Ellen Causey is currently working as a Video Producer for GamesRadar. Ellen has also worked on successful commercial projects and campaigns with Marvel, Nintendo and THQ Nordic. She has made videos for the Golden Joystick Awards and the Future Game Show. We asked Ellen, some key questions about getting into the games sector.
Explain your role like I'm 5 years old
I work for a website that writes reviews, news, guides and features about video games. The bulk of my job is taking those articles and turning them into videos. They appear on the website, where they help to bring more people in, the social media channels and the GamesRadar YouTube channel.
Take us through your average day at work
It’s pretty varied, which I love, but just as an example- If a game is being reviewed, the writer will send me their article and some capture of their gameplay. I’ll record myself reading the review and edit that into a video. Sometimes I’ll record some unscripted videos, usually a chat between me and some of the other GamesRadar team about a gaming related subject, for example, ‘What is your favourite gaming soundtrack?’ The majority of my job is video editing and voice over work but also involves scripting, on-camera work, travelling to events and coming up with new video ideas.
What was your educational and career journey into your current role?
I studied Television Production at University- I knew I didn’t want to get into traditional television but when I left uni I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do. I’ve always been a ‘gamer,’ but the thought didn’t occur to me that I could marry the two until quite late on.
After university I interned at two production companies, did some sporadic freelance editing work, got a job as a video producer for a small youth charity and then after two years there I applied for the job I’m currently in!
What do you love most about your role?
Scriptwriting, video editing and video games are three things I have loved for a long time, so I still regularly find myself thinking how amazing it is that this is what I do for a living.
It’s also given me so many opportunities already that I never thought I’d have. I went to Boston for PAX, I travelled to Poland to film a tour of the CD Projekt Red studio and a video I made was shown to hundreds of people at the Golden Joystick Awards. It’s hard work, of course, but what gamer wouldn’t want to talk about games for a living?!
What's the hardest thing about your role?
Trying to find new ideas in an industry full of brilliant people making brilliant things. Sometimes it’s not enough to make a video saying ‘here’s our review of the game.’ You need to find ways to make it more exciting and stand out from the many other outlets who are also giving you their take on the same game.
The industry as a whole can be a little daunting at times, everyone is so close-knit it can seem hard to break through, and if ‘networking’ and putting yourself out there aren’t things that come naturally, it can take some getting used to (I wish I had a solution, but it’s something I’m still working on, over a year in!)
What key skills should people work on to do your role one day?
In terms of technical skills- knowing your way around edit software is crucial. Premiere pro is the most widely used, but if Final Cut is more your thing, that’s ok! Knowing your way around a camera is also important. These are both things I’d recommend learning by doing. Go out and film some things, edit them yourself and when in doubt- Google it. Not a week goes by that I don’t Google a strange problem I’m having with a project I’d editing, or YouTube how to do a new effect on a video, so being a master isn’t important, but showing you not only know how to edit, but also that you’ve got the drive to just go out and make things even when no one is asking you to will help you when it gets to your job application.
I’m not doing anything that you couldn’t do yourself from your bedroom with your iPhone, and having a series of videos or a podcast that you’ve worked hard on and can show to a potential employer will only help! Oh, also! It’s not quite a key skill, per se, but always be armed with ideas! If you walk into a job interview with video ideas that would work on the channel, it’ll blow our minds. Being able to come up with fresh, fun ideas is so invaluable in this industry.
What advice would you give to your younger self looking to get started in the industry?
Stop looking at other peoples videos and wishing you could make something like that, and just TRY making something like that. Also, a love of video games is great, but you need to figure out how to build on that with something valuable to the industry.
Applying to a job and writing in your cover letter ‘ I deserve this job because I have platinum on Red Dead Redemption’ isn’t going to impress people. Writing ‘I deserve this job because I’ve been scripting, filming and editing my own YouTube series where I talk about my favourite dogs in video games’ is. (Feel free to steal that if that’s not already a thing, by the way. I’d totally watch that.)
Do you have any links to good articles or videos that you think might give some tips or advice to someone starting in your role?
I think if a channel you like has any kind of ‘behind the scenes’ videos, those are a good way to both get a glimpse into the industry and make you more realistic about it (what I mean is, I know it’s easy to watch a channel and think that because the personalities are super fun, that must be what it’s like to work there- but that is very likely not the case!)
Noclip is a fantastic channel in general- both for their docs, that’ll give you more industry knowledge, and their ‘Production class’ videos like ‘What camera equipment do we use?’ They’re just brilliant- give them a watch!