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Here at Get Sad Y'all, we thought it would be a great idea to interview numerous people in various aspects of the music industry to serve as guides for those that might want to pursue a career. Those interviews can be found here.
If there's anyone you'd like us to interview, give us a shout.
Below, we chatted with Alex Wolf (Alex Wolf Media) about videography.
Who are you and what do you do?
AW: I'm Alex Wolf and I'm a freelance videographer living in North Carolina.
How long have you been a videographer?
AW: The first time I ever used a video camera I was 5 years old. I recorded some home movie footage with my dad's VHS camcorder and in my early teen years, I started to make funny videos and teach myself about videography/editing from there on.
Who are some of the bigger artists you've worked with?
AW: Most of the artists I've shot have been through event videography, documenting artists such as Demi Lovato, Lil Peep, Post Malone, Dillon Francis, Machine Gun Kelly, blink-182, and a bunch of different music artists/actors & actresses. I'd consider moreso that I worked for those events that led me to capturing those moments of those artists. In a more formal sense, I worked as both a Camera PA (Production Assistant) & Post PA on Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping when I lived in California - there were a lot of big artists on that movie as well.
What's your day-to-day look like?
AW: I wake up, get my mental space focused/take care of myself - then I handle business things and planning for projects and replying to emails, some days are more focused on editing when I'm working on post things, other times just getting ready for shoots. I have my hobbies too and hang out with my dog a lot.
How did you get on the path to becoming a videographer? What made you want to become one?
AW: I just grew up with a video camera around with the home movies my dad shot and kind of fell into it. It made a lot of sense to me and seemed to open up a lot of possibilities for sharing moments and stories. The first time I really connected with filmmaking as a craft was when I was younger and it was Christmas time, I was curious about getting proof of Santa Claus's existence and asked my dad if he could set up the camera in front of the cookies we set out and let it record all night. He did it and the next day showed me the footage, which proceeded to be the camera positioned on the table (still like a tripod) shooting the plate of cookies, it ran for however many seconds and then suddenly there was a jump cut to the empty plate of cookies. It was supposed to show me that Santa was so fast at his job I couldn't see him - but then my dad said, "or it could be trick of the camera." I think that stuck with me and taught me that we have the power to create so much through using a video camera.
What is something you've learned about videography over time that you wish you had known from the start?
AW: I think looking back the phrase "buy nice or buy twice" seems to resonate a lot with me, I took a lot of shortcuts (and I'm a very frugal person) so didn't invest a lot into my equipment early on, mostly because I couldn't afford to. Which - at the same time - is okay because I essentially am self-taught in what I do (while also having a Commercial Photography degree), so it gave me a lot of room to be creative. But I think there is a hassle to overbearing yourself with a lot of equipment you don't need, honing in on your direction is important once you start to figure it out, and I think maybe I wish I had simplified my camera set-ups instead of having like 8 lenses and all these insane accessories and all this junk. What matters is that you feel good while you're shooting and you've invested in good gear that's going to hold up and be there with you, even if that means 2-3 lenses and the bare minimum of what you need.
Where should someone looking to become a videographer start their career path?
AW: Reaching out to local videographers/video teams and asking if you can PA or intern or meet with them to ask questions is a good place to start. Observing and being on a set is a place where (if you make the most of it) just by observing and finding good questions to ask at the appropriate time, you'll learn a lot. I made a lot of mistakes along the way, but learning good set etiquette is important as well. Keeping quiet and watching is a valuable tool. When a creative (whether it be a director, actor, DP (Director of Photography), sound op, whomever) in a crew is doing their job - their brain is deeply invested in what's going on, and as much as they want to share knowledge - there is a time and a place for all of that.
What are three key things that someone looking to become a videographer should know?
AW: Patience, break rules, and experiment. Patience, because this process can take awhile for your brain to understand the tech side of things (there's still so many things I don't understand, but will give myself the opportunity to learn and keep going at it). Break rules - just because your shutter should be double your frame rate (for example) doesn't mean you can't break that rule. I break rules all the time because I understand my tools and the effect that breaking those rules will have. Experiment, because that's what art is all about. Put weird things on the UV filter of a lens and see what it does to your image, test out light and look at the way it hits things surrounding it.
Anything else to add?AW: I'm big into knowing your own boundaries - physically and mentally - and when it comes to creating art in a form like this, knowing your limits is important so that you don't burn out and you can bring your best self to all of the projects you work on. Sleeping well, if you can, the night before a big shoot and being prepared is important, you don't want to be in the field struggling because something isn't charged or your mind is struggling to keep up. Have extras of everything. Be prepared for change and keep your cool so that you can manage unexpected things and get them under control if you're in a position of leadership. Sometimes you have to think on your feet, so follow your instincts to get what you need - and try to shoot for the edit. Learn from those you look up to, and just try to be a positive thing in all situations you enter.
Be sure to throw Alex a follow and check out some of her work below!
Alex Wolf Media
Website: Alex Wolf Media
Liked this interview? We've got a whole bunch more with music industry gurus for your reading pleasure!
Photo by Anam Merch