“Career Diaries” is a new column from Step Up Magazine where we feature established professionals on what it’s like–and what it takes–to enter their field. Today we are excited to learn from Matt Ford!
Matt Ford is an experienced and award-winning writer, video producer, production coordinator, and actor. He’s had a hand in virtually every facet of online storytelling, from investigative reporting in Alabama to building out online franchise shows in New York that reach millions of viewers. He has a dual background in journalism and film — including working at GQ, BuzzFeed, and the Cannes Film Festival — and his skillset includes creating online content, taking content through the production process, and working both in front of and behind the camera.
Years of experience:
2 in video, 3 at BuzzFeed
Where you went to college:
The University of Alabama
In a few sentences, please tell us what you do and what your job involves.
My title at BuzzFeed is Production Coordinator, and it is essentially what I would call “producing” in the film world. That is, it’s my job to keep things running and shoots happening smoothly. That can be anything from the physical production side of gaffing, call sheets, etc, to working with our various team leads to help build out a trajectory for where the BuzzFeed brands’ productions will go.
What is something you wish you knew about your industry before you entered it?
I wish I knew how quickly things change. I still would’ve done it anyway, but it would’ve prepared me a bit more for the fluidity of digital. I’ve heard a saying that kids in school are currently being educated for jobs that don’t exist yet, and I’ve found that to be quite true.
What has surprised you about your industry?
How it marries different industries into something else entirely. For digital video, we’re taking various aspects and functions from the film world, tech, and old-school media companies, and combining the most efficient and nimblest of those into something remarkable at BuzzFeed. It’s what enables us to make quality content quickly.
What does an average morning look like for you?
The only constant of my mornings is a stand-up my team has at 9:30 a.m. to go over that day, and then a quick meeting with our interns and residents. After that, it totally varies by that day’s shoots. But oftentimes it could be preparing for any upcoming larger shoots, putting out new fires on smaller ones, things like that.
What does an average afternoon look like for you?
That *totally* varies by day. I could be in five back-to-back meetings with team leads to go anything under the sun that’s arisen, or I could be on set if we’re low on shoot support. Or if it’s a lighter day, I could actually get some work done at my desk!
What are some of your favorite parts of your job and what are some of your not-so-favorite parts?
I’ve said this before in interviews, and it may sound trite or cliché, but my favorite part is truly the people. I’ve never worked with people who are so creative, collaborative, hardworking, funny, and genius. The atmosphere there (not to mention the perks like fro-yo and snacks) make it a remarkable experience.
My not-so-favorite part is also something that’s necessary and part of what makes BuzzFeed so brilliant, and that’s our flexibility. Just like the internet, we’re changing constantly. So for someone in my role, whose job is to provide structure and workflows, there are times when my team has to get creative as things are changing rapidly all around us. But changing and adapting is the only way to grow, and we value those who can hang along for the ride.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
To filter negative, discouraging feedback out of your head, unless it is from a trusted source and/or constructive in nature. Otherwise, it’s not worth dwelling on it.
I’ve had people tell me I couldn’t get jobs in the past because I was too late timing-wise, I wasn’t good enough, etc. It’s bologna. I kept my head down and stayed focused, and eventually got the jobs I was after.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
For digital media, particularly in video:
-Master Adobe Creative Suite, especially Premiere and After Effects.
-Make some videos that interest you, either in school or on your own time.
-Stay organized. I personally love Evernote and it runs all facets of my life, but do whatever works for you.
-Get internships with media companies. They are crucial for seeing how the industry really works and getting a foot in the door with professional connections.