CAREERS IN CHANGE-MAKING | In the fourth episode of our live interview series “Careers in Change-making”, we met with Emily Stoker, a British impact filmmaker.
In this interview, Emily revisits her professional journey, shares advice to aspiring filmmakers but also talks about the balance between meeting a client’s expectations and exercising her own professional creative direction.
Emily’s journey is highly unusual, because she did not study filmmaking. After a BA in Foreign Languages from the University of Bristol, she made a risky bet and started working freelance in the field of social media management/digital marketing. She then turned to video, at first as a digital marketing tool. Progressively, she realized that filmmaking really was her passion. She taught herself a range of necessary skills, such as video editing and animation, learned how to operate professional equipment and create professional sets. She developed her own projects to create opportunities and practice her newly acquired skills, and soon was ready to take on paying clients.
Gradually shifting from one domain to another, Emily cleverly leveraged her social media presence to highlight her and portfolio. “It has helped me secure some of the recent jobs I’ve got”, she said.
The result? She has been able to secure commissions to produce a number of impact videos for non-profit projects. One of her productions has helped to raise over £90,000 for a community centre which provides, among other, a food bank and social events for pensioners. Recently Emily has been hired as Shooting Assistant Producer on British TV for Channel 4 and Channel 5. Her credits include a documentary about people living & working on a river in Northern Italy.
With hindsight, Emily acknowledges that the unique set of technical, as well as transferable skills that she brings to the table – ranging from speaking multiple languages to her capacity to do animation and motion graphics – has helped her to get a lot of these opportunities.
This varied skillset is also visible in how she manages her relationships with clients: “There needs to be an important conversation at the beginning of any project about what the client’s goals are. Whilst the client may be happy to give me a creative freedom, I need to understand why they are paying me, so I ask them a lot of questions about their plans and what they hope to achieve with this video. Maybe I bypass the traditional ‘filmmaker’ boundary a little bit here, but that’s because I need to understand where I’m going to strategically direct that creative freedom.”
Whichever route you decide to take, try and go in with an innovative mindset and think about how you can set yourself part from others. Go that extra mile!
is Emily's final advice.
Emily’s professional website and her contact details can be found here.