Dream Jobs: UA Grad Made Digital Storytelling His Livelihood
With the use of video, UA alumnus Nick Lunn landed a job with National Geographic and has been sharing information on national and international subjects, such as dissolving glaciers, extinction of species and robots.

By Lilly Berkley, UANews Student Associate, University Communications
April 11, 2017


Nick Lunn landed an internship with the National Geographic just out of college, having graduated from the UA in 2011. The internship led to a full-time position that Lunn says is his dream job.
Nick Lunn landed an internship with the National Geographic just out of college, having graduated from the UA in 2011. The internship led to a full-time position that Lunn says is his dream job. (Photo: John de Dios)

National Geographic video producer and editor Nick Lunn takes his audiences around the world, guiding them through the freezing Arctic, sharing the influence of the Portuguese Man-of-War's aesthetic, informing on the mating habits of horseshoe crabs in Delaware Bay and speaking to the significance of elephants on the path to extinction.

"Almost every person I meet has a story about how they read National Geographic from their parents' or grandparents' subscription, and I was no different," said Lunn, who graduated from the University of Arizona in 2011 with a degree in media arts from the School of Theatre, Film and Television. "I grew up reading the magazine and being transported all around the world, so it was a place I wanted to work for a very long time, and to help support their mission."

One animal to which Lunn says he will always be connected: the wildcat.

"My family is from Tucson and I always knew from a young age that I would go to Arizona, it's in my blood," he said.

Lunn said his time at the UA helped land his dream job with National Geographic, where he began interning in the organization's digital studio immediately after graduating.

In the years since, he also has served as a project coordinator and an assistant producer responsible for 30-minute segments for "Our World," which is geared toward children who speak English as a second language.

For nearly four years, Lunn has been producing and editing short videos that focus on the environment, animals and climate.

In working with National Geographic news editors and writers, Lunn helps to help identify trending stories and scientific releases. He then helps to gather video assets, writes text to accompany videos and handles the video editing. 

"Basically, I have to distill a story into its most efficient and entreating form, and convey that with text and video," he said.

Through his work at National Geographic, he has collaborated on projects involving documentary filmmaker Gabriella Garcia-Pardo; multimedia journalist Jed Winer, who has produced a number of award-winning films; and Jeff Hertrick, an award-winning video producer who serves as the director of news and documentary digital video for National Geographic.

Lunn has produced and edited videos educating National Geographic viewers about a number of issues of national and international concern.

He was the editor on a National Geographic video detailing the only remaining population of wild red wolves, which are living in North Carolina. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that the red wolf is the most endangered of its kind in the world, with an estimated 45-60 red wolves roaming in the wild.

His work has taken viewers to the Wyoming plains, where the toad went nearly extinct due to habitate loss, changes in the climate and other factors dating to the 1970s.

He also served as the editor on a video about Glacier National Park's significant glacial loss. The Montana park, an iconic landscape, contained about 150 glaciers during the mid-1800s but only about 25 remain today. Ecologists and other scientists believe the cause is climate change, estimating that the remaining glaciers will dissappear by 2030. The film includes current and decades-old images taken by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey's Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center. 

Lunn also has worked on a National Geographic video presenting a possible solution to oil spills, five years after the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon spill. In the video, scientists try to determine a way to use naturally occurring oil-eating bacteria to fight such spills.

Given the short amount of time available to capture a viewer's attention online, documentary editing is quite difficult, Lunn said.

"You only really have 10 seconds or less to capture someone's attention," he said. "The way we've learned to edit stories is to put your best shot and your best sound bite right up front in the first 10 or so seconds, so people who are scrolling through on their Facebook feeds or browsing on YouTube know what to expect instantly."

The next step, he said, is to reward the viewer for remaining interested, providing the complexities of each story.

"It's a super-exciting job that's constantly keeping me on my toes," Lunn said. "I love that I get to work in a place that has such a great mission — we're working for the betterment of the planet."

Lunn said that while he has grown into his career at National Geographic, the UA helped provide the foundational skills necessary to transition not only into an internship but also into the expansive work he does now.

"The program went beyond teaching technical skills," Lunn said. "Yes, learning to shoot video is very important, but learning to work in a group setting is a key asset to success. Often when on assignment, you have to collaborate with different personalities, so having the ability to do that can set you apart, especially early in your career."

Extra info

As thousands of UA students prepare for Commencement, to be held at Arizona Stadium on May 12, we highlight UA alumni who landed their dream jobs. This is the second in a three-part series featuring Wildcats who say their time at the UA helped prepare them for amazing careers.

Other videos carrying the credit of National Geographic video producer and editor Nick Lunn include:

The UA's 153rd Commencement ceremony will be held May 12 at 7:30 p.m. at Arizona Stadium.

Event details are available online for:

Also, follow Commencement coverage on Twitter and share using #Beardownlife