New Year, New Job: How to get a video producer role

Kate Gray has written for ONM and OXM, been the UK face of Microsoft’s Xbox On YouTube channel and now works as a video producer at GameSpot UK.

Not only that, she picked up the GMAs 2015Rising Star award.Here she tells us how she landed her current role

What is your job? What does it involve?

I’m a video producer at GameSpot, which involves thinking of ideas, turning them into videos, then editing them. It also involves saying the word ‘meme’ a lot. Mostly unironically.

What are your main responsibilities?

News videos, original programming, and have I mentioned the memes? We are probably the number one creator of hot memes in our office building. The French fashion chaps downstairs look intimidatingly cool, but I bet they’ve never been on [image hosting site] Imgur in their life.

How did you get your job?

Didn’t want to go down the traditional route, so I hired a skywriter to put my entire CV in the sky over Shoreditch. Surprisingly, it worked. Also I went through the traditional route of interviews and that, but I think it was the skywriting that sold it.

What special skills or qualifications did you need?

I had a bit of video editing experience from university, but I had to re-learn and improve on all of that. My level is way higher than it used to be, although that’s not saying much when one of my university productions was a terrifying low-rent attempt at being Nigella (innuendo included).

What new skills have you had to learn for this role?

Writing for scripts rather than magazines is an interesting one – I’ve done it before, but not this extensively, especially for news. It’s a much, much bigger audience too, so I’ve really had to stop looking at comments. Before, it was a temptation that I often gave into, because my worst days were only five to ten awful comments telling me to chop off my face or whatever. Now, it’s hundreds, with varying intensity. I’m also having a hard time with putting numbers into perspective – when the aim is to get a million views on something, it’s pretty easy to see 800,000 views as a ‘failure’. That’s a really dumb thing, but it’s true.

Describe a normal day. What do you do?

Come in, research news, tea break, record the news video, make the news video, tea break, publish the news video using what still seems to me like an impenetrably complicated system of CMSes and technology, lunch, work on things like our Fallout 4 Show and then, if I have time, make some epic memes and have another tea break. Most of mine end up being bizarre, abstract nonsense, but some people like them. I like them.

What are the best and worst parts of your role?

Best parts? Sounds incredibly lame, but almost everything. I’m working with a great team – people I’ve known since I started this video game journalism thing, talented geniuses, and even Lucy James.

I love making videos, too. It feels all cutting-edge and modern, which isn’t to say that writing isn’t or can’t be exciting – it just never quite felt like I was an actual wizard. I get to feel like a wizard every day at GameSpot, and that’s not just because Lucy makes us all wear capes.

And the tea breaks.

The worst part is probably another one of the best parts – visibility. People from all around the world can see your stuff. This means views, and views are great – but it also means people who are looking to pick an internet fight. People who assume your visibility is an invitation for them to have an opinion on your face. No one cares what you think of my face, bros.

What tips would you give to someone applying for a similar position?

Freelance is your best bud. Freelance gives you exposure and delicious money, which you can use to buy delicious Ikea furniture like me. Freelance gives you the chance to practice, get feedback from some of the most talented and experience folks in the industry, and have I mentioned the Ikeafurniture?

It’s not something for everyone, but university for me was a safe space to try out stuff, and make mistakes without too much of a penalty. On the surface, it’s an incredibly expensive way to tell the world you know some stuff about a thing you read in a book once, but it’s really invaluable for experiences and learning vocational skills, if you take the time to find them.

If you don’t have a spare 30k lying around, freelance is your friend – and personal practice. Get Premiere Pro, get a YouTube channel, make things. Make things until you see an improvement, and then keep making them. Imagine I’m Han Solo from Star Wars, and I’m all like: ‘The Force is real!’ but I’m saying that about practice and how it makes perfect. It’s all true.

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