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Life behind the lens

Capturing moments: Film-maker Lara Smith, owner of production company LDS Multimedia, dreams of travelling the world to make films about different countries and cultures (Photograph by Kondwani Williams)

Sometimes film-maker Lara Smith has to lie in the dirt under blazing sun to get the perfect shot. There is also heavy equipment to lug and long hours of editing at the end of the day.

“It’s a job that takes a lot of patience,” said Ms Smith, owner of film production company LDS Multimedia.

“It’s not a glamorous job, but the reward comes when you see the finished product, especially if it goes online.”

She will be sharing the realities of film-making with middle schoolers at a Bermuda International Film Festival camp next month.

“They’ll be learning to shoot things in unconventional ways,” she said. “I hope to push them and get beyond what is expected.

“For some of them, this could be their first portfolio piece. It could really be the start of something.”

She was the same age as the BIFF students when she bought her first movie camera.

“I was 13,” she said. “The camera cost $1,300, which seemed like a lot of money to me. I had to do odd jobs for months to earn it.

“I bought the camera to film a family trip to Canada when my older sister went to boarding school. I filmed our visit to Niagara Falls and her moving into her dorm room.”

From there on, she loved messing about with the camera, but it was not until she followed her sister to boarding school a few years later that she saw film as a potential career path.

“I took a lot of arts classes at Ridley College,” she said. “In my last year of school I did a film project on wind. That really got me interested.”

She earned a bachelor’s degree in radio and television arts from Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, and a master’s degree from Emerson College.

Her thesis documented the life of a Bermudian boy in the Big Brothers and Big Sisters programme. It was shown at BIFF in 2011.

After graduating from Emerson, she had a tough choice. One of her college professors offered her a job helping to make a documentary in New Orleans, Louisiana.

“I stayed in New Orleans for a bit filming some of the documentary in the summer months, but after almost a decade away from home, I figured it would be a nice change to come back,” she said.

She knew what to expect.

“I knew there wouldn’t be a lot of jobs in Bermuda in my field,” she said.

It was one of the reasons she formed LDS Multimedia in 2010.

“You have to realise that the work doesn’t come overnight,” she said.

“Seeing that there’s not many media outlets for employment, there is a way of carving out your own lane if you put in the work.

“Marketing is important, as is networking with different people in respective industries. There is no job that is too small. I take most jobs that are offered to me. Where some people may discriminate, I don’t.”

Now she is swamped, mostly with wedding video jobs. She loves it.

“With weddings, there’s always a different theme and aesthetic,” she said. “There are always different people to work with. That is what keeps me going.

“All of my projects are memorable because they are about capturing the moment. There is nothing better than seeing a happy client.”

In the beginning it was a bit challenging convincing potential clients that she was capable.

“It was difficult because I didn’t have much of a portfolio to show in client meetings,” she said. “You just have to stick to the wicket and push forward.”

She is also an adjunct professor at the Bermuda College, where she teaches media studies.

Her ultimate dream would be to travel the world making films about different countries and cultures.

“If I could travel for a living I would,” she said. “It is better to reside in a global village because the opportunities become endless.

“I don’t want to say I am just tied to Bermuda. There is so much more out there. I don’t regret coming back to Bermuda at all, because it’s really given me a chance to build up my portfolio.”

Ms Smith has been so busy building up her client list that she has not had a lot of time for personal video projects, but she hopes to start one next year.

“I have something I’m thinking about doing,” she said. “But I don’t want to say too much about it yet.”

The BIFF film camp for students between the ages 11 and 14 will be held at 15 Front Street from October 26 to 30 from 9am to 5pm. Workshops will also be taught by filmmaker Karli Powell.

There is room for 20 students, and thanks to the Butterfield Hope Award, there are 20 places available on a scholarship basis.

• You can apply for the camp at www.tinyurl.com/biff2015workshop.