A picture might be worth a thousand words, but for Justin Blyden, moving pictures really tell stories. Justin is a professional videographer with a background in Brooklyn, St. Thomas, and Atlanta, and he’s endlessly fascinated with the art of storytelling through motion. An avid cinemaphile, if Justin isn’t shooting film, there’s a good bet that he’s watching it.
A Corporate Gig with Indie Style
Justin produces many of the amazing GroundBridge event videos we’ve all come to love, but he also has a day job. Justin works as head of the videography team for AutoTrader.com, which organizes industry events around the world. It’s his job to make sure the company is getting what it needs internally, but perhaps more importantly, Justin ensures that participating event partners are getting the content they need, too.
Despite the corporate gig, Justin maintains the renegade, independent style of his earlier freelance days, an angle he believes is key to delivering a great product. He was originally reluctant about making a move into the corporate world, but ultimately the culture at AutoTrader is a great fit for him. The company respects his opinion, is flexible about when he puts in his long hours (a deal breaker), sends him around the world, and provides him with a great events team.
The team in particular is what Jordan loves most about his job. He gets to travel all over the world with top talent, and in the process he gets to meet and work with countless other professionals. Though pre-planning is a critical part of what he does, Justin is never quite sure what to expect when they land in, say, Las Vegas, as they recently did. It’s the diversity in what he does, the challenges he faces, and whom he meets in the field that keep Justin passionate and motivated about what he does. If you box him up in an office things aren’t going to go well: “I come from the Indie world. I’m awkward in the office and the company gets that. I’m sort of like a penguin out of his element; I feel like a goober.”
Training, Adaptability, & Trust
Justin went to school for videography, so he’s formally educated in video production. He has across-the-board skills and experience in everything from video composition, lighting, and editing to script writing, cinematography, and shot-planning.
Justin credits his success to more than just education. He is adaptable, and welcomes change. If there are new places to be and interesting people to meet, Justin is the first one out the door. He speaks his mind and talks truth to power, but over the years he’s learned to listen carefully and consider the opinions of others long before he opens his mouth.
This measured outspokenness now comes naturally, but he considers it critical to successful outcomes: “A lot of times I’ll get requests from well-intentioned people that I just know won’t work, and I have to ask them to trust me.” Justin assures those in doubt that they’ll love the outcome, and then he delivers.
From Procrastination to Preparation
With Office Space-style irony, Justin is quick to point out that in the corporate world, “all challenges are opportunities.” Snark aside, he’s the first to admit he has a procrastination problem. He wrestled with procrastination for years before realizing how naturally putting things off channels into a love for project planning. Everything changed for the better once he learned how to create structured project timelines with pre-plan steps, checkpoints, and absolute deadlines.
Understanding his strengths and weaknesses means Justin can now juggle multiple projects with quality results on deadline, with much less scrambling. The high-paced environment of the corporate world has further helped him to focus and react
A Nascent Niche
Justin knew Athens has a community for nearly everything, and certainly one for film and music lovers. He also knew that everyone likes a party. That’s why he started VHS, the Videographers’ Hella-big Show, a hip video awards show that has grown from a way to promote local film into a popular Athens film festival.
If you’re directing your talents into something you care about, that’s likely far more effective networking than if you just show up somewhere looking for a job, where no one’s having fun.
Through the experience of organizing and getting sponsors for the events, Justin was inadvertently doing a lot of excellent networking. Even if you don’t have the time to organize your own event, Justin advises supporting something you’re passionate about as a way to meet new people. For Justin, that might mean talking movies or the latest tech gadget.