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MetFilm School London Undergraduate Open Day

Metfilm School

Meet the Alumni: Elizabeth Motley (BA Practical Filmmaking)

By Danny Kelly

21 January 2022

How do you stand out in the industry? More and more it seems that employers are looking for people with a varied skillset, someone capable of supporting in a number of areas. Such was the case for BA Practical Filmmaking graduate, Elizabeth Motley, who ended last year on a high, starting work as a Creative with the iconic British record label, Polydor.

The new role marks an exciting chapter for Elizabeth who has long kept her finger on the pulse of the music scene. After graduating in 2018, she interned with an A&R company and then worked in a recording studio, assisting both with content creation and social media. She also continues to photograph and review live shows for the online magazine, The Honey Pop.

Here’s what Elizabeth Motley had to tell us about her new role and how to make yourself stand out after film school…

When you started at film school, did you already have a clear idea of what direction you wanted to go in?

When I started on the BA Practical Filmmaking course at MetFilm School London, I knew I wanted to work in music videos. I’d always had that goal in my mind since I was about 16. I thought I might want to direct or even start my own production company, but in the end, I decided that simply working as part of a team suited me more than leading it.

What inspired you towards a career in short-form video content as opposed to narrative storytelling?

Short-form has always been more of an interest for me as the crews are smaller and I much prefer a few, short and intense shooting days and a quick turnaround, rather than months of filming. I thoroughly enjoy narrative long-form storytelling, but having had some experience in it, the hours and workload weren’t something that I wanted to pursue full time.

Congrats on your new role at Polydor! What does being a ‘Creative’ consist of and what side of your work excites you the most?

Thank you! Being a Creative has many parts; I work in helping with music video budgets, researching directors, photographers and production companies that work well with our artists’ image and branding. I also help with invoicing, creating mood boards/pitch decks for artists, I assist in conceptualising music videos, and I work closely with the Creative Director and content commissioners.

The most exciting part for me is how many amazing artists I get to work with who are all in different parts of their careers. Some artists have just been signed to the label and so haven’t even put out a whole album yet, while others are on their fifth album. The variety makes every day different.

Are there particular trends you are seeing within the music industry in terms of how labels are promoting their artists?

I think it’s been tough for labels with the pandemic and promoting their artists without live shows, but I’ve noticed how much artists have used TikTok in the last year. I think labels have come to realise what a useful tool it can be to promote their artists and music. However, it has to be in an organic way and some artists are not keen on having to make lots of content. So it’s about navigating the space as best they can for their artists.

What do you think makes a music video memorable?

Music videos are almost like a clean slate; you can do anything and everything as there is so much creative freedom. I think it’s really personal what makes it memorable for you. You could ask ten different people and they’d give you completely different answers. Similarly to a feature, it’s not necessarily about it being a big-budget shoot or having amazing camera angles. Sometimes the simplest videos are the best.

Elizabeth Motley working as a content creator for a digital marketing and production agency

Roles like yours can be competitive – what advice would you give to upcoming graduates applying to entry-level roles?

They are very competitive, I think something that gave me an edge was that I had an interest in music outside of a job role. I photographed and reviewed live shows for an online magazine, attended press events and wrote content about music. Something like that shows you’re really keen, but also have other knowledge and experience.

I also did two internships after leaving MetFilm School and before getting this role, as well as a full-time job as a lead videographer and editor at a production company. So I had a lot of experience and still had to apply about ten times to different roles within Universal Music before I got considered!

I think you need to just keep trying. Don’t get disheartened when you get a lot of rejections. Creative is one of the hardest roles to get into but if you’re passionate and keen to learn, that’ll shine through.

What sort of skills do you think the media industries are really looking for in 2022?

The media industry is really looking for an all-rounder. Labels tend to outsource all their creative roles, so if you can be a videographer but also edit, sound mix and grade, you’ll be in a good position to be picked for a role over someone who can only do one of those jobs. That’s not to say that being a specialist won’t land you a job, but companies are keen to find someone who can do two or three roles for the price of one.

Finally, which artists do you have on heavy rotation so far this year?

Well, I’ve been revisiting some of last year’s releases; so LANY, they are one of my favourite artists, they accompany me on all my car journeys and their latest album (‘gg bb xx’) was amazing. I’m anticipating some good releases this year from artists like The Weeknd, Machine Gun Kelly and Griff.