Working as a videographer isn’t a bad Plan B for an Alberni girl who originally wanted to be a photographer for National Geographic.
Jenny Fortin, 28, was born and raised in Port Alberni and has been shooting film and producing news pieces for Shaw TV for the last six years.
“I love telling other people’s stories and doing that visually,” Fortin said. “I’m not a hard news person, I like showing the good side of Port Alberni.”
Fortin is the oldest of three sisters, whom she describes as her best friends. The family grew up on Cedar Street, but had a close-knit extended family in the Alberni Valley.
“I used to ride my bike to my cousin’s house on weekends and bake brownies,” Fortin said. “I have lots of good memories like that.”
Fortin attended John Howitt Elementary School, Klitsa Middle School and Alberni District Secondary School.
Fortin wasn’t stellar at math but she drove herself to be a better than average student otherwise. “I couldn’t stand the thought of failing a class or getting less than a C,” she said.
Fortin likely gets her doggedness from her grandmother, Gladys Olrich. “She was a really strong woman who raised her kids on her own – and she made the best perogies ever.”
Her grandmother also gave Fortin the best advice she ever got: “Dare to dream the impossible.”
Mrs. Money (not Kama) and Mrs. Dean were Fortin’s favourite teachers in elementary and middle schools. But it was Mrs. McKay and Mr. Stubbs at ADSS who piqued her interest in media studies.
Fortin dreamed of becoming a photographer for National Geographic magazine. “I loved the colours and the way they told their stories; it really gave the taste of a place,” she said.
After graduating from high school in 2001, Fortin attended Camosun College in Victoria where she took applied communications, which melded writing, photography, video and radio skills.
She graduated in 2005 and needed practical experience as part of the co-op portion of her program.
Fortin applied to volunteer at Shaw and was taken on after being asked one question. “Do you drive? Then get over here,” she said.
Fortin remembers the first piece she did that aired on Shaw, not for the subject matter but for the reaction. “My grandmother was so excited to see me on TV,” Fortin said.
Her co-op hours achieved, Fortin got something else as well – a job. She works as a casual status employee but her hours fluctuate depending on the time of year.
Some stories have a familiar theme and are easy to tell. But others are complex, and she has to work hard to identify the angle and narrow the focus.
Her job allows her to meet people and see places in the Valley that others don’t notice or take for granted. One of Fortin’s most memorable assignments was to explore Blak-T cave, which is one of the largest caves in the world and is located in the Alberni Valley.
“It was like a whole other world under there,” Fortin said. “I’ve got the best job in the world; I get paid to do what I love, where I love.”
Fortin isn’t a bookworm, choosing instead to read news, forums and blogs. She’s a bit of a movie buff, and last saw Playing The Game starring Andy Griffith. “Yes – Andy Grifffith,” she said.
But Fortin loves a particular genre of movie. “Chicago; I’m a big musical-movie geek,” she said.
If she could have dinner with a particular videographer it would be the group from the series Departure. “They have the most amazing videos on TV,” she said.