From Bossy to Boss Lady: The Story of a Professional Storyteller
I guess you could say I’ve been a producer my entire life. When I wanted something done, I did whatever it took to make it happen. I love rules and organization and being in charge. When I was six, I petitioned my small town council to install a sidewalk through a field I took to get to the store. I didn’t get a sidewalk but they mowed me a path for 10 years. Little did I know it would lead to a career where someone paid me to be the bossy one. I call it leadership skills.
I also had the good fortune of coming into my career during the dawn of digital content. No one knew what to do but everyone quickly figured out they needed an online presence to establish their brand. Technology moved from analog to digital seemingly overnight. I still maintain that I invented the word ‘Vlog’ but that’s a story for another time…
Nowadays I’m an established commercial and branded content producer rooted in the outdoor industry. If you are a jacket maker/tent designer/shoe dog—I’m here to help tell your story. That’s what matters most to me—the story—in its most honest form. While I am the budget boss lady, the logistical guru, and the miracle maker—I consider myself a storyteller above all else.
With clients like The North Face, National Geographic, and Red Bull Media House, among others, I’ve dispatched cutting edge teams to the most remote locations in the world. Antarctica? Check. Arctic Circle? Check. Mt. Everest? Check. I specialize in a type of production that focuses on a light and fast approach with a specialized group of professionals who are capable of achieving Hollywood level production quality in half the time, for half the money and hassle. Has anyone seen FreeSolo? No? Well you should. It won an Oscar for best documentary in 2019.
At the root of every story I tell is the human condition. Regardless of the objective, the logistics, the statistics or the goal—a human powered endeavor is the strongest and most compelling type of story. Who doesn’t know struggle? We all have demons. We all have unknowns. We all have succeeded, or more often, failed. The will of a human is unmatched. I thrive in bringing those stories to life.
Don’t let anyone tell you this isn’t the best job in the world. I have the opportunity to travel and meet an astounding variety of people. I have friends all over the world. I’ve seen some of the most impressive human achievements unfold in real time. But most importantly—everyone we work with is given a voice.
Don’t get me wrong, we work 18+ hour days and I’ve completed ridiculous tasks in the name of getting things done. You absolutely have to work your ass off. I’ve done everything from lugging a pile of traffic cones through a cornfield (not fun by the way) to interviewing a professional skydiver who is the only one capable of filming an all-terrain tire as it falls from the sky but doesn’t really like to talk on the phone in case the government is listening. I’ve negotiated with Myanmar border patrol and worked with the Katmandu police force. Sometimes I feel like my brain will explode. But we are all committed to the story and doing whatever it takes to tell it.
Admittedly, the root of all my (client focused) work is in sales numbers, but I take a lot of pride in knowing we are empowering a variety of people, cultures, places and messages to make a mark on the world and be heard.
There is a way to work in advertising without selling your soul. Find brands that align with your personal ethics and attitude. Encourage them to explore the foundation of their brand—their consumers. Tell those stories. Fight for space to showcase failure alongside success. But most importantly, be honest. Tell the truth. Branded content is not a bunch of influencers with selfie sticks and photoshop. Reclaim that branch of storytelling and stay true to who you and your protagonist are. There are so many people out there. We all have something to say. Seek us out and be proud of what you’re able to do. After all—this is the best job in the world.
Without the support and mentorship I received at YCP, I’m not sure I would be where I am today. I advocate fully for the benefit of smaller schools where you aren’t just a number. My professors took great care in ensuring I succeeded and, without them, I wouldn’t have graduated or had the confidence to pursue what I love most in the world. I fully dedicate my success to Professors Lowell Briggs, Brian Furio, Bob Mott and Tom Hall. We are not who we want to be when we’re 22. Maybe some of you are, but most of us aren’t. Take full advantage of whatever tools you have available and hang in there—the best is yet to come.
—Aimee Tetreault '07
B.A. Mass Communications
Commercial & Branded Content Producer