Cool Jobs @Manulife: Videographer Dave Faxon talks moviemaking, Boston Marathon, and more

Did you know John Hancock has a team of five videographers? This month, we spoke to Dave Faxon, who is part of that Boston-based crew. He talked about all the incredible things he gets to do every day – and why his is truly a Cool Job.

 

Q: What’s your job in a nutshell?

A: My job isn’t typical 9 to 5 – it’s one where every day is a totally different experience. I do shot lists, storyboards, shoot photos and videos, produce, direct and edit footage for business units across John Hancock. One day I’ll be travelling around the country filming interviews for awards ceremonies, another I’ll be covering a national sales meeting, or sitting on the back of a truck, filming the lead runners at the Boston Marathon.

 

Q: Why did you choose this career?

A: I’ve been making movies since I was eight. I would direct my four siblings in all kinds of scenarios, and film them with our family’s video camera. Just before I applied to film school, I found an old tape. It had my brother pretending to fly a military plane, yelling orders into a headset. It cut to the rest of my siblings wearing camo and acting out a war scene. For a moment, I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t in the video, then I heard a kid’s voice yelling “action!” and “cut!” It was me. Little did I know, I was already a filmmaker. Watching that video, I knew film school was the right career path.

 

Q: What do you love about what you do?

A: Putting the images in my head onto a screen. My thoughts often take the form of a film – it’s how I see the world. So making that come alive is very satisfying. But the thing I love most about my job (which is, ironically, the most nerve-wracking part of it) is seeing people react to my work, watching their faces as they look at something I’ve made. There’s always the chance they won’t like it, which is what makes it fun and stressful at the same time.

 

Q: Your first year filming the Boston Marathon was 2013 – the year of the attack. What was that like for you?

A: I was right at the finish line, filming thousands of runners as they came across. It was incredible. People were crying, throwing up, stumbling, even crawling as they crossed – I even saw some couples get engaged. I remember thinking “I can’t believe I get to do this and it’s considered work!”

At one point, my camera warned me that my SD card was almost full. I ignored the message for about 10 minutes until I couldn’t take any more shots. I finally walked over to my camera bag, about 50 feet away. And that’s when the first bomb went off. At first, I thought it might be a celebration cannon or something. But when the second blast hit, I knew it was an attack. And I realized that if I had changed my card when I got the initial warning, I would have been back in my original spot, in direct line of the blast.

As I ran, my first thought was to call my dad, a 30-year full-bird Colonel in the Marine Corps. I got through, which was incredible because the lines were shut down almost immediately. I’ve never heard his voice get so intense. He was the only person I was able to reach – but at least my family knew I was okay.

Unlike some people, I walked away completely unharmed. And the next year, I was right there at the finish line again. Sure I was nervous, but I couldn’t let that stop me. I live in Boston, and we all know how Boston reacted to the attack – it wasn’t by putting our tails between our legs. So I’ve kept doing my job, and have had the chance to see two more Marathons – and I can’t wait to be a part of many more here at John Hancock!