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A Thousand Words offers fascinating snippets of Burlington history

A passion for video drives Paul Wright's storytelling project
Paul Wright combines a love of videography with Burlington history in his YouTube series "A Thousand Words".

Paul Wright is a man in motion. You may have seen his YouTube project "A Thousand Words" pop up in one of your feeds; if not seek it out. 

Its series of videos tells little-known tales of Burlington's history, such as the story behind Smith Street, the murder connected to the Queen’s Head pub and the forgotten entertainment history of the city, which centred around the Brant Inn. 

In making the series, Wright — a former competitive boxer and professional photographer — is honing his skills for his new passion, videography. 

"They say a picture tells a thousand words, well in film there are 24 frames per second, so A Thousand Words is open to documentaries, interviews, stories, what is happening today around the city," he said.

"I wanted to see organically what I could grow just by sharing it on Facebook and LinkedIn and all the social media."

He had already started making videos for the channel when he was approached by local history buff Nicola Thompson for an interview. The pair got along so well they decided to team up. "Whenever we do history pieces on Burlington, she is my host," Wright said.

Thompson does most of the research and then they do the shoot. "She memorizes everything and we usually do it in one or two takes," Wright said.

He hopes this will open doors for him to a new career in videography. 

"I am going to take all the concepts I know from photography — lighting, composition, framing; all those apply when I go to film," he said. "I always want to tell more."

At the moment, he is a one-man production team. "I am the producer," he said. "I am the director. I am the editor and I am the guy posting it to social media."

One of the most popular videos Wright and Thompson have made focuses on the fascinating past of Burlington landmark Emma's Back Porch. "Everybody has stories about that place," Wright said. "We went and did a story about way back when it was involved with bootlegging and how this was a dry area at the time."

They also explored the ghost stories associated with the property, which used to be the Estaminet Standard Hotel.

"My channel is about giving people knowledge and information that they forgot and re-living the history of Burlington," Wright said. "Burlington is rich, full of history."

To date, Wright has done 33 videos. 

He is interested in branching out into other topics and open to other areas as well. "Eventually, I want this to be a job," he said. "I really want to promote my skills, what I can do, what I am producing. I am improving with every single one."

He has industry friends critique his work and is constantly making tweaks.

Wright's appetite for learning and developing his filming and videography skills is large. "There is a video on everything on YouTube. That's how I learned how to edit videos, by watching videos over and over. I am still doing that today. I am a quick learner and I want to keep growing."

And he is not afraid to put himself out there to find work he loves. He once earned a job as team photographer for the BC Lions by just walking on and approaching people.

He hopes this will also be key to finding work in videography.

"I want to make this my new living," Wright said. "I am reinventing myself and it is video, because that is where we are going." He points to the growing popularity of TikTok and Instagram reels.

"I want all of Burlington to subscribe to my channel," he jokes. "I am not asking a lot; just Burlington."

He added: "I really want to succeed in video. I would just love an opportunity. I am open to suggestions. I am looking for someone to just give me a break."

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Tania Theriault

About the Author: Tania Theriault

Tania is a print and broadcast journalist with over 15 years experience who has recently returned to Canada and is keen to learn all there is to know about Burlington and its welcoming people
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