Smith “Smitty” Etienne: Directing and Editing Came to Me, and I Fell in Love with It.

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By Khainna Sejour and Jean Alfred Delva

Smitty, what’s your real name? And why did you choose to pursue a career as a director and video editor?

My real name is Smith Etienne. Growing up, I was in a house full of talented people. My brothers use to make home movies and my dad use to sell cameras, so I pretty much grew up in that type of environment. Therefore, I started making home videos, and I started getting into it more. I also started teaching myself how to edit and direct.

Trillion Productions. A powerful company name. What does it mean to you?

Trillion is a really big number, and when people choose Trillion for a project they receive unlimited creativity and unlimited attention. We make sure our clients are always satisfied. So that’s what the name trillion implies –unlimited potential. 

How would you describe yourself as a director and video editor?

I don’t like to follow the rules. I like to try new things. I love to take risks, am not scared of doing something people don’t like. Sometimes I don’t even care if people are going to accept it or not. I just want to give something new. Most of the time, [people] don’t know what they want until you present it to them.

I would describe myself as a rebel, a risk-taker.

What do you like most about being a director and video editor?

I like the freedom to create and bring things to life. Nothing can beat that moment, the feeling you get when you see something come to life. That’s what I really enjoy about being a director.

What’s the most rewarding and difficult part of your job?

The most rewarding part is being able to satisfy my clients and seeing that smile on their face when they see the final product. The most difficult part is constantly coming up with new ideas, new styles, new trends and adapting to new things on a daily basis. But I handle it all pretty well.

What motivates you to continue this work?

My family keeps me going. I wake up every day, work long hours, and I know they have my back. Also, the passion that I love I what I do.

How do you react to criticism about your work?

I like it when others criticize my work. After I finish any project, I call my brothers and some close friends to tell me what needs to be improved.

What are your career goals?

I want to be international, I want to work with different cultures all over the world, produce movies, and TV shows. Though I’ve already started working with people from India, Europe, Africa, I want to be global.

Do you work well under pressure?

I put myself in a position where the pressure can be very high, but it brings the best out of me. So I work pretty well under pressure, just like LeBron James.

Can you briefly describe for the readers your directing and video editing workflow?

My directing workflow is to get to know the clients, and the products. From there, I get an idea on how to communicate with them. Therefore when I get on set, everyone can be comfortable. They can also have input into what we’re doing. For video editing, it’s a long process, but as long as I have everything organized, then I am all set.

What advice would you give an upcoming videographer?

To all of my upcoming videographers, please do not give up. It is a very long process, but don’t give up. You have to get out there and get known. Be proud of your work, and share it with others. Let your voice be heard, don’t give up, and keep going.