Your People | Caroline J. Phillips
From creating stunning slice of life, docu-style photos and video for businesses to producing effortlessly epic BTS content, Caroline J. Phillips is queen of capturing candid moments. She’s also a major advocate for women in film and loves our fave, ASP. We’ve been Team Caroline for a hot minute.
Pretty Thing: Caroline, tell everyone who you are and how to made the leap to freelance and creating Riverine Creative.
Caroline J. Phillips: After majoring in Film and Media Arts at Messiah College, I quickly found myself in a variety of jobs. I had gone down to Charleston, SC to pursue an internship at a magazine and work as a photo editor at a wedding photography company, thinking that I wanted to settle in the Charleston area for a while.
Realizing that I had no connections there and film wasn't a huge part of the town, I moved back to my hometown on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where a new video production company had been started. I joined on as a producer/assistant and learned a lot about brand films and commercial work.
About a year later, the company had moved to Delaware and I went to work for a local photographer as her assistant. I learned a lot about managing clients and producing work for local businesses. So in 2016, I went out on my own and starting freelancing. It was something I didn't think I ever wanted because I am a person who needs structure, but it turned out to be the greatest decision for me.
I work with a variety of local clients to produce videos for their events, social media, and websites. The content that I produce is more of a documentary-approach which is what really inspires me. In addition to making video content, I am also a photographer for some local magazines. These stories take me all over the Eastern Shore of Maryland (and Delaware) and I get to meet so many interesting people and see many awesome things. Now that I'm almost 3 years into freelancing, I've got some amazing clients that I get to work with on a weekly and yearly basis.
That’s quite the path! Where are you at now with Riverine Creative. Any specific goals are you working at the moment?
At the end of the day, my goal is to tell great stories. Right now, I love telling the local stories that have surrounded me my whole life. Lately, my goals have been changing and I'm realizing them as they are happening. I'm finding new goals that I didn't realize I had as a kid and I'm able to work on them now, which is amazing.
“I THINK THE BIGGEST PIECE OF ADVICE I WOULD GIVE IS - DON’T BE ANNOYING AND BE NICE TO EVERYONE. ”
— CAROLINE J. PHILLIPS
As a creative, what would you say is your specialty?
I make content for local business and brands. I take a simple approach to filming and editing, essentially creating mini-documentaries. I focus on the story and make sure it's told in the most effective way. My photos are done in a similar way and I try to make it as accurate of a portrayal as possible.
Any challenges and advice you might have for other women on a similar path, particularly those not in a major city?
My biggest challenge is my location. It is also my biggest asset. I don't have a lot of competition, but that means I don't have a big creative community around me either. I work in a small, rural community that doesn't always understand what I do and why it's important to have high-quality content, but I've been lucky to work with clients that I trust, and they trust me in the creative process. A lot of my clients come to me with their ideas and I am responsible for carrying it out.
If you are looking to start working in freelance video or photography, I would recommend getting involved in your community. That can even mean just going into the local coffee shop and making friends with the baristas. You never know who will need your expertise. Most of my jobs have come from word of mouth or just from someone that I keep running into in town. Follow those people that inspire you and make sure you make yourself known to them.
I think the biggest piece of advice I would give is - don't be annoying and be nice to everyone. I might not be the latest and greatest videographer or photographer, but if you are someone that people like to work with, then you will be the person they go to for their jobs. Trust me.
What’s your opinion on the overall situation of women in the freelancer filmmaker space?
I have been a big advocate for women in film since my days in college when I realized that it was rare for women to be in larger filmmaking roles. Today, as a local filmmaker, I do everything - filming, directing, editing, etc. I think sometimes women aren't taken as seriously in the technical aspects of filmmaking. People always quiz me on my camera and double check that I "know what I'm doing."
What I have found to be helpful is representation. When I see a woman as a cinematographer, killing it, I am assured that I can do it. It shows me that it's not so crazy for a woman to be holding a large camera on her shoulder, and it encourages others to pursue that path. So I think representation is one of the best ways to show others that women have a rightful place in filmmaking.
Any female-identifying artist are you totally obsessed with right now?
Amy Sherman-Palladino. I was obsessed with Gilmore Girls as a teen (and to this day) and when I watched the DVD extras of the GG DVD's and found out that ASP was behind this creative show, I realized that I wanted to be just like her. I wanted to be in film/tv and create. To this day, as she makes The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, I am blown away with the worlds that she is able to create. It's so inspiring.
Also, Reed Morano. I have been inspired by Reed for many years now. I love all of her work and I hope to be as badass as her someday.
We stan ASP. Okay, last one. Serious q: Team Dean or Team Jess?
Ahhh! Such a good question. Team Jess. Especially after the revival episodes. I could write an entire essay about it however.