… I don’t need much to do my job – an Internet connection and a keyboard are the only tools I rely on – but a good Spotify playlist helps.
I’m Script Editor here at MakeMatic and I love what I do. I enjoy working with clients, producers and animators, who teach me new things all the time: avoid list sentences, always begin with the object… It’s so exciting to see our finished videos, the beautiful illustrations, the stunning audio work, and know that I played a part in telling those stories.
My background is in journalism, mainly feature writing, where I had lots of space on the page to fully explore a story, but writing short educational videos is a different format altogether. It’s all about concision, precision and timing. I’m now obsessed with calculating words per second.
John Lennon once said, “I’m an artist… if you give me a tuba, I’ll get you something out of it”, and I’ve always felt the same. I was a creative kid. I picked up a pencil and thought I’d be the next Van Gogh. I picked up a guitar and thought I’d be the next Jimi Hendrix. Then I wrote my first adventure story and became obsessed with words. I’ve been a diehard bibliophile ever since.
I studied English and History at Manchester Metropolitan University and regret every second. There were a wide variety of modules to choose from and I was able to spend three years indulging in the Beat Poets, learning about the art of propaganda and researching 19th century English periodicals – none of which prepared me for the workplace.
Back home in Northern Ireland, I got a job in a textiles factory, where I could think about what I wanted to do. But China had established a monopoly on linen production and the company soon announced its closure. It was heartbreaking to see so many skilled workers made redundant and I felt compelled to tell their story. I emailed a short piece to the local weekly newspaper and they offered me my own column.
I then completed a postgraduate qualification in Journalism, Radio Techniques and Media Competences with CSV Media in Belfast and got my foot on the career ladder as a runner at BBC Northern Ireland, making coffee for grumpy early morning radio presenters, printing scripts, meeting and greeting guests, before securing a position as Broadcast Assistant.
I loved it – pitching stories, editing radio packages, learning from the weathered hacks in the newsroom – but a position as Content Developer came up with the arts website CultureNorthernIreland.org and I jumped ship. A year later, I was made Web Editor and stayed for almost a decade, writing features, reviews, producing podcasts and online videos. I met my future wife during that time and we moved to Derry a few years later.
When CultureNI lost its funding, I went freelance. It was scary but ultimately rewarding. I fulfilled a lifetime’s ambition to write for the Sunday Times’ Culture magazine and still do today. Culture was my bible when I was a teenager and I learned everything I know about good journalism from its pages.
I initially started with MakeMatic to help with a huge project consisting of two-hundred and fifty scripts, and subsequently joined the team full-time. I don’t need much to do my job – an Internet connection and a keyboard are the only tools I rely on – but a good Spotify playlist helps to drown out the chatter when the rest of the team discuss ideas.
I’ve enjoyed writing the Icons series for Participate most. Condensing the stories of global citizens like the Dalai Lama and Frida Kahlo into two-minute animations wasn’t easy, but the hard work was worth it when I saw the finished products. Some of the words weren’t my own, but that’s filmmaking. It’s a collaborative process.