Work

4.8 What Do You Actually Do? Q&A with Emily Baker by Ilsa Melchiori

I've got a range of diverse and interesting people coming up on the What Do You Actually Do series answering a few nosey questions about their work within creative fields. Over time I'll be sneaking in more and more 'not often asked' questions including those about the all shameful, yet all necessary, money. But that's later.

Up today we have teacher and documentary film maker Emily Baker talking about how she splits her time between teaching children in custody and working on Mariposa St Flims upcoming project I Am No Bird.

Describe what you do in 5 words or less.

E: Make docs and teach kids.

Now expand...

E: I direct documentaries, so that's half of what I do. I'm currently directing my second feature, working title I Am No Bird, which follows 4 women from around the world through their wedding ceremonies. And then the other half of what I do is work in the Vocational Education team at Parkville College, a school serving students in custody. I love both my jobs.

Movie still from I AM NO BIRD 

Movie still from I AM NO BIRD 

What has your career journey been like?

E: Really fortunate, and continually supported by other people. I started out as a journalism under-grad who felt pretty unenthused about mainstream media. I wrote to some guys who made a short film I really loved, and they told me to come to the States and work on their feature, Beasts of the Southern Wild. That was an incredible opportunity, which led to me working on other great films and documentaries. That, in turn, gave me the confidence to do my own documentary, SPOKE, for which I rode my bicycle across the United States. When I got home to Australia, I worked in VFX on a bunch of big Hollywood things, before deciding I'd like to teach. I'd volunteered to teach Saturday school for a few years, and it was something I really loved.

Best part of your job?

E: The best part of making documentaries is having a vehicle to step into someone else's life and see something you otherwise never would. On this film, that's included experiences like seeing traditional Naga dancers in North-East India and visiting a Pentecostal Church in Dandenong. Both are experiences I wouldn't have had without film. The best part of teaching is seeing a kid's confidence grow. It's a great feeling to take a kid from thinking they'll never understand a concept, to getting it and feeling great about themselves. It's the best.

Worst/hardest part of your job? E: The most boring part of filmmaking is trying to get funding. I'm pretty impatient so for my last project I just used Kickstarter funding rather than grant bodies. I just wanted to make it, I didn't want to wait. But I'm taking a different, slightly more professional approach with this one! The hardest part of being a teacher is wanting to protect your students from harm.

Movie still from I AM NO BIRD 

Movie still from I AM NO BIRD 

What does your typical work day look like?

E: It really varies a lot! When I was in production, I was basically just following these generous, patient women around and filming their everyday lives. Now I'm in post [production] I spend a lot of time in the studio, huddled in front of a computer with a cup of tea.

What percent of your time is spent on work that pays the bills vs your own creative projects?

E: About 50/50. I'm very lucky.

Movie still from I AM NO BIRD 

Movie still from I AM NO BIRD 

What are yourfavourite apps to use for work?

E: I don't really use any apps for work? Sorry, not cool enough.

What is it like working for yourself?

E: I don't really consider it 'working for myself' because while I do earn a little money from SPOKE, it's nowhere near enough to cover costs. All that comes from my day job, and I have bosses there. I used to do more freelance film stuff, but I found it didn't leave much time or energy for my own work. So I don't work for myself, I definitely have a boss (hey Dan)! But I'm really fortunate to work somewhere that's been flexible and happy to accommodate me.

What is your current work playlist?

E: Haha. WELL. At the moment on Spotify I'm digging of Montreal, LION BABE, Coda Conduct, and some old Turkish stuff by Nilufer that's getting me inspired for my film. Also that one DJ Khaled song with the Biebs that's everywhere right now.

Movie still from I AM NO BIRD

Movie still from I AM NO BIRD

Best career advice/tips you could give someone?

E: I don't really feel qualified to be giving advice to anyone, but I would say to ask for help and be grateful when you receive it. People are only as good as the help they are given, I don't believe in the 'self-made-man' concept overly.

Can you tell us about your next project?

E: My current project, I Am No Bird, follows 4 women from around the world in the lead-up to, and on the day of their weddings. We shot in Australia, India, Turkey, and Mexico, on a BlackMagic as well as Super8. Currently, we're in post-production and seeking finishing funding, so if you have too much money give us a ring.

I AM NO BIRD 

I AM NO BIRD 

What's your next step/move? Any future dreams/goals?

E: To finish this film and let everybody meet the four intelligent, strong, and diverse women it features. Also to get a cronut.

I Am No Bird is currently seeking funding to finish the project. If you are interested please head over to the website to get in touch with the team and find out more.

21.7 What Do You Actually Do? Q&A with Cassie Smith by Ilsa Melchiori

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It's that time again! time to pry into the life of a freelance creative and find out what it's really like. This time we have Melbourne based Stylist and Graphic Designer Cassie Smith. This is one very talented young lady, who I've had the privilege to work with before, and who I also call my friend.

To see more of Cassie's beautiful work and find out how to get in contact with her, check out her website:http://www.cassiesmith.com.au/

No onto the prying, I mean questions...

I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist 3
I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist 3

Describe what you do in 5 words or less.

C: Make things look pretty.

Now expand...

C: Well I have two jobs - I’m an interior/prop stylist & an event stylist for a company called Lettuce & Co.

Essentially as a freelance interior/prop stylist, I get approached by clients who want their products styled for photoshoots whether it be for catalogues, online, social media etc. Most people only picture a stylist working on the set of a shoot but there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes first. It will start with a brief from the client and usually a follow-up meeting where we talk about the nitty gritty - budgets, look and feel, props, colours, lighting etc. Then in most cases, I’ll go out sourcing props for the shoot (yes I get paid to shop for a living and yes it’s as good as it sounds) before you know it the shoot roles around and it’s usually a blur of craziness but always comes together at the end of the day.

Event styling has a lot of similarities to prop styling which is why a lot of stylists have spent time in their careers dabbling in both. Event styling works the same as a photoshoot but there’s much, much more work in the lead up to the event or wedding as there is a photoshoot. We’ll get the brief from the client, find out their budget, the venue they’ve chosen and the overall theme and colour palette they want. Months are then spent sourcing products, briefing in florists, hiring furniture, designing stationary, liaising with the venue and other suppliers... I could go on forever...

I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist 1
I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist 1

What has your career journey been like?

C: Super challenging and super rewarding. It wasn’t until half way through my Graphic Design degree that I realised I wanted to get into styling so I had a few long, tough years between then and now getting to where I currently am. It was one thing to develop all the relevant skills for styling without studying or working under someone else (I put this down to stubbornness) but getting consistent work is a whole new ball game. I’ve only been styling for 4ish years now so looking back at what I’ve accomplished and the clients I’ve worked for in such a short time at such a young age is a massive pat on the back moment.

I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist Officeworks
I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist Officeworks

Best part of your job?

C: Every day is different and the final product makes everything worth it. Seeing your work in a magazine or standing back after you’ve spent 5 hours bumping in a wedding or event on top of the 6 months of planning prior feels pretty great.

Worst/hardest part of your job?

C: The stresses that come with freelancing are absolutely horrific.

I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist Mark tuckey x cotton on
I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist Mark tuckey x cotton on

What does your typical work day look like?

C: I don’t think I’ve ever had a typical work day in my life. There are that many activities/jobs I could be doing at any given time but I’ll give you a sample of a few. Prop sourcing, meetings, mood boarding, on set shooting, driving around all over Melbourne looking for the perfect prop, emails, invoices, setting up an event. Basically, there’s lots of driving and lots of time in front of a computer.

What are your favourite apps to use for work?

C: I guess Instagram although there’s usually 2 other editing apps, VSCO and Snapseed, that I use to edit before I upload to Instagram. A lot of people think the pictures I post are professionally shot by a photographer but I’ve actually just got really damn good at making my iPhone photos look legit. I know how cliche this is but it really is all about faking it till you make it.

I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist 2
I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist 2

What is it like working for yourself?

C: Really really really hard. Nothing can prepare you for freelancing. Literally, everything is on you - meeting deadlines, replying to emails, sending invoices, chasing up overdue invoices, liaising with clients, producing consistently good work the client is happy with, spending days on end on the road prop sourcing, holding onto a million receipts so you can get reimbursed. I know a lot of this sounds like small trivial stuff but when you’re juggling multiple projects and trying to do all the smaller things that come with running your own business it can get overwhelming. You have to be extremely self-motivated and self-disciplined which I find to be impossible 100% of the time. In saying that, I don’t think I’d have it any other way - I love being my own boss. I don’t think I could go to the same desk day in and day out and sit in front of a computer all day. I love that each day and each job is so different. What’s that quote.. ‘Variety is the spice of life’.

I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist food
I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist food

What is your current work playlist?

C: Just some cute upbeat boppy songs... in no particular order: Best Coast, Frank Ocean, No Doubt, Little Dragon, Passion Pit, Metronomy, Santigold, Tegan and Sara etc.

I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist The little moon
I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist The little moon

Best career advice/tips you could give someone?

C: Work hard and be nice.

Can you tell us about your next project?

C: I’m about to design the interior for a new Health & Wellbeing studio! It’s still very early stages, especially considering the build is running about 4 months behind schedule (typical) but I have a feeling this is going to be a good one!

I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist OFFICE WORKS
I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist OFFICE WORKS

What's your next step/move? Any future dreams/goals?

C: Where to begin!? Short term is definitely to work with some new clients and find time to collaborate with some photographers on folio work. Medium term is to move to New York (or Copenhagen or Paris) and spend a few years there. Long term dream jobs are set design for a Wes Anderson film (a girl can dream) and I’d loveeee to design a boutique concept hotel like Ace or QT.

26.3 How Do I Write A Winning Resume? by Ilsa Melchiori

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1. Keep it simple, stupid!In regards to the layout of your resume, it is best to keep in clean and simple. It's often tempting to create some avant-garde masterpiece because you think it will help you get noticed, however from my experience a well designed, well curated, simple layout stands out more, and speak volumes over an overly worked attempt to stand out.

2. Show yourself! Include a nice, friendly looking photo of yourself. This is something I've always done and I cannot tell you how many positive comments I've had in interviews about it. "You just looked so nice and smiley!", "You looked like someone I'd want to work with", etc. The trick here is getting the right photo! Keep it to a portrait style. Make sure you are smiling and look approachable. Pay attention to your outfit. Go for something nice, yet conservative. Don't include that photo of you in the lace bralette at a music festival, there a time and place. Pay attention to the background! Again maybe don't choose a photo from a boozy night out, just in case your friend is vomiting in the background and you didn't notice.

3. Tailor it to be relevant! Most people think they have to list their previous work experience in chronological order. I find, however, that it is best to tailor the order specifically for the job you are applying for. My tip, start with your current/last job, then list experience based on relevance. If you are applying for a job as a Designer it's better to first showcase your experience in relevant fields as opposed to your work as a waitress. On a similar note, it's also sometimes necessary to curate/edit your experience. You don't have to include every single thing you have done, just pick the things that are relevant.

4. Summerise! I like to start my resumes with a personal statement. This is a short paragraph summarising everything that is covered in my resume. This way someone can read this and then decide if they want to delve in further. This is where you need to really sell yourself!

5. Understand the importance of good references! I always say that you should have 3 references on your resume. This being said you want them to be great (real) references, so if you only feel you have 2, only put 2 down. The point of references are to make you look like the best you/ best potential employee. Also, make sure you actually list your references and their contact details on your resume. I know a lot of people who will instead write 'references available on request'. Personally, I think this looks poor, and as if you couldn't come up with any in time. Tip: When you leave a job, consider asking your boss if they will be a future employment reference for you, grab their mobile numbers (in case they leave the company in the future). Then, when you are applying for jobs make sure you flick them a text with a heads up/would they mind. You don't want them randomly getting a call out of the blue and not being prepared.

6. Keep it Concise! Try and keep it to 1-3 pages total. You are not writing a PHD thesis! I know this can be difficult, but it comes back to what I mentioned earlier about curating and keeping it simple.

7. Own it! Make sure you have your name and contact information clearly listed up top. I normally put my name as a page header in a large font size to ensure it stands out. ALWAYS include your address, phone number, email address and MAYBE your availability, Instagram, website, twitter etc if you think it's relevant (there's my favourite word again!)

8. Link! A sneaky way of including more content in your resume, without in fact cramming more onto the page, is to clearly link to your website, online portfolio, Instagram, blog, etc

9. SPELLCHECK! I have mild dyslexia, and as a result, I struggle a lot with spelling and grammar in my writing. I just can't see it when I make a mistake! However, nothing bothers me more than reading other people's writing and seeing heaps of mistakes *. Firstly, do a spellcheck! Secondly, download and use Grammarly, this is a fantastic free Chrome extension that is essentially spellcheck for grammar. Lastly, have someone else (or several people) read over it.

10. Have fun! At the end of it all, try to show a little bit of personality. All the points listed above are simply my tips and things that I've found to work over the years. But at the end of the day, people hire people, no one is perfect, and I'm not entirely sure there is such a thing as a 'perfect resume'.

Happy job hunting!

Image by Ilya Pavlov via unsplash 

*I'm sorry if that happens to you when reading posts on this blog, I try to triple check everything!

26.2 What Do You Actually Do? Q&A with Jess Lafrankie by Ilsa Melchiori

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Ever wonder about the lives of self-employed creatives? How do actually make money? What does their work day look like? This new Q&A series will start asking creatives just that, what do you actually do?

First up we have Melbourne photographer Jess Lafrankie. To check out more of her stunning images head to her website: http://www.jesslafrankie.com/

Describe what you do in 5 words or less.

J: Fashion and commercial photographer

Now expand…

J: I’m a freelance photographer based in Melbourne who shoots for fashion brands. My style produces crisp, clean and colourful images that maintain a feminine aura.

What has your career journey been like?

J: I discovered photography when I was 15 and was put in the wrong class in high school. I started shooting paid work when I was 16 and from there relocated from a beach town to pursue this kind of career further. It’s been my sole focus ever since.

Best part of your job?

J: Having the chance to enjoy what I’m doing every day. I wake up excited to get to work and my favourite day of the week is Monday.

Worst/hardest part of your job?

J: Never clocking off. I didn’t realise I hadn’t taken a day off in 5 years and it started to affect my health. Putting my health above my career has been a struggle.

What does your typical work day look like?

J: As a photographer I don’t have a typical work day, which is probably the best part of all. I’ll either be shooting all day or in my office retouching and planning. Before this starts to become too much like a routine I’m generally on a plane for a work holiday.

What are you favourite apps to use for work?

J: Wunderlist - I’ve got my shooting gear list stored in here so I can literally just tick what I’ll need and what I have saves me heaps of time.

Ubereats -  I’m not even kidding. Having the piece of mind that if I’m exhausted from shooting or I’m too busy with deadlines I can just order some food is a life saver.

What is it like working for yourself?

J: It’s the best kind of job in the world. It’s important that you can self manage, self motivate and be proactive.

What is your current work playlist?

J: I’ve made a playlist on Spotify with all the songs that have the word WORK in the title or are about working. I’ll play this if I need a boost. I’ll play Ben Howard for good retouching vibes though.

Best career advice/tips you could give someone?

J: Read Timothy Ferris’s books.

Can you tell us about your next project?

J: It’s inspired by paintings. It’s going to be epic, my favourite to date.

What's your next step/move? Any future dreams/goals?

J: Become even more portable with my work life and get back to Europe!