Freelance filmmaker relies on a variety of cameras and Adobe Creative Cloud to create documentary and fiction projects
Filmmaking is less of a career and more of a way of life for Philip Bloom. He began his 24-year career focusing on news and documentary work, building his skills in all aspects of video production. Today, he’s a prolific freelance filmmaker and outspoken proponent of low-budget video. Everyone from hobbyists to experienced professionals look to him for information on what cameras, software, and gear they should be using. In addition to being a vocal Canon supporter, Bloom also advocates the use of Adobe Premiere Pro CC for video editing and regularly shares his knowledge and experiences with more than one million monthly website visitors.
Adobe: How did you first get started in editing?
Bloom: I’ve been working in editing for nearly 25 years. I first went to work at a news bureau and they gave me three days to learn how to edit. I picked it up so quickly, by my first day on the job editing I was cutting the lead package. It was an easy, natural thing for me. Eventually I moved to the documentary unit and spent 15 years traveling the world shooting and editing stories.
Adobe: Why did you stop working in broadcast?
Bloom: The station I was working for decided to shut down the documentary unit and go back to 24-hour breaking news. I’d been in charge of the unit for three years and didn’t want to go back to editing news. It was a comfortable, well-paying job, but documentary work was my life and my passion, and I’d always told myself that the moment I felt like I needed to move on, I would move on.
Adobe: Were you excited to start working as a freelancer
Bloom: It’s very difficult to jump out on your own and this was the push I needed. Luckily when I left a former colleague offered me a documentary series with a different network so I got to jump right in doing something I love. I’ve always tried to do different projects and stretch my skills.
Adobe: How did you build your online presence?
Bloom: My website and social media presence are a by-product of a show I did online. I started working with some new technology that was supposed to make content look more cinematic and filmic, and I decided to share my journey on a blog. I experimented with different cameras to see if I could get the same look as I could with more expensive cameras. It became really popular and people started following me.
Adobe: What made you want to continue sharing your experiences?
Bloom: When I worked in news editing, I had a mentor who taught me a lot. Those types of staff jobs don’t exist as much in the television industry anymore, so people have to find their own way. I like to share what I’m doing so others can learn from it. I’m actually very similar to a lot of freelancers out there. I’m very much in touch with all levels of production from very junior to high-end. I have experience working among all of them, so it’s great to be able to share how things work for me and how they can work for others.
Adobe: What are some of the challenges with having such a strong online presence?
Bloom: My time is limited, and having thousands of emails is a responsibility. I’ve also been surprised at how negative people can be online, especially when you’re just trying to help. The Internet is a great way for people to share ideas and form communities, but people can sometimes behave in ways they wouldn’t if they were sitting next to you. It’s important to remember that there is a human being at the other end.
Adobe: What advice do you have for young filmmakers?
Bloom: That’s a tough question. We live in the age of Twitter and people want advice on how to be successful in 140 characters or less. There’s no magic formula. I just tell them to work hard and be patient. I’ve worked hard to get where I am today and I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t work. Many young filmmakers are impatient and want success to come knocking at their door, but they have to go out and find it. It’s a hard search. Many will think about quitting, and some will fail. It takes time and effort to build a reputation, clients, and a body of work.
If you want to become a freelance editor it’s important to learn an editing system so well that it’s second nature to you. It should become so intuitive that you’re not thinking about the software, you’re only concentrating on the story. Stop obsessing about the software and the camera. Buy something and go tell your story.
I built a reputation in news and when I went freelance after 17 years I had to build my reputation again. I think it is easier to get your work seen these days with the internet. If you’re good enough you’ll get seen. It comes down to a lot of different things to get noticed or to create a viral video, but there’s no guarantee that a viral video will lead to a successful career. You may have a fluke and good timing, but then you have to follow it up with something new. That’s the constant conversation I have with most people on the internet.
Adobe: Is this where you thought you’d end up when you started freelancing?
Bloom: I didn’t have a grand plan when I started freelancing seven years ago. I knew I wanted to work in film, but I didn’t foresee the social media part of the equation. Social media needs to be organic and natural and genuine. You have to be you, the good and the bad. I have a dry sense of humor, which doesn’t always translate, so I’ve had to learn from that. But I’m convinced that if you try to plan it all out you won’t be successful.
Adobe: After working with Adobe Premiere Pro for a couple of years, what are your favorite features?
Bloom: I can cut half hour programs in a day and put them to air. If something needs to be cut quickly, I can do it. I switched to Premiere Pro three years ago and I’ve never looked back. The great thing about Premiere Pro is the immediacy, because it takes everything native. I was just finishing up a documentary for a client and they shot loads of footage and asked me to transcode it all. I felt like I was going back 10 years. As a freelancer, time is money and Premiere Pro CC lets me work fast and efficiently.
I also appreciate the portability of the software. I always have projects going, from features and corporate projects to reviews or my latest show reel. I edit wherever I can, on my Mac Pro or on a laptop on a plane.
Adobe: What other Adobe Creative Cloud applications are you using?
Bloom: I know Premiere Pro really well, and I know enough After Effects and Audition to get by. I’ve learned what I need to know and I’ll learn more when I need to know more.
Check out the video interview with Philip Bloom from IBC 2014:
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