I started out with a laptop that my dad bought me for college graduation. I didn’t have any business training and I didn’t have direction, leads or even a company name. It was just me, my film degree, my laptop and a desire.
Whenever you first start a career it’s impossible to know exactly how to go about it so I was looking anywhere and everywhere for a job. In my search what I noticed was there was a big need for businesses needing video content. That would take me time to capitalize on so after about a year of working in the city in different capacities and trying to find a “job” I landed my first freelance gig. It paid $1,500 and it took me months to complete. I had no idea what I was doing and the job turned out awful to be honest. I had the drive but I didn’t have the skills. Not yet.
The video was so bad there is no link to be found. Thank God
This “not knowing what I was doing” theme is a theme of my story.
Instead of turning away from this life I doubled down and bought a camera and charged it to my credit card. 6 grand.
I was building up leads though so it eased my mind a bit. I had artists interested in making music videos and it excited me to create narratives for these videos.
They happen to be all rappers and they were all from Brooklyn and they were all real. What I mean by that is we see and hear a lot of rappers talking about the “projects” and we wonder if they are making up these lives or if they were real. Well these guys were the real deal. How would I handle this one?
So I’ll share 2 quick stories. 1 rapper I made a stop-animation video for him. I hired a team of artists and we drew thousands of pictures from a shoot to create the action. It is still one of my favorite projects not only because of the outcome but also because this was something I had no idea how to do but with research and persistence we were able to pull it off. It costs me 3 grand to make. The budget was $500. My lack of business skills is to blame here.
Fen Na Win by DV Alias Khryst
The other story is not as nice. This budget was $400 and it was about the “project” life. So we had to film in the projects. The song was about women, guns, money and drugs. As far as I knew all of the women, guns, money and drugs on set were props. Well after the FBI saw the video they were not as convinced as me. You see this rapper was under investigation for human trafficking and drug trafficking by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. After the video was published I was issued a subpoena and I had to answer many questions about my vision in making this video (as well as anything else I might know, which was nothing) to the Federal DA of NYC.
Project Music by Ra Diggs
Jobs like this began to wear on me. Not long after I was hired to film a humanitarian trip in the Dominican Republic. The trip changed my life. You see I was running around trying to find work that would make me money and that would also be satisfying to the soul. It’s funny how I went from domestic poverty and struggle to foreign poverty and struggle. Talk about perception shift. I filmed people giving up their time and resources to serve in countries of extreme poverty. It opened my eyes to see that there are so many people on this earth with good hearts who wanted to do good. This was the catalyst and motivation to start my own company called Good For You Productions.
Everything started to fall into place once I had that foundation and vision. I was hired to make a documentary on a girl who just died of an eating disorder. Her mother interviewed me 2 months after her daughter’s passing and again with no experience in this type of work I went to the meeting not knowing how or what. I had told Judy that I recently graduated from Emerson College and that’s when she stopped me and almost fell over. She went on to explain that her daughter Melissa was accepted into Emerson College 2 days before she died. I was hired on the spot and over the next 2 years we made a documentary through interviews and old footage that was featured on The Today Show with Matt Lauer and the New York Times.
Someday Melissa Trailer
Since then the company really found a groove and I have been hired to do all types of projects.
We’ve done commercials for restaurants where we had to write the script and design the food. Not knowing how to film food correctly I went back to research and learned a lot of cool tricks. Our food came out even better than expected. But don’t eat it, our ricks included, glue, WD-40 and Styrofoam.
We’ve written and produced commercials for Insurance companies. You see it’s not just about showing up and filming something that looks good. There needs to be a script, that script needs to have a message and a purpose. And it should all fit into a story. Based on this clients marketing plan we made a series of commercials. Here’s one
Marshall and Sterling
We’ve written stories and produced for many non-profits whether their cause is about homelessness, the environment, bullying and self-esteem. I like to teach kids the ins and outs of filmmaking and often times you need something special to increase engagement. So this project set out to be a film by-students and for-students their age. They were the interviewees, the interviewers and the participants. This project was about breaking down the rise in bullying and the lack of self-esteem in kids.
Dance Like You Don’t Care Who’s Watching at Montessori School 27
We’ve written and produced book trailers, which are what look like to be movie trailers for books. Simply put, an author came to me with a book, I read it and wrote him a trailer which looks like a movie. I even acted in this one too
And we’ve continued to travel the world filming humanitarian trips in the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Kenya.
Each step of my journey I have taken steps that at the time appeared bigger than me, or out of my “range”. Stepping into these fears or false paradigms not only allowed me to grow as a person but also has allowed my company to grow.
And here we are today. A company. A company that stands for integrity, impact and purpose. From: not knowing what to do, To: having a clear vision. A vision that will good for me, good for us and good for you.
We are know taking on personal projects like creating a entertaining talk show, a documentary on old people and whatever else comes our way where we can help and be Good For you!