Jessica Semple

All Showreels

“I’m Jess. I worked in finance for three years straight out of Matric, but in 2017 I began exploring the medium of video, something I had been fascinated by since childhood. My wonderful parents provided me with the opportunity to study cinematography at Orms CTSP in 2018. I never expected to have the chance to get a tertiary education, so I threw myself into the course with all the gusto I possess.

I have flourished as a creative and a human at Orms CTSP. While I am specialising as a colourist, I am also passionate about all areas of filmmaking and content creation. I love researching and writing and nailing my projects in preproduction. In my opinion, there’s few things better than being on set with a collection of enthusiastic creatives and making something awesome. You can catch me on my YouTube channel where I make videos about visual literacy. ”

View her videos produced during this year, along with her year-end interview below:


When you started the programme what genre of video media were you interested in and has this shifted over the course of the year?

I came to the course thinking I could perhaps use it as a diving board to get into indie filmmaking. However, I was terrified of something as “big” as that, and so I convinced myself that I should be a vlogger instead, but I soon realised that wasn’t for me in the traditional sense of the term. Over this year, I have come to appreciate all genres of video content, including live streaming, video essays, and short films. While I do not intend on limiting myself, I find I am most drawn to producing short-form online video content that adds value to people’s lives.

What subject matter do you find yourself drawn to?

I am deeply passionate about visual literacy and exhorting people to carefully consider the video content they watch rather than mindlessly consuming lazy filmmaking. I believe that if the audience can be educated and start investing their time and money in content of outstanding quality, we will start to see excellent filmmaking become the norm, rather than cash-grabbing blockbusters dominating the cinema. I am also drawn to producing content about Autism Spectrum Disorder. As a relatively high-functioning woman with Aspergers, I believe it is my responsibility to use the medium I am comfortable with to speak out about my internal and external experiences, struggles and triumphs as an autistic woman for both the education of neurotypical people and the encouragement of others on the spectrum.

Pick three words/phrases that describe your approach to the medium?

I recently saw a quote on someone’s Instagram story that perfectly sums up my entire approach to video and content creation: “The future of online media is creating content that’s special, researched, and custom enough that a 12-year-old with a smartphone couldn’t recreate it.” Those three points are a personal requirement that I demand from myself when I create videos.

Why did you choose to study cinematography and content creation?

I actually came to the course with very little interest in the “content creation” side of things; I was there purely for the cinematography component. I simply wanted to become confident in my skills as a videographer so I would not be so terrified every time I had to shoot something for a client. However, over the year, I have actually come to enjoy the content creation aspect more as a whole than the videography portion, and overall I feel like giving both parts of the course my all has been an enriching process.

What has been the most noteworthy shoot/project you have done this year?

There are two that I cannot pick between. The first is participating in the 48 Hour Film Project this year. Honestly, that was the most thrilling and enjoyable weekend of my entire life, even with the insane sleep deprivation! Our short film, “Headlights”, actually won an award, so it was all wholly worth it. The second was shooting my classmate and friend Ruan Booyen’s short film, “Catharsis”. It was such an inspiring and creative shoot and I had an absolute blast being Ruan’s cinematographer.

Who is your biggest videographic influence at the moment and how?/why?

Shane Dawson. I find Shane so incredibly inspirational as a human and content creator. He has reinvented not only himself as a YouTuber, but the genre of documentary filmmaking forever with his several online episodic docuseries like “The Mind of Jake Paul”. I believe I can learn so much from Shane about storytelling through the medium of video and staying relevant, and that is why he is the biggest videographic influence in my life right now.

What has been your biggest misconception about videography and content creation as a practice?

I came to the course believing that creating great videos that would engage an audience was all about expensive gear and making my content look “cinematic”. I now know, however, that while solid production quality is important, it must be combined with story and emotion in order to be compelling and meaningful.

What is the most valuable thing you have learnt on the course?

I have learned that it is okay to fail and, in fact, that if you are not failing in some way, it means you are not trying hard enough or growing as a creative person. Previously I have been so terrified of failing that I refused to push myself, and because of that, I stagnated completely. Even though I learned so many valuable, practical skills at CTSP, learning to “fail upward” (as one of my lecturers would always tell us) has changed me not only as a videographer but as a person this year.

What advice would you give to anyone seriously considering applying for the course?

DO THE VIDEO ESSAYS! Seriously, the note-taking and research and production required for completing those assignments are what gained me the most valuable knowledge in this entire course. Becoming visually literate is just as important as being able to use a camera properly. You will not be able to tell a good story or engage your audience without understanding the principles of a visual medium.

How has videography shifted the way that you navigate the world?

I would not say that videography has altered how I navigate the world, but becoming visually literate certainly has. From it, I have learnt to appreciate quality filmmaking, composed photography and considered art. I am now prepared as a consumer to invest more money, time and emotional energy in the mediums and their artists who are also invested in me as a viewer and a participant in their creations.