The One Woman Crew
A freelance journalist and producer describes finding fulfillment in her work.
October 15, 2018
Note: This article is one in a series of feature stories written by journalism students.
As a young girl growing up on a farm, Bek Allen and her brothers had virtually nothing to do. Until one day, her father bought a video camera. They all watched movies and tried to reenact them, taking turns in acting, shooting, and editing. These little moments of entertainment made Bek realize how much she enjoyed the art of film making, though she did not think this was an attainable job in the real world. During her senior year of high school, Bek and her classmates were constantly asked, “what do you want to accomplish in your life?” She had only one interest: media. She applied for the only media-oriented course being offered at the university she was attending and from there, she knew this is what she wanted to do for her coming career.
Now, twenty-three years later, Bek is a freelance television and video producer, director, writer, and editor based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Getting to this point in her career was anything but easy. During her junior year of college, Bek did not enjoy how news and sports focused her broadcasting course was. She became discouraged that she was no longer finding the career she wanted to pursue interesting. Like most young adults, she had not realized the wide variety of paths that she could take with her chosen major. Bek said, “I was there to learn the fundamentals, but no teacher really said ‘hey, you’re just learning the technical aspects here but there is so much more for you to explore.’” In that same year of discouragement, she joined a leadership trip to Guatemala to build a school. She brought her camera with her and documented the whole trip, including interviews. When she returned to Toronto, she edited her footage and gave the finished product to the president of the organization, who ended up asking her if the group could use it as a recruitment video. This was a eureka moment for Bek; she could use her skills to produce meaningful content.
After she graduated college, Bek sent her resume to a charitable organization that she had a close connection to. Her parents had sponsored children through the organization for years. She received a call and, two interviews later, was given the opportunity to work for the charity. She became its first internal videographer. After ten years of working solely for this organization, she decided she did not enjoy being tied to one company. She wanted to become a freelancer. Freelance is defined as “working for different companies at different times rather than being permanently employed by one company.”
As Bek put it, she is a “one-woman crew.” The process of creating her art is usually the jobs of three to five different people, but she does it all. For television commercials, the companies will contact her and ask her to do certain projects, depending on the commercial needed. She usually comes up with a concept for the commercial and writes a script, as well as putting together a sixty-second scratch recording of her voice reading the script. She will also send her client images and music for the video. If they like it, she will create a full two-minute commercial. Once the organization approves it, a professional actor or celebrity records the voiceover. Organizations also might ask Bek directly to work on a video or a campaign that they have. She has been asked to travel to numerous places, including Africa and USA for shoots. She could go with or without a script, depending on the clips she gets from interviews.
Bek enjoys mentoring youth and has given advice to those in the same boat she was in when she was a young adult, “Look outside of whatever it is you are learning, whether it is writing or television, and try to identify what are other things in your life that you are passionate about. If you have free time, what is it you love to do? If you can take that passion and combine it with the skill or art that you are learning, that will ultimately be the thing that makes you most happy. For example, say you love fashion and you are a writer, then go knocking on the doors of all the places you could be writing about fashion. Or you love cooking, then let that be your focus and go interview top chefs around the world. I think people get too caught up on ‘well, I’m a writer, so I’m just going to look for whatever job I can get writing,’ as opposed to be more focused in who you are targeting when going after your job. Do not be afraid to do it. If you are more focused, you can be more efficient in places that you are targeting, and you want to work.”