Where Are You Now?

Joe Helyer

BA (Hons) Digital Film Production (2017)

Joe Helyer is Regional Digital Manager/Commercial Video Lead at Reach plc. Reach plc is the largest commercial national and regional news publisher in the UK, producing and distributing content through newspapers, magazines and digital platforms. Joe studied BA (Hons) Digital Film Production at the University of Sunderland, graduating in in the Class of 2017.


We caught up with Joe to find out about his achievements since leaving the University. Joe told us about his current position at Reach plc. “My job is multifaceted and I don’t ever have two days that are the same. In a nutshell, I utilise Reach plc’s North East brands (ChronicleLive & TeessideLive) to work alongside regional business on creative advertising campaigns – PPC (Pay-per-click), social media etc. My main area of focus is commercial video, heading up this area of the business locally. I’m very happy in my current role but that doesn’t mean I’m standing still. My plan is to grow the commercial video department both in terms of revenue but also the quality of work that I do. I want to work on bigger and more creative campaigns with larger clientele.”

We asked Joe what his greatest achievement since leaving the University of Sunderland had been. “My greatest achievement to date is working alongside Newcastle United & the Newcastle Foundation to produce a series of ten films over a two year period. The videos were used at the club’s anniversary dinners in 2017, 2018 and were pushed out on the club’s social channels too.”

We also wanted to know what Joe had found challenging since leaving the University. “My biggest challenge has been adapting my mind-set away from traditional film production values. Coming from a digital film production degree, it was easy to fall into the pitfall of assuming I had weeks and weeks to work on projects. However with social video, often the turnaround needs to be days (sometimes hours) and often the aesthetic of the video is secondary to the content and platform. Working alone, I have to come up with creative ways to achieve the outcome the client is after, without sacrificing on time.”

We asked Joe why he chose to study at the University of Sunderland. “I was attracted to study at the University of Sunderland due to their outstanding reputation in media, film and creative degrees. I had a keen interest in video editing from a young age and after scouring the UK, I decided that the University of Sunderland was the best place for me to grow and develop this passion. I loved every minute of my course, from start to finish.”

Joe also wanted to make a special mention for a member of staff at the University that he found influential during his time at Sunderland. “Ian McPake and moving camera modules 1 & 2. These modules gave me an understanding of rigs, Steadicam, stabilizers and how to best put them into practise. The skills I picked up in these modules I’ve utilised nearly every day of my career to date.” Joe also told us about someone that has influenced him during his career so far. “Casey Neistat is a HUGE influence for me. He’s made a career in commercial video despite being incredibly unconventional and having his own unique style. Definitely something I’m trying to replicate as my career progresses.”

When asked about the advice that he would give to recent graduates Joe replied. “It’s cliché – but experience, experience, experience. It’s not enough just to have a degree, you need practical skills that you’ve gained through experience that you can apply to the job market and demonstrate to potential employers. Also, if you’re from a creative degree, set up a website with a portfolio of your work on display – this’ll be much more impressive than a CV.”

Working in a creative industry, we asked Joe how and where he works best, “I work best when I’m surrounded by motivated, creative individuals. No idea is too absurd and going into work with an open mind can lead to all sorts of great things happening. I also get the opportunity to work from home quite often and this tends to suit my way of working.”

When asked if there was anything that he would have done differently Joe replied, “I don’t think I’d have done anything differently. Every mistake is a learning opportunity and it’s inevitable that you’ll make some along the way. Saying that, I do think that if I’d had a more comprehensive understanding of the B2B marketplace earlier on this would have benefited me greatly.” We also wanted to know if Joe had received any good advice that he wanted to share. “Don’t change how you act according to who you’re talking to. Treat an intern with the same respect you’d show the commercial director or MD. If people can tell you’re being genuine, they’ll relax and be more personable with you almost instantly.”

Finally, we asked Joe what he wanted his legacy to be, “At the ripe old age of 23, this is a difficult question to answer. If I can be remembered as someone who worked hard and produced some creative, well respected work then that’d be more than enough for me, I suppose.”

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