Videographer Spotlight

Matthew Hoyt

Connecticut, USA

Matthew Hoyt
How long have you been a videographer?

I’ve been a videographer for nearly seven years.

What got you interested in filming?

The first time I became interested in filming was when my first child, Jackson, was born in 2005. Like most of us with children, I wanted to be able to capture those special moments in his life when he was young so that our family could watch it years later. Also, digital video looked really good and will keep those memories.

The idea of editing the video into a kind of family story or film got me very excited. Most people do not enjoy watching endless hours of uncut home video. I wanted to make the footage more enjoyable to watch. I wanted it short and simple. I wanted to add a music track and make it more like a movie instead of a home video. Digital video editing was becoming a relatively inexpensive hobby. Digital video cameras were getting cheaper, and PCs typically came with some kind of free movie-making software.

What is your filming specialty?

I’ve spent almost all of my time filming my family. So I wouldn’t say that I have a specialty. I’ve never made a career of filmmaking. It has been only a hobby. However, during these past seven years, I have learned a great deal about filming children. They are constantly moving and never do what you want them to do in front of a camera. To capture anything interesting, you need to be quick at composing the shot when a special moment arrives. If you are lucky enough to capture something special, it’s worth all the effort.



(B-roll clips submitted by Matt Hoyt – No Audio)

How did you get interested in submitting your videos to the Church?

I’m always looking for ways to improve my video and for new ideas to tell an interesting story. I read online about the Create program and that the Church was looking for b-roll footage of families doing all sorts of things together—praying, having family home evenings, riding bikes, receiving a father’s blessing, discussing finances, flying a kite, and so on. The suggestions made by the Church gave me a lot of new ideas for certain shots. I was excited to give it a try and knew it could help the Church as well. It was a good fit.

How do you feel you can use videography to build up the kingdom or share the gospel?

I believe that visual media (if it hasn’t already) will become a more prevalent form of storytelling than any other form of media in our lifetime, thanks to the Internet and advances in digital video. This is because the cost to deliver high-quality video across the Internet is practically free and the potential audience is unlimited.

When you think that 20 years ago almost no one who aspired to filmmaking could afford a film camera, let alone the cost of distributing his or her work to a large audience, today’s advances in digital video and distribution and the opportunities they create for aspiring filmmakers or storytellers are incredibly exciting!

Filmmaking is simply visual storytelling. In my opinion, sharing the gospel is all about telling a story. That’s true even if you’re just telling a story about your own family—for example, a tribute to your two-year-old daughter, a week when grandma and grandpa come to visit, or a time when we are all missing mom at home. These stories show people who we are and how we, as members of the Church, live every day and what is most important to us. It shows others that we’re approachable. It shows that although we’re not perfect, we believe in being honest, good people. This kind of visual storytelling could inspire people to seek out the Church when otherwise they may never have done it.

In addition, digital movies can be kept for generations without any loss of quality. What if one of my short films impacts the life of a great-grandson of mine in a positive way many years from now? Bringing a family together across generations in that way has never happened before, and that too is certainly a part of building up the kingdom.

What has been a favorite experience or memory while filming?

I think one of my favorite experiences while filming was the short film we made of our daughter when she turned two years old. I was struggling to find a way to make these little family films more interesting. My wife had suggested that we make a kind of collage of our daughter in different settings and outfits—for example, in a dress painting her fingernails in her room, outside holding hands with mom in a pretty red coat, sitting on a stool holding balloons, and so on. That idea made all the difference and has taught me that there are some things you can do with children in order to tell a story that’s interesting, as opposed to simply recording an everyday event as it happens.

That short film of our daughter is one of our family favorites. And as she gets older, it is becoming much more precious.

What tip or trick have you learned along the way that made the biggest difference in the quality of your videos?

The best tip I’ve learned is that the story matters most. You can have all the technical bells and whistles (including excellent technical training or schooling), but if you aren’t telling an interesting story for your audience, your video is not going to be enjoyable to watch. Learn to be a good storyteller and you’ll have great success.

What advice would you give to someone new to videography?

I would advise him or her not to get too caught up in all the equipment, software, and gadgets associated with videography or filmmaking. It is very easy to get caught up in all the neat stuff that so many companies are producing. And it’s all getting cheaper, which is a wonderful thing. But I’ve learned that you can get so caught up in the tools of filmmaking that you actually forget that they are just tools. Tools are meant to make the process of creating a better, faster, and easier experience. But the goal is the story you are telling. Focus on telling a good story. That is the thing that matters most.

How much do you edit your videos?

I edit all of my video on my computer using a non-linear editor software program. In fact, that was one of the reasons I got interested in videography. Editing was a way of taking all that boring family footage and turning it into something much more interesting by “cutting” the footage into a kind of story. I have certainly learned over the years that editing is an art form. And, as with most forms of art, it takes a lot of practice and trial and error to get good at it. Most people don’t realize that nearly all of the media they watch is edited. If it’s done poorly, you may not be able to articulate why, but you certainly notice.

If you could take a video of anything, what would it be?

I think I made that choice when I first started this hobby. I take videos of my family. I want a video record of my wife and these precious children that we can have in the family forever. Life is literally passing us by. The years, it seems, are going by much faster. Soon our children will be gone, living lives of their own, and I don’t want to forget where we were and what these children were like when they were so young.