The Shelter Spotlight: A Chronicle (video)

No portfolio of Greg Baldwin would be complete without an ode to my days of content production with the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services (known simply as DAS). I spent nearly a decade volunteering in the department’s three shelters located in Bonita, Carlsbad, and San Diego. During that time, I produced more than 100 videos designed to shine a spotlight on the shelters and the animals within them for adoption. The videos were intended to be funny, marketable, and informative. This video is a “demo reel” of sorts of all that content.

I started volunteering in 2011 as a dog walker at the Carlsbad shelter. I would typically visit once or twice a month and put in 5-10 hours. At some point, word got out that I had some skills with a camera, and thus the video program was born. As shelters typically struggle to escape an immeasurable aura of negativity (whether warranted or not), I knew that there was a need for some positive marketing. My goal was to create entertaining marketing videos that would highlight one of the shelter’s resident critters for adoption. The bulk of this program took place between 2012 and 2015, with videos continuing to trickle onto the department’s YouTube page until 2018.

The results were simply fan-tabulous. The videos aided in finding animals homes, exiting them to rescues, and, in general, just creating some positivity and good will for the department.

What’s more is that this was a volunteer gig. People did occasionally wonder if I was being paid for each video I’d produce, but that was never the case (okay, I lied. The staff would occasionally pay me in donuts. Busted!). One video that went internationally viral actually generated a small treasure trove of rewards, but every dollar was donated back to the shelters. For me, this was truly passion and it was something I cared about.

Several years back I had applied for an internal position as a project manager with my software company. I was denied, with the recruiter citing my lack of project management experience as the primary reason. I always found that ironic since many of these videos, particularly the bigger features like Catfish: A Dog’s Tale and Thor Adopts a Dog, required a ton of formal project management. This included scheduling, casting, scouting locations, licensing music, and marketing the piece afterward. But since this was volunteer work, and it was passion rather than payroll, it didn’t seem like that mattered, unfortunately. Some people will count volunteer work as legit and others won’t. I’ve seen it both ways.

Naturally, my job title would eventually evolve into that of a project manager. How’s that for irony? Remember: no one knows you better than yourself.

My camera and editing skills have certainly come a long way since those glory days, but it’s always fun to look back and relive the experience.

This video makes me proud.