t get committed to a process, software or workflow—collaborate with your team on what they have recently discovered, share ideas and take classes. Technology has changed over the last 15 years, but, luckily, so has access to information and education.
  5. Find a mentor and listen to them. When I was brought on to my first editing job after film school, it was because my boss saw something in me. Honestly, I don’t know what, I was desperate for work and just wanted to get my foot in any door that would have me. But even though I was fresh out of film school, he gave me a chance. I am forever grateful for that opportunity and for his mentorship. He never let me get away with an edit without notes. He made me mad, then made me realize he was making me better. If you are lucky enough to find someone to push you, stick with them because they will hold you to a higher standard.

Remember, what you’re doing is fun. Day to day, things can get hard. A client can reject your idea or leave an expansive amount of edit requests on a video you LOVE. You can struggle creatively with writing a script or figuring out an edit. When times get tough, I harken back to my first editing job and remember how desperate I was just to get paid to edit anything. Because content creation is fun. It pushes you to think creatively, to capture attention—to stop a scroll. It’s hard because it’s worth it.