Creating a media career
At the BET Awards last June, John Fain was in the media pit, credentials attached, filming and taking shots.
Cardi B and Migos were among the celeb performers captured by his lens.
The opportunity came through Havas, the global advertising company that gave him the title “Rookie of the Year” after hiring him as a content creator only months before.
“We were out at the awards shooting Sprite content since they were a sponsor and had artists performing on stage as well,” said Mr Fain of the annual entertainment ceremony at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles.
“In the media pit, especially for Cardi, photographers were fighting for the shot. You can only shoot for two or three songs, so you have to get as much as you can.”
Adrenalin flow kept him from being stressed, despite it being his first major awards event.
“It was cool,” he said. “I get more star-struck over big YouTubers than celebrities, just because when I’m around them, it’s because I have a job to do. Most of the time I was running to another event or back to the office to edit. The most surreal was seeing Blac Chyna in person after seeing her on the show Keeping Up With the Kardashians a few years ago.”
He says he probably inherited his talent from his mother, Jorge-ann Costley, although he is grateful for his film studies at Full Sail University.
“I guess that’s where it all started,” he said.
Mr Fain recalls being “one of the standout students” at the Florida institution, mainly because he was not afraid to put in the work.
“I was always doing extra stuff around the school,” he said. “And when I left, they ended up writing about me as part of a blog post, about all the YouTube videos I did.
“I guess they saw that as some type of successful thing as it was more than any other student was doing at the time.”
Now 30, he left Bermuda years ago to attend high school in Georgia. After Full Sail, he joined an advertising agency in Atlanta as an intern before he was hired full-time as a project creator. Toys “R” Us, AT&T and Norwegian Cruise Line were among his clients.
It fell to Mr Fain to have the final look at the latter’s 2019 Super Bowl commercial before it aired.
“I edited a part of it and shipped it out to distributors,” he said. “It was cool that my work was displayed during the Super Bowl.”
Coca-Cola and its brands are his current employer’s main clients. Havas’s Atlanta branch is based in the soft drink corporation’s headquarters. It is there that Mr Fain works, creating “social media posts — from photos to bite size content — on social channels for Coca-Cola, Sprite, Vitamin Water and all their brands”.
He started on the path after watching a behind-the-scenes episode of Deadliest Catch, a Discovery Channel reality series.
“I thought it was just cool to see all the cast members. When they’re fishing, you never see the camera and all that. That was the official spark.”
After watching “certain creators on YouTube” he was sure he could do the same and “it just snowballed from there”. For 300 days he shot, edited and uploaded a short video to YouTube without fail.
“I feel like I get my creativity from my mom,” said Mr Fain, who returns to Bermuda often to visit her and his grandmother, Bernice “Bunny” Ming. “She does lot of arts and crafts and I think that’s where I get my eye from.”
Like many millennials, he wants “to travel the world”, although his goal has a plan attached.
“I want to make advertising and tourism videos for different countries. I’m starting a new YouTube channel that hopefully will take off and give me the opportunity. I want to show people what [different places are] like, how to save to get there, how much it costs to get there, how to see the sights. I want to create something that will help people travel.
“I remember seeing my friends at Bermuda Institute travel and thinking I’d never be able to do that. I waited almost 30 years to go to England, so I want to create something that can help people who want to travel figure out how to do it.”
The benefits of stepping into the unknown are numerous, Mr Fain added.
“It breaks stereotypes. It opens your mind. I feel like by travelling you get to experience new things, to look at different events differently and not stay stuck to the mould you grew up in.”
His advice to young Bermudians interested in his field: “You definitely need talent, but it’s also just drive and taking chances. It can be scary because you don’t know what’s going to happen, but as long as you take a chance and have determination that you’re going to make it, that’s all you can do. You’ve got to bet on yourself.”
•Follow John Fain on Instagram: Johnny_Fae
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