Torrin Holland is a professional video producer at Laureus, a major sporting brand that hosts a major, annual international sports awards event. In 2020, the awards took place in Berlin. This interview was recorded a few weeks before the big day, in January 2020.
Prior to working at Laureus, Torrin was a video producer at Sony, creating video content for their online channels for Europe – including for YouTube.
In this short excerpt from our longer interview, hosted by Southpoint Films’ Managing Director Rowan Johnson, Torrin shares some insight into the reality of being a “corporate” video producer, creating branded content for a business or organisation. Torrin touches on the realities of travel, dealing with online feedback, working with celebrities and more.
The transcript for this video has been edited lightly for clarity in written form.
Piicking up of the fact you said that you do a lot of interviews and you do research. Obviously you do work with some quite well-known people from time to time.
You can say that.
Yeah, I mean you work with celebrities and that’s really cool. Particularly, notable people in the sporting world, of course. What’s that experience like for you?
Do you find that you’re the sort of person that kind clams up and you’re like “ooo, that’s that person” or are you quite like “okay, no, I’m just here to do the job”, blinkers on, let’s just get it done?
I have to admit like some of the people I meet I do like get a little bit fanboy-ish. For example, last year at the awards in Monaco, I was filming with ex F1 driver David Coulthard.
Now what he does on TV and what they do in F1, is they usually have a grid walk where they go down and they interview the drivers. It’s kind of run-and-gun. It can be somewhat funny – there’s no script or anything like that.
We did that in a media horseshoe with David and we got him interrupting everybody, you know pretty much, asking questions – whether it be interrupting Boris Becker in front of German media, which was hilarious – because he’s surrounded by all this media. And then David just goes in going “can I get a quick word?”
So I was a bit fanboy-ish then because there’s certain people I’ve watched growing up and I’ve admired, and they’re lovely people when you meet them. But that quickly has to disappear because there’s a time and a place to be a fanboy, and to ask those questions and to get to know them.
But some of the times we’ve got a tight schedule. We have to film. We have to be in, be out. We have to be professional.
So yeah, it’s a mixture of the two and just making sure that you’re professional when you have to be, and you’re friendly and a fan when you have that time.
Yes, of course. And on that – because you are working with these big people sometimes, and also the fact that it is a big brand, and also particularly like when you were at Sony – again, big brand that you’re working with…
How do you feel about the fact that you are making videos for these big companies? And particularly, that your work is going to be seen by often quite a lot of people?
Ah well, you know what? I generally don’t think about it too much.
The reason is that, for me, I’m doing a job, you know? I like my job. I like filming people. It relaxes me.
It’s every now and then when I think about it, I’m like “God, if you asked me 10 years ago, I’d be doing this” – or 20 years ago or whatnot – I probably would have laughed in your face.
I got that when I was at Sony because obviously my generation grew up with the Playstation stuff. And I was like “damn” this is right here.
Hey, you made it. I know everyone we know was jealous. They were like, “How did Torrin…? That jammy guy…”
And now I’m working with sport stars that I watched on TV growing up, that I cheered on – or I didn’t cheer on in some cases.
You don’t tell them that though, I guess? “Oh I was really rooting against you back then.”
Sometimes I’m in awe and I don’t know how I got here, if you get what I mean. I just applied, you know. I never gave up, I just applied for a job, and… Yeah, I got it.
It’s just slightly strange when you think about it. Sometimes I still think I’m lucky but other times I’m like “I worked very hard to get here.”
Yeah, I’d agree with that – as someone who knows you very well. I would say that you’ve worked very very hard.
But I try not let that cloud my judgment too much because, at the end of the day, I’m here to make content that people can watch and enjoy.
I don’t really look too much at the numbers because social media is crazy. There have been times where I’ve had a video go into the millions. So I suppose you can call it viral but there are very specific reasons why they do that.
And when that happens – when you get one that is really successful do you read the comments? Do you actually look at like “what are people saying about this?”
Because I’ve had that similar experience because I used to do the car reviews for Life On Unleaded and some of those –
I liked those.
They were good, yeah. And so I used to do those, and some of those got a million views. And I would have read every single comment. And I know that Louis, the presenter, did as well. We would send them to each other and be like “wow, this person’s been like really nice about this.”
So yeah, do you find that you do that as well?
It’s always nice to have good comments but I generally don’t look at the comments too much because everyone has an opinion on something. Whether or not it’s valid or not is up in the air but, you know. It depends on the video.
The specific video I’m thinking of that got over a million was a a tribute video. It was a very difficult video to edit because it was based on Niki Lauda, who died. And I was making the video on the day that he died because we had to quickly turn something out. Because he had an award, it was newsworthy stuff.
It’s kind of horrible when you think of it like that but, as an F1 enthusiast, it was kind of like my tribute as well to him. Like I put a lot of effort into it – a lot of time – and It was the most difficult video I’ve edited because you know exactly what it’s all about.
It’s like – someone died, you’re making a video, and you feel sad doing it.
But it got well over a million or so views on every platform simply because of the world coming together.
At that point I look at the comments because, I want to see…
I generally see the love for this one person and I feel like I’m in union with them, if you get what I mean.
Yeah, I guess specifically in that situation – I mean that’s quite a – you were a fan of the person that you were making this tribute for. That’s quite a vulnerable thing to do. To put that out there and have it be seen by lots of people. Because, as you said, that’s your tribute as well. I imagine that was quite a tough one in a way.
But what a cool thing to do and to have the voice to to be able to make something like that.
I also didn’t care too much about the views on that one, because it looked great on a report, but there’s almost all the views for all the wrong reasons, if you get what I mean. Like you don’t want to have to get the views because you’ve made a video that’s a heartwarming tribute.
It’s difficult to explain. More views generally means success but you wish you could have done it another way, you know.
Generally I don’t look at the comments unless it’s a very specific video that is dear to me.
That’s very sweet. That was quite heartwarming…
So on the flip side of that, obviously you travel a lot with what you do – going to all these cool places. How’s that? How is that for you? Do you enjoy that?
It’s kind of a love-hate relationship.
I did a count towards the end of December last year on how many places I’ve been to in one year compared to how many places I’ve been to in, like, 10 years. And I surpassed it.
And I was like really like happy because, again, I never thought I’d be able to do that. But behind all the glitz and glamour – I’ve gone to Japan, I’ve gone to France or Berlin or Germany or anything like that – those days are hard days.
Not a lot of sleep usually. Usually working when jet-lagged. Behind the glitz and the glamour of just saying I’m going somewhere, there are the hard sometimes 15 to 18 hour days.
So it’s not all sunshine and roses.
I know that feeling – I say as I’m sat here in London, having had like the most horrendous journey to get here with lots of disruption, and it’s a long day and I won’t be home until after midnight.
Yeah, I feel you. But it makes for a great career right?
Oh yeah, I got to visit a lot of places. I always enjoy going back to Japan, even though the last two times I’ve been there I barely got to see anything of the country.
I had an afternoon once and I was so tired I woke up at 2PM, walked for about half an hour, got a coffee, sat in a park and was like “yeah this is nice.” Then walked back to the hotel and went back to bed.
The only thing that gives away that you’re in a different country are different plugs. That’s just how it goes sometimes isn’t it?
But I’m conscious I’ve had your time for quite a while now. I really appreciate you giving it to me.
So to wrap up, obviously the big project that you’re working on at the moment is the sport awards.
How’s that feeling? Is it good? You looking forward to it?
I mean it’s just under two weeks away. You know, like with most things, you plan for a big event, you feel like there’s so much still to go.
Generally this year it feels a lot more relaxed. I feel like I know what I’m gonna do during the awards. I know pretty much how it’s all going to go. It’s just making sure that we get there.
We’ve got a lot of support, a lot of people that are coming in to help. So in theory, it should go reasonably well.
That’s not to to say it’s gonna be any less stressful. It’s just how we deal with that stress.
But yeah, I’m in Berlin, which is where this year’s awards are. Depending on when you see this, you might know who’s won or might not.
I’m out there for a week, and yeah, it should be great fun. A week of like ten days of actual working back to back.
I said about the glitz and the glamour, you know. I’m out there for a week but I’m working everyday. So, no break.
It’s how it goes, but you are at like one of the biggest sports awards in the world? Must be one of the biggest?
We consider ourselves the “Oscars” of sports.
So you get to be at that and be part of making that happen – that’s really really cool.
Torrin, have you got anything that you want to promote? I’ve taken your time and your attention for a long time and I feel like it’s only fair to offer you a chance to reach all five of my listeners and viewers.
Well I just want to say thank you to those five listeners and viewers. It’s difficult to say any advice or anything like as it’s all very specific to a situation but yeah.
Just make sure that when you’re creating video you’re doing it for the right reasons, not just because you can create a video. And that you’ve thought it out a lot more properly. Success is all done in the pre-production.
I completely agree with that.
You don’t want to promote your YouTube channel that you’re working on?
Er, no – because I’m not sure if it will come out or not.
I’m excited to see it.
You’re excited to see me go around my fake virtual reality talking about nonsense?
This sounds brilliant. I don’t see why you don’t want to tell everyone about this.
Because it might not be out by the time.
Well okay, we’ll do a follow-up at some point talking about it. When you’re on YouTube and you suddenly – like in a year’s time – when you’ve left Laureus because you’ve become a full-time YouTuber, we’ll do a follow-up.
You know, I’ve often joked to the people in the office that by the end of the year I’m looking to go from Laureus employee to Laureus influencer.
Well yeah, could happen.
But, no. We’ll see if that happens or not. In terms of actually me doing anything, it’s very difficult putting yourself out there as an individual. And that’s something that I suppose we haven’t even mentioned – is that I’m autistic. It’s even more doubly difficult to do that in front of complete strangers.
I have so much respect for you. I mean not like, just in general, but the fact you’ve done so well and in many ways faced the odds and have been really successful.
But I could end up crying. We’ll end up having a hug. Let’s take this off camera.
But thank you so much for your time Torrin.
Thank you for having me.
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