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Behind the Lens: the Strivven Media Production Team

By Courtney Kelly, Curriculum Director, September 6th, 2018

If you want to know what makes Strivven Media exceptional, look no further than the people it’s made of. Jason Perry and Hamish Horton, recent graduates of UNC Asheville, joined the Strivven Media production team in January and May of 2017 respectively. Since then, they’ve been working with Executive Producer, Barry Yee, to generate the innovative, engaging media content that drives our career preparation platforms. 


Having been classmates for two years before they were coworkers, Jason and Hamish have developed a creative, collaborative dynamic that we wanted to learn more about. We interviewed them, and we're sharing that interview with you.



First thing’s first. In one sentence, summarize what you do at Strivven Media:

Jason: As a producer at Strivven Media, it’s my job to film and edit the videos we have on VirtualJobShadow.com.


Hamish: At a very high conceptual level, I manipulate light and sound frequencies in order to encode meaning into mass-produced media. My tax form says I’m paid as a cartoon animator for a product known as VJS Junior. 


What makes you two a great team?

Jason: Hamish and I work well together because we communicate openly. This allows us to complete projects efficiently, tackle challenges head on, and create some really awesome media.


Hamish: As we all know, there’s a Yin and Yang pulse to the Universe, and within the working dynamic of the design lab, I myself lie in the very strange, conceptual, idea realm. Jason lies within the practical, structured realm, and you have to have two sides to the design coin in order to come out with the best product. You can’t have things too strange, and you can’t have things too rigid. When you combine those two aspects together, you achieve a very high level of design. Transcendence. 


How did you first become interested in media?

Jason: I first became interested in media during my freshman year of college. I majored in mass communications, and I had a strong interest in journalism. I really loved the storytelling aspect of the work, and eventually, I became interested in telling visual narratives over written narratives. 


Hamish: When I was seven or eight, my family got a computer for the first time. The computer had one of the early versions of iMovie, and my sister and I made a superhero film called the adventures of the Humpfrey Humpf Humpf. I vividly remember that, during one of the scenes, I wanted to shoot lightning out of my mother’s hands. And-- so it was 2003-- the lightning render time took a day and a half. When it was finished, I thought I had done the coolest thing in the entire world. That's when I first became interested in creating media products.


How did you learn your craft?

Jason: I learned my craft through several different outlets. I learned basic storytelling, news writing, and journalism in college. In terms of actually making and editing videos, Hamish actually taught me the technical side of production during a video internship that we worked on together. That is something I wouldn’t have learned in school. A big part of how I refined-- and still refine-- my craft is through watching how-to videos online. I would recommend that any students who are interested in learning about the technical side of making and editing media watch tutorial videos on platforms like YouTube. It’s amazing how much you can learn through those outlets.


Hamish: Like Jason, I was lucky enough to study journalism, news writing, and communication theory in school. If you can understand communication at a conceptual level, you can reverse engineer those concepts into the design work that we do. Because we use so many different software programs, and because we’ll probably be adding more onto that pile in the future, the key for me was to understand the purpose of and philosophy behind making media, and then to cultivate my ability to learn technical skills quickly. Three things positioned me for success in this field:


1: Learning classical piano taught me how to work on a timeline. 

2: Shooting videos for fun taught me to enjoy the medium. 

3: Studying the art of communication itself helped me understand the purpose and philosophy behind media.


Do you have a mantra/ maxim/ motto that gets you through the day? What is it?

Jason: I tell myself “Be patient,” over and over and over. If you listen to an interview or read a book about someone who’s achieved something great, you realize it’s taken them years and years to get good at their craft. 


Hamish: My motto, though it may sound contrived or cheesy, is to look at the whole operation as rock‘n’roll. And when I say that, I mean to attack the day in a loud, aggressive, and unforgiving way-- the same way that rock’n’roll hits me. My goal is to approach every project with a powerful creative energy while fluidly adapting and maneuvering around any adversity that may come. 


What do you love about your job?

Jason: I love being able to tell stories from all over the country while learning about different careers. It’s inspiring to see so many passionate people doing what they love, and it’s awesome to know that I’m conveying that passion to the people who are watching our VirtualJobShadow.com videos-- that I’m helping to inspire them to pursue a career they will enjoy. I also love filming. I’m bad at art-- I can’t draw, I can’t paint-- but I love art. And filming gives me a way to create something artistic and beautiful. What’s more, filming is a creative outlet that allows me to share impactful stories with others.


Hamish: First and foremost: I get the opportunity, on a daily basis, to put new things into the Universe. Doesn’t matter if you’re religious or not, most people believe in some kind of higher creator, designer, or originator. I get to work through whatever powers there are and get paid to do that. On a daily basis, I get to make things to inspire and stimulate the next generation of mindful, global citizens to do well and do good. I think that there’s a good portion of people that live their entire lives with a lot of negativity and pessimism about the future. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of people that get to change that paradigm, but I get to spend 8-10 hours a day building something that hopefully creates a better and brighter community. I’m grateful for that.


What advice would you give someone hoping to go into production?

Jason: My advice is to find a mentor. Approach a business and say, “Hey! I’d like to make videos for you for free. I just want to tag along and learn.” I think people get too caught up in trying to find paid work really early on, when the best thing you can do might be to offer your services for free so you can learn from someone experienced. Along with that, be patient and accept rejection. You’re not going to be good at first, and it’s going to take a long time to become great at what you do, but that shouldn’t discourage you.


Hamish: I agree with Perry. You definitely have to have an ungodly amount of patience. You might get what you want in a year, or you might get what you want in 10 years, but you have to check your long game. Where do you want to be in 40, 50 years? You need to keep that in mind. The only other thing I got is this: Floss your teeth and make your bed. As simple as that sounds, the deeper meaning is that you have to make sure that you’re doing okay mentally, emotionally, and physically before you go out into the world. If you aren’t taking care of your mental and physical health, that’s going to impact your pursuit of happiness. 


When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

Jason: I told people I was going to be a famous guitar player and rock star. I really had no idea, but when I was 11 or 12, that’s what I told people. When I got into high school, that’s when I became more realistic about exploring career opportunities. I didn’t have a clue about what I wanted to do, and I think that’s totally okay. One day, something’s going to jump out at you, and for me, that was my first journalism class. You’d be surprised at the difference between what you think you’re going to do and what you actually end up pursuing. But that’s okay-- that’s how it should be! 


Hamish: I can give you a list, actually: It started with garbage man, moved on to beekeeper, then professional soccer player, then sports manager, then lawyer, fashion designer, fashion merchandiser, butcher, and then I figured out that media was for me. At first, I wanted to be a filmmaker, and then I transitioned into multimedia design.


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