While still in high school, RJ Bruni started a video production company called Inmist Media House. Since then, along with his camera, the videographer has traveled the world, from mountain peaks in his hometown of Chilliwak, British Columbia, to the dusty streets of Nepal. Here are some of RJ’s insights into the field of videography.
How old were you when you made your first video? What was it about?
Back in elementary school, we were given the option to put together a video instead of doing the typical poster board presentation. My family had an old JVC handycam that I knew how to use, so I jumped at the chance to put a film together. The project was to be about Napoleon Bonaparte, so I dressed one of my friends up like Napoleon and made him recite his lines in a French accent. That video is definitely one of the most embarrassing films I’ve made, and I wouldn’t show it to a soul now, but it must have sparked something in me because I’ve loved creating ever since. Oh and Mrs. Rae gave us a 98% … not bad for my first video project.
What was your first camera? What intrigued you to pick it up?
I started to get interested in filmmaking when the whole DSLR filmmaking movement was starting to blow up on Vimeo, and guys like Philip Bloom and Salomon Ligthelm were pushing the limits of what little, affordable cameras could do.
So I saved up a bit of cash and purchased a used Canon 60D using Craigslist. I only had enough money to buy the body, so my incredible mother (who is also a photographer) let me borrow her lenses until I could start building my own collection.
What is it about British Columbia (where most of your work is based) that inspires you as a videographer?
The activities are endless here.I have close friends who succeed in almost every single sport — white water kayaking, paragliding, rock climbing, surfing, biking, etc. So, to answer the question, I guess my inspiration comes from the people around me. It’s easy to stay motivated when you’re surrounded by incredible humans doing what they love.
Has being a videographer allowed you to travel outside of BC, too?
It definitely has. A lot of our travels involve some sort of humanitarian aspect, whether it’s working for an organization or just wanting to help on a personal level.
We just got back from Nepal, where we worked for an organization called Himalayan Life. The organization’s main mission is to help homeless kids get off the streets and turn their lives around. Using the footage from that trip, we’re putting together a full-length documentary consisting of stories about some of the young lives that have been transformed by Himalayan Life. A lot of these kids and young adults have been through so much — abandoned by their families, addicted to drugs, sexually abused, the list goes on. Some of the stories will break your heart and it’s experiences like those that really make me appreciate the place I call home. It also keeps the fire inside me going and makes me want to help others both locally and abroad.
The documentary should be released mid-2018, so keep an eye out.
A move to a big city seems necessary to “make it” in a lot of industries. But you’re based in Chilliwack, with Vancouver just a short distance away — why is that?
To be completely honest, the decision to stay in Chilliwack has been one I’ve battled with. The power that comes with surrounding yourself with likeminded people is something I hold highly and is much more prevalent in the bigger cities. On top of that, a lot of the companies I work with reside in the city. But my decision to grow roots in Chilliwack comes with many reasons.
First off, this is home and I love it. Chilliwack has an abundance of beautiful backcountry, everything from high alpine forests to a world-class white water river. Plus, if I have to choose between being five minutes away from the wild outdoors and a long commute through city traffic, I’ll take the wild outdoors 10 times out of 10. On top of that, my family lives here and that’s something I hold dearly.
Secondly, it’s actually a business decision for my company. When making any business decision, we ask ourselves: “Does this fit our brand?” Inmist is an outdoor production company, so it only makes sense for us to live that mission everyday. Running our business just outside of the city (we are only an hour away from downtown Vancouver) gives us the opportunity to be outdoors and embody what we stand for.
Lastly, we believe in being the change. Chilliwack is a growing community of local businesses and outdoor tourism, and that growth is something I want Inmist to be a part of. The easy thing to do is to go where the community is already established, but if we believe in this place, then we need to be a part of the community-building process.
The Internet has changed every industry, but also created new ones, like your line of work. How have you utilized that new avenue to your advantage?
The Internet holds so much power, and can either do a lot of harm or a lot of good. We take our jobs seriously in that we don’t solely use the Internet to our own advantage, but also to help others. It’s very easy to notice when trends develop by watching which photos get the most likes on an Instagram feed or which videos are viewed most on a YouTube channel. If we conform our work solely around these trends, we aren’t doing our jobs properly. There are a lot of videos we could be making that would garner much more exposure for us, but often those subjects center around false realities and unrealistic goals.
Instead, we use our skills to inspire others to do better for themselves and the people around them, sharing attainable moments and stories that evoke emotion and a willingness to take action.
Any advice to those who are inspired to pursue videography as a full-time job or career?
My good friend Alex Strohl once told me that you should never be trying to create something better than anyone else. Instead, try to create something different.
We are living a world saturated with media, where we often see the same content replicated over and over again. My advice is to try to be a breath of fresh air in this over-saturated market. Ask yourself: is there a way to put my own personal spin on this project?
Are there any helpful resources you would recommend for fellow creatives?
YouTube. That’s what I used to learn about the field, and I continue to learn from the resource everyday. I have come to realize, though, that you can have all the information in the world, but it’s useless unless you’re willing to put in the work.
Also, never be discouraged that other people are producing incredible content — use it as inspiration.
For more of RJ’s work, you can check him out on Instagram.