From the Spoon HQ offices to chapter meetings, here's what's up in the Spooniverse.

Spoon News Videos Brought Me Free Food and Millions of Views

From hundreds to millions (of views). Not dollars, although dollars would be nice too.

My most viewed video two years ago racked up a whole 812 views (and 811 of those were probably my mom). My most viewed video now? It has 2,044,453 views on Facebook alone.

So, how did I go from being a struggling artist (aka a girl with a new DSLR camera and no idea how to use it) to a famous Facebook phenomenon (yes, 2 million views makes me famous), you ask?

SPOON UNIVERSITY, of course! Thanks to Spoon's large audience and resources for creating great content, I have been able to spread my work to millions of people I never would have dreamed of reaching. And so can you! (I'm sorry that this now sounds like an infomercial, but I promise it gets good in just a sec.)

In the last few months, Spoon has switched their focus to news style videos, meaning you can create video content that highlights compelling stories related to food. With this switch, they've made it super easy for anyone to get involved using their video scripting tool. You can use it to create videos that source footage from the internet, or you can go out and shoot your own footage for a truly original story.

I personally love getting my own footage, and here's why:

I Get to Talk to Other People That Love Food

Leah Valenti

Every time I film a Spoon news video, I hear fascinating stories from people who are just as into food as I am. The first news video I ever made was for a new marshmallow café in Chicago.

The two founders of the café are young women who never intended to dedicate their lives to marshmallows, but after starting an online business and launching a successful Kickstarter, they opened up a brick and mortar marshmallow-focused café.

After just a few months of being open, they have become a popular Chicago food destination. It's stories like these that inspire me to keep pursuing my food passion in news ways.

Sometimes I Get FREE Food

Leah Valenti

If you feature a specific restaurant, they'll often give you goodies to bring home. The key to getting free food is engaging as much as possible with whomever you are filming. If you just get in and get out, they won't feel any obligation to give you food. But if you spend a significant amount of time hearing their story, telling them about the video you're going to make, and getting quality footage, they'll want to thank you with free treats.

Once I got three boxes of doughnuts and a donut pizza. It was AWESOME.

It Takes Me Out of My Comfort Zone

Leah Valenti

When I film a news story, I never know exactly what to expect. Will the place be packed? Will I have enough light? Will I meet a cute barista who distracts me from my work? (I wish.)

The perfect example of this was when I filmed the food at Lollapalooza. Not only did I have to deal with crazy crowds and loud music, but I also had to get comfortable with approaching random people and asking them to be on camera.

People are usually pretty flattered when you ask them to be on camera. Just tell them you're with Spoon University, give a brief explanation of what Spoon is, and tell them you'd love if they'd do *specific action* on camera. With this formula, I was able to get dozens of people to participate, and I was only rejected once!

Challenges like this push me to try new things, create better content, and learn a TON in the process. Here are some of the best pieces of advice I can give after a year of making Spoon videos:

If You're Doing an Interview, Remember to Turn on Your Mic

During my first news video shoot, I was trying to come off as super experienced and confident. Instead, I forgot to turn on the mic in the beginning and missed an awesome interview response. SILLY ME. (P.S. You don't need a mic to do an interview, but if you have one, all the better!)

When Something Stands Out, Get as Much Footage as Possible

Leah Valenti

#SpoonTip: I took approximately 15 different shots of this donut s'more.

If you see something cool, you want to make sure you get a good shot of it. I can't tell you the number of times I've walked away thinking, "Got it!" only to realize during editing that it would have looked a lot better if I had done a birds-eye shot or put the focus just a smidge more in the foreground. Get different angles, zooms, and focuses on anything that sticks out to you.

Be Bold in What You Request

Leah Valenti
#SpoonTip: I asked them to have donut pizzas ready for me, so they made all of these specifically for my visit!

Don't be afraid to ask for special filming access. When you're direct in your requests, people will often let you film in the kitchen, interview important people, or make food specifically for your video. It doesn't always work (like when I tried getting backstage passes at Lollapalooza, and I was sharply turned down), but sometimes it pays off to be as bold as the food you film.

Spoon opens up the door with their awesome video program and tools, but it's up to you to drive your experience forward. Whether you're sourcing footage from the internet or going out and shooting your own, take risks and truly immerse yourself in the stories you want to capture.

I have only been making Spoon videos for a year, and this mindset has allowed me to not only become a much better videographer and editor, but also to gain a newfound confidence in an industry I never thought I'd have a chance to be a part of. Do the same, and who knows? Soon you might be rollin' in millions of views as well.