Overcoming my fear of being in front of the camera

Why I don't like to be in front of the camera and which fears are holding me back.

The beginning of a year is always a period of self-reflection for me. You’re forced to sit inside, as it’s too cold outside. The heating’s up, lights on and there is no pressure to do anything. During these slower periods, I tend to have more time to think. New ideas start forming in my head. I usually start doing them right away, but then they fade when spring is almost near.

There is one thing however, that returns year after year: what would it be like to sit in front of the camera?

I’m always behind the camera

In my daily life, I am always behind the camera. As founder of Startmotion I’ve been behind the camera for almost 8 years now, hundreds of times. Probably a lot more.

I’ve learnt how to work with cameras. Which ones to use for what purpose. I know most of the settings, even of bigger production cameras. I’ve learnt how to write scripts, capture content, make good frames and how to set up nice lightning.

But never have I been comfortable in front of a camera.

And it kind of bugs me. I know the world behind the scenes, but don’t know the in front of the scenes. Or in the scenes? On the scene?

Every year, I can’t help myself but wonder: what is the world like in front of the camera? What does it feel like to be seen by others, vulnerable? Subject to all kinds of remarks?

Fear #1: I don’t do well on camera

Experience 1: I was once invited by OP12 (a local teen TV channel) to take part in a panel about the future of media. As I arrived on the set (which was kind of intimidating) my stomach started to grump. My stomach does this every time I have stress, and it’s quite loud.

We got lavelier microphones (the kind of microphones that get attached to your body) and started the conversation.

The recording came to an end and I felt wildly uncomfortable. Turns out my stomach was so loud that they couldn’t use any clip of me. Which, in turn, made the entire conversation unusable.

Experience 2: Through the city of Antwerp, my home, I was invited to come speak at a press conference of Philippe Muyters about a new kind of initiative in support of student-entrepreneurs. I did my talk, and for some reason every news outlet wanted to ask questions. So I said yes again.

Watched myself on the news a few hours later. Turns out that when I speak, I frown my eyebrows harder than I thought was physically possible. And it looked ridiculous. I still can’t watch that clip now.

Experience 3: Then came Telenet, a telecom operator. They asked me to be part of a campaign about 20 young ‘digital’ experts of 20 years old. And of course, I said yes. Turned up at the ad shoot and provided a photo for the website. I was all the way in the back of the opening shot. And in the most clumsy way ever, I raised my hand while holding my orange-wrapped Android phone, a few seconds after the entire group had done so.

Looked totally ridiculous.

Fear #2: Coming across as 23- year old imposter without experience

Another big reason why I don’t like being in front of the camera is because I always have the feeling that I don’t have enough experience to tell anyone what do to. Even though have a degree in advertising read tons of books, and have been running my business starting from the day I became 18 (15 actually, but that’s another story).

I keep telling myself that people will judge me, won’t like me and will write me off as an overly-ambitious youngster. Even though I might have to give them that last argument.

This one is particularly difficult to get over. What do I know? Do I know enough to deserve a voice? I do know a thing or two about film & video production, but won’t pretend to be the world-renowned expert. Well, then maybe I should leave it up to the people who are?

Fear #3: Making something that isn’t perfect

I don’t know if you have every produced a high-level brand film, but when you have, you must know that it takes forever to prepare. You have to take into account the most tiny, insignificant details. Like, how is this light ray going to pave its way through the air? Is it going to bounce anywhere? And what about the sound? Are we even on time? What, the client is here already?

Producing a YouTube-video is much different. I could spend a lot of time on perfecting the image, but quite frankly, I don’t have a lot of time for that. I just want to tell stories. Are people going to notice? Will they see those tiny mistakes and rule out any possible partnership with me in the future?

I’ve learnt to let go of my perfectionist tendency over the years. But still, I wouldn’t want to create anything that I can’t support 100%.

So now you know my fears

For all the reasons stated above, I am not yet in front of the camera. But I am planning to change that. And I’m quite curious to see where it takes me.

I’ve always been inspired by YouTubers such as PewDiePie, Peter McKinnon, Linus Tech Tips, MKBHD, Yes Theory (and many, many more).

I have no plans for a regular schedule as I don’t want to put out stories for the sake of content. All I want is to overcome these fears.

But what it feels like to be in front of the camera? I can only share once I’ve done it.