Former Aussie GoPro creative filmmaker Will Hodgett has well and truly lived the life.
“It’s basically just travelling around the world, meeting a lot of people, getting to see a lot of unique things, having a lot of unique experiences, and filming stuff with athletes,” he told us during our Year13 Expo this year.
“It’s hard work, but it’s a lot of fun.”
For anyone unfamiliar with Will, he was GoPro’s creative director for Europe, Middle East and Africa for six years. And if you’re unfamiliar with GoPro, it makes action cameras people strap to themselves as they do some wild and adventurous stuff.
When he hasn’t been directing and creating incredible inspirational content like sand skiing in Peru, running ridges in Norway, and hot air balloon freestyle football, he’s spent his days surfing, hiking, and riding in some of the most beautiful places in the world.
But it took a unique pathway for Hodgett to land his dream job at GoPro and there’s a lot we can learn from his alternative approach to designing a career.
He talked us through how he got to where he is today.
- Identify your passions
“Back in high school I didn’t have this kind of crazy creativity or anything,” he said.
“But I did find this passion which was filming surfing and bodyboarding with my friends on the weekends. And that kind of gave me this sense of identity and purpose.”
Envision your ideal life centered around that passion
When Hodgett finished school he admits he had no idea what he wanted to do.
“It was a pretty confusing time – looking back, I remember seeing people heading off to university and thinking that everyone knew what they wanted to do and I was just kinda lost,” he said.
That’s when he decided to think outside the box.
“Back then we would be watching these surfing and bodybuilding DVDs and seeing these guys travelling around the world and getting paid to do it and having such a good time and I thought to myself – ‘yeah, that’d be pretty cool!’” he said.
“The thing is, back then there was no pathway to (a career) like that. There was no university degree for it. You couldn’t even look on YouTube how to do something like that – you probably can now – but not back then.”
3. Come up with a step-by-step plan and stick to it (even when it feels hard)
“I was thinking okay, this is something I really wanna do – but how do I do it?” Hodgett said.
“So I took it back to basics and created a little stepping stone plan for myself.”
The first step of his plan was to work as a laborer for a year to save up for a camera – which Hodgett admits was challenging.
“I remember I was seeing people studying film and kept thinking to myself – should I be doing that? I was kinda getting jealous in a way, you know? Like I didn’t have that opportunity yet,” he said.
But instead of wavering, Will used the feeling to drive him forward.
“Every night I would go back from that laboring job and go on YouTube and teach myself how to edit so that when I did get an opportunity, I’d be more prepared for it.”
4. Use every opportunity as a stepping stone
The next year, Hodgett began developing his filmmaking skills shooting surfers and bodyboarders with a group of friends on Australia’s south coast.
When pro surfers started dropping in he snapped up the opportunity to film and develop relationships with the athletes who would eventually invite him to shoot their surf trips.
Those trips gave Will the confidence to start travelling the world shooting his own films and three or four years later GoPro snapped up the filmmaking prodigy.
As Will mentioned – step by step. Use every opportunity as a stepping stone. And ultimately, it’s all about following what you’re passionate about – and paving your own road to success.