A Week in the Life Of… Tobias Willis

Tobias Willis is a creative powerhouse, having forged a career in music as a filmmaker and now runs his own studio in Melbourne, KEWL. He has had the chance to work directly with Australian artists like Jess Ribeiro, Jen Cloher, Kirin J Callinan, Sui Zhen, Client Liaison, KLLO, Courtney Barnett, Totally Mild and Broadway Sounds. Willis has produced video content for many independent labels including Chapter Music, Milk! Records and Remote Control Records. Did we mention he is the mastermind behind the video for Client Liason’s ‘Off White Limousine’ (and that he was nominated for an ARIA for his efforts)?. Outside of working directly with artists, Tobias covers music festivals, events and recently toured with Laneway 2018 to produce all of their video content.

Tobias Willis & KEWL have been working closely with the local music community to release a feature length documentary called ‘Now Sound: Melbourne’s Listening’. Produced by Marcus Rimondini & shot over two years, ‘Now Sound’ is guided by a variety of culturally relevant artists, and will premiere as an official selection into the Melbourne International Film Festival on August 10.

Ready for some industry wisdom? Then read on for Tobias Willis’ Week in the Life Of…

A job description in your own words

Founder of KEWL, a content production studio based out of Clifton Hill – Melbourne, with a sharp focus on creative direction. Conceptualising, producing & directing films. As a production company KEWL is working towards making more developments in the music film space as well as producing more long-form original content.

A brief daily journal over a week

Every week is different. We work on such a variety of projects at KEWL, it’s hard to find regular patterns. In a weird way, it has almost become routine in itself. “I wonder what will happen today” is a regularly spoken phrase for our studio. I also share a studio space with Banalarama and we often collaborate on content and projects.

Some projects we’ve worked on over the week have included the video coverage content for CHANGES, and Client Liaison’s video campaign for the inaugural ‘Expo Liaison’. We have turned over a lot of concepts and ideas for the Expo, and have been working full-time generating unique video assets to fit their aesthetic.

Most of our attention & energy has been poured into our music documentary NOW SOUND, it has been a mammoth effort getting that film finished and ready for screens. I’m in contact with Marcus Rimondini (producer) every second of the day. We are organising a run of screenings (hopefully Australia-wide) and figuring out an online release platform. We have been collaborating with the team at Bolster on the marketing campaign and strategy for this film which has been a lot of fun.

There is also an abundance of admin and paperwork that comes with running a business which is boring, but such a thing that requires a fair bit of time during the week.

Challenges and accomplishments in your week

Getting all of the promotional material ready for the film’s release has been challenging.

We are super happy with all the creative assets produced for our film and we have managed to see through an incredibly complex and large-scale production. It’s a small team and almost entirely self-funded at this point. Keeping track of all the different threads and projects happening at the moment takes a lot of mental space.

Highlights of the week (pros of the job)

Having our film Now Sound: Melbourne’s Listening announced to premiere at MIFF was such a beautiful moment. It has been a long time goal/dream to screen at that festival. It holds a special place as it’s our hometown and it’s nice to be recognised as part of a larger community of excellent makers. We are so pleased to share some of the vibrancy and tribulations that comes with being part of the independent music scene in Melbourne. It’s an exciting industry to be a part of and there are some really wonderful people doing great things.

Lowlights of the week (cons of the job)

Emails…so many emails…keep em coming though, they result in magic.

Words of wisdom for people considering a job in your field

Lead by example, be compassionate. Try not to envy others in your field. Cultivate creativity through encouragement and collaboration. Look into what it takes to run a business, even as a freelancer you are a business. These skills can be learned as you go but it can be stressful at times, especially if you don’t understand the jargon. Also, business is long game, focus on what’s in front of you but it’s good to think about it all feeding into a sustainable career.

 

Are you as impressed as we are right now? You can check out the trailer for Now Sound: Melbourne’s Listening below.

You can also dive into past industry wisdom through the WITLO archives or check out the how-to’s of music design and marketing with our handy-dandy courses!

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