Sarah Fonger is the founder of Spring Bank Creatives and works as a videographer who primarily makes educational and promotional videos for organizations based in London, Ontario. She has previously created videos for organizations such as the Middlesex Federation of Agriculture, Middlesex County, the Thames Valley School Board, and the Township of Lucan Biddulph. Last winter Sarah was in Africa creating social media content for a bike touring company on one of their tours from Cairo to Capetown. Her passions include cycling, videography, plants, and anything to do with mountains! I've had the amazing pleasure of speaking with Sarah to learn more about her work across the world as well as how she learned how to become more confident behind the camera when filming subjects and really own the craft. It's an inspiring story speaking with Sarah and I'm so glad to share more about what she's been up to! I hope you enjoy the episode of The Creative Kind! Check out a full blog post and watch the video interview on YouTube as well as see all the show links referenced: Like what you heard? Help us get the word out by leaving a rating and review on Apple Podcasts. Show Transcripts on the bottom of the page!
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Alex: Sarah, thank you so much for joining me, again, and another excellent conversation all about video production. So I'm super happy that we have this time together here today. And thank you again for for giving me some of your time to really dig deeper to talk about your experience in the world of video production. You know, we've met each other so we originally met at for city Film Festival, that like networking event. And since then I've been following your work and you know, the video content that you do add, it's super, super creative. And so I knew that I would want to have you as a guest here. You know, we spoke recently at the urban League's event. So without further ado, I'd love for you to give yourself an introduction talk about your company. And yeah, what kind of film and what kind of content you specialize in creating.
Yeah, so I'm Sara finger, and I started shooting video about four or five years ago. And before that, I primarily just did photography as a hobby. And I realized that the next step for me, what I wanted to do is video production. So I started to just do some stuff on my own some events, videos with friends, I created an Instagram account called girl to shred and it was just, you know, video of my friends, biking and all the funny things we got into. So it was really a passion for me. And then I needed to find a way to learn more and become part of like, a professional environment. So I started working as a real estate photographer for a production company. So I would get to go on video shoots and I get to learn a lot. Even though I was just doing photography, like as my job most of the time, I would assist on this video shoot, so that was really valuable to me. So since then, like other things have happened in my life. But it's always kind of been on and off like doing video for myself, trying to find ways to make money at it and then recently I just kind of started my own business. I was in Africa, just before COVID. From January to March, I'm shooting a bike terrain trip, I was working for a bike sharing company. And then when I got home and COVID hit, I started shooting weddings. And then I got into making videos for organizations. So as a business owner and shooting video on my own, that's been something that's happened very recently. Even though I've been doing this for a number of years.
That's, that's interesting to know. So like I knew about your trip to Africa, like with the, with, like, the bike touring company, and those diamond tags. That's pretty cool. Now many people have experienced that. And that was a pretty like, cross continental trip if I if I believe so. I think I checked it out on on your website. So talk to me a bit more about that trip and like what you learned and just kind of, you know, where you went from, you know, from where to where.
So originally, the trip was supposed to be Cairo to Cape Town. That's what they do every year at the same time. But because of COVID, we actually ended up coming in March. So it ended up being Cairo to Mount Kilimanjaro. Tanzania, is where we ended up stopping.
Yeah, that's, you know, just that, yeah, that's still pretty intense. Especially because you're on like bikes, like you're on like push bikes. Right. So for you like what was, you know, you got to travel pretty light, I imagine or did you have camera gear, like in a van? Was there someone who is driving? You know, like, what were some of the gear that you had on that trip? That is like kind of packing like gear? Like, what was your camera bag during that trip?
Yeah, so um, we actually had vehicles with us at all time. So we have three vehicles. We had like a pickup truck of van that we used for lunches, that only had gear for like lunches and things like that, like a Sprinter van. And then we have this very, like, massive large truck, like somewhere between a transport truck and an adventure vehicle. He was just very big. And so in that we stored all of our personal gear. So the people working on the trip, like we had a chef, we had a nurse, we had people, just extra staff members that helped out with things like that the drivers of the vehicles. And so we had the gear of all of the participants in the back as well as our own gear. So at some points on the trip, you know, there might be 25 people or there might be 30 people because people come in and note, like not everyone who pays to be on the trip stays for the full, like four months, they might be there for two weeks or one month, depending on what they signed up for. So I actually didn't get a good deal with luggage as some other my co workers did, because I had some camera gear. So I had two duffel bags, one of my personal gear, and one was just camera gear. So we're allowed one duffel bag for like day use and one duffel bag for long term use. So that stuff you don't access on a regular basis. But my extra bag, my long term bag was just full camera gear. So I traveled, maybe in some cases lighter than I should have. But I had my, like my Ronin M stabilizer with me, which was probably overkill, because I didn't use it a lot. Just because it's really intimidating for people in general, let alone people who don't necessarily see that kind of gear all the time for you to just come up to them with that, you know, so that was something that I didn't really use so much. I I went handheld more often than not.
Hmm, interesting. And, you know, it kind of makes me want to tap into another question there. And it's something that I personally am not always, you know, I'm not the most comfortable doing this as well. And even with your wedding background, like this is where I had to do it more recently, and it was Yeah, just a bit like uncomfortable, which is filming people at like events or you know, during things like this, and you know, like subjects on camera who are not actors or actresses and be like hey, I'm like doing some thing or you know, like you're being paid by an organization or a company and you're filming like, you know, participants or people there who don't necessarily, you know, didn't necessarily agree to be on camera or me I'm sure in your case they like probably had to sign some sort of consent. Um, so for something like that, like, what is kind of your approach, reaching out to people like, hey, like, do you kind of try to get more candidates where like, they don't necessarily notice you at first? Do you come up and ask them? And then, you know, just act natural, you know? Is it more of like a fly on the wall? Or do you come in, tell them to act natural, but then you go to that position? Or do you like get them to be like right, like, what's generally your approach for filming kind of subjects who are not necessarily like hired talent?
Yeah, before I get into, that I just want to talk about, that's something I've struggled with for so long, it can be so awkward and uncomfortable. And I like I've struggled with confidence and that sort of thing. And you have to have so much confidence to just go up to someone and be like, oh, will you be on camera or it? I don't know if everyone struggles with this, but it was something that was so incredibly awkward for me. And I actually, part of my goals with the Africa trip was to get over that, I thought, I'm gonna be around all these people, this is my job, I have no way around it, this is what I have to do. And at the end of four months, I'm going to be comfortable with it. And then I'll be better at weddings and corporate stuff. And actually, that is what happened, it did work out that way. A lot of the time, I would have, I would set up an interview, I would have a topic in mind. And I would set up an interview with someone on the trip. And we would talk about different things. But I would have that topic in mind and an idea of where the video was going. And then I would get video footage of them that supported that. So some of this stuff might be staged, like, I might get a close up of them picking up a water bottle or stuff like that. But for the most part, I was just on the outside of the whole group kind of building things that were going on. That was interesting. Because sometimes the actual filming of just filming people, I guess, randomly or all the time that led into then, okay, well, this topic has come up. And that's what I'm going to make a video on. Because I have footage that supports it. So I think I think the best footage happens when you communicate with your subject, and you let them know what you want to get out of it. Because I find when you're trying to follow someone around, you're always two steps behind, you don't know when they're gonna pick something up, you don't know what direction they're walking, it just the footage is never going to be as good in my opinion, as if, you know, you say Walk This Way. On the other side of that, though, if you're just filming them all the time, you're going to get stuff that you wouldn't have thought of. It's kind of candid, in a way, but it's also posed in a way like, you might have someone come up and get food from the Chef's Table, and they're acting as they normally would, because they had to get food, but you're just in the right spot, and you know, what they're going to be doing when they're doing it.
Yeah, that makes total sense, right. And it's interesting, that whole idea of being two steps behind if you don't, if if there isn't a game plan, then you're kind of at the whim and, you know, sure there's an element of spontaneity there. But if especially if you're on a tight time schedule, and things like this, and if it's in you know, if you have a certain shoe or a scene in mind, 100% take that, but then when you know you're talking about the cafeteria, or people just you know, be sitting there on fire, right? These are more habitual routines that having say, a guided script, or some sort of plan doesn't even need to take in place. It's more safe, you're on the go and things like that, that those type of shots you really want to have control over versus more of those those habits and those routines, that can be a bit more spontaneity, you know, there can be more spontaneity in that.
Yeah, I think there's definitely pros and cons to both methods. And there's been years that I've tried to get good at just going up to people I don't even know and being like, Hey, can I feel me doing this? Like, I've had friends come with me because I needed their support. And, and I told them, I need to practice this. I am bad. I need to get better at it. And they would be beside me and they would do some of the talking. And I would just go up to people at festivals and say Can I get a shot of you pouring this or doing that and it felt so uncomfortable and it took so much energy to get myself to do that. But now I feel super comfortable doing that.
Hmm. Well, that was a moment on your trip in Africa, where it was like, like an aha. You know, like, oh, like, now this mate like, why didn't I ever see it in this way before? Or did you think it was more of like, a gradual mindset shift?
I don't think I really realized until I got back, I think it was very gradual. So trip was very difficult for me for like a number of reasons. Like we're camping outside, you're working every day, you're getting up at 5am, you're going to bed after everything's done. Like I wasn't just a videographer, I helped the chef, I rode my bike, sometimes at the back, like sweep, we all had ride sweep certain days. And so I was just perpetually exhausted. And I didn't really have much time to think about anything on that trip, I was just trying to get through it. There's so many times I didn't actually think I could get through it. I was like, I don't know how to quit this trip. But I think I have to because I don't have any energy left. And so it didn't really hit me until after I got back until I started, like, doing a little bit of YouTube videos and shooting some weddings, and then getting into more stuff with organizations that I really was able to see this, like, gradual transition that I made. And now when I look back at who I was before I went to Africa and like professionally and personally, I can't believe how far I've come. I'm in certain regards.
Wow, that's Yeah, that's such a crazy trip, though, as well. So congratulations to you for even embarking on that in the first place. That's, that's awesome. And it makes me think and it kind of sparked another question in my mind. Which is, you know, when we talk about that feeling of, you know, being uncomfortable approaching people and whether or not it's even subjects to film or its new clients, right. Like, I think it kind of stems back from, to me personally, it's almost a fear of rejection, like, right, and I think a lot of small businesses, can they, they have this mindset where they don't go out, they're not that active. You know, people don't like doing sales, sales are uncomfortable you you're going to face rejection. And so for you now having come back home, taking more of the entrepreneurial route, like what has been say one remedy for you. You know, that's helped you say overcome that fear. Now, fear of rejection, when you are, say outsourcing and looking for new leads and new busines?
I think one of the hardest things for me has been confidence, like ever since the beginning. And that's because of a couple things. But I was always worried about how my videos looked. And I know people would tell me like, That's amazing. That looks really cool. But I didn't really believe it. And now when I look back at the stuff when I was shooting at the beginning, you know, some of it, I'm like, that's really bad. But other stuff. I'm like, wow, like that was really good. And I at the time, I thought it wasn't that great. So I think, you know, because of Africa, and because of the things that came after it, I became more confident in my skills and my abilities. And I then was more able to market myself to people, because I saw more value in myself. Like I still look at my work and like everyone deals with this, you look at your work, and you're like that's not that great. But it's because you've looked at it 50 100 times you'd like dissected every inch of it. And most people, you know, they're going to watch it once. And they're going to think it looks really good. Like all the little nitpicky things, you see, chances are most people are never gonna see those things. So I think just understanding that and becoming more confident in my actual work has made it easier for me to say I'm a videographer because I even had a difficulty saying that before I went to Africa that I was a videographer. And now it's just a fact, like I'm a videographer and so much more comfortable telling people that and when I meet people, I tell them, I'm a videographer. And that, I don't know if that directly leads to work, but then people have that in their mind and they might think of me for a wedding or a job down the line which has happened. So I think for me, it's just being confident in my work and being able to, like put that out word and not be so concerned about what people will think I've never been super worried about failure because I, obviously it's uncomfortable. No one wants to fail. But as a business owner and a creative business owner, you're definitely going to fail. Like, that's just an inevitable fact. So, failing sucks, but I would say I try and be okay with failure. It was just like the confidence part that I really had an issue with.
I think, yeah, it's, it's nice to hear you say that, because I think that'll resonate with a lot of people. I think a lot of people struggle, you know, I still struggle, right. Like, we're inundated by people who are doing more and doing big things, and who are posting more, right, and we're not, you know, we're hold back. And so, you know, I think this really the idea of confidence and idea of being comfortable and knowing that, you know, you're not going to every video is not going to be a banger, and that's okay, like some videos are more corporate in nature, and maybe don't appeal to what you want to do. But to me, it kind of comes into the whole idea of imposter syndrome. Right? And, you know, being confident with where you're at what you're able to do, and knowing that and say probably pricing, you know, what I like to say is price a
right? Surely shouldn't prices, what you're worth probably price a bit more. Because, you know, fake it till you make it mentality, right? And so like for you with imposter syndrome, kind of what's been away that you've been able to say, you know, find that, like, Is that something you deal with? And if you do, like, where do you find that your sense of inner creativity, to kind of push, you know, past, past the noise of everything that's out there.
I think imposter syndrome is something that a lot of people deal with. And I would argue that almost every creative person that sometimes feels like their hack, like their work, isn't that good. They don't know what they're doing. They're just faking it. And I, I was feeling like this for many years. You know, I look at my work. And I would say this isn't that good. Like, I'm not that great of a videographer. I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know how to get clients. I don't know how to do any of this. And the truth is that no one else really does either. And I think for me, the first step was understanding what I was dealing with, like, I didn't know that it had a name, I didn't know that this was something that everyone really dealt with, I thought it was just me. And I watched a YouTube video by one of my favorite YouTubers, Danny curvey, serger bass, I don't know how to pronounce it exactly. But he has a whole video on imposter syndrome. And his work is incredible. And so when I heard him say that he dealt with that, it really started to make more sense for me, I guess, because I didn't know how someone who is creating that level of work, could look at it, and have competence issues or think it wasn't that good. And then I talked to other people, and a lot of other people feel the same way. So I think my way of getting through it is just understanding that it's a real thing. It's something that everyone deals with. And it doesn't mean that you're a bad artist, or you don't know what you're doing. And fibers in the same position again, or, like advice for someone else it would be to have conversations with other people so that you understand that you're not alone, and that the people around you are experiencing the same thing. And then you can start to move past it. And I think I started to move past it just by understanding that if I viewed my work 100 times, I wasn't going to find these little details, and to try and look at my work like someone who was just viewing it for the first time.
So this can be like hit or miss, like comparing yourself to other people's work. It's not always good. But if you can look at your work and say, like, I'm as good as anybody else, then you can kind of see that. I know, the work isn't bad. Like, I guess it's kind of confusing. No, I mean, that makes sense to me. Right? Like, it's all it's all about. So I it's all about kind of assessing where you're at and what you've been able to accomplish. And not necessarily, you know, pitting that against other people's accomplishments, because we all know, we all go at our own pace. We all have our own skill sets and our own personal lived experiences. And so yeah, like I know, I think that's really valuable and I'll definitely link to that video. And, you know, I kind of want to tap into some things on a similar line here, which is, you know, you know, obviously, being a female, the industry can be there's a lot of male videographers, it can be a male dominated sector. Like, would you say that some of that doubt ever feels like, you know, because of your sex, you don't have, say, a place, you know, in the sector, and as that been kind of like, a fear that you've been able to overcome and be like, you know, what, no, like, as a woman, like, I'm going to, like, I deserve a seat at this table, I deserve a chance of that, you know, that, quote, that request for a quote, and things like that, like, Has that ever been some, you know, kind of a fear that you faced.
I think it's something that I struggled with a lot in the beginning. And it actually was the fourth city Film Festival when I met you. But it actually became really clear to me. And I realized that I was mostly come in contact with male videographers and male filmmakers. And that's not saying that there are, like, lots of female videographers out there. It just can be quite male dominated at times. And I think, the force of the film festival, I realized that it wasn't my work that was holding me back, it was my view on my work that was holding me back. And I think this is all generalization.
So that's powerful, though, even that realization, right?
Oh, the realization, the realization was that a lot of male people that I was coming into contact with, they were very outwardly confident with their work. And they were, in a way saying, like, this is my work. It's amazing. Not always amazing, but I feel like men are better at outwardly showing confidence, even if maybe, inwardly, they still have doubts. But outwardly, you know, they might be better at saying, I'm amazing. Watch this, I'm so good. And I think women, especially, tend to struggle with that. We're more quietly in the background, like, maybe watch our work, like maybe it's okay. And I, I know, it's not like that for every single person. But I think a lot of times, we just don't outwardly present ourselves the same way. So I realized that I didn't need to work on making my work better. I needed to work on marketing myself better. And almost thinking like a man. I know, all this is a generalization. generalizations are always great. But I told myself, I needed to think like a man. And I needed to believe that I was amazing. And I needed to be able to outwardly present that to other people. Because I think a lot of times, if you don't present yourself that way, people discount you. And I felt discounted a lot of the time. And I mean, I was coming in contact with men a lot. So I don't know if this is just how I was feeling in that moment. But I felt like because I couldn't outwardly say I'm awesome. My work is awesome. People would just kind of like to brush over me a little bit more. And I felt like women had more of a difficulty with saying, like, outwardly confident. Um, yeah, I also feel like sometimes men talk down to you for no reason. When you're a female, and the more confident you are, and the more that you say, you know, I deserve to be here. And just because I'm a woman, doesn't mean that you can treat me any different than you would a man.
Yeah, so true. Is there any? Is there any like, takeaway? Is there any like? I mean, we've Of course covered so much already. And you know, feel free if you're like that rehash ideas. But is there any kind of piece of advice that you would maybe give that you know, now that you most wish you knew, before you started, that you would share with upcoming female videographers or people, you know, in the film and TV sector?
I would say anyone for going, anyone that's going into that sort of industry would be just to talk to people, or try and put yourself around people that have been there, instead of asking advice from people that haven't been there. Because I got so many negative comments and so many people saying, you know, you're probably not going to make it, you're probably not gonna end up making money like this doesn't make sense. Like, why are you doing this? And the reality is, you're probably going to get a lot of that from people that don't understand. But it's obvious that you can make money making videos, it's very lucrative, you can make a lot of money doing that. People are always looking for videos, businesses, couples, there's just tons and tons of opportunity. And I think once you surround yourself with people that have been there, or going through the same thing, then you're not, you know, hearing those negative comments. I also think just just really understanding what you're feeling other people have felt to, and getting into any industry is difficult. And the creative industry is very difficult. And just generally be easy on yourself and take it one step at a time. There's no one way to become a business owner or a creative business owner or videographer. And that's why, you know, I can't give you a special formula that's going to make you money or get you more clients. Um, but if someone says, like, you need to do this, this and this, the reality is you can do it so many different ways. Don't have to follow any person's opinion or idea of where you need to be or how you need to do it.
Yeah, no, that's awesome. And yeah, thank you for sharing that. I think that that was really, really sound advice. And I really like that. And it's, it definitely can be challenging. But you're right, like there's so there's so much business opportunity out there. That's why I'm super excited to be having this season to talk with other filmmakers like yourself. So kind of coming close to Wrapping things up here. How can people get ahold of you, Sarah, like, you know, what's your website, what's your social media, let's just, you know, create a bit of space for you to be able to share ways that people can reach you and follow your work.
I just launched my corporate video website, which is Springbank Creative, calm, and then all my wedding work is on through pine films.com. I also can be reached on Instagram at Sarah longer. And if you want to check out my really early work that I did, that is on Instagram at girls who shred, It's amazing.
It reminds me of a girl who I met in Montreal who had their sticker on my laptop, I think they're called shred queens or something like that. And yeah, they just like a bunch of snowboarders from Quebec. Really, really fun people. So that, yeah, thank you, thank you, I just want to acknowledge all the great work that you're doing, Sarah, and the fact that you are able to give me this time to, to share more about your experiences, and you know, your insights and some of the fears you had and how you're able to conquer those. I think a lot of people are going to find value in this episode. So two questions left. Was there anything that I, you know, didn't bring up or something that you just were reflecting on kind of prior to this interview that you wanted to chat about with me?
I'm not sure. Let me think about that.
Yeah, no worries, we come back to that one. So the next question that I have for you, is, what does creativity mean to you?
I think creativity means to me that you get to follow whatever is inside of you.
Like for me, I'm not just a videographer, I draw, I paint. I was trying to learn the guitar at some point. I don't, creativity is so hard to explain. But it's just the ability to make something that didn't exist before. And be able to put what you feel on the inside outwardly for other people to see. and creativity has gotten me through so many difficult times in my life. Like I don't really know where it would be without the ability to write or draw. I mean, like, there was a point in my life where my parents had just passed away, and I was dealing with so many difficult things. And I started a blog, and I wrote my feelings out on a blog. And I drew all the time. And I don't think I would have been able to get through that time without being able to write those things out and share them with other people. And, I mean, that's difficult in itself because you're telling other people about really difficult things that happened, but it helped me so much and I I think like creativity has gotten me through areas of depression and anxiety. And I think that it does that for other people as well. So, creativity definitely means a lot to me. And I think there's a lot of different ways that it can be executed.
Yeah, thank you for sharing that. And, yeah, I think that that idea, I really love that just like making something out of nothing, then taking what you know, what we feel internally, and putting that into the, you know, the observable universe in a tangible, physical or even digital way. So that, you know, these ideas and thoughts and moods and emotion can be, you know, absorbed and go from, you know, being such like a signified concept to you, as the signifier to you know, that that receiver that someone who's decoding that message, right, like, I think that that's, that's key, kind of to the element of creativity. That's what we do with gammarus. Right. So amazing. Coming back to that second last question. Did you have anything that you wanted to talk about any upcoming projects, even that you wanted to, to share?
I guess for me, I'm trying to create a YouTube channel where I post more regularly, I started working on it in March last year, and just lost the time to work on it. And I'm in between projects right now. So I'm trying to build up some videos that I can post throughout the next couple months. And I think that's really important to me, because it It allows me the ability to maybe create more freedom for myself in the future. Being able to spend more time on projects that I want to make for myself, as opposed to projects that I'm making for clients or people that are hiring me to make something for them. So I think that's really important. I had a video that I made last March that just continually kept getting views. And that kind of sparked me to be like, this is something that I should keep working on. Just because I don't have very many subscribers right now doesn't mean that over the next five years, I can't build something that's going to be useful for me in the future.
Yeah. What's your, what's your YouTube? What's your channel?
My channel is my name Sarah Fonger as well.
Cool. I'll give you a sub. It's Yeah, and, you know, I know we're a bit over time here. But last point I want to make, because I see that's interesting, like when you talk about wanting that freedom to make more for yourself, rather than the clients that you work with. And I think a lot of us idealize that, but it's a lot harder to to actualize that, because when you're making things sort of the client, you know, when they are giving you a deadline, and they're giving you money, you're like, well, I can do that I'm you know, it's almost like there's that other that has these expectations for you. But when you're trying to do it yourself, like it's harder to be self motivating, and one client comes up and you're like, Oh, that's going to the back. You know, that's the backburner now, so like, when I was really trying to focus on creaming my, my documentary, like I was dealing with that a ton and what actually really helped me, you know, and it was honestly, like, a lot of the things we've talked about, it was an imposter syndrome. I was like, why, like, Who's gonna watch my day? You know, so many documentaries out there. Why do they care to watch mine. But it was just like, finding the time to do it and to be motivated. And this, like, past I knew was before me was such, like, this overarching mission that I had to do. And it was so daunting. So I told one of my mentors, I was like, Listen, David, I need you to be an accountability coach, I need you to be an absolute prick to me, every week. When chatting weekly, I was like if I'm not doing the tasks, and I'm telling you now that you know, we really broke it down and what are actionable items or digestible steps that I could be doing for those greater actions in terms of reaching, you know, project goals? You know, this is the act one, right? You need all these clips. And but honestly, just having him being like, did you do what you're supposed to be doing was really act it was very self motivating, because I knew that was self motivating, but also like, you know, David's motivating me because I knew at the end of the week, I didn't have that died. Like I felt guilty coming up to those meetings. I'm like, sorry, man. Like, I didn't get around to it this week. Whatever, right? He's like, dude, have you like, I know, right? So I think that's what Important and I do tell that to a lot of people is finding that accountability coach, especially on passion projects, because at the end of the day, yes, we have to learn how to have that self discipline and that confidence and to just do those things. But having someone there holding you to it really does help. Anyways. Thanks so much, Sarah. Yeah, I wanted to share that to finish this off. But yeah, absolute pleasure again, speaking with you. As always, whenever we get a chance, it's always fun and really insightful. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your time that you've given me here today on the Creative Kind podcast.