I like to think about things. I like to say things. I will write about some things.
My actual blog posts appear HERE.
There’s an old adage applied to theater, filmmaking, and many other production arts that goes something like, “Good, fast, cheap – pick TWO.” The implications are probably obvious to most who are new to this. But, remember: you can’t have it all and something has to be sacrificed.
Now, having worked independently in nonfiction and marketing video production for nine years, I want to modify the old adage.
RIGHT, QUICK, AFFORDABLE, AND… EVERGREEN – PICK THREE.
Wow, too good to be true, you might wonder? Also, what in the world is “evergreen”? Operating with a background in journalism, I know that “evergreen” applies to content that is valid to be shown almost any season, for a variety of purposes, for a variety of audiences. With my experience of working for a variety of clients, I have found ways of creating content that does satisfy this description and makes clients/businesses look good always.
So, to recap: “We can get a video that’s three of the following: right, quick, affordable, or evergreen?” That’s right! I’ll break it down a little more. I work mostly as a one-man-band, so I can control a lot of factors in a production. That means that the person to whom you explain your concept is the person shooting, the same person editing, etc. And this allows me to keep costs down for most clients. (You don’t have to pay for a cameraman, director, and sound person – just one production whiz.) Of course, this limits some of the scope of productions I undertake, but I can satisfy the needs of most clients. If you have a concept and a quick deadline, it might cost a little more, but we can accomplish a lot in a short time and make sure it’s hard-hitting in the ways you want! But, it’s rare that one aspect doesn’t have to be sacrificed just a little bit.
One recent client [Keona Health] wrote: “We had an unreasonable 1 week deadline from a business partner to create a video of our service for their customer website. Wil came through with an amazing video that looks as professional as videos I’ve seen that take a month. He took our challenge as his own, and worked evenings and weekends to get it done. I couldn’t be happier with the quality and dedication and will definitely be using him again.”
If you want to know more, drop me a line and let’s start working on ideas! Let’s have fun and get some great videos done!
(originally posted on LinkedIn on November 16, 2016)
Treatment of health and medical topics in non-fiction video can be challenging. A careful balance must be found between conveying the important details and protecting a patient’s privacy. Moreover, HIPAA and various other regulations can limit how much information may be legally shared.
Over the past few years, I have explored a variety of subjects in my work, ranging from medical devices to stories of individual patients and caregivers. Finding the right visuals to accompany important story details is part of the effective solution. Striking a balance between emotional connection and scientific relevance is another important component.
This brief sample reel highlights some of the stories I’m most proud of telling in the past year.
Please feel free to share and encourage others to pursue effective storytelling. I really love these kinds of videos and always welcome new clients in the healthcare and medical fields.
(originally posted on LinkenIn May 4, 2016)
Sometimes we all get a little burned out from our usual grind, even if we are lucky enough to have work that doesn’t always feel like “work.” In this digital age, with all the possibilities for telecommuting and working remotely, there are few good reasons why we should constantly settle for not finding variety. Mix things up! Go to a new location to work for a few days! Think of a project which will (a) fulfill your professional ambitions, (b) show off some of your best skills, (c) excite you in the process, and (d) challenge you in new ways to find new capabilities. This is what I did in 2014.
Each year, in January I try to establish a new goal or professional priority for myself. I don’t like resolutions and I am usually working on a contract basis, so I must challenge myself to grow and develop in new ways. In 2014, my goal was to find a way to do work (paid or unpaid — but not costing me much!) in Spain. I’d spent a couple of weeks in southern Spain the year prior, on a family vacation, reminding myself how much I loved that lifestyle, the culinaria, all the glorious sun. So I started by telling people of my intentions. Long story short, I found an artists’ residency with an open call for submissions — for any project you’d like to undertake — from visual artists and researchers, around the theme of “making neighborhood” in Barcelona. Perfect.
I thought about it a long time, then spent much of the time around July 4 that year writing a long proposal to study urban gardening in Barcelona through a series of 6 videos. Each video would be able to stand alone, telling a unique story, but would create a larger picture of how to bring people together through gardening. In just over 6 weeks total, I knew it would be a daunting challenge — researching, getting to know people, interviewing, shooting and editing, all in Spanish, one-man-band-style — but I knew it would be a great challenge and a fun project. The artist residency could cover most of my expenses, aside from food and trasportation to/from Spain. I would save and just make the rest happen. I wrapped up many projects, put a few larger projects on hold, told clients I would be back, found trustworthy people to watch my house and dogs, and took off to spend November and December in Barcelona!
Yes, it was daunting and a huge challenge and I didn’t shoot anything at all for the first ten days (which drove me slightly mad), but it all worked out and I had one of the more impressive of the projects for the group of four artists participating. Each video examination of urban gardening contained a different message. They were all edited by the time I left Barcelona in late December. And I still had lots of time for nightlife fun, seeing Gaudí masterpieces, and Barça futbol games (at Camp Nou). But the rewards of the work were (and still are) immense for me professionally.
I won’t explain too much of the subject matter I covered. If you want, you can see the videos for yourself on wilweldon.com (under International) and feel free to email be with questions. In short, they were collectively about finding new ways to tackle an ancient topic, about bringing people together, and about overcoming an immense economic crisis that’s left millions of people without gainful employment. The people and the stories are bright and uplifting.
The lessons I brought back were immense. I could drop myself into a new city, speaking a non-native language with limited assistance (my Spanish was strong already, but not “fluent”), with limited funds, with no idea who would see or how my work would be used, working with a short turnaround, and make a dream project happen. I found new ways of using my cameras. I found new ways of interviewing people, strengthening what I still consider my strong suit in my trade. And, perhaps most importantly, I found ways of manipulating a long-winded cultural narrative tradition into short-form stories. (Many of the Spaniards I encountered were amazed at the ways I condensed the stories into short films, something Europeans have not entirely mastered in non-fiction.) A national radio show in Spain interviewed me and celebrated my work. On my return, one of my favorite radio programs also interviewed me and featured my work prominently on their web site. Did I make a lot of money from any of this? No. Was I able to pitch the series of videos successfully to a publication for more widespread distribution? No. But those are lessons for the next dream project. The important part now is knowing that I can create a Dream Project, see it to completion, and happily embrace new challenges — all while not going broke and finding ways to inspire others.
See the videos here at wilweldon.com
What guides what we tell and what we owe to our subjects?
I’ve been thinking a lot about ethics in non-fiction video production and storytelling over the past couple of years, in particular. For a lot of people, video production means just setting up and pointing a camera, getting some good light on the subject and… Voilá! Put this clip next to that clip and you have a video! In reality, there are so many more levels to this than most of us realize. There are at least 4-5 different major software applications for editing, alone, with different values and variables for each. But one big component of video production which distinguishes elite producers from those still learning is ethics. (I know, I used to think ethics was boring, but it’s pretty exciting, actually!) This will probably be a multi-part (at least 2-part) series, so I will keep these posts fairly simple.
To begin, ethics means a lot more than “right or wrong,” when it comes to representing people. With the DSLR revolution in video production, many people previously accustomed to knowing a video camera when they see one are now often unaware they are being video-graphed. Does this change the rules? At the least, should we ask if people are okay with video being taken of them? One major consideration is that they will no longer be “candid” or natural and this will change the value of the video for the shooter. But this is just one of the ways ethics is important and is a slight digression from the point of this post.
I was delighted to be hosted on The State of Things, WUNC FM’s program regarding issues in the Triangle of North Carolina. For a third of the hour-long show in February 2015, I talked with Frank Stasio about my fellowship studying urban gardens in Barcelona, Spain. For anyone interested in hearing what I sound like on radio, you can hear me HERE.
It seemed fitting to be interviewed in the United States, because I was previously interviewed in Spanish on RTVE in November 2014. (Being interviewed in English is a little less nerve-wracking.)
In January 2015, I felt the need to offer my opinion regarding the Duke controversy with regards to the Muslim call to prayer. I am not Muslim, but I do support religious freedoms! So, I penned and published this on HuffPo.
Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out how to raise the proverbial bar on myself professionally. The usual ideas tend to present themselves — learn new software, tackle new subjects, try to land bigger projects, stretch beyond the old comfort zone — but there’s something more that I need. Everyone wants to create a viral video, with the instant exposure and cred that it brings. “Cool” videos come in a variety of packages and flavors and everyone is looking for that one element that will set them apart. Messaging and novel approaches to old problems come packaged in videos before they reach people in other ways.
No, what I am looking for is a new kind of hybrid. It may be a start-up company that employs some of my best skills — problem-solving, visualizing, project management, delivering messages and products for people — or possibly a combination of media in a new format. I have started writing a play about “political-science fiction” and have been finding inspiration in starting new documentary projects. I’ve also been re-thinking strategy for how to market my skills and services to the local entrepreneurial leaders and enterprises. The result of that planning will be seen shortly, probably with a new video on this site.
But evolution in the video and visual storytelling front doesn’t come easily. And it usually doesn’t result from solo efforts. At the very least, I am thinking hard on these ideas and looking for collaborators. I figure, if I work on it long enough and hard enough, results will come in time! Onward!!
With a rainy afternoon free in Manhattan (which is not something to take lightly, for anyone), I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a trip I’d missed for at least a dozen years. It’s truly one of the world’s great art museums and I love being left free to gaze at art, looking for those pieces which may move me or thrill me in one way or another — through the heart or the head.
Starting in the Antiquities section, meandering among ancient Greek and Roman marble busts, torsos, and assorted objets d’art, there was no choice but to summon the spirit of the late, great Reynolds Price. As a naive 21-year-old at Duke, I’d stumbled into Price’s Milton class, with little idea that my life’s course was about to be shifted, dramatically. Later in that semester, after having shared social drinks at his country house and dined with him at a local Greek favorite, then cooked for him in his own kitchen with friends, I opened myself to the idea of being his full-time live-in assistant post graduation. An odd thought at first, it proved to be a wise commitment. Little time was required before I knew that there was truly no limit to the wisdom I could glean from the accomplished Southern Man of Letters. It proved more and more true. Sixteen years almost to the week afterI’d first called him “Professor Price,” the man I then knew simply as Reynolds breathed his last. Those later years were filled with frequent visits of afternoon drinks in his private living quarters, during which time we laughed heartily, told bawdy jokes, shared intimate stories, and continued developing what I regard as one of the deepest friendships of my life.
But back to the art! Reynolds possessed what was widely known to be one of the most eclectic, mature, and valuable collections of art — certainly in the state of North Carolina and likely this whole slice of the world. His house was jam-packed with everything from pop-culture icons to Picassos and Rembrandts, and many diverse pieces in between. [See video ‘Farewell to RP’s Art.’] Spending the year with him alone in his house meant: daily opportunities to learn about artistic movements and methods; being asked to reposition old works or hang for the first time newly acquired paintings; gazing at jaw-dropping landscapes and still-lifes by American masters while waiting for him to groom; intimately engaging with masterpieces in a way brief visits to a museum don’t allow. Without entirely conscious realization, my own sense of aesthetic appreciation was being developed in overdrive. Reynolds gave me a lesson in how to negotiate with a dealer on a visit to San Francisco and insisted on making the down-payment himself as a way to ensure I acquired the piece I truly loved — my first acquisition. He taught me ways to think about colors and composition, ways to comment on the energy of a piece without sounding pretentious. His love of art rendered a further dimension to his role as teacher of curious young souls.
So it was, walking through the Met alone, inspecting the contours and curves of the marble marvels, that I found myself summoning Reynolds’ deep baritone voice. We laughed privately to one another at the details or inaccuracies of some of the figure sculptures. I thanked him for allowing me to trace the deltoids of the figures on his shelves, of being able to connect with the marble in ways museums would never condone. I smiled, knowing that I knew why these torsos stood penisless, a simple fact most other patrons probably didn’t consider. I knew the textures of the cold stone statues from Reynolds’ private indulgences standing on his bookshelves and specially built supports. I thanked him, for those lessons were as deeply etched into my memory as the pelvic girdle of Hermes’ modest marble figure.
Reynolds’ joy at my continued engagement with art and aesthetics would have emanated effusively, were he physically present. He would have made jokes about Native American art which had escaped me or otherwise been inaccessible to lesser-read minds. He would have lingered silently with a piece for another few seconds, leaving me to wonder what was transpiring under that silver-white hair of his. He would have made a suggestion of a section of the museum which I’d dismissed otherwise.
In honor of Reynolds’ great contribution to joy in my own life, in the strains of art I’ve begun collecting, and in the myriad ways his love of visual media have changed my own life, I dedicated the 4.5 hour visit to the Met that afternoon to RP. I smiled, I gasped, I nodded. I allowed the power of simple urges and suggestions, brilliant compositions, and mysteries of art to wash over me. I tried to find new ways to encourage art to move me. I also did my fair share of people-watching, as Reynolds would’ve, attaching narratives to some of the situations and individuals. And I thanked him, through all of those meditations. Through these adorations, Reynolds Price truly lives on.
Thanks, old pal.
Welcome to wilweldon.com. I finally got in motion and put together a fair representation of my work from the past 5 years. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed putting it together! Please feel free to comment and give me new ideas.