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  • Annette Dawm

Outside of the Box with Tim Deegan

Tim Deegan is a music video director, a videographer, a college professor and a former MuchMusic VJ/Host. Over the last decade, Tim has focused his energy behind the camera and he hopes that people recognize how much he loves his work:

"I think I would want them to know that the main reason I do what I do is because I really do love what I do." Tim said that he loves coming up with a treatment or video idea and then making all those elements come together. "Using my skills and knowledge to shoot and edit a video and make it come to life is a really fun process." says Tim. "I always want to make good content, and I think that I do, but my most enjoyable projects are when I work with artists that are equally as invested in the project. We can collaborate, work together, have fun, and make a finished product that we are both proud of!"

Tim tried out for The MuchMusic VJ Search in 2005, because in one way or another, he knew he wanted to be a part of the entertainment industry: “I think every kid at some point thinks like, ‘Oh, I want to be on TV!’ or ‘I want to be a movie star and I want to be in a rock band!’ I think everybody has probably had that dream or that aspiration for like, a minute, you know?” He explained.

Throughout high school, Tim was part of many garage bands, usually as a drummer. At one point, however, he was asked to take over as the lead singer. “I wasn't a great singer. I was a great frontman, but I wasn't a great singer. So anyway, when the VJ thing came up, I thought, ‘You know what? That could be really cool…. it's not being an artist. It's not being a musician. It's not being a rock star, but I get to hang out and interview rock stars, talking about music all day.’ I was a music junkie anyway, so I may as well get paid to do it. So I applied… and then the whole process of the VJ search was at the beginning of 2006.”

Eventually, Tim won the contest! His brother even created a shadow box to help remember the occasion: “He saved the confetti because he was there on the night that I won…. He had a bunch of the photos from the VJ search. He included some of the promo photos and some of the photos of the loft space that we got to live in throughout the show and the photo of me on the night that I won with confetti falling all around me.”

For the next five years, Deegan interviewed at least one artist a week on live television. “Sometimes it was more because I’d interview two different bands in one show, or then I’d go to an event and interview everyone there…. I had a lot of fun with a lot of different artists.There are a lot of cool moments. There are a couple embarrassing moments or just awkward moments and fun moments.”

Tim recalled that his interview with Kesha stayed with him long after it was over: “When she first came on the show, I gave her a hug and then the interview was great. She had a lot of fun. I had a lot of fun. We played some kind of on the spot games and stuff like that… I think I hugged her goodbye as well before she left.... The next day, I had glitter all over me like confetti. The glitter was everywhere! Once it goes into your house and your laundry, you find glitter all over! A couple days later, somebody asked, ‘Is that glitter on your nose?’ and I was like, ‘Aah! Stupid glitter!’ It was everywhere, but it was Kesha’s glitter, so it made for a good story.”

Another time, Tim interviewed Katy Perry for a Fashion Cares event which was dubbed, “Fashion Scares” for Halloween. Everyone was well-dressed, but some of the guests also chose to wear their Halloween costumes, including Katy and Tim. “So I showed up, dressed like a vampire,” he continued, “but like a ‘Slick Rick’ kind of vampire. I had this long, dark jacket on. My makeup artist at MuchMusic did me up. She just made me look a little bit paler and put a little bit of blood running on the side of my mouth.” Unfortunately, Katy decided not to wear her costume during their conversation. “So now I'm the only one dressed up in this interview, and I felt like such an idiot, you know? So yeah, that was an awkward moment for me, but it was fine—trying to be cool in front of Katy Perry.”

Deegan described his departure from MuchMusic as a “natural progression” towards being behind the camera. “I still would like to work in front of the camera, I just haven't been pursuing it.” Around the same time that he was in those high school garage bands, Tim also had a huge interest in video production: “I would do a video project every chance I got! If I could do a project for school that they would let me do a video for instead, I would 100% do it. This was back when you were using two VCRs, you know? I'd have a video I recorded on my dad's camcorder and then I would put it onto a tape, or I would just run it from the camcorder. I would cut it by pressing start, stop and record…. Then I would add audio to it by linking up one of my stereos with the RCA cables and getting audio. I made snowboard videos back in the day. So it was cool. I really enjoyed doing that back then."

He went onto explain that even though he worked as a host on various television programs, Deegan made it his mission to learn what each person on the crew did for a living: “It was interesting to me. When I left MuchMusic, I worked on a few other different shows. One of them had a small crew, and we were always traveling across Canada. Although I was hosting, I was watching the camera operator and the audio tech and the producer and just seeing how it all works. Basically, being in such a small crew, I learned a lot. Then I started working with a bunch of YouTubers and got more experience actually being behind the camera, holding the camera and doing the editing. It just kind of grew from there.”

Today, Tim enjoys the freedom of creating his own schedule and content. “….When you're in front of the camera, you're often working for other people, and they're calling the shots on when you show up and when you do all this other stuff. You're at their mercy-- but when you are behind the camera, and you're running your own productions, you choose when you want to do those productions. You choose how long you want those productions to take, and you're more in control. Not that I'm a control freak at all, but I do like being able to choose my own schedule and kind of figure out my week and my day, what's important to me this week, and what I want to work on.”

This isn't to say that his career change was not without its challenges: “It’s scary! It’s definitely scary.” Tim continued, “When I switched gears, I was making money hosting, like on MuchMusic and then after that, there was a show with Rogers/Sportsnet. I was also still doing appearance gigs and doing stuff with CrushFest every year. I was doing promos for Coors Light and I think it was Speed Stick deodorant. I just did different promos and things like that. That's where I made most of my money – your bread and butter, paying the bills kind of stuff. I wasn’t making a lot of money with the video stuff at the time. I was starting to do a few projects here and there that were paying, but it was scary making that transition…. For me, it was ‘gig work’. I went from gig to gig to gig. I was doing gigs hosting. Then I was doing more gigs working in video and less gigs doing hosting. One slowed down while one was picking up….”

“For somebody else though, that is a bank teller and they want to be a videographer, it’s probably a little scarier to be like, ‘Okay, I’m going to leave my job where I get paid a certain amount every week and I’m just going to try to do this now.’ So that would be harder to leave a pay cheque for gig work, you know? So just hang in there. If you really enjoy it, then maybe just hold on until you feel like, ‘Okay, now’s the time where I can stop doing that and start doing this full-time.’ Don’t make the jump until you’re sure—but also when you make the jump, you’ll be like, ‘Now I’ve got to do it because I need to make the money!’”

Additionally, Tim works one day a week as professor at Durham College—which has had its own set of challenges due to COVID-19: “My role at Durham College is a part-time professor. I teach in the broadcasting program. My class specifically is working in a studio…. I do a lot of live streams for bands and events.” Tim said he teaches students “how to use the production equipment, how to use the studio, some of the studio roles and how it all works together. We are using switchers and cameras and all of the equipment to take what's happening in a studio space and get that into a recorded broadcast or a video file.” Part of his role is not only to teach how the equipment works, but also how to make the end result “feel good and flow really well”. He added that it’s tough because “every studio is different” and with the pandemic, everyone had to create a studio at home.

“So when COVID first happened, our studio at the college shut down and we had to switch to doing online stuff, which was interesting. So there are different apps that you can use, like StreamYard or Be.Live or OBS…. If you wanted to have video clips play, and then you want to have a name keyed up at the bottom, and things like that, those are the apps that we would use.” Tim acknowledged that, unfortunately, his students were not gaining the same experience that being in a studio would provide. “But they were still learning how to do a home studio. It was very indicative of what the industry was like at the time—and still is. There's still a lot of that happening. Like, we're in a lockdown right now. So, I will be teaching my class online this semester for the first little bit and hopefully we'll be back in person, because it actually wouldn't be bad to teach them a bit of both.”

As long as Tim keeps up with marking his students’ work, he said that he is able to balance all of his jobs “pretty well”. This also includes filming things like “The Ultimate Fan Experience” for The Canadian Country Music Association Awards (CCMAs).

In 2021, I (Annette Dawm) won The CCMA Ultimate Fan Contest, which felt similar to how Tim won The VJ Search. We were paired together for Country Music Week. Tim accompanied me from the minute I arrived, to the minute the awards were over. He filmed everything and then was given the task of editing all of the footage into a video that was three minutes or less. Although the video has not been officially released onto social media by The CCMAs, it has been submitted to their team. (We will share it when we are able to.)

While working together, Tim said that he knew what he wanted to film, but at the same time, he just wanted to capture whatever he could each day: “I knew you were going to pretty much every event and I thought, ‘I just have to show up with my camera and film the event and you.’”

Initially, Tim was hired a few years ago by The CCMAs in order to help finish a video project:

"I was able to get the video to them with a quick turnaround and our working relationship grew from there. I did a few promo videos for them and then when I did the Ultimate Fan promo videos, they asked me if I would film The Ultimate Fan Experience and I got to work with you.” (Tim previously filmed the 2019 Ultimate Fan Experience video with winner, Johnathan Smalley.)

Although Tim has created countless projects, one of the most daunting videos he has ever worked on was probably also the most personal. In December 2018, Tim planned an elaborate surprise proposal and video for his wife, country singer-songwriter, Leah Daniels. Leah and Tim have a YouTube channel. So Leah thought that Tim was just documenting her annual Christmas concert.

“I don't know if it was the most stressful video I ever put together, but it was up there—and it wasn't stressful in a bad way, but it was tough because I had to keep it a secret from Leah. It wasn't out of the norm for me to bring cameras in to say, ‘Oh, I'm going to film the show tonight.’ You know, ‘I'm going to get multiple camera angles. We're going to film it make it look really cool.’ So she was like, ‘Oh, yeah. Okay, awesome!’"

"I had to talk to the band and Leah's manager and the organizer of the event and everything. I had to make arrangements for all this stuff. I did all that and I planned it all out, but then, I also planned to say a lot more. When I got up on stage, it was just like, nothing. It was gone. I was just like, ‘I want to be with you. Do you want to be with me?’ I don't even know exactly what I said, but it was something simple like that. The grand gesture was there and the whole surprise, the whole everything. But then I didn't really have that Hallmark movie proposal, big moment where I say all this stuff, you know? Maybe I'll re-propose one day and I'll have a better written, better thought-through process. I'll surprise her on an anniversary or something. She wants me to actually say, ‘Will you marry me?’ because I never said those words.”

Finally, when asked what he was looking forward to, (aside from the pandemic being over) Tim Deegan replied, “I’m looking forward to doing more videos with my wife because we have a new plan, and that is, we’re not going to be in a box at all. We’re just going to make videos that we dream up. Just crazy, fun ideas, and not have to worry about whether or not they fit in with what people are doing right now or, ‘Is that what the country genre would expect?’ I don’t care. We’re just going to make videos and have fun with that…. I don’t know if it will be more to do with renovating our house or travelling—it won’t be travelling any time soon—but I do love making content together. It’s not fun being stuck in a box. Sometimes a song requires you to do a video about a guy and a girl and a truck, and you’ve got to do that. I’m going to do videos for artists for years to come, I’m sure. I enjoy doing it, but I just love that Leah and I are on the same page and that we can do whatever we want! It’s exciting! I’m looking forward to doing more of those fun, passion projects!”

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Photos by Annette Dawm and Tim Deegan.

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