Andrew Murphy

How Do I Stay Genuine and Productive Being a Cinematographer and YouTuber.

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November 19, 2020

Who are you and what kind of content do you create?

My name is Andrew Murphy. I am a cinematographer & YouTuber from Gold Coast, Australia. I create filmmaking tutorials & reviews on YouTube/Instagram and run a video production business, Arise Digital, to produce cinematic content for business marketing campaigns. I’ve been a full-time videographer for five years now, but I’ve been shooting photos & video for 14 years. For the last seven months, I’ve been making YouTube content full-time since moving to the Gold Coast, which has been an exciting learning experience.

Let's go down memory lane, tell us your backstory! 

Since I can remember, my Dad has been taking home videos of my two brothers and me growing up. We still have all the old tapes of my whole life, which is cool to look back on. When I was about 12 or 13, I picked up my parents’ happy snaps digital camera and started taking photos of things I found interesting. Landscape, flowers, macro shots, the usual shots that every beginner photography takes when they first get their hands on a camera.

Then from there, I started playing around with the video function on the camera. It shot 480x360 4:3 videos that were horrendous, but back on that day, it was revolutionary! After a while, I wanted to do some visual effects like Hollywood movies, so I started learning how to use After Effects and added visual effects to my mini video clips. And this is really where my love for video started. From here, I continued to hone my skills with After Effects and moved into learning Premiere Pro to make it easier to edit little sequences.

In 2012, I went to university to study photography & filmmaking for three years but unfortunately didn’t learn as much as I was hoping. The main core of my skill set has come from YouTube and practicing making my own content. Plus, when I first started back 14-15 years ago, YouTube had only just launched, so I didn’t have all the fantastic resources available to everyone today through the internet. In 2015, I quit my job out of the blue, and I started my own business. Mainly focusing on Photography, to begin with, but after 12-18 months, I moved towards more videography as that is what I’m better at and grew that over the past five years as my full-time career.

How do you brainstorm ideas for your content and your advice in getting the creative juice flowing?

So half of my channel is straightforward, and the other half is a bit tougher. Reviews of products are quite simple to come up with ideas because it’s usually based on trending or relevant at the time. So the initial video concept is super easy to come up with. However, making a review exciting and stand out is always challenging. I try to make my reviews as informative as possible while also showing compelling visuals to capture the audience's attention.

Sometimes I just look around where I live for interesting spots to shoot or ask friends if they have any ideas on where or what to shoot. Surrounding yourself with other creatives is a fantastic way to spark creativity because we all see things differently. Otherwise, I usually get good ideas randomly when I’m driving or showering, and I try to write those down as quickly as possible and follow through on them. Sometimes they can be a bit whack, but the more I follow through on my random spurts of creativity, the more invention I find I become.

The other half of my channel, which is tutorials, can be a tough one coming up with ideas. But usually, I have friends or fans who ask questions about a specific topic or subject, which allows me to make content that speaks directly to them, and in turn, a lot of other people. When I first started, I would just think of what I wanted to learn when I first started and then use that as the base for my tutorials. Tube Buddy is also a perfect extension for coming up with ideas for videos if you have a product or topic but unsure how to execute it. It will help you see exactly what people are searching for currently on YouTube, which means you can capitalize on that right now.

However, if all this doesn’t flow and I get stuck, I usually go for a skate on my electric skateboard and just get away from my studio and computer. Being out in the fresh air and allowing my thoughts to run free always seems to help my creativity. Or catching up with other creatives and helping them shoot. Even if you have zero ideas, helping out and being around other people who do have ideas will immediately spark your creativity.

What are the tools and platforms you use to help with your brand?

The main software I use for all my content in Premiere Pro & Lightroom. Premiere Pro is my go-to video editor, not necessarily because it’s the best, but I’ve been using it for like thirteen years now, so it makes it hard to want to move to different software. However, Davinci Resolve, in the past 12 months, has been tempting me quite a bit. Lightroom is my go-to for photo editing. It’s not necessarily the best, but it works for me, and I know how to use it. A lot of what I do is based around efficiency, so if something is taking too long, I’ll generally find a way to speed it up or learn a technique to make it work better.

As for platforms, my main two are YouTube and Instagram at the moment. YouTube is where I post all my long-form content, mainly tailored towards filmmaking reviews & tutorials. At the same time, Instagram is my daily behind-the-scenes. Look at what I get up to and share my photography and micro-content. I love Instagram because the community you can build and connect with is incredible, and there are so many amazing creators on it that are doing amazing things. But YouTube is where you can create an excellent, long term brand that will always pay you back, even if you slow down on your content for some reason.

I use to schedule my Instagram/Facebook/Twitter posts just because I’m already on my phone enough without having to post on these platforms. Plus, I’m usually busy doing things I need to post at times, and if I don’t schedule, I just forget to do it.

What were your fears starting out? How did you handle it? 

So I made my YouTube channel in 2011, posted a few random videos, and tried to make a bit of a YouTube show. But the biggest problem I faced was a considerable lack of confidence in myself and wanting to produce content for YouTube. Back in 2011, it wasn’t a prevalent thing, and it was laughed at if you wanted to try to make a career out of making videos for the internet. So after about six months of posting and getting the response that I wanted, I ended up just not posting anymore.

When I first started making videos, I would set up when my parents weren’t home on my day off and quickly film something while they were out because I was so embarrassed to be doing it. I never shared it with anybody or posted it anywhere, which is probably why it didn’t do too well in the first place as well. I recently did a video reacting to the first videos that I’ll link here to see where I started and where I am now.

Over the next few years, I made some films and a little piece of content, but never really jumped in front of the camera until 2017. I went on a business trip and decided to try daily vlogging. Again I hid the fact I was doing it from most people because I was embarrassed to be doing it and didn't want to intrude on other people's lives. However, this time I did share it with the people on the trip and other people in my life. And from here, I enjoyed the experience, looked back on what I had created, and relived those experiences again.

So for a few months after I got back, I created a new vlog each week, documenting what I was up to in my business and trying new techniques to build my skill level. But again stopped because it got too hard. Then in March 2018, I decided to give weekly vlogging another go. Still, this time, I was not focused on my business, just following along on my activities and bringing others along the journey. I’d say this is where I started to build some confidence on camera as I wasn’t as embarrassed to be doing it around other people because I involved them in the process.

I’d say, though, only in the last 6-8 months have I got used to being in front of the camera and being myself. Mostly due to just practicing a lot and trying a few different styles. Eventually, you’ll get more comfortable, but it can be slow for some people, and for some, it can be fast. It’s all dependant on your personality and how much you practice. But honestly, still to this day, I find it where to vlog or film in public, especially since Australians are as much into the vlogging culture as Americans, I’ve seen.

How did you build your brand to where it is now, take us through your process.

Building my brand has come through a tonne of patience and consistency. I’ve been making my brand over the past five years, but only in the last 12 months has it started to become something I’m proud of. I always struggled with consistency when I first started, but I’ve found the growth has been a lot faster and smoother since sticking to a schedule. I always use the example of a TV show when talking about building a brand or an online profile. We all watch TV shows, and for the most part, they follow a structure and schedule. We know when the next episode is coming out and generally what it is going to be about. TV shows don’t usually stop showing episodes randomly or entirely change their themes or genre halfway through a season.

But for some reason, we do this with all our platforms and channels that we are building. We chop and change and post, then go quiet, and our audience can’t keep up or know what to expect, so they go somewhere else. If you look at most successful people who have built an audience online, they are consistent, and they generally stick to a niche area of expertise. And this took me so long to figure out, but since I’ve focused on creating reviews & tutorials for filmmakers, my channel has started growing faster than ever. Because now, when people subscribe, they know what is coming up.

For me, this has been the most significant factor driving my growth in the past 12 months. Figuring out what I want to be known for (area or skill) and focusing on creating the best damn content I can for that audience. Secondly am staying consistent with the content I'm uploading. For me, it is currently one YouTube video per week and two Instagram posts per day. I’m trying to up this to two YouTube videos per week, but I’m also currently growing my business again here on the Gold Coast and building some online resources for my online store. So I'm trying not to spread myself too thin in any one area.

For someone who wants to get into content creation, what is your advice?

My biggest advice for someone wanting to get into content creating is just to start. You’re going to come with every excuse under the sun as to why not to do it. “I don’t have the right gear…” “The market is too saturated…” “Someone is already doing what I want to do…” “I don’t have enough time…”

The day you stop giving in to excuses and just start actioning what you want to do, your life will change completely.

You don’t need fancy gear to make videos or take photos. Many people are doing insanely well on all the platforms that just use their phone. There may be many people already doing what you’re doing, but your voice is unique, and it might be precisely what the world is looking for right now. If you don’t have enough time, THEN MAKE TIME! I always tell everyone that it’s not that you don’t have time. It’s that you don’t prioritize your time. ‘I don’t have time” is an excuse for not wanting actually to do something. If you become sick, you’d make time to go to the doctor and get better. If you’re going to do something, MAKE THE TIME TO DO IT. Nobody else is going to do it for you.

Now once you finally make time to do it, take small baby steps and slowly ramp it up. Too many people go into things, guns blazing, and say, “I’m going to daily vlog for the next twelve months and upload three times per day to Instagram,” And it never works… EVER! If you’re currently not creating anything. Make one video in the next month. Then once you’ve done, make one video in the next three weeks, and so on. This will help you build long term habits rather than burn out immediately and go back to square one.

How did you finally commit to the X platform rather than your regular day job?

So I quit my job because I was sick of it and started a business, thinking it would be amazing. But it cost me a lot of money and time because I didn’t know how to start a business, let alone run a business. I don’t regret doing what I did, but I recommend that others slowly build it up as a side hustle first. We have so many excellent resources online that can help us slowly transition into what we genuinely love doing.

But at some point, you do have just to take the leap of faith and go full-time. You might be ready, you might not be, but that’s the exciting part. It’s stressful as hell, and at times I doubted myself and my decisions. But five years on, I’m so glad I stuck it out and kept going.

Tell us your best milestones in being a content creator.

For me, so far, the most significant milestones have been hitting 1000 subscribers on YouTube. This took so long to happen, and when it finally did, I was stoked. But at the end of the day, it’s just a number, and we are always looking for the next milestone. Another one would be getting my first paycheck from YouTube. A whole $135.81 for three months’ work of uploading YouTube videos. Which works out to like $0.26 per hour or something. But just the feeling of being paid to make my fun content for the internet was a crazy good feeling.

Other milestones are deciding at the start of this year to try YouTube as a full-time career. This has been a massive learning curve for me but allowed me to meet some fantastic creators and work with some unique brands. Being sent my first free products to review and keep was a huge one. I never thought that the brand would want to send me gear to review and give my opinion on, but now it’s happening nearly weekly, which is still crazy.

What are your marketing strategies to grow your brand?

My most effective strategy is to always post content as much as possible on as many platforms as possible. The most significant growth I found in my business was sharing what I was doing on my social media accounts. People want to work with businesses and brands that are always doing things and still practicing what they preach. I am so definitely posting what I’m up to daily and consistently sharing valuable content and information with my audience.

Moving forward, collaborations will be a big part of my strategy. Trying to get in front of more people through different audiences with more valuable content is a great way to grow fast. The biggest thing I struggle with at the moment with collaborations is finding the right people and coming up with the right content to benefit both parties.

How do you handle brand deals and sponsorships? 

I’m currently doing a bit of reaching out to specific brands and brands reaching out to myself with opportunities. I’m fortunate to have some fantastic mates around me (my mate Rah Sharma in particular) who love what I do and are always pushing my content out to potential brands, which I’m super grateful for. I have a rigorous policy on who I do and don’t work with; however, I make this very clear when reaching out to a brand or responding to a brand deal. The main one being, “I will not be paid to say something about a product that is untrue or biased in any way. If a product is bad, I’ll talk about it, and if a product is good, then I’ll highlight this also.”

This is by far the number one thing I recommend all creators do from the start of their journey because you don’t want to be saying one thing online, then saying another something in person. After all, it just ruins your reputation and credibility straight away. For me, a brand opportunity needs to be relevant to the niche I’m currently making content for filmmaking. I don’t do clothing sponsorships or anything outside of the niche because I don’t care for that. It’s not genuine to me, but secondly, because it doesn’t add value to my audience looking to me for filmmaking advice and knowledge. So when I reach out to brands, it is usually because I have an idea for a project and think they will be well suited to be involved.

I have turned down my fair share of sponsorship opportunities already in my career because they just don’t fit with what I’m doing. But at the end of the day, figure out what’s right to you. If you love clothing and you integrate that into your channel already, then by all means go for it. Whatever is genuine to you and the brand you’re building.

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