Frederik Trovatten’s Journey from Documentary Photography to Filmmaking

Explore Frederik Trovatten's journey from National Geographic photographer to acclaimed filmmaker, discovering his secrets to visually captivating stories.

Frederik Trovatten filmmaker

When he’s not shooting award-winning imagery for National Geographic, Frederik Trovatten is exhibiting his documentary and street photography at the Museum of World Culture. Read his interview below to learn Frederik’s essentials for a compelling story, his advice for new filmmakers, and why he relies on Musicbed to find the right music for his work.

Musicbed: What sparked your passion for filmmaking/storytelling?

Frederik Trovatten: To be honest, I never really had a passion for filmmaking, storytelling, or photography. I just happened to pick up a camera when I moved to Mexico, which led me to start documenting my photography journey on YouTube. Since then, I’ve found a lot of inspiration from people who had something to say and found a way to express it—whether it’s in music, photography, or filmmaking.

What keeps you motivated and creatively inspired?

My motivation is to create work that I can look back on and be proud of. Ideally, someday I hope to produce work that will have an impact, whether big or small, on society. As a photographer, living in cities with different cultures stimulates me and inspires me to capture those moments.

Frederik Trovatten with client

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

A visually appealing story, to me, is one that has been distilled to its true essence, conveying the core of what the story is about. Creative possibilities are abundant, but more often than not, using limitations and actively deciding what not to include is as crucial as what you do include. Music and audio, in general, are vital components of storytelling. Music controls the mood and tempo of a story, and examples that come to mind are Raging Bull and Whiplash.

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

I value an honest story more than a compelling one. I’d rather watch a somewhat boring but honest story than a compelling yet manufactured one. My advice is to lead with honesty, focusing on themes you are truly passionate about and interested in.

How important is music in your work?

It’s essential. Finding, cutting, and using music is a skill in itself, and it’s something I strive to improve. Often, it’s treated as an afterthought, with creators simply using a continuous string of back-to-back lo-fi hip-hop beats. I’ve been guilty of this, but I try to give it the attention it deserves.

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

Don’t wait for permission from anybody. Create a YouTube channel and publish a ton of work. If you can’t afford a camera, use your phone or borrow one. You need to produce a large volume of work to become comfortable with your camera, editing software, and filmmaking itself.

Frederik Trovatten with camera

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

It’s challenging not to be swayed by “what works,” especially if you depend on YouTube as your primary income. However, if you don’t have your heart in it and feel a creative challenge, that route can lead to burnout. I’m changing my style and format drastically, making videos enjoyable for me again.

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

To me, it’s time management and editing. If you don’t have a love for editing or a budget to hire an editor, it’s going to be an uphill battle. Additionally, finding a way to make a living without compromising your passion is crucial.

What’s your favorite project that you’ve worked on? or What are some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on?

One of my favorite and most ambitious projects was this Burger King campaign that involved me flying to Mexico and taking pictures for 30 days straight. Currently, I’m working on a video called Waking up in Ho Chi Minh With a Camera, putting as much effort into the videography as I did with the photography. I hope to partner with Musicbed, as music plays a vital role in this project.

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

I utilize all the features, searching by genre, browsing editorial playlists, and using advanced features like BPM. After a while, you can tell what the track will sound like just by looking at the waveform. A great tip is to use the Musicbed Spotify playlist, favoriting songs during your commute for future projects, and building a personal collection.

Why do you utilize Musicbed in your work?

Generic stock music doesn’t suit my videos. I want original music created by passionate artists, which is why I use Musicbed. The collection offers a wide range of music genres, spanning from classical to contemporary, ensuring that I can find and explore music across different styles and eras. Regular updates to the catalog ensure a constant supply of fresh music.

Explore Frederik’s playlist of his favorite music to use in his work—all available to license on Musicbed.