Beyond the Camera with Filmmaker Grace | Cowork7/24 Blog
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Beyond the Camera with Filmmaker Grace

May 11, 2018
Filmmaking as a digital nomad

Grace O Donnell is a filmmaker from Ireland. Filmmaking may not be one of the digital nomad jobs we everyday witness, but there is indeed very successful examples, and Grace’s is one of them.

She studied Psychology at Edinburgh University and worked in marketing for four years. After quitting her job twice to solo backpack around Africa and South East Asia, she met her partner Mike. Until this point, she lacked the information and confidence to realize work and travelling could be compatible, and take that leap of faith into Digital Nomad life. Seeing that it was possible, she packed her life into a bag and took off across South East Asia once more. After another six months away, she’s returned to her family home to do some ‘life admin’ and take advantage of an incredible opportunity to work within the British film industry. She kindly took the time to talk to us about travel, time management and the integral role that coworking spaces play in her success.

What kind of work do you do? What are your sidelines, money makers and passions?

“I do some remote marketing, making promotional videos for organisations and freelance film work.
Although I enjoy all of the creative work I do, filmmaking is my passion. For instance, the opportunity to work on a big budget studio film was one I couldn’t pass up, even if it meant long hours and spending a bit of time in one place. Gaining experience in the British film industry has been a goal for some time as it’s one of the best in the world.”

Grace, like many nomadic workers, is certainly a hustler. Not only have coworking spaces helped her to form a group of colleagues and friends, but also to get work and improve upon her mental health. She says without them she would struggle on the road.

When you’re away from the familiar it can be difficult to find people you connect with. Especially when culture and customs are so different in places like Asia. How do you tend to cope with this?

“Cafes are useless for me; they’re so noisy I just can’t get work done. Alone is fine but it gets lonely, I can’t do it day in day out. So for me, a good co working space is everything. It means friends, work, routine – all the things that make life worth living.”

When do you tend to use them?

“Unless I’m actually on set, then I’ll always be editing, copywriting, hustling or learning. I use co working spaces whenever I can and if I can’t access a good co working space then it definitely has a significant negative impact on my well being. I’ve even made a film about a co-working space.”

“My favourite was probably in Penang Malaysia. It cultivated a great sense of community, had an amazing building, was super beautiful and in a wonderful location looking out over the sea.”

What’s something you wish more spaces would do/provide you with?

“One thing that a co-working space did was give one free day a month. I wish this was the case at more spaces; membership fees can be off-putting but a free trial gives you the chance to see what they offer and more importantly, whether the vibe suits you”

Filmmaking as a digital nomad

What’s your best memory in a coworking space?

“At one I visited, they held a free event in which you could visit and make videos with Youtube stars – that was super fun. Personally I think events like that draw in more visitors. It certainly worked for me; anything that promoted increased social interaction at a coworking space is more likely to make me visit it.” (As a side note, coworking spaces might just be the perfect places to find digital nomad jobs)

So you prefer being around other creative people. How does that influence your work?

“I’ve been quite lucky because it’s always been quite collaborative. We tend to find each other jobs, work on projects together, discuss solutions for common issues we all have. Motivation, health, travel plans, client relations… it’s super symbiotic.”

We hit upon a prevalent issue amongst Digital Nomads, it seems that motivation is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for people who strive to live a nomadic lifestyle. Grace thinks that routine is the key.

Do you have any projects which aren’t guided by deadlines?

“Yes. They’re generally film projects I’m working on for myself. For instance, at the moment I’m working on an all female comedy heist movie. It can be really tough to get motivated on projects which a long term, or won’t immediately make you any money, but for me it’s al about creating routines! For example, Thursday evening is set aside for learning. Going to a co-working space every day also helps build a sense of routine.”

So what do you ‘learn’?

“It varies; I just try to always set aside that time to learn something new or further my skills. Some different aspect of filmmaking, for instance color grading, story telling, or digital marketing techniques. These are not so common skills to get typical digital nomad jobs, but are necessary for a filmmaker. That’s not the only dedicated time I set; exercise, meditation, fun, relaxation are also key. Social media, hustling for work and then actually working obviously… Even keeping in touch with family and friends. I have to build in a slot for everything or I’ll miss something out!”

She is back in Oxford for the time being, at the time this article was written, but as with all of us bitten by the travel bug, can’t wait to get going again! After she’s finished with her work in the U.K. she’ll be heading back to Asia. This time to Hong Kong and Taiwan where she’ll be reuniting with Mike. In the meantime you can check out her work at


Are you looking for digital nomad jobs? Here’s two other articles that you may find useful: Where To Find Your First Big Freelance Client and Freelance Writing Jobs: 9 Free Sites To Find Them!

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