Finding Inspiration in Filmmaking and Cars with Alexander McInnes

Alex is an automotive photographer, videographer, and Youtuber. Blending his passion for cameras and cars, his channel focuses on creating cinematic content.

Alexander McInnes Filmmaker

Whether you’re into cars, filmmaking, or a combination of both, you’re guaranteed to find inspiration on Alexander McInnes’ YouTube channel, The Car Creative – a community of creatives, car lovers, camera nerds, and anyone that wants to grow in their photography/video skills. Hear more from the Calgary-based creative on what sparked his interest in filmmaking, his favorite projects to date, and how he always finds the right music for his content on Musicbed.

Musicbed: What sparked your passion for filmmaking/storytelling?

Alexander McInnes: When I started my journey into filmmaking I was watching DPs like Solomon Ligthelm and Ryan Booth. I don’t feel I’ve ever produced something at their level but the way they used storytelling, camera work, and lighting in their films was inspiring. My passion for automotive content creation was sparked when I had an opportunity to shoot a high-end McLaren (I was shooting Toyota Corollas up to this point), the emotions that machine evoked in me I will never forget. Creating content around cars continues to bring me joy in the process and I keep aspiring to create work as good as those DPs that went before me.

What keeps you motivated and creatively inspired?

The beautiful thing about the automotive space is that they are continuously developing new vehicles and new technology, and the same goes for the camera space. As a content creator I am continuously trying to integrate new ways of storytelling, whether that’s testing a new lighting technique or attempting to create a story within a single photo. A part of my inspiration comes from continuing to look at what the best in industry are doing, and then pushing myself to see if I can create something like that with the tools that I have in my arsenal.

Alexander McInnes taking photo with car background

What makes a story visually appealing? What role does music play in storytelling?

I grew up always loving music, it was my “first love” as a content creator playing in bands throughout my young adult life. I am the kind of guy that if I hear a great music track that resonates with me I can well up in the car while listen, or similarly with films, if a great storyline lands hard with a great piece of music you’ll definitely find me crying into my popcorn. Music, and the Musicbed specifically, plays an essential role in setting the tone for how a viewer should feel. In my content I try and use the music to evoke the same emotions I may have been feeling while creating that particular piece of content. 

What elements do you think are essential for crafting a compelling story?

When I’m crafting a story, I think it’s important that the viewer can see themselves in the story and find some level of attachment to the journey. In the automotive space, or for me as a YouTuber, being able to bring the viewer as close to the production as possible is important to me. Whatever story I’m telling, whatever lesson I might be teaching, I want my community to feel as though they are also capable of being a part of the journey. I often will put on the “Inspirational” playlist on Musicbed and save the tracks that I feel can uplift and bring others up through the vibe of the song. 

How important is music in your work?

Music has always been critical to the creation process. I’ll be on Musicbed during my pre-production to find inspiration, and anyone who’s made a film knows that once you find that right song then the ideas start flowing! It’s one of my favourite moments in the creation journey is when your mind can start piecing together the different shot ideas based on the song you’re listening to. To me that is what “inspiration” really means, and I have always found that through music.

What advice would you give other filmmakers/creators who are just starting their careers?

I could advise upcoming filmmakers or creators, it would be twofold. First, find something that gives you life, that you are truly passionate about. Find that thing you can work into the middle of the night creating because you love it, not because you are getting “paid” to do it. Often times as creatives (musicians, filmmakers, content creators) payment for our hard work comes a lot farther down the road than we might want, so passion has to be the driving force. Secondly, I tend not to look at “trends” or what is happening around me, I look for what the BEST people in the industry are doing and aspire towards getting close to those creative goals rather than creating something trending at the moment. Find an older mentor or someone whose work you love and ask them questions, then put in the work learning your craft. Lastly, this might be the most important for a younger up-and-coming generation, stop scrolling and start creating.

How do you balance pushing boundaries creatively and delivering what your client wants or audience wants to see?

I heard someone online say they created “one for them and one for me.” I don’t remember who I heard that from but that mentality gave me a lot of freedom to try and produce something that I know maybe the audience wants to see, but then I also can create something that I want to try and test out for myself. As a YouTuber, it is pretty low risk to “try something new,” the algorithm may not like it, but that’s okay if I’m proud of the work.

When it comes to client work I try and intentionally create space to get creative after I’ve already nailed all the shots I need for the project. Storyboarding/creating shot lists in my opinion is essential to allowing space for creativity. For me, rather than a shot list becoming a rigid box, it becomes the safety net to allow yourself to push past those boundaries. As long as you have those shots in the bag that you need first, you can go above and beyond, and these creative shots might be the anchors to your edit… or they might just hit the edit room floor, but at least you created space to try.

Alexander McInnes taking photo of Ford Bronco in front of mountainscape

What is the most challenging aspect of being a filmmaker/creative?

Self-doubt, making everyone happy, the algorithm, finding time to create passion projects, and the fact that when you work for yourself as a creative you have to learn to set boundaries on your time and energy to stay sane. There are countless challenges that as creatives we come up against as we progress in our journey. Each step you move forward you will learn about some new thing you need to overcome. This is a part of what I love about the process though, as filmmakers and creatives we are problem solvers and constantly need to learn, adapt, and evolve. As challenging as it may be I would much rather be challenged in this career than sitting at a desk job doing the same thing every day. (Of course, I mean no disrespect to those who enjoy those types of jobs—we’re all built differently.)

What are some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on?

It’s tough to say which projects are my favorite—it’s like choosing a favorite child. My favorite projects have been where I have had the chance to collaborate with other content creators on the projects. Getting to bring them into a project I’m working on and getting their perspective on my work, or seeing how their minds work through their projects is always eye-opening and helps me grow as a content creator. I’ve been really fortunate to work with some larger clients like Shell, Paramount Pictures, Subaru, Toyota, and many others and all the projects are different and have different requirements as deliverables. What I love most about them is when the idea I have in my mind actually comes to fruition and I’ve proven to myself that I can actually do it and pull it off. Those projects are the ones that push me creatively and as a person, and I come out more confident and feel more capable of taking on the next big project, whatever that will be.

How do you search for music on Musicbed? What are some tips that you’d give other filmmakers to search on Musicbed?

I listen to Musicbed a lot! I do a lot of work with brands, and when I’m not creating content for others I am creating YouTube videos teaching my community about my creative process. I love the playlists as a starting point, whether it’s the Vibes or Genres playlists it’s a great way to find new curated music. Some of the new tools like the “Show Similar” button make it even faster once I’ve found a song that I like but may not be perfect. I have artists that I am drawn to after listening for so many years and having the ability to see similar artists is great for branching out. My last tip is to follow Musicbed on Spotify also as I’ll often toss on the playlists while driving and take screenshots when I hear a great song I can use for an upcoming project.

Why do you utilize Musicbed in your work?

I use Musicbed because it is, simply put, the best music you can license. It’s music from real artists and touring musicians, and they’re creating music that actually evokes emotion. Other services can often feel “cookie cutter” or jingles built for corporate videos, whereas I feel with Musicbed you can easily find music that inspires your next project. As a small business owner, YouTuber, and content creator, having the subscription service able to naturally integrate into my workflow that I can license for my online videos and business clients is a game changer! I have been using Musicbed for over ten years and I think once you hear the difference, you’ll never go back.

Explore a curated playlist of Alexander’s favorite songs to feature in his work—all available to license only on Musicbed.