Filmmaker and history graduate Dominic Sutherland founded his own video business after honing his skills with the BBC History Unit.
|Year of graduation||1996|
Your time at the University
Attending a university where there wasn’t the temptation to return home to London at the weekend was a key consideration. I wanted to discover another city and commit to it. I was drawn by the reputation of the University, the beauty and compactness of the city and the prospect of deferring decisions about a career for four years rather than three.
I enjoyed the study, but above all I relished student life and Edinburgh’s many offerings – the comedy clubs, concerts, a chance to learn golf, league football, a walk to rugby at Murrayfield, quick access to the countryside, beaches in the summer, late dinners, midnight pubbing, club nights at Pure, friendships…My regret was never being in town for the Fringe festival, when our flat was rented out for much more than students could afford.
Your experiences since leaving the University
After graduating I was soon offered a place in the BBC History Unit. I specialised in series about World War II including the Special Operations Executive (SOE), the Battle of the Atlantic and a landmark series on the Holocaust – “Auschwitz, the Nazis & the ‘Final Solution’”. I particularly enjoyed finding and interviewing historical witnesses, from female agents of the SOE, to U-boat commanders and even perpetrators of the ‘Final Solution’. We secured interviews with two Nazis who went on the record – a TV first – describing their involvement in mass murder, one as a member of the Einsatzgruppen in the East and the other as an SS accountant at Auschwitz.
I specialised in series about World War II including the Special Operations Executive, the Battle of the Atlantic and a landmark series on the Holocaust...
I felt that skills honed at university - quickly digesting information and ideas from numerous historical sources and crafting a narrative - stood me in good stead as a filmmaker.
In 2008 I left the BBC to set up my own video business with the goal of bringing broadcast values to a nascent online video sector. Our luck was that we entered a rapidly expanding market when camera equipment was becoming cheaper and disruptors were making it possible for everyone to become an online broadcaster. Our company’s first job was to create 8,500 jobs for Yellow Pages in just 6 months.
Since then we’ve worked with major corporations and brands including Bloomberg, the National Gallery, the RSC, the World Bank, the V&A, Mondelez, Bupa, Jaguar and John Lewis. Whatever the content, video production requires curiosity, creativity and storytelling skills. For me these were the same sensibilities that were fostered when I studied for a history degree at the University of Edinburgh.
The long summer breaks are a valuable time to not only travel and get paid work, but to get work experience in areas you think could be a career option. It means you can enter the job market with a narrower focus and a bit more clarity.
Also, get up to the Highlands!
NextShoot (external link)
Dominic Sutherland on LinkedIn (external link)