In this episode of the Next Level Filmmaker podcast, I speak with the LA based director Paul Schneider about chasing work, and what it takes to step stepping up.
Always part of the narrative, but it can’t be like the sole part of the narrative like, like if you are chasing the, the worst thing you can do is chase the work.
Welcome to another episode of the next level filmmakers show where we interview filmmakers from around the world to explore their pathway to success. What worked, what’s working now, so you can take your Korean business to the next level. I’m your host, Clarke, Scott. And I believe that having the right systems in place is the difference between taking your career and business to the next level, or just being another dude or dudette with a camera. So if you’re tired of hustling for one off projects, being undervalued and underpaid, I’d like to invite you to an exclusive free training I’ve put together for filmmakers, just like you where I share the exact strategies I’ve used to grow my own video production agency. Just go to Clarke, Scott education.com. Let’s clock with an E. Clarke Scott education.com, forward slash free training. That’s Clarke, Scott education.com forward slash free training and start your journey to becoming a next level filmmaker today. Alright, so Mr. Schneider, you ready? Ready? Alright. So the first question I ask everyone is, how did you get your start?
How did I get my start in filmmaking or in I mean, in anything, I mean, I, I actually started my, I guess, officially start started my career as a graphic designer. I was, you know, I went to art school. I went, you know, I was like, in advertising. And I like I was pursuing advertising path and very quickly realized that that wasn’t really my thing. I also was a skateboarder I was a, I always like to say I was a pretty mediocre, professional skateboarder, like many years, good enough to be there, but but you know, just just barely. And so a lot of my filmmaking started with, with kind of filling my friends with skateboarding and snowboarding and that kind of thing, and just kind of grabbing a camera and just kind of being adept with those things. But at a certain point, my, my kind of graphic world kind of started moving, I started moving into like motion graphics and design, motion design and visual effects and things like that. And more and more I was getting opportunities to, to film. And because I had a little bit of experience, again, it was like, there was a lot of trial by fire, it was like, because I had experience with a little bit of experience with cameras a little bit experienced filming my friends, I was able to go and shoot a few things, and sometimes those because I was the only person with the camera, you know, their own their own camera. So, um, yeah, just a lot of trial by fire a lot of like, not saying no, you know, design client saying, Hey, you know, we really would love to do these videos, do you think you could do you know, and and we just, you know, just saying, sure. And taking on jobs that were probably I actually wasn’t qualified for at the time. Just not letting those things you know, not letting not letting anything slide, just trying to make the best possible work that I could at any given time.
Okay, so the so through your teenage years, you were skateboarding were you shooting then
I started skating? Like, yeah, well, all through all my life. I’ve been skating since I was a child. But, um, but I think I started shooting and of high school and into college. Like as I was in design school, like I tried the normal path of, I didn’t really know I was going to be a designer, I, you know, try to go to business school and all kinds of things like that when I went to college, and then I very quickly started focusing on artistic endeavors. And, um, yeah, I guess I really started shooting, filming my friends when I was in, in college, like late High School and early college. And then once I kind of gotten to advertising after college, I was doing a lot more shooting just because I was finding that advertising wasn’t, wasn’t hitting it for me creatively. And then I went into a, like I pursued a master’s program called Cranbrook, which was like kind of a very eccentric, kind of Dead Poets Society art program. No, no rules kind of program and I really started shooting a lot During that program, and like just making lots of films, and like lots of little short films and lots of little kind of combining my love of design, and my love, love of action sports and filmmaking and, and just kind of trying to mash those things up together,
we still working in advertising at the time when you went, did you? Yeah, I
mean, well, I kind of quit. I was working in advertising at the time until I decided, like, once I got out of college, undergrad, I was maybe working in advertising for three or four years. And then I decided to go back to school. And once I fully committed to going back to school, and I decided to go to this program, I decided to just save up enough money to where I could kind of give myself a cushion where I could live for a short period of time, you know, like not not even not even nearly enough money, but like just enough that I could like live on like ramen noodles while I went to this design, you know, this, this grad school. So I got into this grad school, and just just decided to take like two years off and just push it. And from there. Interestingly enough, from there, I actually got out of grad school and was continuing a design program like a design push, I like made a little started a little boutique, design agency graphic design. And one of my big clients at the time was rosin, Neil, which was like, surf or I mean, a ski, snowboard company. Yep. And I got them. I got that client through from a bunch of my design work. And they were one of the ones that I think for I first started shooting a lot of, like, videos and things. So you’re doing you’re doing graphic design logos and letterhead. Yeah, like early motion graphics stuff. Is that with a letter? Is it with the name Lindemann comes from? letters home? Yeah, yeah. Okay. That’s like, that was my like, moniker back then.
Yeah, well, let’s because it’s your email. So when I was trying to find your email this morning to send you through the zoom link, and it was like, I’m searching Paul, I’m searching Paul Snyder. And I was like, Where’s his email, sending the link? And, and then I was like, Oh, hang on. Now. It’s lit or something. And I typed then is like, there it is. Okay, got it.
Yeah, I did. I did a project in in graduate school, or Yeah, like my master’s program had like, like, I did a project called letters home. Okay, it wasn’t a big design project. And I just, it just kind of stuck with me and said that you’ve had that email for everything, wherever. And I just kind of like put it on everything.
Yeah, cool. Cool. Cool. So um, alright, so you so you’re doing graphic design for companies? Are you you basically then but you’ve got this love of video of short films, scanning videos, etc? Are you trying to convince these clients that hey, I’m not just I’m not just a dude with a with a stylus? I’m actually a dude with a camera as well.
No, it was weird. Because back then it was back then. It was total passion projects, everything was like, either the stuff I was doing for clients was, you know, they didn’t have money to do it. Like, they didn’t have money to do it. So I was the only choice for them a lot of the time. And then all the other stuff I was doing was like, really experimental, like just trying to just actually horrible videos, if I looked at them now they’re so dated and weird, but it was like, I’m just just trying to like combine lots of artistic things into film, you know, and then kind of experimenting, you know, like, yeah, experimenting with video, many DVD stuff, a lot of experimenting with a lot of shooting a lot of film, you know, the classic things, throwing, you know, getting the edgy stuff, throwing the film on the ground, and then like running said, you know, Phil, you know, I’ll just just and then re recording that and then bringing that back into like after effects and doing crazy stuff. And so like, trying to do not, it was more experimental and environment. And that was a lot. I think the thing that got me attention then was that because I was coming from kind of a skateboard side and the snowboard side and the actual sport side. I was like, everything had an energy to it. It was less about narratives, it was less about it was about creating an emotion and it was about creating and about creating motion. And there’s always just like energy to the work it was always felt like He was moving forward. And it’s like, that’s a narrative. That’s still a narrative. You think it’s a narrative. It’s a weapon like I was avoiding, it’s still narrative, but it wasn’t crying. And I didn’t, I don’t think I had the complexity to like, you know, other than just like, there was no subtlety to the work. It was just like barge marching, marching. And so, um, I just, I just was just pushing all that. And I wasn’t really trying to convince clients, like, clients would need to look at it. And they’d be like, well, that’s really cool. Or, we have no money. That’s, that’ll do. And, and it wasn’t until like later on that I started working, I started getting crossing into like, things like title sequences and openings, where I was combining my like love of design, with, you know, more more story points, and I started doing a lot more titles. And I joined this other company called Digital kitchen, which ended up being quite a large company, when I when I joined them, they’re very small. And we did a lot of a lot of like title sequences. And so, and it was interesting, because when that happened, again, at that point, I was one of the few people that was actually qualified to, like, shoot these things, or to, you know, or to direct these things. And so, and that really wasn’t saying much, it was just saying that I had some experience. And there was a lot of other people that were at that company that were designers that had never been around on a set or picked up a camera or did anything. So I did a lot of I did a lot of work in these title sequences. And then I slowly started getting to a point where I kind of, you know, it’s weird, because I love design. But I started getting to this point where I was feeling like a lot of my design work was starting to be viewed and appreciated by just a very small collective of people, I felt like I was like, the people that I could, I started getting to a point where I wanted to elicit more emotion in the work, and to just try and like, kind of get to get to something where people would actually feel something from the work more than just like pure energy. And so I started like, pulling away from design, because I felt like the design community was essentially, at least the kind of, you know, experimental design community that I thought I was part of was like, really just kind of designing for themselves, you know, as bit designing for my friends, and, you know, maybe 100 other people, you know, something like, that sounds like art in general, though, doesn’t it?
Yeah. I mean, it was like that. I mean, the same thing happens in all art, I think, on some level. And so I just realized that, you know, just the smallest little thing, you know, like a little smile on film can elicit so much more emotion, yeah, when I could get, and I could work days and weeks on a on a design piece. And then someone who ultimately, it was a commercial piece of someone ultimately throw it in the trash. And if it wasn’t a commercial piece of it was like, just kind of a poster or something that people I was designing it for. were like, you know, I knew them all my name, and I could, you know, I didn’t really need to be making, you know, art pieces for them. Yeah, yeah. And so that’s kind of where it led. So it’s like, it’s very much like kind of a slow, steady thing. It’s like design, you know, design and advertising and then moving into more experimental design and, and bring the film with it. And then slowly working my way up until I’ve like, kind of design started fading when foam started.
Okay, and the whole while you’re kind of educating yourself and, and iterating on skills and getting better and yeah,
yeah, yeah, I mean, I think that that’s one thing, and I can’t really speak to other people’s other people’s like, situations, but it’s like the one thing that I’ve always been able to do is I feel like I’ve been able to kind of soak up like, software and information like I’m just the information how I like it to to a fault actually to a point where I, sometimes I have to stop myself from, from like, I have to, like just sit down at work, because I’ll just like I can noodle with things all day or I can get new information all day. But yeah, like just I’ve always been able to soak up different software. I’ve always been able to kind of get what I need out of certain things and I’m always trying to like, like, I’m always aware of the new tools that I can use. You know, like, I mean to like even to like, um, minutia level, like if Photoshop comes out with something, you know, new version of Photoshop, I always take the 10 minutes, where I like, okay, what’s the new thing here? Well, you know, the read, like, it saves like huge amounts of time, you know, like or after effects or nuke or you know, Maya or whatever it’s like, I just try and I don’t like obsess over this stuff anymore. But like, through the years, I just take the, the half an hour or 20 minutes, I need to just learn what’s new, so I can see if it applies to something fresh and new for me. Okay, you know,
so, at this point, you’re still a digital kitchen. When was this was this Oh, that
was a while ago, I left I left digital kitchen and I assembled a kind of a real at while I was at Digital kitchen. Real of like trailers and some commercials and things like that. And I left digital kitchen A while ago that was maybe 2006 or something. So Alright, it’s I mean, it’s a while ago at this point, and then I just moved in and just started directing commercials full time.
Okay, so I know I came across you with your, the because you’re into obviously you’re an actress, but we’ve mentioned that before, but you were also into CrossFit at one point. And then you you did breathe. So that was the the Vimeo staff pick thing. That’s when I first came across you. And I remember, it’s interesting, that if you I think if you go back through Vimeo staff pics, there’s an evolution of you can see it. I mean, there’s the cameras that came out five D Mark two, we know vincelot for all that whole story, right? And it just changed the fucking world, like the world rapidly changed. But the thing that I that I see, with really great video is always a sound design. Like that, that is never v visually things we’ve got better. But when things really work as the sound is on, and the sound is on in that I thought was amazing.
Thanks. Sure. I mean, well, the point with breeze is that it was basically instigated by the sound design, you know, part of, you know, we’re talking about cameras and things and it’s like, I had come from a world where I was using a lot of crappy cameras, and a lot of like mini DV cameras and shooting film and spending way too much money on 16 millimeter film and, and when I had an opportunity, you know, when those cameras started coming out, and I had the opportunity to like, play with those, I was just like a kid in a candy store. You know, like I was immediately, you know, out there trying to get as much as much interesting, you know, like, like, as much interesting kind of experimental things as I could. And, and, you know, one of the things I really wanted to do and you’re right, I was I was involved in CrossFit. And and I actually had a friend who was managing a CrossFit gym. And the two things I wanted to do with that piece was I wanted to shoot, like I was I was working on every day with these people that were like incredible athletes, but they weren’t like professionals by any stretch of the imagination. I wanted to do something that was really dynamic, from a sports perspective, with normal people, average people. And I wanted to do something where it was 100% dominated by sound design, because of the time everything, including most commercials, sports wise, were like driven by these like driving driving soundtracks, and I just wanted something where it’s like, it was quiet because mosun Bri like, it’s perfect on so many of the you know, like and it was also like the title Well, it’s like, it’s like so much of the workouts to me, were done in kind of quiet, you know, they weren’t done to like these driving soundtracks, you know, more of that but it’s like, so much of it was just people hanging out doing these workouts. And I just wanted to capture that. I don’t want to capture really intense people so I like literally went around to the gym and found like you do you do like, like, you know you do kipping pull ups better than any person I’ve ever seen did kipping pull ups you do. You know, you do this better. You know, it’s like I found all these people that had like specialties and I just recorded their specialties. And I wanted to just have the soundtrack drive the whole thing and so I put it to a really really soft bed and I really worked to mix To sound super well, and ultimately, as it was going, I wanted to create a piece that was, you know, about a minute long or so. And I wanted it to be like, Okay, this is how these people spent their minute, how do you spend your minute? You know, you have a certain amount of, I think that name actually came, I read an article where it was just talking about we have a certain amount of certain amount of breaths that we take in our lifetime. Yep. And in a minute, it’s like, this is how these people chose to use their breath. And that was it. Okay, and, you know, none of it was like, super high concept, but it was like, at the same time, it was, was just a couple of simple ideas and just trying to have a, you know, have a fun. Yeah, no,
yes. For me, I think the there’s, there’s basically, there’s, I reckon you could say there’s one idea in that entire video. And it really is in the title. And it is it then kind of maps of bat maps its way back to life. Like I’m not into CrossFit. I am never going to do CrossFit. But I love that video. And the reason why I love that video is that it was very it was very humanistic. It was about human beings. And it was about the one thing that we all do. Doesn’t matter what species you are doesn’t matter what gender you are doesn’t matter what creed religion, where you come from, doesn’t matter whether you’re old or young, we all breathe. And there’s poetry in that. And the poetry is really in the in the in the sound design because there’s, there’s this openness about it, even though the visuals are beautiful. I’m guessing that was shot on the five D is that correct? I think it was shot 70 on a seven day okay. Yeah, so but it was it was around that time when the crazy what happened next, did you because that was Vimeo staff pick when Vimeo staff pics kind of meant something. What was what happened next? I mean, did you get any work out of it? Let’s, let’s cut. Um, I kind of know the answer before I even asked the question. Yeah, the answer is no. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
I mean, I mean, it’s weird, because I would say that that video has gotten a lot. I mean, certainly, it’s got a lot of views. But, you know, right after that video, I had a lot of people contact me, I’ll tell you what, with that video, I’ve had a lot of people contact me about that video. Reebok at the time, was really, really getting involved with CrossFit. And then a whole CrossFit arm. And Reebok contacted me directly and wanted wanted me to do a version of that video is a by the video or do a version of the video. And, but like, they actually didn’t want to pay for it at all. So it was it was like, mommy’s, like, nothing like literally they wanted to pay so little. And it was really like, at that time. By the time that I did breeze. I was still I was doing these experimental pieces, but I was like an official convert. Like, I was a commercial director, I was doing commercial work, I was being paid to do commercial work. I had a rate you know, and I was like, well I can do this I can go out and do this for you For you know, for my life. We can just do like commercial or you know, you could buy this and you can pay the athletes you know, because I thought it was my friends basically I’m like athletes this this basic amount and it was actually quite a low price. And, and the second there was any like money any any money compensation and all they just vaporized and then like somebody’s angry that makes me angry. You know, you know what makes me angry is that um, that video has been ripped off probably now 20 or 25 times where people have like ripped it off and put it in, in their advert like ad agencies have ripped it off and you deserve it for their videos. Yeah, and for like the corporate videos. gyms rip it off all the time and they like I’ve had three or four gyms uses the background video and their thing and and to actually go actually download it and use your actual video. Yes, download and use that actual video as like, yeah, the amount of people I’ve probably 20 to 25 different separate instances. I’ve had to like, make phone call and be like, hey, that’s not that’s not cool.
Yeah. The I think in a lot of ways filmmakers when it comes to business. We are our own worst fucking enemies. We We are ignorant. And we almost were blissful of that ignorance. And because of that, businesses like Reebok and these other, they just, they use us. photographers are the same.
But it’s like, it’s, there’s, there’s levels, you know, like, I don’t think I’m my own worst enemy I have, like, you know, I have agents and managers that that, you know, go out and find me work I do, you know, I do commercials, I get paid, like a good wage to do that people actually pay to do those things. All those companies, Reebok has an ad agency, that they go, and they actually make commercials, and they have a budget for it. But then there’s this kind of like second tier that doesn’t really have anything, you know, any assets, or they and their and their goal is to go out and find, you know, for more or less people to exploit, and they go and they search YouTube, they search Vimeo, and they find people who have done cool videos, and they just assume that those people are, you know, starving artists and that they’ll just kind of cave. It’s very, you know, it’s really weird when they find those videos, when, you know, I’ve done a few videos online when people find them, and they and then they contact me and actually realize I’m, I’m a working director, they they tend to vaporize really quickly. Because they you know, they don’t want to pay for things. Yeah, may know that you’re not easily abused. Yeah, I mean, it’s Yeah, it’s like I try if I’m going to work for free, like I work for free all the time. But it’s like, if I’m going to work for free, I’m going to do something really cool. And it’s going to be for, you know, my friends or myself.
Yeah. And this is a strategic reason probably why you do it. It’s either just pure friendship, or there’s some kind of strategy behind it. I was talking to sharpened here who did 100 years of Leica that spot. Yeah, that’s probably five, six years ago. And this is Leica. And he did that he did that for free. And but the one a whole bunch of awards and got him, he was able to basically level up because of that. So when I spoke to him about that, I kind of dig a little bit and, and realize that he’s actually a very strategic thinker. Every every single year, he sits down with his agent and looks back through all of the work that he’s done in the past year, and then and then works out. This gig was really good. And it got us no work. This gig was okay. But it got us a lot better work over here. So let’s do less of that. And more of that. Right. Yeah. And that that kind of level up.
And that’s really important. And, you know, it’s interesting, there’s, you, it’s a really interesting thing, when you can do that. And when you can have like an agent, that or manager or something that actually helps you navigate those fees, like more or less, like I’ve found from a commercial level. You know, people just want to like just shove you shove work at you. And there was even a time like, a couple, three or four years ago, where I did three or four jobs in a row that really weren’t, you know, they paid really well, but they weren’t really real worthy jobs. And I felt so burned out after and I felt so like, okay, now, what about what can I make, that’s going to actually that I can show the world, you know, because what can i because if I show the world, you know, none of it was embarrassing work. But it was all just kind of straightforward works, it’s not going to, you know, it’s not going to get you, it’s not going to get you more work kind of thing. So it was like really do have to sit down and do self evaluation. And I definitely don’t begrudge anyone for doing jobs to, you know, to feed their family and whatnot. But it’s like, you do have to realize that at a certain point, you have to, if the work is if you’re real, or if you’re like if your scenario isn’t generating isn’t generating the kind of work you want to do, it’s never going to you have to do something that’s going to cause it’s going to cause a like a reinvention. And that is something that is the most it’s like the hardest thing to deal with. And it’s the hardest thing to deal with as every, every about five or six years, you’re gonna have to do that. It’s like, you can’t just do you feel like you can just do a once and then have it and then just be like, okay, I did it. I did that cool piece. And now I can sit back and let it come in. That doesn’t happen. It’s like you could do that. And then if it kind of works, then every about two or three years, you better start thinking about doing some more stuff, you know, even if that worked really well, you know, but you always have to have something You know, interesting, you always have to be evaluating where you are in the marketplace, where it or where you are in your marketplace, whether that’s, you know, monetary or just, you know, create it.
Yeah, I agree. I think doing and that really speaks towards doing either your own passion projects, whether they be short films, you know, kind of low budget features, or spec stuff as well doing stuff. That’s different doing stuffing stuff on spec. Let’s move on to the next question. And it’s kind of a nice segue, I think, because that kind of speaks to something unusual that you’ve done. So the question is, what’s the one thing or even unique, unique or even strange thing that you’ve done or have done in the past that you see as being the biggest contributor to your success so far?
unusual thing? Well, well, I don’t know. I mean, I think it’s, I think it’s what have I done this, that that’s actually contributed to my success? I don’t know. Like, I think
I think the one thing I do consistently is I try and change things up. I mean, it’s not a one thing. It’s like a, it’s like, I get, like, I pursue, like, I pursue something for a while. And then I get to a point where I’m like, okay, I feel like I’ve done this and then I’m move it like the one thing that in recent years, I think, that I’ve done is really pursue make an effort to pursue like, narrative pieces and dialogue over like, more visual pieces. Because I felt like, you know, even though I totally love really visual pieces, like I made a move more into it, on some level, I made a move more into like, you know, narrative drama and comedy, in my, in my work, you know, and comedy was, like, totally, like, I would have never thought that I was going to be a comedy director, but I’ve done plenty of comedy pieces now. And that’s, and there’s something about apparently, my sense of humor that’s like, that works. You know, it’s like visual and interesting, or Gore. It’s or it’s visual, visual comedy or something. You know, there’s something about like, my take on that that has kind of stuck in the marketplace. It’s like, allowed me like, if we’re talking strictly from a career perspective, it’s like, actually translated really well. And I would have never expected that. Okay.
And that’s probably and that’s really not one thing that you’ve done, because that you you kind of just fell fell into that. Yeah, I mean, I know you’re looking for the one. Yeah, I’m like a Wiccan, I’ll dig, because it’ll be there. It’ll just be buried. And sometimes self reflection is a big part of my life. But it is, it can be very hard to see. There’s There’s a saying there’s, it’s easy to say fly on another’s back, it’s hard to say the elephant on your own. So in some in some ways. This question is about kind of teasing, teasing that out. So you mentioned about changing things up. And again, that’s about the work. I would say, if we were, but it could be this, then there may be a reason why you’re doing that. So my question to you would be, what’s your motivation behind changing it up? So you said every five years, and you’ve mentioned this a few times throughout the interview about and if we look back actually, at your history, it’s a it’s a big part of you as a man, like graphic design into video, from video into film that into kind of commercial stuff. Breathe was a reaction to all this other stuff that was happening again, that’s all about change. Your stuff is happening here. It’s like, Fuck that. I’m sick of that. Let’s do it over. Let’s do this. Um, so there’s these almost huge 180 degree pivots that I can see in your life. And you and that’s them reflecting in your work? what’s motivating that? What is motivating that therapy session pool? Yeah, I don’t know. I mean,
sometimes I sometimes I think it’s sometimes I think it’s career but I don’t think it has anything to do with career. I think it has it has to do with I think it has to do with maybe it’s just simple boredom. You know, I don’t know, it’s like maybe I just get bored with a certain way. Like, like once I’ve kind of mastered a certain thing I want to like, I want to try something new. And
if you’re going to do that, then why not do something? I’m almost guarantee. I’m like ask asking questions when I when I believe I know the answer before I asked the question. So I won’t ask the question, I’ll tell you what I’m thinking, I believe, I believe there’s partly This is the strategy behind it, that they will be I want to try something new. And that will be where you’re feeling. You’re feeling viscerally. It’s like a it’s a boredom kind of thing. But no successful director in the world does not use strategy. That’s my firm belief. So I think coupled together with this feeling of wanting change, because you know, there’s an itch that gets created just through doing the same thing again, and again. Yeah, niche, then you scratch that itch. That’s the pivot. But before you scratch it, you go, where am I going to pivot to? Well, if I do this, this will actually make me get more work. And you’ve mentioned that before? So is that part of the internal narrative when you’re going through the pivot? how’s this going?
always part of the narrative, but it can’t be like the sole part of the narrative like, like, if you are chasing the, the worst thing you can do is chase the work. Yeah, I, you know, I think, I think that it’s like, that’s the most desperate thing that, you know, it reeks of desperation, even if it even if it’s as well meaning, you know, I really do think, you know, well, I’ll tell you, it, there is I mean, there is a component to that, you know, start going as far back as like that brief piece, there was a point where I was doing, you know, every once in a while I do a spec piece or something like that. I don’t, I don’t consider that anymore. Like, I don’t want to put like, if I go off and do something, like a lot of people would done would have done something like breathe, and they would have put a logo on the end, you know, they want to put somebody else’s logo on the end. And I didn’t want to put a logo on the end, I just wanted to make it a, I wanted to make something that was like, commercial, like, you know, like, I wanted to make it feel like it was it had about the right length of a commercial, it was a, it was a world and a length and a style that I was familiar with. But it was a film, you know. And so since then I’ve done, you know, all kinds of, you know, I do, what kinds of things like that, and I don’t put a logo on them anymore. Because I feel like, yeah, they might be able to be used to get me work, they might be able to use to advance be used to advance my career. But ultimately, there are passion pieces, and they’re initiated by me. And they’re, they’re things that I can do and, and put out into the world. And if they if they if they stick, great, you know, but if they don’t, then it’s like, I’ve experimented with that. And at the very least, I mean, from from a business perspective, I mean, at the very least, if I’ve tried something, there’s a film that I’ve got planned out that I’m going to shoot in a couple of weeks, that involves this crazy camera move that’s like this children and men style camera move. And I’ve never really done that before. And I don’t actually and it’s a very kind of dark piece. And I don’t actually know if it’ll have any kind of commercial liability, but it’s something I want to play with. And but but I do shoot a lot of cars now. So it’s like, I can always point back to it and say, well, like, you know, don’t look at how dark This is, but like this is this move could really be used for, you know, commercial, learning a technique or something like that. Yeah.
So I think what I’m hearing is that and and this is something that I talked to a lot of people about this so insane inside the next level filmmaker program, which I hate mentioning on the show, but it is something that is in that, that the coupling of core values. So this is what I’m hearing what you’ve done, perhaps not even just intuitively coupling together, and this will be real, I’m betting that one of your core values is integrity, because that whole logo thing will be that’s a play on integrity. If you’re able to find that balance between art and commercial reality, and just commercial work. What the way to do that is to really understand your core values, and then just make your brand and everything you do every video, do your branding, everything, a physical manifestation of those core values. And in doing so, you find that balance just naturally you’ll find like equilibrium water finds its own place, right water finds its own balance. You have you’re able to do that. But you know why? Because what you just spoke about was You wanted to shoot it that a 60 seconds, that was like a 62nd spot, you know, that all worlds kind of dying? Because the right the industry is dying. Tell television commercials is dying, right. But that legacy is there. So you’re thinking strategically you’re thinking you’re thinking strategically. But it’s Matt, back to these very strong core values. One of them will be, I’m guessing one of them will be empathy, because there was a lot of empathy in brief, and one of them will be integrity as well. Hence, no fucking logo at the end of the thing. Right? Well, I hope both of those things are true. I’m sure. I’m sure they are. So let’s let’s move on. The which kind of goes to, again, nice little segue, what is it that you do to sustain your career?
Well, I mean, I do a lot of that. I mean, lately, it’s really interesting, because I am again, like you said, the commercial world is dying. Um, I’m often, like, lately, what I’ve been trying to do, and, like, it’s something I feel like I was really wanting to do. As far back, as you know, five or six years ago, seven years ago, even eight years ago, is that I wanted to move into TV and film. Because ultimately, once I started doing commercials, when I first started doing commercials, I really kind of wanted to be more in film, I wanted to be more and doing that. And I really fell naturally, because of my background, I really fell naturally into commercials. And I started having a really successful run. And in some ways, I feel like I got a little sidetracked, like, I literally was working quite a bit. And it was great. But it was like, I wasn’t able to actually, like focus on the big picture, the longer form that I needed to, to be into film and television, I feel like both of those are two completely different mediums. But in the last two years, my focus has really been on those in entering into those worlds. You know, I kind of wish I would have done it before, but it’s like now I’m now I’m really kind of, you know, kind of whole hog going into those worlds. I still work on trying to advance my commercial stuff, I still, you know, working on a few like I try and like work out a few like spec pieces here and there. And, and I try and make sure that that, that the commercial pieces I work on are applicable or can can move forward, move my reel forward a little bit. But my personal work is, you know, more film based now. And I’m actually like, directing things towards, you know, like, I just, I just actually did a like I kind of went to square one I actually just did a shadowing I just shadowed a director for a new HBO series, I flew out to New York for a big HBO series where I had been invited by the director and I spent two weeks out there just working with this director, you know, for the series so that I can like understand exactly the ins and outs of, of television that I didn’t understand through through commercials. How did you get that was a personal contact? Is all the hours hustle? Yeah.
So a friend that you pestered until he said yes or
no. Fortunately, because I have a lot. I’ve done a lot of commercials, I have a lot of DPS, that dp cinematographer friends that are doing quite well now and have all moved into TV. And so most of the big programs, the most the big shows now are being shot by people that I know done. work, you know, works for you. Yeah, yeah. So one of the, this new, this new HBO miniseries was being shot by a friend of mine, Martin O’Brien, who I’ve, he’s one of my best friend’s. I’ve shot many, many things with him. But he also, it’s being directed by the head of our Directors Guild here. And I was at the Directors Guild for a meeting recently and met this guy. And I’m like, hey, you’re, you’re working with one of my, you know, what’s one of my best friends? You know, in a few weeks, you know, I’d love to come out and shadow you. And he eventually he, he actually at that point had had said no, and then once he went out there and started working with a with my friend, he he, you know, changed his mind and invited me out for a few weeks. But yeah, it’s a cool it’s like, it’s cool, but it’s like, you know, it’s but it’s literally like it’s, it’s it’s the kind of thing I feel like if I want to move into that world, there’s only me and TV, there’s only two things you can do. You can write your own show and sell it, or you can, or you can shadow directors and invite, you know, enter in that way. And so, you know, that’s, that’s the kind of hustle that I’m doing now, to expand my career, like, I feel that commercials are dying. I think that I feel really lucky to still be doing them. But I mean, you have to look at the look at the writing on the wall and say, Well, what, you know, what do you you know, like, this is really forcing my hand, it’s like, I’ve always wanted to do this. And it’s like, forcing my hand and saying, well, like, now’s the time, if I don’t, I don’t think about it now and move forward now, then it’s gonna, you know, it’s never gonna happen. Yeah,
I watched a great TED talk about marketing, advertising and NGOs. Yesterday, I’ll put the link in the show notes for everyone. But I want to basically not push back because I actually said it, that advertising is dying. I think television advertising is dying. And there and the reason for it is it’s not skippable. But I think that corporations, businesses, whether they be small, medium, or large, are still going to need to market themselves. So filmmakers and but it’s all digital now. So digital, digital media,
I just think that there’s the same amount of money. And it’s the pool, I don’t know if it’s just television advertising, but it’s like these, there’s the same amount of money that’s being allocated by clients, I can see it, I mean, I do these things for clients all the time, they have X amount of money for their budget every year, it fluctuates, 10% either way, but they have now instead of just putting it into television, you know, they have all these different things. So they have to, like try and figure out the most efficient way. And what they figured out already is that you can’t just shoot a TV commercial and stick it on the web. Yeah, you know, and no matter how many times now, you know, we’re all if the joke is now that it’s like, oh, we have to crop everything, you know, we’re shooting 16 by nine, but then we have to crop or nine by six. You know, like, I get that all the time. But it’s like, that doesn’t work, you know, that’s like you have to shoot. And so now it’s like, when I when that happens, I’m going out and trying to come up with solutions for people where we can actually, you know, shoot something for TV and then shoot something for, you know, for people’s phones and, and like, it’s, um, that’s what’s happening. And the other thing that’s happening with that is that people don’t put the same value on the web, as they do on a phone or a tablet or something like, or on the TV or something, like I have a big thing right now here is like 15, like, every other job is like people want to just shoot fifteens because they can put them back to back on TV, or they can have 15 or work better on Instagram, and have a YouTube video, or something like that, which is not necessarily true. Which is not necessarily true, but that’s what people are doing. And the big thing is, they think, well, it’s just gonna go on YouTube, it’s 15 seconds, it should be this much money. And this much money is way less than what a TV spot would be. I actually have a pitch on my desk right now, for for fifteens that are like, it’s like Christmas season. And they’re like big fifteens and they want to do big sex like elf like, you know, alpha movie, you know, big fantasy sets, and it would be really cool, but they’re like, well, they’re just fifteens it’s like yeah, but we still have to build we still have to build $100,000 in sets to do these things you know, it’s gonna be it doesn’t matter where they run if you want to have this set, it’s like you know, you choose we can either do 100 grand in set builds or we could do 100 grand in virtual sets, whichever you prefer. Yeah, you know, or you can go back and figure out like that locations and builds and things are really maybe not what you need to sell your product and you can actually just put some you know thought behind some of the ideas and come up with like really cool little thing that will actually work.
Yeah, the I saw an ad and his his I think what will happen is that the industry will mature and, and strategy that has multiple pieces of content, I call them value patents, multiple pieces of content that takes a viewing customer through a customer journey. So I saw a Red Cross add on was actually digital. So it was a TV was they’d shut it on it was a TV spot, probably cost them half a million bucks. It was a fantastic spot. But my wife and I were watching. We will we were watching like a digital. So it’s not Netflix. It’s one of the television stations here in Australia. But they still they’re running ads. So it’s basically just TV online and on demand TV. And the first time the ad ran was like, Oh, that’s really cool. I want to who shot that that was my first reaction. When the ad finishes, it goes back to the TV. 10 minutes later, the ads come back on same fuckin ad. And it’s like, okay, yeah, it’s really, it’s a really cool ad, within half an hour, I saw that ad six times. By the end, by the end, I did not actually hurt the brand, I started to get, I started to get upset that I kept seeing his fucking ad. Because I thought to myself, if that was digital, if that was the way away at some point where if you watch an ad, and this is certainly the case now with with, with YouTube, you don’t have to show the person that same ad if they’ve if they haven’t hit the skip button, show another piece of content that basically brings someone through through a customer journey. And that way advertising actually has utility. So that means that the business result for the bit for the for the company is better to have a better conversion rate. And then filmmakers are able to actually make more money because we’re shooting good stuff.
Yeah. Sounds Sounds like you have a career in advertising. Um, it’s like I actually do, I do. But that’s, I’m just saying it’s like that is that level is just, I feel like so many people are just trying to get through the next month of their job, you know, and they’ve now gotten rid of so many people in the ad in the ad world, they’ve gotten rid of so many senior people who were like, the top, you know, the long distance thinkers that people could that who could actually put those things together. And they basically just brought it all in with like temporary talent. It’s just how people view talent, you know, it’s how they do talent. And it’s how talent, you know, talent is, wants to be viewed, right? Like, there’s people that want to be freelancers, they want to come in, they want to do the job they want to get out. And so you’re never going to have that kind of strategizing with that kind of model, you know?
Yep. And, for me, the video production agency is a great model, because it’s, it’s how I run my business as an agency, which means that the strategies are on me, video actions on me and the business all day.
That’s a great, that’s a great model, if you can, if you can strategize, and you’re not just, I mean, I gotta say, it’s like it on the advertising side. For me. It’s like, it’s there’s a real, like, there’s a real like, there’s going to be dramatic moments coming to, to production companies here, because it’s so many people still trying to hang on to a model that doesn’t work. Yeah. And the production companies like all the APS that the production companies, there’s definitely like new modern APS that are out there that are like, that are forward thinking with so many people, they just see dollar signs attached to other things. They see dollar signs attached to, they want to do the production, they know how to do the production. But oh, let’s try and get the post budget. Oh, let’s try and get the marketing budget. And they’re just trying to grab these budgets, and they actually don’t know what to do with them. And then they get him in, they just kind of shove them over to like, whatever person that they can get to do it the cheapest and it’s like, that is like everything now, like, and it’s really frustrating, but, um, you know, like a blind Vincent for all of this. Yeah, people who I mean, I feel like like I always feel like I’m the people who are creating the content that people can like, who can actually come up with the ideas and then and then execute the content and deliver it those people are going to hold the crowd and there’s like the distribution people are they have to wait until we’re done doing our thing before they can eat I’m just sorry that’s just gonna have to be it wasn’t like that before I understand that. I need I need you producers I need you. I need you agents. I need you like I need you to like I need your your tenacity and going out and getting new clients and things like that. That’s what people are, you know, that’s a specialty that as a creative, I often don’t have. But off, but the thing is the people who are going to make the thing and come up with the idea, and figure out the strategies, and figure out how to deliver it, figure out how to shove it out there are ultimately going to be the ones that hold the crowns, and everyone else has to wait till we’re done doing their thing. So like what I mean, I really, really hate it when I hear about, like, people just being pushed around, you know, and they’re like, Well, I have to do this, or no, you don’t have to do this, you know, it’s like, you don’t have to do it, you are making the thing. So just just get on the phone, tell people, they gotta wait till you’re done making the thing and then go make your thing. And just make sure that when you turn it over it, you know, you’re listening. And it’s, it’s what everybody wants. Yeah,
and one of the benefits of having a video production, that video production agency model is, particularly if you own the company, you get like, you don’t know, you’re calling yourself as like, No, no, we’re the we have to this has to be shot, right. And we have to do it this way. So you know, your distribution chain, we’re looking at kind of more of a digital model. You get to say when you go live, so it’s um, well, that’s great. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So Alright, let’s, um, let’s move on to the next question. We’re kind of a little bit over time, but that’s okay. Because I really don’t know. What do you do for you? What do you do today to help your tomorrow? So really tactical kind of advice? What do I do today to help my tomorrow? Um,
I mean, kinda like I said, I’m making films, you know, I’m writing right now. That’s like, today, tell my tomorrow. I’m doing a lot of writing. Why I’m writing. I’m writing films, I’m writing pilots. That’s, that’s how I’m going to help my tomorrow.
Alright, so your, let’s break that down. So you’re you have you just shattered the HBO director. Yeah, I just finished the shadow. That’s aside, the shadowing gig that I just did was just finished, like two weeks ago, two weeks ago. Okay. So, um, and the the writing that you’re doing for pilots and what have you, you’re basically, the strategy is let’s write some really cool stuff. And then I’m making relationships over here. And then I’ll be able to kind of parlay that into my
strategy. My strategy moving forward, and film and television is kind of twofold. One, you know, I feel like my strategy for commercials and and for that kind of always be doing that kind of work. But my strategy for that is more hands on in terms of like, okay, every once in a while, I’m going to be going out making an like, if I have an interesting idea that I think could translate into a little short, that’s going to meet that. I’ll do that. If I have a, you know, you know, obviously, networking, things like that. I’m trying, you know, my hardest and I’m expanding things to try and work for that kind of advertising where I’m always out, always out, always making calls, always trying to make connections, meeting people for lunch, doing all this doing all that you know, all the foot traffic that you need to to kind of keep those things going. For my future careers. into film and television. I feel like film and television are kind of two different worlds. Film is very personal, like I’ve always wanted, I’ve always wanted to work in film, but I feel like film is like something that no one’s gonna, like, let you direct their film. And so I’m, I did a short film about a year ago. That’s on my site. That was a passion project, written with some friends adapted from from a short story I found contact to the author adapted it when shot it, total passion piece in one a bunch of awards to do that. It won quite a few awards. Yeah, I mean, it’s it’s weird. Like it taught me a lot about I’ve never been involved in the film festival world. Um, I did quite well on the festivals. I’m realizing like, like, it taught me a lot about what does well in festivals and what doesn’t do well in festivals. I’m very pretty. Yeah, I’m pretty honored that it did pretty well, because it’s about 18 minutes long, and that’s about 10 or 12 minutes longer than most people want to watch for film. And so the fact that I’ve had 1000s of people watch it, and it’s actually done, gotten some some decent credit. I’m pretty honored by that. I was like, pretty stoked. And, but that was like, my first foray into Kind of into filmmaking into that longer form filmmaking. And since then I’ve been writing a couple of I have two different films that I’ve been writing features. And those Well, once, it’s pretty much done the others nearing completion, and it’s just, those are going to be personal projects that I take out. And you know, I’m going to definitely try and sell, sell those and try and direct those. But I feel like those are very much, you know, personal endeavors, and those will be things I direct, and hopefully, you know, I can start a film career in that way. And then in television, I feel is, um, a little different, like, I don’t really feel like, like, when I come up as a writer, when I come up with my ideas, I think more in terms of just the film, writing for TV is a you know, it’s TV is really just a huge writers medium, you’re just going to be to write a pilot, like I’ve written a few little pilots, I don’t entirely know how if I want to be the person just totally involved in taking series after series, and like taking that out. But what really interests me is directing, directing some of this content, and working with like, really great writers, and just making that happen, because it seems like that the it’s a different experience in directing commercials. But in ways doing TV has a lot more in common with commercials that it doesn’t film. You know, you can already say that. Well, I mean, directors, it’s writers medium, typically the writers and the writers, the TV thing in TV, you know, you have like the show runners that are creating the arc of the show. And then you have usually the cinematographer one or two cinematographers are there for the entire duration of the show. And they are the kind of stewards of the the main look, and then
and then the directors are brought in for like three or four episode blocks, you know, sometimes as few as one episode but often more like three episodes or something. And, you know, work the director, I was just shadowing, you know, was there at the for this HBO miniseries for three series block, and it was, you know, it was a pretty intense it was it was basically like making a couple of features, you know, and in terms of how much how much work were talking about, but it was like, That, to me, feels like there’s definitely differences in that world and in commercials, but it’s it’s definitely much more closer than I would say, you know, then making a film, because you’re working. You’re working in tandem with writers, and you’re working in tandem with actors, and you’re working as a partner with those people and it’s actually really cool. Like, I like that. We’re like you don’t it’s not so filmmaking is so like, all encompassing and TV is more it’s like taking everything I learned as a commercial director and and elevating it to another level.
Yeah, and the film is much more personal I what I’m hearing is that television because you are input you’re basically implementing someone else’s creative in a way where a whole bunch of people are coming together and moving in one direction where in film and I’m thinking like someone like new Balaji along who’s I’m a massive fan of I’ve got a I’ve got a man crush on that guy. His whole backstory and the way he was able to bootstrap a career is a huge inspiration to me everything comes from him everything like the writing it like everything he is that he is the tip of the spear right and but he’s also created the entire sphere like it’s it’s quite amazing. And I love his films and Billy’s films are slow burn European house it’s a cinema so it’s not for everyone. But they highly personal and I don’t think he could work in the commercial world because he just likes to control absolutely everything so that yeah, that absolutely makes sense. It’s a cool story to man. So what’s in perhaps that’s that that set is something has inspired you but tell us something that you’ve read watched or heard that inspired you recently?
Well, I’m just trying to think what the most recent thing that I read, um it can be read watched or heard. Read watched or heard I’m going to busy. No, I mean, I have so much that I’ve done reading so lately. Um, I mean, man, I like, like, read watched or heard. It’s like, I
know that’s such it’s such a dumb thing to like, like, I just I’ve been, I’ve been watching like just little comedy stuff lately, which is hilarious, but it’s like, like, I don’t want really want to say that it’s really inspiring me. You know, like, I love like, like things like, like, I’ve been watching like a lot of comedy like HBO, like, Barry, I love that show. You know, I think that that’s a great show. It’s basically inspiring me because it’s like, visual, and it’s funny. But it’s like, lately, like what I’ve been reading, you know, I just read. The show I just was shadowing was called the plotting us, America. It’s like a David Simon. He’s like, a dad. He’s adapting a Philip Roth book, like this book here. Okay. And it’s like a period piece. It’s like a 1940s period piece, but it kind of is a little close to what’s going on today. You know? And so I was like, really? It was it. Maybe I was just inspired by the fact that I read the novel. And then I. And then I basically went off, it was like, filming it. And so I was, like, kind of immersed in it, you know, but it definitely like, it really started to stick with me on that level. Um, I don’t know, I could probably
I hate what you’re saying. It’s, you’ve read something. You’ve seen it in your imagination. And then you walk on the set. And you kind of see it your imagination in front of you with a whole bunch of Yeah, yeah, it’s that kind of thing. Yeah, I
mean, it I think it’s for the experiences inspired me, you know, and then the other thing that’s inspired me is like a, basically, I’m writing a film right now, about it’s a, it’s like a high school film that takes place in the 80s. And it all kind of centers back to my, my skateboarding, you know, skateboarding career, and almost not even career, but like my skateboarding time, and like punk rock music, and it’s basically a drama that happens, you know, kind of a dark comedy drama that happens in high school, all centered around that time. So I’ve been reading a lot of like, you know, like old, like, punk rock kind of pump, you know, punk rock, kind of like literature. And like, like, it all takes place in Detroit, where I grew up. So there’s like, this Detroit Rock City, which I don’t think would mean anyone, anything to anyone, but I feel like, it’s crazy. Because I read through this. And I know all these do, yeah, you know, like a lot of interviews. And, and so it’s really been super inspirational to me, because it’s not just about, it’s not like, the stories, but it’s like, I literally know, the guy, like I was going to like punk rock shows back in the day. And I knew the guy who took the photos. Yeah, okay. And like me, where I was like, the one guy was the video camera on when skating, he was the one guy that showed up with a, you know, with a camera to the punk rock shows. And now his stuff is like, all through this book. So I picked up this book. And I started reading it. And you know, just as a little bit of like, motivator, but it’s been very kind of inspiring towards writing this, you can see it on your
face, too. When you started when you were looking for something that inspired you as like, Fuck, what, what, what, and then it was the common theme.
Like, I didn’t want to, like, look around and just be like, What? I’m just like, looking around my office, because it’s like, I’m just attending to like, you know, I have like, a mood board literally, that has like things. Yeah, you know, it’s like, it’s, um, it’s like, I have so much so many, so many different avenues of, like, creativity that’s like coming, I have boxes of photos that I’m like, wading through every day. I mean, one of the things I do probably once a week is I have like, probably 1000 photos. And I like, physically printed photos. And I go through and I’m just like, just let, I’ll do like almost like a Zen exercise where I’ll just go through and, like, go through these photos, and see if anything resonates fresh with me. You know, is this like an interesting thing is is an interesting story is this, you know, how can I play off this? Does this make me think of something else? You know? So it’s like Yeah to like, it’s a very, it’s a very, it’s very punishing to like pick one thing that might be inspiring to me. Yeah,
I’m sure when you, if you look back and watch this part of the of the video interview, you’ll see it on your face like you face challenges, it becomes very evident that the punk rock and skateboarding and that story, that story you want to tell, like that viscerally your body language completely changed your energy changed it. So that’s what’s inspiring you. It’s almost like it’s, there’s probably there’s something around the stojo. But that fear that feeling of melancholic, nostalgic, kind of looking back at your own history, and being self reflexive, it is melancholic. And it’s also in the seljuk has melancholy in there. And that’s, it’s a bittersweet feeling. And that can be really inspiring and inspires me. It’s, it’s
inspiring. It’s like, it’s, I guess, the that’s the in the way that that book does or and, and a lot of the photos that I’m working with do yeah, it’s like, it’s interesting, what what was interesting to me, is about this story that I’m trying to tell is that it has really very little to do with my life. But it it centers in that world that it’s like truly a drama that centers in that world. Yeah, and it’s like taking on a different, you know, it’s like just shoving a lot of other things in my, in my life, kind of towards this, this period. And yeah, there’s a lot of there’s a lot of nostalgia with that. And there’s a lot of like, and I also feel like it’s a really, you know, it’s kind of a hip time to talk about right now. But at the same time, it’s like the things that are being like, I feel like the 80s is really hot right now. But the 80s, the 80s is being talked about, in terms of this kind of veneer, that people are, you know, they’re just taking like, the mall from the 80s. Or like, you know, the clothes from the 80s. Like the Stranger Things thing. It’s like it’s a huge veneer. But it’s not about like, actually, what was happening. And if
you lived through the 80s, it’s, it’s different than what you’re seeing it being portrayed on. popular media. Yeah.
I mean, it’s like, literally just like high school in the 80s was like, like, you know, john Hughes got it right. When people like, watch john Hughes, like, kids watch john Hughes movies. Now they’re like, Whoa, all those different subsections and people and things. They’re like, well, it’s not like that anymore. I’m like, it’s it was totally like that.
Yeah, I remember, just recently, my wife, who’s much younger than me. I sat her down and watched. We watched a whole bunch of donkeys. I think the first one we watched was Breakfast Club.
Yeah. My wife. My wife’s younger than me and does not get breakfast club at all. Yeah,
I had the same experience. It’s like, I love this movie. Let’s watch this movie. She sits down. He’s like, this is this is. And I’m like, What are you talking about?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. But you know, those things are like, legit.
I mean, like that. Those those subcategories were completely legitimate. So totally, totally, totally. I
was definitely the what’s the dude’s name? JOHN? JOHN Nelson. Yeah, john Nelson. That was that was that was me trying trying to be cool, but really not bad. Anyway. Alright, my thank you for your time. I really enjoyed this, this conversation. So thank you. Oh, it’s great. I’m glad. I’m glad that I’m glad that we were able to connect. To Have you enjoyed today’s episode. And here’s what I want you to do. Next, I want you to take one thing that you got from today’s show, and to put it into practice in your career in business, because it’s only through having the right systems in place, that you’ll be able to take your career and business from where you are today to where you want to be. So again, I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. So until next time, I’m Clarke Scott from next level filmmaker. Have a great day.
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