Jack Williams knows that endlessly applying for jobs can be draining. Initially struggling to find freelance work despite his best efforts, the video editor eventually landed his first gig, which snowballed into filming and editing wedding video footage for South West-based White Villa Films. Subsequently, he found work as a digital imaging technician and behind-the-scenes [BTS] photographer for feature film Fear The Invisible Man. After updating all his online platforms and showreel to reflect his hard work, Jack managed to secure a full-time position at Hurricane Films, where he edits video footage for companies, adverts and charities. Here, Jack talks learning the value of determination from his dad – who was a prominent motorcycle racer – and how to power through rejection in the industry.
Video Editor, Hurricane Media
Place of Study
Film, Television and Digital Production, Bath Spa University, (2014–2017)
How would you describe your job, and specifically what you do at Hurricane? At Hurricane, I edit videos for a range of clients – from big corporate companies and advertisements to charities.
My role involves working across many projects at once within different areas. For example, I could be the main editor on the project, or making amends as an assistant editor. I could also be doing graphic work in After Effects, or colour grading in Davinci. I’m also good at using cameras and other filming equipment, so I often go out on shoots with the camera team.
Jack assisting in preparation for a shoot
Jack on a shoot
What’s your favourite place in your workplace or studio right now? I have two places of work. This year, I have been working more remotely in my home office. Last year I was always based at my company’s office in Bristol.
We have this little room detached from our main flat, so it still feels like I’m leaving the house for work. I’ve put up some pictures and tidied, but my favourite thing is my view. At the Bristol office, I see high-rise buildings – which I don’t mind – but now, my view is a beautiful tree, a garden where a dog wanders around and a lovely church that chimes every 15-30 minutes.
View from Jack’s flat in Bath
Jack’s WFH set-up
What recent project or piece of work at Hurricane are you most proud of? A lot of my work is working from a storyboard or altering parts of more senior editors’ work. However, this year, I’ve worked on a few films where I did have more creative input.
This was the case for a film for the housing and homelessness charity, Shelter. The narrative centred around the hardship a father and son encountered when being forced into temporary accommodation after the father lost his job due to illness, and their journey to find a permanent home. I started by going through the interviews and blocking out the storyline, then brought in GVs [General View shots, also known as B-roll, or cutaway shots] and found an order and position that made the film flow and feel natural. I enjoyed working on a narrative-based film, and working on this for a charity was fulfilling.
How I got here
Do you need any training to do your role? Yes, I would say so. This could be self-training, a university course (which I did) or learning from others; there is no specific route. I also learnt a lot about editing once I started freelancing. The more you use the software and the more varied content you work on, the better you’ll become.
There are tons of free online tutorials and I’d highly recommend doing them. You can even get a free month when you subscribe to some – just remember to cancel. Some I’d recommend are:
I would say essential learning is to get good and comfortable using Premiere Pro – some of the tutorials give you footage to work alongside them as you watch. Then you can dip into Davinci for a bit of colour grading, and After Effects to create a few simple graphics to put into your showreel. It’ll bring up the production value of your work and look professional.
“I learnt a lot about editing once I started freelancing – the more you use the software and the more varied content you work on, the better you’ll get.”
Jack at work editing footage
How did you land the job? I had a good amount of freelance experience when I applied, and I also took time to create a new showreel, update my website, LinkedIn profile and CV. I don’t know exactly what they looked at when hiring me, but having everything up to date definitely helped.
Also, I was fully myself in the interview. Prior to this, I got quite nervous before interviews. Although I had nerves, I’d done enough preparation to feel comfortable. I started to think, “what is the worst that can happen? I can speak, I’m good at what I do and I can do the job they have advertised.” Having this positive mindset definitely helped.
“Before applying for the job, I took time to create a new showreel, update my website, LinkedIn profile and CV. Having everything up to date definitely helped.”
Jack on a shoot in Tewkesbury for Fear the Invisible Man
Jack on a shoot in Bath for Fear the Invisible Man
What was your journey like when you were first starting out? Did you find your feet quickly? It was really hard to find my first position, but I didn’t want to give up and kept working to gather experience.
Alongside part-time work, I eventually got a freelance job earning anything from £10-£30 once a week. It was for a woman who owned a cookery and health business. I’d film three to five videos, then edit them all in the same day. This gave me the platform to get my next freelance job, which was mainly filming and editing weddings. Here, I’d work with hours of footage to edit a 15-20 minute film. While I was working for this company, we won an award for best event videography in the UK, which was a great achievement and a big milestone in my career.
I then landed a job on a feature film, Fear the Invisible Man. I met the director through a mutual friend and he said he’d get me on board for the next feature. He called a year and a half later as he remembered me. I was a digital imaging technician, data wrangler (saving all the footage filmed on the day) and BTS photographer.
Then after applying like a madman, I landed the job at Hurricane. But all of that was over the course of the last six years, so it took a while to gather the experience! I’m so glad I carried on and pushed through.
“It was really hard to find my first position, but I didn’t want to give up and kept working to gather experience.”
Jack accepting the ‘Best Wedding + Event Videography in the UK’ prize at the Bristol Prestige Awards 2020
If you could pick three things that you’ve found useful or inspiring to your work or career, what would they be and why? First, my dad. He was a professional motorcycle racer and chief engineer for his motorcycle team in the 60s and 70s and continued to be an engineer after his racing career.
He was a pioneer of his time and one of the best at what he did. Dad had a very unique life; he was very well-known and had achieved great things. I never felt the pressure of having to live up to him and he never made me feel like that, he was very modest. However, it did help me realise I could turn what I love into work, and that working hard is a good thing. My parents taught me many valuable life lessons, and writing this has made me notice that even more.
Second, buying my camera. I saved up from working part-time and it was the best investment I’ve ever made. As soon as I bought it I could get my own freelance clients; it opened up the world of work.
Third sounds like a no-brainer, but consuming content. As I love filmmaking, I watch a lot of films and series, and although I can still lose myself in a film, I’m always watching with a critical eye and learning.
Jack’s dad, Peter Williams, at a race
Peter’s obituary in Motorcycle News
What would you say has been your biggest challenge along the way? Finding work. When I first started out freelancing I found it tricky to find contacts and work. So many of them would ask for two to three years of experience for beginner roles.
I began to apply for those positions regardless, and at first I never really heard back with good news. But I kept being persistent and applying. The first biggest role I got was the gig filming and editing weddings, where I worked freelance with White Villa Films. It’s getting that first foot in the door with perseverance that is key.
“Never undervalue yourself. You have to believe you’re good at what you do and don’t undersell yourself.”
Jack filming at a wedding
What have been your greatest learnings with making money and supporting yourself as a creative? Never undervalue yourself. You have to believe you’re good at what you do and don’t undersell yourself. This is easier said than done because it’s hard to know what the right amount is, and you don’t want to lose work. But things do get easier. At first you’ve got a part-time job and get any freelance work you can, then you sometimes find too much work coming your way!
What’s the best career-related advice you’ve ever received? My mum and dad told me from a young age to do something that I enjoy. I was never pressured to be academic, although I always did my homework and was well-behaved in school.
This advice helped me through as I was supported in taking subjects like PE, art, design and music. After years of being told by teachers to not take media as it’s a “nothing” subject, I followed my gut and took the subject at sixth form. I started to get A*s in theory and practical and I felt naturally good at it. Without that advice, I wouldn’t be where I am today. So thanks, mum and dad.
What advice would you give someone looking to get into a similar role? Don’t give up. Alongside luck and time, there are lots of other things you can actively be doing, which in turn will give you your luck, and take up lots of your time! Since I started five to six years ago, the video world has changed. There are tons of other opportunities within social media video creation, and the world of remote working has opened up a lot of opportunities. You could live in Bath but work in London or New Zealand!
If I were to be starting again right now, I’d look at other creatives in the position I’d want to be in and look at how they’ve set up their website, LinkedIn and showreels, and take inspiration from each person I’ve looked at to build my own.
Then I’d start applying for jobs, emailing production companies to ask if they need a runner or junior editor, and contact smaller independent businesses to see if they need help. Once you get your foot in the door, you’re in!