The PEN: John McGovarin - Producer/Editor

John has done some editing and graphic work for us in the past here is his thoughts about how to he began in the industry as an editor and videographer. 

If I were to pass along anything, I’d say that the fun of doing video should easily trick you into doing any of the hard work. I only started editing when I started shooting and finally realized I had way too much footage without any real purpose. 

I had finally found a reason to buy a laptop and camcorder; a couple semesters abroad doing the backpacker and exchange thing. I filmed typical things you’d see while living in a new place; airports, street performers and any building or bit of nature that seemed unique. I found out about a music video contest for Matt Good, and that gave me an excuse to cut all my footage together. I decided to take video editing seriously when I found myself glued to the laptop to cut every clip together through weeks of multiple re-edits, exporting through the nights without a break for hours at a time. I thought, hey could be a career, since to some this was likely mind-numbing, and this must be how accountants feel (no disrespect meant towards accountants).

I started with a tape camcorder, a white Macbook and I edited on iMovie software it came with. I had to hide the poor quality of the camera, so I tried some tricks that hid the low budget I was working with. For one early project I went for a silhouette look with cardboard cutout figures and a backlit sheet; the simple and sharp colours would’ve fooled me. I added a Hot Chip song for the soundtrack, and it ended up getting posted on the band’s website and blogged about in a few languages on some music blogs. It didn’t get a crazy amount of hits, but the experience was pretty great.

The advice I took when I started was to make videos for myself and friends; bands, comedians, small business owners- anyone who could remotely use a video. Then just make more. Ideally after a while you can put a demo reel together, and then a couple years later this demo reel looks so boring or amateur to you that you can’t wait to make a new one. 

I had a nice winter break before most of my online stuff was made, and started learning Wordpress and Photoshop. It was pretty frustrating and over my head, and I wouldn’t have ben able to finish it without Woo themes. I’d recommend one of their templates if you don’t know how to built a site from scratch ( is 400 babillion times easier). To design your own business cards I like Customized visuals on a CV helps. I made mine match my cards, demo reel and website.

Finding new looks and techniques as they happen is a top priority. It’s pretty overwhelming when you take a look at what’s uploaded to Vimeo on a daily basis. Since it’s impossible to sort through every new amazing video, I rely on the A/V blog iso50 to curate what’s out there. It’s pretty easy now to get a start shooting decent footage. vets all sorts of production equipment from China. Some of it breaks in two seconds, some of it is a good substitute for the pricey stuff you’d otherwise buy retail. If you started from scratch you could still spend $500 and shoot good things. A used 50mm lens on a T1i duct taped to a broom handle? It’s not a bad start.

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