How this Australian music video director moved to LA and broke into a challenging industry

felicity jayn heath producer
Image: @felicityjaynheath
  • Felicity Jayn Heath grew up on the Central Coast of NSW, Australia.
  • From 2010 to 2020, she lived abroad in the US until the pandemic ultimately brought her home.
  • Felicity has produced and directed music videos for the likes of Dove Cameron, Lime Cordiale, Amy Shark, Steve Aoki and more.
  • Read more stories from Business Insider Australia here.

Ask anyone about getting a foot in the door of the music industry and they’ll either tell you it was hard or that they got lucky.

Both of these ring true for music video producer and director Felicity Jayn Heath, who spent the better half of a decade as a waitress in Los Angeles, trying to break into the sometimes cut-throat music scene.

It’s a dream she’d had since watching Backstreet Boys music videos on Saturdays mornings in her hometown of Umina on the Central Coast. Before Felicity moved abroad in 2010 on a scholarship with the New York Film Academy, where she would complete a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production, she had hosted youth music shows Get Out and EWTV, recorded EPs for emerging bands and hosted gig nights locally.

For Felicity’s first seven years in LA, she did whatever she could, whenever she could, to get her name out there in the music industry – all while waitressing to make ends meet. Her very first foray into music videos was an an extra for Travis Barker and Steve Aoki’s “Misfits” music video, which she found out about through tweets from each of the musicians. “The job was unpaid but I had just moved to LA and was trying to get myself out there,” Felicity told Business Insider Australia.

She continued: “My biggest industry tip is to get on set. Film school can never teach you what you learn on set. Work for free at first. Be a fly on the wall. Meet people. Offer to assist camera so you can learn. Offer to assist art department. Just get on set and don’t be swayed by the word ‘no’. Just keep going.”

This goes beyond waiting for someone to Tweet the right thing at the right time. Felicity explained that she joined Facebook groups for casting, went on casting websites, and direct messaged people on Instagram who she knew worked on sets. “Eventually I knew people I’d see on set, time after time. I watched what they were doing, and asked them for opportunities.”

This mentality is what saw Felicity secure more gigs for the seven years which followed, including dancing, modelling, wardrobe styling and PA work on sets for the likes of Britney Spears and Rihanna. But, at the beginning of 2018 and after years of trying to be more than a cherry on top of a production instead of spearheading it, she was just about ready to call it a day and move back to Sydney.

But before she threw it all in, she made a website in a last-ditch effort to lap up the opportunities she could have abroad. “Maybe someone would come across it and think I was the real deal,” she said.

That’s exactly what happened. Within a week, she received a phone call from a major Bollywood movie needing styling. From there the offers started to come in, and by the end of 2018 she was helping executive produce her first music video for Sony Music and Amy Shark for “All Loved Up”. This was followed by the video – “Mess Her Up”, which went on to receive an ARIA nomination.

“If you want to be taken seriously, launch a website. No matter what industry you’re trying to break into, having that online presence somehow made people consider me as legitimate. I understand I might’ve lucked out, but I also definitely think it’s a small investment worth making.”

By 2019, Felicity had built up enough of a reputation that labels and artists were trusting her to produce music videos, even though she didn’t have her own company and wasn’t working for anyone else that had made waves in the production pond. In fact, that same year she executive produced the music video for Steve Aoki’s “Maldad”, which was a full come-circle moment after being an extra almost a decade earlier.

“Building relationships is the core of this industry, if you don’t have the foundation of good relationships, then you won’t get jobs,” she explained. “99% of my work was word of mouth, and it still is.”

At the beginning of 2020, Felicity launched her company The Preative which has an international roster of directors. Not long after that, COVID-19 brought her back to Sydney, where she’s now making music videos for artists such as Mansionair and Lime Cordiale.

Recently, she was offered to direct Emmy award-winner Dove Cameron’s new music video, which landed this week. After paying for flights from Sydney to LA and back again (she’s a U.S citizen), plus compulsory hotel quarantine on her way home, Felicity will barely break even on the project.

“It was too good of an opportunity to say no to. Dove is amazing. She’s been so receptive to my creative vision for this music video, even via the Zoom calls from my Darlinghurst apartment.”

Felicity will be in LA for another month wrapping up the loose ends left untied when COVID hit – namely her apartment and belongings – and is hopeful that she’ll be able to divide her time between Sydney and LA once the world resumes post-pandemic.