What it's like to be a music video director with Jimmy Ennett
As the Creative Director and ‘Paternal Father’ of Crux Media, UC alum Jimmy Ennett has had the chance to work with exciting clients such as SAFIA, the Vikings Group, Lifeline, The Royal Australian Mint and the University of Canberra.
A passionate filmmaker, Jimmy is an award-winner, problem solver and artistic visionary (his words but we like them). He found his place in the media industry after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Media and Production in 2012, and founding his business, Crux Media, in 2013. Looking back on his time at UC fondly, he recalls filming short stories and the subsequent late-night editing sessions for the Genre Production unit. Now as he finds himself full-circle, back on campus creating the University of Canberra campaigns, we chat to Jimmy about what its really like to be a music video director and run a successful business.
Can you give a brief overview of your career so far since graduating?
Since graduating from UC it has been a mixed bag of work, as the nature of production creates micro intense working situations. I always made sure to have several separate streams of what I was interested in going at the one time.
I began collaborating with SAFIA on their music videos several years ago (thank-you for allowing me to do what I wanted with your videos guys!), while I was also making short films, documentaries and travelling and filming for Early Childhood Australia, for consistent and rewarding corporate work.
Slowly these separate threads would intersect with each other – a music video would give me a new corporate job; a short documentary would get me a meeting at an ad agency and it would all lead to more work. I learnt from key mentors in the industry that nobody hands you a Directing job, so I decided to start a production company that wasn’t just ‘Jimmy Ennett Freelancer’, so that I could create my own body of work as a Director. I would contract collaborators and friends to crew for bigger jobs, and then mostly do the smaller corporate jobs by myself.
That’s where my company Crux comes from, and I now have three full-time employees and a consistent slate of varied work.
How did your degree help you to be in your current position?
There are many moments from my time at UC that has helped getting me to where I am, and they vary from the subtle to the more tangible. I work with one of my best mates, Sam Tremayne, who I met at UC. I still refer to advice that Felicity Packard taught in Screenwriting (all those years ago) as well as habits from other production classes that have shaped my technical skills. Having those degrees helped me to gain immediate employment at Early Childhood Australia, which is a relationship that has evolved into being a retained client of Crux.
It’s honestly hard to list all the ways my UC education has influenced where I am now.
What does a typical day at Crux Media involve?
A typical day at Crux is rarely typical. Office days start with the team grabbing a coffee and getting our social energy out of our systems. We then dig into edits/animations/emails and quoting (depending on the team member). A huge part of the job is meeting potential clients and getting in the room with pitches and quotes.
Our work is more than the pixels on screen at the end, we need to show that we are communicators and storytellers and need to connect with people quite a lot. I love this aspect of the job, as we embrace our own personality quirks and use them instead of supressing them for the sake of ‘acting professional’. I’d rather have three out of ten clients choose us for being ourselves verses all ten using us because we’re good at pretending and chasing what they will say yes to.
What is the creative process involved when working with these clients?
The creative process is quite different depending on the project. For music videos we will be approached by a music label with a song and a rough budget. From there it’s completely up to us to come up with a concept. I tend to lean towards narrative in music videos verses pure lip-syncing, so I’ll listen to the song over and over and every time the song repeats I force myself to forget ideas I had from the last play through. I never want to make the first thing I think of, as that’s probably the first thing everyone else that’s pitching for the clip is thinking. We’ve had plenty of pitches knocked back or not picked up, but I’ve never regretted any of them as it’s not a matter of one’s better than another, but more of a puzzle piece – the idea/us either fit the project or we don’t.
It’s similar with TVCs and anything that isn’t purely informational or documentary in nature. I love the ever-changing process and not having any set way of doing things. My clients can tell when I’m excited by an idea, and more importantly, our job is to manifest these ideas so there’s a high level of pragmatism that needs to be in it from the start.
Where do you get your creative inspiration from?
That’s a great question! It’s really hard to narrow it down.
I have always had an insatiable appetite for storytelling and being wrapped up in another world. I love watching listening and reading most things I can get my hands on (either fiction or non-fiction) as well as just talking to people who are passionate about anything in general. I have a great group of creative friends and we share our enthusiasm for our mediums with each other. Actually, sitting down with a blank piece of paper is daunting, so I enjoy restrictions/parameters/problems as I naturally like to find solutions.
I find my storytelling style to be about shaping all the things wrong with my initial idea until it’s something that suddenly feels right – so it’s all problem-solving form the start.
Do you have a career highlight of your journey so far?
That’s a tough question. I absolutely love all aspects of production, from concept, scripting, filming and editing. One highlight that comes to mind would be directing the ‘Embracing Me’ clip for SAFIA. It’s the closest a video has come to being exactly what I pictured when conceiving it (shout out to our amazing art department and locations!). I was able to collaborate and direct David Roberts as the darkly charismatic preacher. He was so kind with his time and expertise, as well as giving this little over-excited Canberra kid his trust and patience with my directions.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to do your job?
- Passion only gets you so far if you don’t hone your craft.
- You need to form a thick skin about feedback/rejection pretty quickly and you need to be tenacious.
- You have to be a geek about creating something that you enjoy, not just do it and count every hour you do for the money.
- Wanting to be a Director and being a Director are two different things - by definition a Director has to lead so you need to take the lead on and off set to make that happen in life.
But most importantly, make stuff. Nobody cares about the amazing half-finished script in your laptop documents folder.
Just make it.
Live enough of a life outside of making stuff so that you have something to say. Take your work seriously, but not yourself seriously (despite the pretentious waffle above, I don’t take myself too seriously… I hope).
Words by Stephanie Cossetto, images supplied by Jimmy Ennett
Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Media and Production, University of Canberra (2012)
Jimmy Ennett graduated from the University of Canberra with a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Media and Production in 2012. A passionate filmmaker, Jimmy is the Creative Director and founder of Crux Media. Jimmy has had the chance to work with a wide range of clients including SAFIA, the Vikings Group, Lifeline and the University of Canberra.
You can connect with Jimmy via LinkedIn.