creative entrepreneur

We All Believe in You - The Documentary by Andrea Beça

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My name is Andrea Beça. I’m a filmmaker, photographer, and storyteller. I’ve been writing my whole life, and I became a producer/director when I was 19—over a decade ago. I’ve got two degrees, multiple awards, distinctions, and honours under my belt, and I am both proud and grateful to say that I’ve turned doing what I love into my full-time career.

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Photo by Jillian Schecher.

I also live with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and body dysmorphia. A lot of the time, I feel really good and you'd never know. Sometimes this means I feel short of breath in social situations. Other times it means that before I can even get to a social situation, I am on the floor of my bedroom in the fetal position, hyperventilating and feeling absolutely hopeless. Sometimes this lasts for a while, until I am numb and feel like I am living outside of my own body. Sometimes the darkness feels like it’s going to last forever. But the light always creeps back in, and I'm grateful to say that love and hope have always won.

I’ve been a fan of Blake Loates’ photography for some time. I got involved with We All Believe In You (WABIY) when I volunteered to transcribe a portion of the interviews that were going to accompany Blake’s portraits at the official launch of the initiative. I signed myself up because mental health and opening up conversations about mental health has always been very important to me. At the time, I also happened to be in a deep depression as the result of losing a loved one. And about a week into my volunteer gig, one of my friends became suicidal. I spent my days keeping tabs on them, talking them through some of their darkest times, and making multiple emergency calls, both to the police, and to my therapist.

The entire experience made it so clear to me that WABIY needs to exist, and if there ever was a time to make a documentary about WABIY, it’s now, with the help of Telus STORYHIVE's newest documentary edition. Mental illness affects everyone—whether you suffer from it yourself of you love someone who does—and it doesn’t discriminate. We’ve lost some very public figures over the years, making it clear that having your dream job or a lot of money isn’t a cure for mental illness. The number of people dying by suicide is on the rise, and—in the words of WABIY founder Blake Loates—suicide is starting to feel like an epidemic.

More and more people are talking about mental health and mental illness, but conversation isn’t everything—what we need is community. We need to support one another, advocate for one another, and do our best to educate those who don’t understand mental illness and perpetuate the dangerous stigma that surrounds it.

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Photo by Andrea Beça.

And that’s what this documentary is all about: giving people living with mental illness a voice, normalizing the conversation about mental health, and growing the community of support. I want to highlight the work WABIY and Blake are doing so that we can spread the love and help people across Canada—and all around the world—feel less alone. I also want to do anything I can to support WABIY in creating systemic change so that there’s more support and resources for folks suffering from mental illness. Many people don’t know what to do when someone in their life becomes suicidal, or how to navigate the system to get the help they or their loved ones need when they’re sick. Blake’s work with WABIY is quite literally changing that. The more people learn about WABIY and join the community, the more people learn what assistance and resources are available, and how to support someone who is mentally ill or suicidal. She’s spoken at numerous schools and events, educating thousands on mental health. Every day, by sharing her story, by advocating, and by being open to having the conversation, she’s helping people understand, navigate, and live with mental illness.

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Photos by Blake Loates.

The main subjects of this documentary are folks who have been involved in the WABIY community, as well as professionals and leaders in the city who are ready to speak up about their own experiences. From school teachers to psychologists, city councillors, stand-up comedians, youth workers, and family members of those who have died by suicide, we’re showcasing a diverse group of people affected by mental illness, and my hope is that the audience of this piece is as varied and diverse as the people featured in it. My dream for the WABIY documentary is that anyone watching it can identify with it—that they can see themselves represented on screen and feel seen and heard and less alone in their struggles. My dream is that anyone watching the documentary who hasn’t spoken up about their issues will have the courage to reach out—either to a friend, a family member, a professional, or to the WABIY community—and get the support they need. And if they’re not struggling themselves, my dream is that they’ll walk away from a screening of We All Believe in You knowing how to support someone who is. That, in my eyes and heart, would be a huge success.

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Photos by Blake Loates.

In order to make this documentary a reality, Blake and I need YOUR help. From today, July 30, until Thursday August 2 at 1pm Mountain Time, you can go to our STORYHIVE page and vote for our project to be made. STORYHIVE will be awarding funding to 15 projects here in Alberta, and another 15 projects in BC. We're hopeful that with the support of our amazing communities, we will be one of those projects!

The nitty gritty - a summary:

  • You can vote for We All Believe in You right here on the project's STORYHIVE page.
  • You don't need to sign up for anything to vote - simply click "VOTE" and you are set!
  • You get 5 votes per day, and can vote for any given project once per day. We encourage you to check out as many projects as you can and vote for all the ones you'd like to see made! 30 projects will be funded! (Here are a couple you might dig: Queer Scouts, MSed With the Wrong Girl, Go Girl...)
  • You can vote every day from RIGHT NOW until 1pm Mountain Time (Edmonton time) on Thursday, August 2! Please vote every day to give us the best chance possible of winning the funding we need to make this documentary real! 
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Photo by Andrea Beça.

I cannot thank you enough for your support in making this documentary a reality. Please follow We All Believe in You - The Documentary on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date, get voting reminders, and ultimately to find out if our project has won funding! 

"Can I pick your brain about..." / On Coffee and Mentorship by Andrea Beça

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Freelancers and coffee - they go together like peanut butter and jelly. Once you go freelance, a lot of your life revolves around coffee, whether you're drinking lots of it to stay fuelled for late nights, spending your work days at various coffee shops to get out of the house, or meeting with clients over a cup of coffee to get business done. 

But somewhere along the line, coffee became misconstrued as a form of payment for freelancers, too. Suddenly, everyone wants to take you for a cup of coffee so that they can "pick your brain" or "get some help" with something - the thing you've made your career. 

It's a tough position to be in, because as freelancers, we're always trying to stay open to new connections and networking that could lead to potential work. But at the same time, we can't afford to spend our lives going out for coffees and giving away free information to people who have no intention of becoming our clients, but require a couple hours of professional consultation and guidance.

Now, if you're reading this and thinking it sounds extreme to say, "spend our lives," I can tell you this: in my own experience as a freelancer who works in multiple media from writing to filmmaking to podcasting and formerly social media, I receive a minimum of two messages a week requesting my knowledge in exchange for coffee. Not too long ago, I received six requests in a single week. On average, I'd say I get 3-4 messages a week from people who want to, "pick my brain."

Do I think all of the folks requesting my time and knowledge are malicious demon-people trying to steal my livelihood away from me? Of course not. And for a long time - almost three years, to be precise - I tried my hardest, often juggled my schedule around, and bent over backwards to say yes to as many of those requests as I could. 

Then I realized I was being a big 'ol hypocrite. A big ol' tired and sometimes frustrated hypocrite. I was always advising my friends and colleagues to make sure they were charging people for their time and knowledge, and always making sure that - aside from volunteer projects where all folks were on the same page about donating their time to something - I was compensating anyone who did any kind of work for me. 

I've learned so much over my last three years of full-time self-employment. So much. One of the most important things I've learned is that client education is a HUGE part of being an entrepreneur. We don't know what we don't know. Nobody does - including me when I am in the role of client rather than freelancer. 

I think there's a much larger conversation to have here about how the arts and creative careers are regarded in the grand scheme of things, but I don't have the time (ha!) or energy to go down that road right now.

Right now, what I want to do is send a love letter to all my fellow freelancers. I see you all. I have deep respect for the time, money, energy, passion, blood, sweat, tears, and years y'all have put into refining your unique skills and crafts. I want to encourage you to stand behind the rates you charge and know that your work is valuable. And I want to give you permission (if you need the nudge) to say no to any project or meeting that doesn't feel like it's in alignment, whatever that means for you.

And I want to reiterate that I don't think anyone who asks a freelancer for free time or free work is a "bad" person. I'm hoping that instead, this blog post will open up the conversation about how we approach and treat freelancers. The next time you start writing an email or a DM to a freelancer to ask them to teach you about something or help you with something over coffee, consider this: would you take your doctor for coffee to discuss your weird mole? Would you invite your personal trainer to coffee to walk you through a workout routine real quick? Would you ask your financial advisor or lawyer to coffee to pick their brain about your next investment, or to help you draft your will?

(Well, you might try, but I can tell you that unless there are some very special circumstances at play - i.e., your mom's your doctor - they're going to say no.)

My name is Andrea Beça. I have a BA in English and Creative Writing and a Master's in Playwriting and Dramaturgy. I have over 10 years of experience as a professional writer, director, and producer, almost 7 years of experience as a filmmaker and editor, and almost 3 years of experience as a podcaster. Storytelling is my life. Creating community is one of my passions. And I would be absolutely thrilled to go for coffee with you to share my knowledge and experience and guide you towards your next project. Please get in touch with me for a customized quote, or visit the Workshops, Training, & Mentorship page for my rates.

(High)Light: A Photo Series by Andrea Beça

As a creative, I often get ideas that I just cannot let go of. Sometimes for months, sometimes for years. (For example, I have multiple theatre and film scripts that have been swimming in my head over over a decade - yes, a DECADE.)

As a creative entrepreneur, my ideas often have to wait until I have a chance to carve out time for them. This year, I'm trying to commit a lot more time to my ideas, because I know when I unleash them, I thrive creatively, spiritually, and emotionally. 

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This shoot was one of those ideas. It's been on my mind for over a year, and I finally had a chance to make it happen with two extremely talented friends - makeup artist Corinne Simpson of VampireNomad Palette and model/actor Rekha Kapadia (whom you may recognize from my short film, nightwalk.)

If you know me, or even if you just follow me on social media, you know I'm obsessed with string lights. I just LOVE them. I love lights and lightbulbs in general, but string lights have a special place in my heart. I thought it would be really fun to play with string lights as the only light source in a shoot, and to play with highlighter to pick up and emphasize that light. 

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In a nutshell, it was a fantastic shoot, and I had as much fun editing these shots as I did taking them. It's been hard to narrow down the selection! I'm sharing a handful now. Keep an eye on my Instagram and photography portfolio for more in the future. 

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I hope you enjoyed looking at these as much as I enjoyed creating them. 

Want to make some magic together? Get in touch with me

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Love this post? Click below to share it far and wide. And thank you in advance for doing so - it means a lot to me. 

Five Common Misconceptions About Video by Andrea Beça

Video content is master of the internet right now. It's eye-catching, engaging, and effective. (Well, when it's done right, it is.) But over the last couple years running my business, I've also discovered that there are many misconceptions about video that create barriers for people interested in harnessing its digital marketing power. 

So let's talk about five of the most common misconceptions I've encountered concerning video content:

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Photo by L Photography.

1. It's Untouchable / "I don't even know where to start."

I hear this a lot. "Oh, I love the videos __________ posts on their social media, but I have no clue how to make them." 

Anyone can develop video content. If you're feeling intimidated, start simple and try out Facebook Live. Get online, engage your audience, give them useful information pertaining to your business and explore how that impacts your reach and engagement. The more you experiment, the more you'll hone in on what works and doesn't work. You may discover a certain type of video your audience loves that surprises you (e.g., a live unboxing of new stock), and you may also discover that it's time to produce some polished, professional videos to build business. Your audience holds the gold: if you can find out what they want and provide it, you're set for success. So don't be afraid to ask them what they'd like to see from your business, brand, or organization.

2. Anyone Can Do It / "My friend just bought a camera - I don't need to hire a professional."

Notice that in the previous paragraph, I said, "anyone can develop video content," and not, "anyone can develop great video content" - meaning engaging, effective, and successful video content. Yes, you can absolutely get your friend to shoot your next video. But that doesn't mean it's going to be good. 

Do you always need to hire a professional? No. Should you usually hire a professional? Yes. Even if you don't have the budget to hire a professional to develop, shoot, and edit your video, you can hugely benefit from paying one for an hour of consulting to learn how to make the most of the equipment you have, how to improve composition, how to affordably record great audio, etc.

(Hint: I'm available for these types of consultation, as well as one-on-one and group training. So don't hesitate to get in touch.)

3. It's All About Equipment / "I can't create video content because I don't have an expensive camera, a production studio, etc."

I'm a professional filmmaker, and I'm telling you, equipment isn't everything. You can have tens of thousands of dollars' worth of the latest gear and still make crappy films and video. Or you can have an iPhone and a couple extra tools and make an award-winning film, like Tangerine

Filmmaking is a skill. Actually, it's many skills that work together to create a final product - from writing and pre-production to shooting to editing. When you hire a professional (whether it's an individual or a team), you're getting a lot more than an expensive camera. An expensive camera can't save someone who knows nothing about composition. And no equipment on the planet can save someone who has no idea how to tell a story. Again, if you're not ready for a full-fledged professionally made video, consider consultation if you need help, but don't let your brand of camera (or smartphone) stop you from getting started.

4. Length of Video = Length of Shoot / "It's only a 30-second ad - it should take 30 seconds to shoot, and it should be cheap."

This is something I encounter almost weekly. The quickest way for me to respond is, "You know how Super Bowl commercials are (in)famous for costing millions of dollars?" 

A video could be 30 seconds long and feature 10 different locations, hundreds of extras, and a ton of special effects. Consider the content before you start drawing conclusions about how much of a professional's time you'll need. You may not be making a Super Bowl commercial, but how many different locations are you envisioning? What types of props, costumes, and people are necessary? And don't forget, editing happens after your shoot, and can be the biggest job of all. 

Bring your ideas to a pro. They'll give you a quote. If it's out of your current budget, you can either start saving up, or ask them what's possible within your budget. Because there are always options, and a professional will always be ready to present those options to you if you're open to hearing them.

5. Professional Video is Too Expensive / "I can't afford to hire a professional for a single video."

I'm not going to sugar coat things for you all: professional video content is an investment. You're not going to get strong video content for $100. That being said, if you're working with a professional, part of the process should be making sure that you're getting the right type of video, and that the content of it will serve you for a desired time period. I have clients who have been using their company profile videos for over a year already, and those videos are still bringing them a steady stream of new business. Would your marketing budget for a couple years be $100? I sure hope not! 

The best type of feedback to get from a client! Watch Andrea's video   here  .

The best type of feedback to get from a client! Watch Andrea's video here.

What I'm saying here is this: like many, many other things, professional video is something that requires an upfront investment before you start seeing a return on that investment (though once it's released, that return can happen very quickly). And yes, if you're a small business, brand, or organization, you may need to save up before you can make your first one. But having content that lives for years, tells your story in a beautiful and effective way, and (in a sense) works for you to attract new business is absolutely worth it.

Ready to create amazing video content? Looking for consultation or training? You know where to find me.

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Officially Unleashing My Inner Photographer (Finally) by Andrea Beça

A perhaps little known fact about me (though not if you follow me on Instagram): I love photography. When I was a teen, my mom and brother taught me how to use an SLR (yes, in the days of yore, when film was the thing), and as soon as I had saved up enough money, I bought myself a DSLR (some time had passed) in preparation for a huge solo trip to England, Scotland, and Ireland. 

I packed a film camera too - for good measure - and returned from a month of travels with over 35 rolls of film and thousands of digital photos. I haven't stopped taking photos since.

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Photography is a huge part of my professional life, too. Beyond taking photos to feature on my own website and social media, I do a ton of portrait and detail photography for my podcast, That's So Maven! Taking photos so regularly for the podcast (and getting asked by many of the guests if I'm up for hire) has really inspired me to take the leap and start offering photography services to my clients

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Okay, so truth be told, it's not much of a leap, per se. I know there are a lot of people in my life who are going to read this and say, "finally!!" But it's a new change and I'm very excited for it. 

Want to see more? Visit my new photography portfolio (I'll keep this one updated and fresh just like I do with my video portfolio) and if you're ready to request a quote or book a session, drop me a line so that we can schedule it in. 

If you dig my work, click below to share this post and help me spread the word! 

Creating a Visual Time Capsule by Andrea Beça

I cannot express how grateful I am that when my nephew was born, I was able to pack my business up with me and jump on a flight to Toronto. Moments like this are a beautiful extra reminder of how much of a privilege it is to be my own boss. 

I, of course, fell madly in love with Jasper. I mean, I loved him before he was born, but getting the chance to hold him and bond with him face to face, skin to skin, was so incredible. Before even booking my flight, I knew that I wanted to create a time capsule of my visit to Toronto, and use my filmmaking skills to capture a slice of life that my brother and sister in law (and the rest of our family and friends) could have forever. 

I snapped photos and shot video at every chance I could get, and this is the result. I hope you enjoy it. 

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If you'd like to capture a special moment in time, get in touch with me