Justin King, '10
Originally published in April 2011
If you are a Carolina football fan and spend some time on YouTube, you may have seen his work. If you watch ESPN for your sports news, then you have definitely seen his work. Either way, Justin King, ’10, is working at ESPN and making a career out of something that sounds like a sports fanatic’s dream.
“My job is to take the story of a long game and edit it into a version that tells the story in one or two minutes,” Justin says. “It’s like writing the SparkNotes edition of a sporting event.”
Following a Dream
Justin grew up in Myrtle Beach, SC, and chose to attend the University of South Carolina because of the reputation of its Media Arts department as well as the proximity to where he grew up.
“I chose Media Arts because I knew I had a passion for media production from a very young age and wanted to see if I could make a career out of it,” Justin says. “Just like most children growing up, I loved movies. This love was compounded when I was around 14 years old and the first of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ films came out. I was at the midnight showing, and when I walked out I knew I wanted to work in media in some capacity. The fact that I could get so much joy and experience such a roller coaster of emotion from watching something on a screen was incredible, and I wanted to one day create things that made others feel the same way those did for me. From that day forward, I had a drive to work and learn, and it hasn’t let me down yet.”
Justin says there were many professors who left a lasting imprint on him. He noted that his favorite classes were the ones that gave him the most freedom.
“For example, Jenn Tarr’s Narrative Production class gave me the opportunity to go from script to a finished film in a semester,” Justin says. “We could create essentially whatever we wanted. I worked with a great group of friends and directed a film called ‘Ben Jack: How to Get Your Stache Back,’ which is still my only attempt at comedy. It ended up making it into the Indie Grits film festival, which was an awesome experience.
“Another great class, or I guess classes, were my two internships I held. Jodi Salter oversaw one and Susan Hogue the other. They were both great and gave me the opportunity to develop in a professional setting, something that is invaluable to me now.”
Like many who spend their undergraduate days on the Columbia campus, Justin’s best memories involve Carolina football games and tailgating with his fraternity brothers from Phi Sigma Kappa.
Heading to the World Wide Leader
After graduating from Carolina in May of 2010, Justin followed his dream and sent his resume to many places, including ESPN. Only two months after graduation, he was hired, and headed to Bristol, CT.
“I got this job after I made a video about South Carolina football and sent it in, along with my resume, to a recruiter,” Justin says. “They contacted me, and I went through the full interview process, and before I even realized it, I was packing my car for Bristol."
“Honestly, it wasn’t an easy process,” he continues. “I felt like I applied for hundreds of positions and frequently I never even got a ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ response. I personally knew I had a talent, but it wasn’t until I made my first video on the Gamecocks that I began to have any luck. That video got fairly popular, and at the recommendation of one of my friends, Kevin Buchanan, I sent it into ESPN with my resume as a shot in the dark. That was another situation that I learned a lot from, particularly to never stop working.”
One of the exciting parts about his job is that his assignments vary from month to month.
“Right now I cut video for the Mike & Mike in the Morning Show and produce highlights for SportsCenter,” Justin says. “I wake up at 2:30 a.m. and head to the studio. When I get in, I usually cut some general b-roll--that video they play when either of the Mikes is talking--from whatever events happened the night before in sports. I write story ideas for the show and submit them to the producers, and I am there for any on-the-fly needs the show might have. When I cut highlights for SportsCenter, I take a look at what highlight I am responsible for, watch and log the game, then head into the edit room to put together the highlights with any special telestrations I come up with.”
Justin interacts with the talent on a daily basis on the sets of ESPN, and admits that the glamour of meeting celebrities can wear off quickly. However, meeting former Gamecock coach Lou Holtz on the set did leave him a little star struck upon introducing himself.
“He looked at me and smiled,” Justin says. “I could tell it wasn’t a rare occurrence for someone to say hello to him, but he was very polite. Then I said ‘I just graduated from USC so I am a big fan.’ He lit up like a light bulb! We had a short conversation and he told me, ‘I’ve never met anyone who went there who didn’t love it!’ I couldn’t agree more!”
As exciting as his day job is, it is some of his work on the side that is gaining Justin notoriety from Gamecock fans. He has produced some videos highlighting Carolina sports, which he posts on the social networking site YouTube.com. Those videos become very popular, scoring thousands of hits, as fans pass them along to one another.
“I started doing that late summer of last year when I made ‘South Carolina Football 2010’ which was a general preview video,” Justin explains. “The videos vary in the amount of time they take to put together. The Florida video only took about eight hours all together, but the 2011 preview video took over 30 total hours of work.”
This experience provides Justin with some satisfaction in knowing that others are appreciating his work for more than just a fleeting moment.
“I get a lot of emails and general comments on my Facebook page, and I appreciate it all so much,” Justin says. “Everyone is so supportive and make any amount of work a video might take worth it. I just enjoy how happy my videos have made people.”
Life After ESPN?
Justin continues to enjoy his work at ESPN, and as a newcomer to the profession, he looks forward to improving his craft.
“I plan on continuing to work to become a better editor, and I also plan on going back to school to get my MBA so I can advance my career further,” Justin says. “In the future, I would like to work within the Marketing Department at USC in some capacity.”
Justin has made it back to campus since graduation and plans to get back as much as possible. In the meantime, there is work to be done, and he’s looking for new ideas and “editing tricks” for his future Carolina videos.
“My love for my alma mater is what got me my first job,” Justin says. “I want to stay connected to USC through membership in the Alumni Association because I want to stay involved and dedicated to the University I love. My goal is to continue to work to help develop and improve the University of South Carolina in any way I can and being a part of the Alumni Association is one way that I can do just that.”
You can find out more about Justin’s work and see his Carolina videos on his web site: www.justinkingmedia.com.