Melbourne studio co-directors Alt-House on creating change

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“I would like people to understand that the cycle of underrepresentation of women, gay men and creative people from diverse cultures is in the hands of the people who make the key decisions.”

Have you ever stalked someone on LinkedIn and wondered how they managed to land that insanely awesome job? While the internet and social media might trick us into believing that our ideal job is just a pipe dream, the people in those jobs have been, believe it or not, in the same position once, fantasizing about the job. seemingly inaccessible to anyone else.

But behind the awesome titles and fancy work events is a lot of hard work. So what lessons have been learned and what skills have proven invaluable in taking them from daydreaming about success to actually being at the top of their industry?


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welcome to how i got herewhere we chat with successful women in their respective fields about how they landed their awesome jobs, exploring the highs and lows, failures and victories, and most importantly the knowledge, tips and practical tricks they gleaned along the way.

This week we talk to Grace Moore and Jess Brohier, the co-directors of Melbourne-based creative agency and production house, Alt-House. After both studying the arts, Jess and Grace began to engage creatively with their respective areas of interest. photography and filmmaking. But what started as self-taught hustles soon turned into all-consuming creative practices.

In the years since, the duo have created an impressive range of work in the worlds of fashion, music and art, so it only made sense that they would join forces to create an artist-led business. like Alt-House. With a focus on community and using their voices and skills to help drive change in the industry, the duo have established Alt-House as a force to be reckoned with. Here they share what they learned along the way

What do you do and what is your official function?

Grace: I am a director and co-creative director of the agency and studio Alt-House.

Jesse: I am a fashion, editorial and still life photographer and also co-director of Alt-House.

Take us back to your beginnings. Did you study to get into your chosen field, or did you start with an entry-level internship/role and work your way up?

G: I studied Creative Writing and Film for a Bachelor of Arts. I then studied film at the Victorian College of the Arts because I wanted to learn how to make the films I wrote as an undergraduate. Around this time I started doing freelance videography back when it wasn’t really a thing! I was going to film school by day and teaching myself what we weren’t learning using YouTube tutorials at night.

In 2017, I had the chance to be Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore’s assistant director. Claudia has allowed me to work in many different roles – some paid and some volunteer – on music videos for artists like Thelma Plum, Kaiit, Meg Mac and more. This is where I felt the magic of working with an all-female/non-binary team, which is very important to me now.

J: I completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Psychology and Sociology, but then took a year off and decided to change direction. Then I enrolled in a visual arts degree at Swinburne as an illustrator, where I first learned how to take manual adjustments on a camera and not too much more. I started taking pictures of my friends and people I met in my retail job and on the streets, and it slowly turned into shooting small things for brands until that it turns into shooting campaigns and that I have to quit my job because it bothered me!

I’m completely self-taught – by the time I realized I had to help, it was a bit too late, as I had already shot campaigns for local brands on a fairly regular basis, and couldn’t even receive emails. email from anyone. photographers I contacted. YouTube has truly been my best teacher.

What challenges/barriers did you face to get to where you are now? Can you name one in particular?

G: So many challenges! I really had a hard time finding a job as a creative freelancer after leaving film school. I applied for over 250 jobs that year. After taking a job at a commercial content agency, I felt my sanity and creativity decline. I lost confidence in my abilities as a filmmaker at that time and it was very difficult.

Amazing people helped me bounce back, including Claudia and Jon Duval. They helped me to believe in myself and in my abilities and I suddenly realized that I could be an artist and a businessman. That was around the time I met Jess, who is now my dear friend and business partner at Alt-House.

J: Many, oh how many. I think the first was really supporting me because becoming independent is hard. It’s a rollercoaster of financial instability and [a fluctuating] personal headspace. I would say that one of the biggest challenges is not doubting myself and refraining from comparing my background and accomplishments to those of others.

I tend to base my self-esteem on my perceived creative ability, which over the years has often been tied to workflow – certainly not a healthy or realistic relationship. The new challenge I am currently facing is learning to set personal boundaries in a professional environment.

What do you want people to know about your industry/your role?

G: The film industry is very male-dominated, especially in departments like camera and lighting. I would like people to understand that the cycle of under-representation of women, gay men and creative people from diverse cultures is in the hands of the people who make the key decisions.

Making the industry more inclusive requires positive action from brands, agencies, production companies and music labels. It’s obvious to me that people like us do great work, but I often feel like we’re overlooked because our folios seem less established. I would like policy makers to challenge these perceptions and think about what they can do to do better on diversity and inclusion.

J: That the fashion industry has the potential to move forward, but that change must come from above as well as from within. Clients who want to portray themselves as progressive, women-empowering, and diversity-focused should really consider who they’re paying to truly embody those values, rather than the performative nature of just casting various talents for looks and a team of opposite. In terms of my role, I think as creatives we have an important voice that can be used to create the change we want to see.

What is the best part of your role?

G: The best part of my role is the people I work with! We are surrounded by so many talented artists at Alt-House and this gives me inspiration and support in my filmmaking practice. The freelancers on my team are also some of my favorite people to work with – I’m so thankful for their work ethic and talented spirit!

J: Collaborating with amazing talented and passionate artists all the time when I’m touring. And at Alt, working alongside them every day, even just sitting at my desk. I find both very inspiring and encouraging!

What would surprise people in your role?

G: People would be surprised how much it involves managing other people’s emotions and egos. I’ve learned a lot about communication and boundaries as the business grows and changes.

J: It’s all smoke and mirrors. Everything still looks so shiny and perfect on the outside but on the inside it really is dog breakfast and a labor of love, where you learn as you go and do your best ! Having the right people around is really essential.

What skills have served you well in your industry?

G: My technical skills in filming and editing served me very well in the rising phase of my career. I know how to direct, produce, film, edit and deliver a whole project – even if, fortunately, I don’t have to do everything anymore! Strong interview and dialogue skills were extremely beneficial to me.

J: My psychology degree of course. Navigating people’s personalities and complexities is essential to working as a creative freelancer. I’m also a fairly organized perfectionist, which has helped me a lot in shaping my creative style and photographic standard.

What advice would you give to someone who one day wants to play a role like yours?

G: Find what makes you unique as a creative and work with that. I think once I realized that my perspective as a filmmaker was valuable, it all started to fall into place. Never stop learning, changing and practicing, be open to constructive feedback and work with people whose work you admire. Do not abandon.

J: Be prepared to work harder than you ever thought possible, but know that it’s truly amazing what you can accomplish (and endure) when you love what you do. Be kind and genuine with everyone you meet, you never know what role they may play. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, but also try to offer it whenever you can. Roll with the hits and don’t give up!

How about some practical advice?

G: Learn Premiere Pro and DaVinci Resolve. Work on your shot selection, creative slicing, dialogue editing, and visual effects. Having someone who knows how to deliver an edit from start to finish is incredibly valuable and sought after. Contact me if you know these programs!

J: Remember that doing the work you love is as important as the jobs that pay the bills – there has to be a balance to be successful and to keep the creative fire burning.

alt-house.com.au

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