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Current time:0:00Total duration:8:52

Director of photography: How I got my job and where I'm going

Video transcript

as a kid I always want to be a comedian I always I always thought that that was the goal I want to grow up to be hilarious and famous and crazy and you know weird my bunches and but really I wasn't quite that kid at I was an anxious quiet introverted kid but I had this dream of being in the movie business of like you know kind of being on screen and then as I grew up I started to realize I really enjoyed filming my friends doing goofy stuff so we would make a little skate videos or we would make you know videos like little films that were just jokes and funny and that sort of thing I got into theater and we did the same sort of thing we did improv when we make little videos with that and we started a news show for high school and I built that from the ground up I was like 15 year old and really enjoyed you know kind of the jokes and making the whole school laugh and I was the one that made it all work because the one that shot and edited it and learned all the software that way as I got into college I wanted to go to like a big big film school I wanted to go to you know one of the big names like UCLA or NYU or Full Sail or the type of film school that you go to and you learn from real filmmakers and I saw the price tag on those schools and I grew up with parents that weren't making very much money and I knew that they could never afford that sort of thing and I didn't want to incur a hundred thousand dollars in loans just so I could go shoot movies somewhere and hopefully make money at some point so I decided to go to a school that had a undergraduate exchange that basically I could go to a state school in another state so I get away from my parents and and be independent and but not have to spend a ton of money I applied for scholarships and I was accepted into Denver Bound Scholars Program and they covered my tuition for four years I was put into an Honors Program that helped cover some of my other expenses and then I took out a few loans to cover the rest of my like living expenses I graduated with $18,000 in student loan debt which for the price tag of the school wasn't wasn't too bad and I could afford to make those payments now working as a professional while in college I got a job working at our University theater so that was something I had done in high school where I would run lights and sound for shows and I was kind of still doing creative work that way but I decided to go for a science degree because I thought I needed a real job and because I could because there was electives available in my degree program I was able to start taking the film classes that interested me I didn't want to get a full film degree but I could go and learn you know the lighting and the grip equipment there I could go and shoot a documentary for a semester through those classes I kind of became more friends than just students with the professors and I started working on their personal projects they saw something in me that they they liked and they wanted to train me more on their projects so when they went out to shoot a movie they brought me on and through those connections they were able to recommend me for a job at the University to make videos internally at the University that job led to a staff job and then when I was able to leave that staff job to go freelance the university actually has been hiring me back as a freelancer because they missed the work that I used to do and that's been a really great relationship where I was able to leave a staff job and immediately have freelance work to cover my costs as a freelancer I never really applied in a formal way for any of my jobs when I was really young I tried to get jobs in retail and no one ever wanted me so I got a job working at my local theater earning the sound board and that was because my teacher recommended me for it and that's honestly been the best way for me to get jobs my entire life is through building relationships with people who are better than me and then then mentoring me to a point where I can be hired to do that job I've been very very lucky throughout my professional career I've been able to fail often and quickly with a big trampoline below me I've had bosses and organizations that will put up with me learning on the job and a lot of low risk environments where I didn't necessarily have to go out and fight for that job and fight to keep it it was more somebody thought you're doing good work maybe you'd like to try this and if that doesn't work out it's okay but like you'll learn a lot I didn't necessarily enjoy shooting everything that I did while I was coming up but I do feel like I took something interesting away from each one of those experiences like going on shooting the wedding is kind of a terrible thing for most people and in most people's eyes but for me it was great I looked it was like shooting news like you only get one chance you have to shoot fast you have to get it right if it's not in focus its unusable if you have bad audio it's unusable so you've learned quickly in those situations and that's really important I think being a DP is a is a craft and the more that you shoot the more than you experience what it's like to be on set what it's like to work with different camera systems or different types of people you're gonna get better at what you do each time I've worked with a lot of young people that have said to me and I kind of agree with with my own work I've never made anything I like I see something at the end of the day and like oh it looks great and I look at it two days later and what kinds awful is you only see the mistakes and it's only by working a lot and producing a ton of work then you get to the point where you start actually liking the pictures that you shoot and I'm still at that point where as a photographer I'm doing better work than I am as a DP and that's an interesting transition I'm getting better results with a stills camera than I am with a video camera and why is that now I have to kind of bridge that gap of how - like how do I catch up between my skill sets in a perfect world in ten years I see myself with a stable passive income whether it's from this production company or other investments and then with enough freedom to choose what I want to work on I currently work six or seven days a week and I would love to have a family in ten years and I don't want to work in six or seven days a week so the dream would be to work one one week a month and and that one week is either doing really interesting big work or something I really care about and the rest of the time I can spend on my family or you know other interesting creative endeavors Denver is the type of market where if you do great work people notice quickly and that may not be the case in a larger market and that's my hope is that if we can build this production company with the kind of reputation that we believe it could have where people hear our name and it's synonymous with quality and professionalism and great customer service and we can keep reaching higher and doing bigger and better work and use that as a platform to maybe do more interesting fashion projects work on that great documentary for a cool cause or shoot an independent film that we're really passionate about I'm excited for my future because I believe that through these opportunities that I've been given recently and building my own business I can not only get better what I currently do but learn to do bigger and more interesting work I want to go out and shoot big big commercials that you'd see during a Super Bowl you know or shoot a movie that would be released in hundreds of theaters that's really my dream I want to be that kind of DP I'm sure a million people say that that's that's everybody's dream but I think that you do have to set your set the bar for yourself very high and hold yourself to a high standard or else you'll never get there it's not gonna happen by chance even if I go out and say you know I want to shoot the biggest commercials or the biggest movies and I end up shooting an independent film that is really beautiful and tells an amazing story and is a success in the long term I'd be happy with that some of my favorite our small films that tell a really beautiful story and it's not about being a huge commercial success but more about doing something so well that it's undeniable and it is truly beautiful and timeless
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