Jay Whitehead (20) is a filmmaker from Nottingham, England. She has produced content for artists such as Vesperteen, Hippo Campus and The Technicolors. She also works as a videographer for American poetry publisher Secret Midnight Press.
Despite her young age, Jay has been making videos for a long time. Jay: “I started uploading videos online back in 2010, but I’ve always had a camera in my hand. I used to use my parents’ old film camera and would record onto the same tape over and over, just messing about and making funny films with my friends. I started uploading online because I saw a community of other people doing the same thing, and it turned out to be a great way to make friends and connect with people from all over the world”.
“I think I learned more in 10 days on tour than I have in 16 years of education”
Not only did filmmaking connect Jay with people all over the world, it also meant she got to travel to the other side of the world. Last Summer, Jay went to America to create visual ‘tour diaries’ for American artist Vesperteen. “I think I learned more in 10 days on tour than I have in 16 years of education. I loved being able to go out and experience so many new places and meet all these new people, but still having a job to do. Despite tour being hectic and unpredictable, knowing I had a job to do helped me stay focussed and inspired. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel at all burnout after despite driving for 8 hours a day, not sleeping much and working up until 2 am each day. In fact, I felt even more inspired and driven to work and pursue this career”.
There is no doubt that Jay is driven. On top of a full-time degree at The University of Nottingham, she works hours and hours each week on different video projects and on further developing her skills. “I’m completely self-taught! I learned almost all of what I know simply through practice and finding out what did and didn’t work for me. Sometimes I’ll also read up on technical information online, but the first time I properly researched into what all the technical terms meant was only in 2015 – I seemed to just go with my gut until then. I was amazed there was so much information I didn’t know”.
“My degree makes me question how people think, their motivations for action and even the meaning of art and music”
After all this hard work, there is little time left to watch much herself. “Despite being a filmmaker myself, I don’t consume a lot of media! However the films I do like, I watch over and over. One of my favourite directors is Park Chan-Wook; his film ‘Stoker’ has inspired a lot of my work both in a cinematography and narrative sense. I also really love Edgar Wright’s work and have taken a lot of inspiration from him and his ability to create humour and action through editing and cinematography”.
Another form of inspiration is Jay’s degree. “I’m finishing up a degree in Philosophy and English at The University of Nottingham and have found that whilst I’ve been learning absolutely nothing about filmmaking, it’s still been useful in my career. My degree makes me question how people think, their motivations for action and even the meaning of art and music. I think having some understanding human nature and behaviour is important for any filmmaker wanting to connect with the audience”.
“Living and working in the States may provide more opportunities but it’s only what you make of it”
Being based at Nottingham rather than somewhere perhaps more convenient like America is not something that is stopping Jay. “I think living and working in the States may provide more opportunities but it’s only what you make of it”. Last year was an exciting one for Jay, with even some opportunities to shoot locally. “I have especially enjoyed working with Hippo Campus and The Night Cafe at my local Nottingham venue ‘Rescue Rooms’. Both bands and the venue itself have been great fun to shoot”.
“Sometimes I have to take a step back and think ‘wow, I’ve got a responsibility to produce good content”
Jay hopes to shoot even more this year. After graduating in May 2018, she wants to fully focus on her career as a filmmaker. “I’d love to continue to explore more of the YouTube scene, perhaps working with other filmmakers like myself such as Bertie Gilbert. In terms of musicians, I’d love to work with artists including The Neighbourhood, the 1975 and EDEN. Their music strikes me as having a huge amount of visual potential and I think it could be so fun to shoot their live shows”.
“Sometimes I have to take a step back and think ‘wow, I’ve got a responsibility to produce good content’ because I’ve entered into a business agreement with these people. Overall though, it really excites me. I’m beginning to see what a powerhouse the music industry is, and it’s so exciting to see all the opportunities that could come my way”.