Interested in video production for a career? Our former international student blogger Yumi Arake took some time to tell us about her journey from journalism to her current position as an associate producer at a video production company—and her aspirations to continue her career in multimedia journalism!
Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your education.
My name is Yumi, and I was born in Malaysia and raised in Tokyo. I went to the American School In Japan K-12 before moving in 2006 to the United States to attend Boston University for my undergraduate studies. I now work as the associate producer at Boston Science Communications, Inc., a video production company that specializes in covering science, technology, and medicine.
What do you do in your current position at Boston Science Communications, Inc.?
Whenever anybody asks me what I do, I kind of chuckle because I actually don’t have a good way of describing it in a couple of words. My official title is “Associate Producer,” but that means that I’m part researcher, scriptwriter, interviewer/journalist, on-set logistics manager, sound recorder, post-production editor, graphics producer, and makeup artist, even. But at the core of what I do is produce video and multimedia about science, technology, and medicine for a variety of clients—broadcasters (like PBS, Discovery Channel), educational institutions (MIT, Harvard), and corporate organizations.
How did you discover your enjoyment and talent in video production?
I had always been interested in video as a medium that can most closely capture a time, a place, and the events therein. Fear and grit also drew me to video. As an undergraduate journalism major embarking to graduate in an uncertain economy, and when journalism paradigms were shifting drastically, I knew I had to adapt in order to pursue my dream of becoming a journalist. I took two multimedia and online journalism courses my senior year, and they were perhaps two of the most important classes I would take at BU. While my current job doesn’t quite cleanly fall into the role of journalist, all of my journalism training have served me well in my role as a producer.
What advice do you have for students considering a career like yours?
The definition of “journalist” and the journalism industry is constantly evolving. Tenacity and adaptability are perhaps the two most important qualities—and this applies to many other professions, but especially in journalism and media. It’s not enough to just be a writer or a videographer. Students interested in media should open their minds to all aspects of it—web design, audio mixing, computer programming—the list in infinite. The additional skillset will set you apart from every other journalism or communications major—but these skills should be built upon a stringent and solid foundation in traditional journalistic skills like good writing, editorial judgment, clarity, and a passion to tell a good story.
Visual arts and communications is a tough industry to get into. What kinds of trends and opportunities have you seen in the field?
Visual arts and communication are indeed tough industries to break into. We are, however, seeing the democratization of news and media—just look at the proliferation of works on Vimeo or YouTube by non-professional filmmakers. We also see the democratization of the types of visual communication—memes, new modes of photography, remaking/mixing and mash-ups. With the advent of consumer HDSLR cameras that record high-definition video, filmmaking and media production has become a lot more accessible, and video editing programs have also become layman-friendly. This should encourage a wider range of people to produce a diverse work of visual communication.
What are your goals for your future career?
I will be going to graduate school to further my studies in journalism, and I hope to delve into radio so that I can cross that medium off of my list of journalistic modes to try out. Since my background is in print and I currently work with video, I’d like to complete the “trifecta” by discovering what storytelling advantages lie in radio and podcasting. I’d like to then take my learning experiences to a large publication—maybe the New York Times, the The Atlantic (these are lofty goals), and see how those publications might experiment more with multimedia in order to sustain and augment the great journalism that they produce. Eventually down the line, I’d maybe like to become a founding editor of my own news and media website, but I’m about 20 years short of that goal.