Freelancing in Video: Tips from some pros and a workshop!

Video producers Léa Khayata and Elettra Fiumi head up their very own production company here in New York, Granny Cart Productions. We’ve written about them here before because they’re alums–both class of 2011–and because their experiences starting a company have taught them many lessons about this industry and freelancing. They’re teaming up with another alumni, Andrew Lampard, and producer […]

Video and Photo workshops under $1,000 in 2015

Last year, we published a list of great visual journalism workshops, and there are lots of lists like this out there. After looking through them, we’ve realized that the prices of these workshops are way too high for most of us journalists, especially for those who are freelancing or just starting out. So we narrowed it down; here’s a list of workshops under $1,000 (plus travel expenses) that we think are totally worth your hard-earned cash.

Granny Cart Productions

Lea Khayata and Elettra Fiumi met at Columbia Journalism School in 2011. They worked on their master’s project together and got along exceptionally well. When the school year ended and they started looking for jobs, they couldn’t find anything that suited them. “Everything was very particular: only research, or only shooting, or only editing, things like that. And the way we had learned things was to do everything from beginning to end,” explained Lea. So with a little encouragement from their teacher, they decided to take the jump and create their own production company: Granny Cart Productions.

In this video, they explain their work and how they put their company together.

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A well-edited sequence creates clarity and allows viewers to understand the action taking place on screen. In order to create a seamless sequence in the editing room, you need to understand how to capture all the necessary footage. We've put together a basic list of shots you’ll need in order to create a coherent sequence of action- it's a simple starting place if you've never shot a sequence before.

Anatomy of a Viral Video

Prior to entering journalism school, I interned for the digital department at an entertainment company in NYC. One main objective at this company was to create videos that had the potential to get lots of views, i.e. videos that would go “viral.” As long as the videos were entertaining and attracted lots of eyeballs, they were considered successful.

I began to understand what made these types of videos popular, but I wondered if the producers of videos that dealt with more serious topics followed the same guidelines. Was there someone in every newsroom video department saying things like, “Make that petty theft more entertaining, so it gets more views”?

There are some companies out there who are successful at getting more important stories to go viral – Mashable, BuzzFeed and YouTube are some of the better-known examples. In journalism school, we didn’t learn “the rules” of  producing viral news content. Do rules even exist?

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Covering Protest in Ferguson: “I didn’t expect it to feel like war.”

Salima Koroma didn’t think her first first out-of-state assignment would be the historic protests over the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. She’s been producing video for Time’s online video team for just about two months, and last week they bought her a one-way ticket to Ferguson, Missouri.

Before starting at Time, she graduated from the documentary program at the Columbia University Journalism School, where she produced her own documentary, Bad Rap, and was a producer for NowThisNews. Columbia Visuals talked to Koroma about her experience producing video from Ferguson.

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Covering Protest in Ferguson: “These are people, not sound bites.”


Brent McDonald is a senior video journalist with the New York Times. He produced “Standoff in Ferguson,” a three-minute video for the Times that was published on August 14th, in the midst of protests over the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

McDonald has been producing video for over ten years, and has been with the Times since 2005. Columbia Visuals spoke with him by phone from Ferguson, Missouri, on August 15th. He told us about the mood there and gave us some details on his production methods. (more…)

“They wanted others to know about their experiences.”

Documentary film program alumni Jeng-Tyng Hong and Matthew Claiborne, both class of 2013, spent their time at Columbia Journalism School working on a short documentary about the use of solitary confinement in New York prisons. They screened their film at the Catskill Mountains Film Festival and their characters use the film to raise awareness about fair treatment in prison. 

We interviewed Jeng-Tyng about their film, The Ex-Periment, and what they learned during production.

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The State of Video Now

This past Monday, April 14, the Columbia Journalism School hosted a panel on the State of Video. This was the culminating event for a report called “Video Now: The Forms, Cost, and Effect of Video Journalism,” sponsored by the Tow Center for Digital Journalism and the Knight Foundation and produced by Duy Linh Tu, Professor and Head of Digital Media at the Journalism School. (more…)

“It all comes down to building trust.”

Luke Malone, CUJ ’13, is an Australian journalist based in New York City, and the producer of “Secrets of the Living Dolls,” a documentary that features men who dress up in elaborate latex female bodysuits.

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Challenges of working with nonprofits and NGOs

In 2008, photojournalist Christopher Tyree left his full-time job at The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Virginia, to launch a media and design company that worked with nonprofits. The idea stemmed from his frustration with journalism, which Tyree felt was becoming more about giving consumers information they craved, rather than stories that served the public. (more…)