Premiere Gal Unveiled: Empowering Creators through Education

Kelsey Brannan is known for her post-production focused YouTube channel called Premiere Gal.

Premiere Gal on set

Best known for her post-production-focused YouTube channel Premiere Gal, Kelsey Brannan runs numerous educational workshops and builds editing tools to help video editors and creators become better storytellers. Read her interview below to learn about what keeps her inspired, her essentials for compelling storytelling, and how she utilizes Musicbed in her work. 

Musicbed: What sparked your passion for filmmaking/storytelling?

Kelsey Brannan: I’ve always enjoyed films and the wonder at the work that went into creating them. I grew up in the Bay Area and my parents had friends who worked at ILM (Industrial Light and Magic), part of Lucas Films at the time. I went behind the scenes of a 3D modeler for The Hulk and the green screen ship sets for Pirates of the Caribbean. All of the excitement and magic that went into creating just a single frame of a film is what sold me. In addition to that I was lucky enough to be in a public high school, San Rafael High School, that had a media academy, where we were able to produce films that went along with our core curriculum. We had an editing lab and that’s where I learned how to edit. I knew I loved everything about creation and collaborating with others to produce content, but I think my visit to ILM solidified my love for post-production. 

What keeps you motivated and creatively inspired?

As mentioned before, the collaboration, connection, and shared experiences between other creators are part of the inspiration. Every time I share a video on YouTube, I know it has impacted someone around the globe. The Premiere Gal YouTube editing community is REALLY global: 20% USA, 14% India, 5% UK, 4% Indonesia, 3.5% Philippines, 3% Canada, 2.5 % Germany… and the list goes on. A lot of work went into building the Premiere Gal community and we just reached the 500,000 subscribers milestone, which is so incredible. I’m super proud of the work we do. It is my full-time job, so I’ve hired a team of editors who also keep me inspired. We will brainstorm ideas on what people want to learn, and having a team around me helps keep me motivated. On one hand, I’m like, okay this is my job and I need to pay people, so I’m motivated to keep the business growing. But I’m also blown away by all the new tools being developed and companies who reach out to us to test these new post-production tools. It feels like a never-ending stream of creativity! 

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

I also tell learners of video that you need to think about what emotion you want to display, and how you can visualize it and not tell it. I know when I was a teaching assistant for a documentary filmmaking class in graduate school, sometimes students would just show a title card on the screen to show information. And sometimes that is fine (in certain cases), but most of the time I also push people to think, okay, how can I not use a title card? Maybe it is the use of a voiceover, with primary source footage, with a powerful music track. Your soundtrack is just as important as your visuals because it can help underscore the feelings in the scene.

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

I think first of all you need to have passion. Passion is the driving force behind any story. And then the key element for a visual story is coming up with a consistent visual, whether it is live-action, animation, or a mix of the two. Having good audio, music, and SFX to spice up the story.

Premiere Gal edit

How important is music in your work?

More often than not, I’m demoing or explaining how to create a specific effect or I’m telling the story about the history of a particular effect/tool, and during those moments curious, cerebral, and cinematic soundtracks can help guide the viewer into the story I’m trying to tell. Quite honestly it makes it more interesting and less boring! Without the music, it feels empty and lifeless. 

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

Go to events, network, and collect business cards. Collaborate with people! Build relationships, and build on those relationships! Part of the reason that I’ve partnered with Musicbed as a sponsor on our YouTube channel is because of the NAB Show. We scheduled a meeting and I interviewed your CEO and attended your fun penthouse after-party in Vegas! As for editing, referrals and interpersonal relationships are so important, I refer so many editing projects to people I know. And if you’re interested in YouTube specifically, I’d recommend just keeping consistent and keep going. It can be slow to start, but slow and steady wins the race. I may not get millions of views on my videos, but I post each week, and a lot of my content grows over time thanks to the power of search. I’ve proven that you don’t need to be the Mr. Beast of YouTube to have a successful career on YouTube. And we’ve been going for 7.5 years now, closer to a decade!

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

Oftentimes, I’ll have companies come to me with a tool they want me to review on my YouTube channel. The client’s goals in this case are to get more eyeballs on their tools, clicks to their website, and ultimately new users. In this case, what I try to do is showcase the parts of the tool I find the most useful and put myself in my viewers’ shoes—why would they find this useful? Then I figure out a creative way to integrate their product within my videos. One great example of this is a collaboration I did with Musicbed where I worked with one of Musicbed’s recording artists, Heartbreak Kid, to produce a music video. At the time, a new tool was released that let you use AI to stylize live action into any animation style. So I thought it would be super fun to work with the artist to stylize a music video with the help of AI. The result was a video about me talking about the whole process and how Musicbed fit into it. It checked two boxes: owning my creative voice and interests; and ensuring that viewers knew about Musicbed and how it could be useful to them. 

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

Learning when to say no. Sometimes the opportunities are so wide that you need to figure out what projects make the most sense. We all need to make a living, so you need to choose the projects that make financial sense of course, but also remember that your time and health is the most important. Keep nurturing the partnerships and collaborations that support you well, but also prioritize your time and health. 

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

My favorite projects for the channel are the ones that share useful skills while also pushing the boundaries and future ideas of creation. I made a video last fall testing new “Cloning” tools and the ethics of what it means for creators to clone themselves. One useful component is that as a creator, the channel relies on you fully to keep going, so the idea of cloning yourself to sit in for you is attractive. So I tested a couple of tools and one key takeaway is—let’s say you just need to re-record a voiceover—your editor can use a voice cloning tool to just insert that in, and you don’t need to re-record. 

My team and I also are always trying to create solutions to help video editors and we designed our very own plugin for Premiere Pro called the Gal Toolkit. It has over 1,565 effects, titles, transitions, and presets we designed to make it easier for editors to create. It’s been a big passion project, and now we have over 2,000 users. We also launched a YouTube channel just for the Toolkit, which primarily consists of how-tos and creative use cases.

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

Typically I think about the mood I’m going for, so for example, I’ll select “Contemplative” and “Uplifting”. if this doesn’t give me exactly what I want, I’ll narrow it down by genre, and then I always like to have instrumental versions, so I make sure to select “Instrumental” so the vocals don’t interfere with dialogue in my videos. So I’d recommend starting with mood, narrowing it down by genre, and then saving songs you like into a playlist. And if you like one track, but are not sold on it, you can select the track you like and it will show similar songs. 

Why do you utilize Musicbed in your work?

The selection and library of music available for my video work is so high quality. It is far from “stock” music and it feels real. Oftentimes when I use Musicbed music, I get my viewers asking about the music in the comments because it sticks out! 

Explore a curated playlist of Kelsey’s go-to songs to use in her videos—available to license only on Musicbed.