How Sarah Hill made the jump from freelancer to multimedia producer

How Sarah Hill made the jump from freelancer to multimedia professional

Like so many others, Sarah Hill is trying to crack the code of what it means to be a contemporary media professional.

In 2021, media is broader than it has ever been, but for aspiring professionals in the field, it might seem harder than ever to find your niche. Happy Mag alone employs journalists whose fields of expertise span music, professional audio, gaming, literature, and much more, each with particular levels of skill in written, video, or audio storytelling.

When you expand your scope beyond traditional online or print media, the options only increase. More and more organisations find themselves wanting for copywriters, public relations specialists, social media managers, and multimedia professionals – the last of which, Sarah Hill is happy to call herself.

Sarah Hill AFTRS
Image: Artwork from Sarah’s AFTRS stop motion project

After stints with various local newspapers and even the creation of her own channel, The Next Yarn, Sarah found it was time she needed to develop her skillset to more aptly fit this increasingly diverse media landscape. Her first port of call was an industry certificate in content creation at the Australian Film, Television, and Radio School (AFTRS), which she’ll happily credit as a primary reason she found her current job.

We recently took a moment to speak to Sarah about her experiences as an emerging multimedia producer and journalist in Australia, finding out what she learned from engaging in some career education, and making the transition from freelancer to producer.

HAPPY: Tell us a bit about The Next Yarn! What was it that made you want to start your own channel?

SARAH: I’ve always been captivated by great storytellers. I’d find myself meeting people, strangers, and we’d strike up a conversation and they’d tell me their story. It was often about being in love or a passion, sometimes it was heartache. Other times it’d be something funny that had happened that they just wanted to share it. I’d learnt from those strangers. So my plan was to start The Next Yarn to tell human stories and share the little pieces of wisdom that we learn along the way.

HAPPY: How did you find it starting out, and is there a story you’ve written that you’re particularly proud of?

SARAH: I wanted to see if I could do it and if people were interested in these stories. The second story I wrote was about adult children grounding their elderly parents so they wouldn’t catch COVID. The parents were like teenagers – sneaking out to the shops and visiting friends. There was a serious side – elderly people, particularly those with dementia, benefit from social interaction. I published it, and it got hundreds of comments with people agreeing and sharing it. That was the point that I thought ‘ok, this is working’.

HAPPY: You’ve also recently studied with AFTRS. What was that experience like?

SARAH: I studied the Industry Certificate in Content Creation at AFTRS because I wanted to create tiny documentaries. We were shooting videos right from the start and improving massively every week. The teachers have so much knowledge and they encourage you to get creative, and to take risks, and they show you how to make it happen. I’m so grateful to Josh and Gareth. We also had a great cohort and I looked forward to seeing them each week.

HAPPY: What was a part of the course you found particularly useful, or maybe something you didn’t expect to learn?

SARAH: The course is incredibly practical, I use all of the skills all of the time. From developing the creative concept, scripts, storyboards, to filming and editing. I did not expect to learn about being a producer, which is wild because I’m currently working as a multimedia producer. The AFTRS course definitely helped me land this job. I’ve put The Next Yarn on pause for little bit while I have this opportunity.

HAPPY: There’s an old argument in the creative industries – education versus experience, and which is more useful to your career. Where do you land on the issue?

SARAH: AFTRS has without doubt saved me countless frustrating hours trying to figure it out by myself. I would have done things the hard way and probably developed bad habits. The teachers also pushed me further with creativity and it took my videos to a whole new level. Experience is necessary with mastering anything. You try different ideas, make mistakes, find the magic and do it thousands of times over again. Having mentors on the job can help you learn and save you from yourself too.


Find out more about AFTRS’ Industry Certificate in Content Strategy and Creation here.