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Why?: The secret to success

I'm finding that in business, as in life in general, change and growth are a never-ending journey. And the question, ‘why’ is an integral part of that journey. Indeed, it’s an important first step in recognising what your goals are, what your passion is, and the reason your business exists.

As a videographer and media producer for CodeSafe Solutions, understanding my purpose has helped me to create visual content that brings our clients ‘why’ to life.

Starting with the why was the best advice I ever received to help me get excited about someone else’s idea and ultimately delivering a high-quality product for them.

Where it all began!

Bringing an idea to life, visually, has always been a passion of mine – ever since I was a young boy. I grew up in the ’90s, cinema was thriving, and new technology was enhancing the creativity of commercials. Also, it was the golden age of Disney, and everything was magical.

We traveled a lot when I was a child, and it was movies that kept me entertained wherever we were calling home at the time. My dad always had a VHS camcorder on hand, and he would consistently put on a movie when my parents needed time to do things, or I was bored. As a result, I had watched cinema evolve and grow over the years, and this inspired me to try my hand at visual storytelling.

One director, in particular, Steven Spielberg, had a significant impact on my life and future career. A movie of his that stands out in my mind is ‘Hook’. To this day, Spielberg has said it wasn’t his best work. It totally blew my mind and fanned the fire of my creativity.

My parents bought me my first video camera when I was five-years-old and, granted, I was no Spielberg, but I still began to create stories involving different characters and settings. I spent untold hours filming myself or my best friend acting out scenes in different stories.

Over time, I watched more cinematic and creative films, which further fed my imagination and passion. The Terminator (James Cameron), Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola), Star Wars Saga (George Lucas), and the Back to the Future trilogy (Robert Zemeckis), to name just a few, consumed my thoughts. Each time the directors and their incredible teams managed to bring someone’s story to life and successfully captured the audience’s attention.

I began asking myself: “How do I take an idea and bring it to life?”. “What do I want the end product to look like?” and “What is the purpose?”

A steep learning curve

When it was time to follow my heart, I realised that the road to becoming a videographer was not that simple. I went through five cameras, six jobs that had nothing to do with film making and numerous auditions before my first paid job. In between, there was a lot of pain and growth, but my passion for film making continued to burn. I wanted to learn how to make films and understand every step and technique, but it wasn’t easy.

I remember one day on the job, I was told: “You can be creative and dream as much as you want, as long as it fits in with our vision.” I was confused – on the one hand, I had permission to be creative and tell the story in a way that was lively and engaged the audience. But on the other, the producer had the final say. While I was the director and the cinematographer, I had to face that it was the owner/client who made the final decision. If I were going to have a successful career, I’d need to learn to work together in unison with them to deliver a compelling video that does the job.

This is true no matter what sector you work in, whether you’re working for a charity organisation, a private client, a business, or even a church. I quickly learned that I was not just being employed to film and edit footage, but instead, clients were entrusting me to nurse their vision and tell their story with a video that acknowledges the environment they are working in.

Find your why and communicate your purpose

It didn’t take long to realise that everything from film making to starting up a business begins with the question, why. I had to truly understand our clients ‘why’ to honour their trust in me and do a good job for them.

As a videographer, I truly believe that if I can communicate what I stand for, and who I am being employed to serve clearly, then I can figure out how to communicate the message in an imaginative way that suits the audience.

I must, therefore, strive to understand the purpose, the reason for being produced because that deeply impacts the creative process, and, ultimately, the finished video.

So how did this help when I joined CodeSafe?

In the past 10 years, I’ve done most things in the media industry, from writing scripts to videos, graphics, animation, visual effects, set design, music design, prop design, and photography.

While this experience was useful, it wasn’t until I sat down with CodeSafe’s co-founders David Broadhurst and Jacqui Broadhurst, and Media Director, Andrew Gorrie, and discovered the company’s ‘why’ that I understood their direction and purpose. Understanding CodeSafe’s heart has allowed me to dream big and deliver critical information in a way that is both appealing and engages a company’s workers.

What I’ve learned working with CodeSafe Media

  1. Sit down with the client and discover their ‘why’
    • Ask the right questions to ignite their passion and get to the heart of their purpose, and what they want to say. Starting with why helps to deliver a captivating video that meets the client’s needs.
  2. Bring an idea to the table that aligns with your ‘why’, and that you are passionate about
    • If it doesn’t agree with your brand, your target audience recognises it instantly and makes them disengage from the finished video.
  3. Learn to work together
    • The end-product is only as good as the cooperation and passion of everyone involved in the project.

For me, making videos is not a 9 to 5 job; it’s my passion. I enjoy helping companies communicate critical messages to their field workers through an engaging video that gets across the ‘why’ while taking account of their working environment and the complexities of the industry.

A favourite quote of mine from Geoff Boyle, a director of photography (DP), appropriately sums up why I do what I do.

“We are guardians of the image, and that’s how I see our role as DP’s. It’s our job to make sure the images are right.”

Here are some tips for shooting better videos!

  • Shoot outside on a slightly overcast day. The clouds act as a diffuser for the sun allowing more even lighting that’s less harsh.
  • If possible, use a large white piece of paper, cardboard, or a white sheet to hold below the subject and bounce light on to them. This boosts an even light coverage across the subject, removing any shadows that the sun may create. It even works when shooting inside when there are lights above your subject.