Conestoga news

June 5, 2007 9:44 AM

Lights! Camera! Higgins!

Michael Higgins, a video editor and camera operator for Bob Izumi's “Real Fishing Show”, is right where he hoped to be at this Mike Higginstime in his career. A graduate of the 2004 Broadcast Radio and Television program at Conestoga College, he set his sites on a feature film career and is working his way towards his goal.

Higgins knew at an early age that he wanted to be a filmmaker. He had been making films since he was 16 and when he couldn't afford "a big film college", he searched for an alternative that would direct him towards his goal and be within his financial boundaries. He decided on Conestoga College.

With the understanding that he would most likely work in television before film, Higgins chose the Broadcast - Radio and Television Program for various reasons. First of all, his understanding of the industry provided him with the insight of knowing he would probably work in television first. Secondly, it was a three year program that offered radio. Even though he wasn't targeting the radio profession, he understood that this portion of the program would be essential to his profession. He uses his current experience to explain: "As an editor, I have to some times edit all the audio when working on a show or film, from picking out the music to adjusting the audio levels when people talk, writing and recording voice-overs and even sometimes producing action and background sounds,… All these things I learned in the radio portion of the program”.

Finally, after talking to people that had previously taken the program, Higgins knew that it was practical with a lot of "hand’s on” learning. According to Higgins, he feels that, as important as theory is, it will only get you so far when learning about film and television equipment. It’s the practice of using the equipment that gives you the opportunity to figure out how to use it.

Higgins says he learned a lot during his time at Conestoga. He was taught everything from working with a short deadline to many technical operations in editing and camera operating. The most important thing he learned was to go beyond the program expectations and make opportunities for himself. He didn’t wait around for teachers to teach him everything. They gave him the basic knowledge but then he took it upon himself to gain extra understanding and practice.

"Today I have to keep up with this fast paced industry and that means teaching myself how to use new equipment and always trying to learn something new or improve on what I’m already doing”.

Working on "Mens Rea”, a short film that Higgins wrote, directed and edited in his second year, was listed as one of his most memorable moments during his time studying at Conestoga. "It won an award for direction and taught me a lot about directing a film and a crew”.

Also among his list of memorable moments, is one of his third year internships working for the national television program "Real Fishing” with Canadian fishing icon, Bob Izumi. Higgins grew up watching Izumi on television. As an avid outdoorsman himself, it was a perfect fit combining the two interests of television/film production and the outdoors. After completing his internship, he was offered the position of Key Editor with Izumi Outdoors Inc., a position he still holds today.

Filming the "The Real Fishing Show” isn’t all that Higgins does with Izumi Outdoors Inc. He’s also filmed various television commercials and corporate projects. If you are an avid watcher of the program you may have seen some of the commercials Higgins has worked on such as one for "Warm Clothing” for Ullfrotte or "Tackle Box” for SC Johnson. Higgins has even earned himself a free week at a resort in Argentina as a thank you for a superior job editing a corporate video for "Cordoba”.

Although his work for Izumi Outdoors Inc. keeps him busy, Higgins has his own freelance production company called Eh! Entertainment which he not only uses to produce corporate videos but short films and wedding productions as well. He’s currently working on another outdoor show called “Canada in the Rough” as Post-Production Supervisor and Editor. He’s received awards and nominations for various projects and has had some exciting moments pursuing his production career. He notes one of his most exciting moments was working on the Disney production, “Cold Creek Manor”:

"It had a lot of big stars and it was my first time being on a hundred million dollar film set. I was working safety support…. It was a foot in the door and a great learning experience. I actually got the job by finding out where they were going to be shooting … and I just kept dropping off resumes and letters on set before shooting started until they called me. It was really nice of them because they didn’t have to call but they said they liked my persistence.”

Besides Bob Izumi, Higgins has worked with other celebrities. He includes Sharon Stone, Dennis Quaid, Stephen Dorff, Juliette Lewis, Kevin Spacey, Henry Thomas and many others on his list of stars. He also "worked the Red Carpet” at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2004 and got the chance to interview all the actors for two days. "That was really neat for me, tiring, but very cool”.

He also gets to perform many different jobs in the industry and visit many different places. Higgins is quick to add, however, that it is not all "fun and games”. He notes that he has had to work very hard to get to where he is now and has had to face a lot of rejection. Back in high school, Higgins began developing his production resume by volunteering for Rogers Television and working for a local film company. He says that he’s had to work his way up and try to learn every position he could. It helps also, he says, to get along with a lot of different people. "I always try and get along with everyone on set because a friendly set means a great final product, plus you end up landing more jobs from people who liked working with you. Passion, persistence and politeness will go a long way to help you in life”.

Ultimately, Higgins will direct feature films. In the meantime, he recognizes that the majority of jobs for his expertise are in the corporate and television sector. "I want to work hard in [these] areas and learn as much as I can and eventually make my transition into film. … For now, it’s great that I get to do what I love. … many people don’t realize how much work really goes into producing a show. But I love it”.