Innovative Individuals: Adam Westbrook
It is great timing to feature British blogger and multimedia entrepreneur Adam Westbrook as this week’s “Innovative Individual” since he is currently running an excellent series over at his blog on how people, and more specifically journalists, can get started blogging. Furthermore, he took his own advice from his latest e-book and recently launched a multimedia production company called studio .fu. I have highlighted Adam’s work several times here simply because I think extremely highly of him and his work. Thus, formally including him in this series was a must in my eyes!
To keep up with Adam, subscribe to his blog, follow him on Twitter, learn more about him on LinkedIn and check out his work on his online portfolio.
To learn more about his new venture, check out the company blog and follow them on Twitter.
Q) How do you drive innovation in your work?
A) I spend a huge amount of time consuming new material and new ideas: watching online films, reading (hundreds!) of blogs, books, and design. Everything I like I make a note of in a little notebook I keep with me. I think the best innovation comes from combining outside influences and challenging the perceived conventional wisdoms: so right now I’m looking at how graphic design can affect my film making, and how entrepreneurship & business skills can influence my project ideas.
Q) What piece in your portfolio are you most proud of and why?
A) Technically, I’m quite proud of the two multimedia pieces I made about a killer turned lawyer in the UK. I met John Hirst in a previous life as a radio journalist and developed a good contact with him. After serving 30 years in prison he’s fighting for all UK inmates to be given the right to vote, a controversial but legally quite simple procedure. So far I’ve produced an audio slideshow and a short film about him. It’s a story which has been largely ignored by the mainstream media, so I’m proud to have given it some light. It’s also been a great chance for me to experiment with storytelling and narrative.
Q) Please provide a brief educational and professional history.
A) My first love was television. I flirted with radio for a bit and worked briefly as a reporter in Accra, Ghana when I was a teenager. I kept up the radio while at university studying history and when I graduated I studied broadcast journalism at City University in London.
It was a very prestigious course, but (like all courses then) it wasn’t prepared for the huge changes which were on the way.
After 3 years in radio reporting I really started to explore the opportunities of new media. I kept blogging, started tweeting and I saw huge potential for online publishing.
That led me to quit my job in October 2009 and return to London to freelance. Since then, my job title has been pretty impossible to pin down, but alongside my video journalism I run a production company called studio .fu, I lecture at Kingston University in London, do a fair bit of training & consulting, and write books. Blogging and tweeting take up a lot of my time too!
Q) Where do you believe multimedia fits into today’s society and how will that role change over time?
A) Multimedia has already changed how news is gathered in many respects, and it is starting to change how news is consumed. I think we are still very much transplanting television/radio/newspapers onto the internet, and are yet to really let go of the conventions and formulas which govern the traditional media.
That is what will eventually change (I hope): multimedia produced solely for the web and with all its flexibility and potential as a platform exploited. Beyond that too we enter the exciting world of mobile consumption which will change everything once again.
Q) Whose work do you admire?
A) As a film maker, I really admire the videographers who are pushing the boundaries of video journalism. Dan Chung, David Dunkley-Gyimah, Felix Clay and Richard Koci Hernandez are showing the rest of us how it’s done, especially in developing a new aesthetic for the genre.
I’ve seen some fantastic online projects which have got me really excited too: Drea Cooper’s California is a place, The Human Project by Receive Bacon, all the PhosPictures films by Lukas Korver and Eliot Rausch, and films by Brennan Stasiwicz are developing really cool new style for multimedia storytelling.
Q) Where do you find inspiration for your ideas?
A) I spend an inordinate amount of time consuming other media – especially blogs, online video journalism, podcasts and graphic design. I always try to make active notes of any good advice or concepts so I can come back to them later. Visually, design blogs like ISO50 & Kitsune Noir have had a big influence on me.
As for stories I’m really interested in innovating history storytelling for the web and doing more environmental/sustainability journalism so I spend a fair amount of time researching and developing ideas here.
Q) What specific resources do you recommend for beginners, novices and experts to improve their skills in multimedia entrepreneurship?
A) Multimedia entrepreneurship is made totally possible by the web and the ease of publishing, so beginners should tool up on how to create a website, blog and social media brand, so they can create online businesses easily.
There are some excellent books out there on the whole online entrepreneurship thing, including Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love by Jonathan Fields (which totally changed how I work), plus some awesome blogs like Lateral Action which focuses on ‘creative entrepreneurship’.
Finally, for the experts – or anyone about to dive in and actually be a multimedia entrepreneur, I have found the free online courses by yoodoo.biz a great way to focus on my elevator pitch and target market etc.
Q) What is one thing on your “To-Do” list?
A) I’ve just launched my new mini multimedia production studio this summer so at the moment the priority is building a portfolio of good films and short documentaries before launching properly later this year. I’ve also been teaching myself Apple’s Motion software, so I can integrate motion graphics to my journalism.
But probably the biggest personal thing is to spend more time practicing telling stories – a lot harder than you think when you’re a freelancer!
Want to nominate a deserving colleague, friend or inspirational figure to be highlighted in this series? Confidential nominations can be emailed to email@example.com on an ongoing basis. Self nominations are also welcome. A person will be featured every other Friday, so look for the next “innovative individual” Friday, August 27th!
Tags: Adam Westbrook, Blogger, entrepreneur, studio .fu