Interview with Ruairi Watson: audio-visual content producer
17th January 2017
What's it like making videos and cinema trailers at the Royal Opera House?
Ruairi Watson makes videos for the Royal Opera House’s website and cinema trailers for its live screenings. His started out updating the website, but his role has since developed to focus on video production.
What do you do?
I’m an assistant audio-visual content producer. I produce video content for the Royal Opera House’s website and cinema relays. This could be anything from a trailer to an interview piece. We can often edit a trailer using pre-recorded material.
Creating a trailer for a new production is trickier as we have no footage to work from. In this case we usually create a concept trailer to present some of the style and themes in the production. I do everything from thinking of the initial idea, producing, directing and editing. The process starts with research into the themes, designs and music of the new work and discussing the approach with our creative and marketing teams. I then put together a detailed treatment and send this out for approval. Next I organise a location, actors and crew and shoot and edit the trailer.
What do you enjoy most and least about your work?
I love having the opportunity to see a project through from start to finish. I particularly like the editing process and being able to experiment with different approaches and constantly develop my editing skills.
Once the trailer is finished I start getting all the invoices sent through from the actors, crew, equipment hire company, music licencing, location, etc. It’s crucial to keep on top of your budgets and make sure you promptly process these, however it is time consuming and not very exciting.
What makes you suited to your job?
A keen interest in film and the arts is important in this job. I don’t come from a ballet or opera background, and I do not think this has ever been a problem – however, I have always been open to learning and experiencing it. It’s also important to be willing to develop new technical skills and applications such as Final Cut Pro, Motion and camera work.
Working for a large organisation, it’s important to be able to work well with others and be responsive to constructive criticism. Good communication skills are also important, particularly when on a shoot to get your points across clearly in high pressure situations.
How did you get into your current line of work?
I studied photography at university and went on to do photography for my local authority newspaper. I then did a number of unpaid internships in galleries, gaining some good communications and marketing experience.
I was struggling to get regular paid work but I was fortunate to get on to a government-funded scheme, the Cultural Quarter Programme, which was focused at getting young adults into the arts sector. It was a six-month paid work experience position as an office assistant in the Royal Opera House digital media department. Luckily, my manager utilised my photography/film experience and I was given some interesting projects. At the end of the six months, a website management-based position opened up in the office. After a successful interview, I was offered the job. As my time in the role progressed, I was able to incorporate my film and photography skills into my work and develop the position to where I am now.
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Take every opportunity to gain some experience, including free work as you never know what it might lead to. If you appear willing and have a good work ethos you will have a good chance of getting future paid work.
What are your future career plans?
I hope to do more directing and editing, taking on new challenging projects. In the future I see myself focusing on editing and post production at an edit house.
What do you like doing outside of work?
I enjoy the arts so go to a lot of galleries and shows in my spare time. I also do some casual photography and filming externally.
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