We speak to Espen Johnson (BA Film, Television and Digital Production, 2016) about his involvement in the 2021 Buffer Festival and his time at Royal Holloway.
The Buffer Festival is the foremost international digital-first film festival. As the world's largest international digital-first film festival, they curate and celebrate video premieres from today's acclaimed digital creators. One such film maker is Espen Johnson (BA Film, Television and Digital Production 2016). We caught up with him to find out how Royal Holloway helped fuel his passion for film making, and what being a speaker at the Buffer Festival means to him.
“Getting to tell stories is my greatest passion, and that is at the heart of editing, and I feel so lucky to get to do that every day.” Espen tells us. He goes on to say “the content is so varied, I can go from editing a fun TikTok challenge to formatting an insightful documentary, so it never gets boring. Also, getting early access to shows that I love is a pretty great perk!”
With this love of story-telling, it’s no surprise that Espen chose to study Film, Television and Digital Production. He states that the reason he chose Royal Holloway for his degree is “because of the course’s even split between practical and theory, as I wanted it to be well rounded. Then I went to an Open Day and pretty much made my decision after seeing the TV studio they had there, just in awe thinking I’d get to film there. Also, seeing the Founders Building in the background of all of this and imagining myself in Harry Potter helped to seal the deal!”
Of his degree, Espen says he enjoyed the practical aspects “I most enjoyed getting to make many short films. We worked as little production teams, getting to try all different roles, and the shoots were always really fun and exciting. One of my favourite memories was getting to take part in making films with the Film Festival Society. One day we were filming a scene in Medicine, and needing to direct the extras to dance without music was as awkward and hilarious as it sounds.”
Being a speaker at the Buffer Festival 2021 is a an honour that he is deservedly proud of, “I feel so honoured and excited to be premiering a video at Buffer Festival London; it still feels unreal that something I’ve made will be showing at Odeon Leicester Square! Imposter syndrome is definitely also creeping in a little as my film will be shown alongside films by some of the best YouTube filmmakers, people I’ve admired for years, but mostly I’m just excited.” He encourages everyone who enjoys film to get involved with the festival. We can expect to enjoy “brand new films from great YouTube filmmakers, expect to laugh and cry, and get the amazing opportunity for insight from amazing creators - there are so many I can’t wait to get the opportunity to speak to!”
Espen credits Royal Holloway in helping prepare for his career now, “the course was amazing at teaching us industry standard practises, prepping for shoots and running our sets like they do in the industry. This helped me be able to hit the ground running when I got my first opportunities on a set. After graduating, I initially went into freelance video editing for a couple of years, mostly doing small online projects, whilst also making my own videos. I then got into the BBC Production Trainee Scheme, after which I got hired as an Assistant Video Editor at BBC Three where I’m still working.”
He encourages any budding film makers to ‘make things’. He believes that this practical experience is the best way for students to grow, “it is the only way to truly learn how to tell stories through film, so get as much practical experience as you can, in as many different roles as possible. It doesn’t have to be fancy, even making a 30 second scene using a phone will teach you a lot. In my experience it is far more beneficial to make 100 bad/mediocre things than spending forever making one great thing.”
With such a varied career only five years after graduating, we asked Espen what he was proudest of thus far. He states, “My greatest professional achievement so far has been getting to work as an Assistant Editor on Ladhood Season 2, a comedy drama on BBC Three. Seeing my name in the credits of such a brilliant show, and knowing I had such direct input on it, was a truly special moment.” His plans for the future include continuing to work in television, as well as film and to eventually become a full editor.