As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a filmmaker. From my first ‘movie’ I made when I was five, I knew that’s what I’ve wanted to do. Because of that, I’ve been making videos for fun all my life.
I experimented with editing, camera angles, writing, and every other aspect of filmmaking, trying to make the best video I can, accidentally learning skills and techniques to improve the production value of my work.
You can check out some of my movies on my YouTube channel.
Starting To Create Real Projects
Sophomore year of high school is when filmmaking superseded being purely a hobby. I was asked by my previous middle school to make advertisements for their electives. This included a six video series, filmed in classes, featuring a typical day as well as injected with student interviews.
This was a huge undertaking for my first real project. And of course, I wasn’t being paid for it. This is extremely common in the world of semi-amateur, semi-professional video. Even though I possessed technical skills and equipment beyond a typical person, I was still seen as a kid with a camera, who could be replaced by anyone. And that was how it was for most of my life; the biggest undertaking has been breaking out of that.
My escape from this began shortly after, in Junior year. This time, I was approached by my principal, Mike Fowler. He asked me for an even larger undertaking, a video showcasing the entirety Granite Hills High School had to offer. This included going to events, filming students in class, using students to deliver dialogue, and generally resulted in more than 50 hours of work. I wasn’t paid for this either, but it was a major step towards being paid in the future.
On top of being shown at a district board meeting, the video was posted to my school’s website and remains there to this day. This work was a huge step towards legitimization, demonstrating not only the professional production value I can produce, but also showing my work to, now, thousands of people. This provided me with natural marketing, with members of the schools staff approaching me for projects, some unpaid, but more importantly, some paid.
Moving To Real Gigs
There has been many more works that have legitimized me in this fashion. I’ve done multiple projects for the East County Chamber of Commerce, one directly tied to my school, filming a conference we attend, and another outside, being approached to help with a educational video series. Additionally, I’ve done multiple works for the Alpine Women’s Club as well as my school’s theater club, Eagle Theater. All of these projects further demonstrated my ability and validated that my work could be used professionally.
Getting Paid Projects
My first paid project was a film competition, the objective of which was to explain the governmental organizations called Special Districts. It wasn’t a guarantee, since it was a competition, but I won, so it earned me $750, as well as earning my school $750 as well. After that, I started working for my mother, a real estate broker. She has me make advertisements displaying different houses she’s selling as well as general marketing pieces for her YouTube channel and website. This is a steady source of income, directly going to funding my education, that has been coming since I started a couple years ago.
In the past year or so, I’ve had normal jobs on top of these projects. I worked at Subway, the sandwich chain for a few months, but more recently, and interestingly I started working for a retail store. While in of itself that may not seem interesting, this store, Seek and Gather, is owned by a non-profit healthcare corporation, and occasionally the executives from the parent company will come in to see the store.
Well, after listing on my resume that I had videography and photography skills, they quickly put me to work photographing the store, on top of my normal salesman duties. After showing some of my work to the executives, they later approached me to ask if I could make introductory videos for employees at their clinics. I, of course, said yes, and that project is in pre production right now, planning to shoot in June.
On top of this, I have many more projects currently underway, one for Pattern Energy Group, specifically the Ocotillo Wind division, one for Eagle Theater on their play Into The Woods, more for my mother, one for another realtor, and even more than that. Most of those are paid, which are just supplementing my original salary from my traditional job. I’m finally making money doing what I want to do, and there’s nothing more I can ask of life.
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Check out the other finalists here: 2018 Side Hustlin’ Student Scholarship Results Page.