I am currently living in Colorado Springs, CO, and I am the Photography & Video Production Specialist for the Association of Graduates of the United States Air Force Academy (very long titles come with most government jobs I guess.)
What do you like most about what you’re doing?
I enjoy the variety of what I get to do and shoot. One day I’m filming a narrative short to be played at event celebrating the academy’s founding. Another day I’m shooting an interview of a retired general who initiated America’s reduction of nuclear forces! I’m pretty much a one-man production crew, which admittedly can be draining both creatively & physically at times. But having so much influence over everything I produce can be rewarding, especially once I turn over a product that everyone appreciates in the end.
Also the travel; I’ve flown to more places in a year than I had previously in my whole life! There was a seven day stretch where I flew to five different cities, criss-crossing to each coast of the country. Not a lot of sleep was had, but it was quite an experience.
What are some projects/jobs that you’ve worked on since graduating?
Immediately after graduation, I was hired as a promotion producer for KTSM-TV in El Paso, TX. I did writing, editing, motion graphics & special effects for commercials, as well as some graphic design for the NBC affiliate. I also produced a couple of half-hour TV specials, one of which was nominated for an Lone Star EMMY. I also did some freelance production work for my friend’s company “Beard of Zeus Productions” where we won a few ADDY Awards from the Advertising Federation of America’s El Paso Chapter. Now I’m here at the Air Force Academy producing videos and taking photos!
What classes and learning experiences at CMI were the most valuable in building towards your current job?
Definitely Cinematography with Mitch Fowler. My desire for crafting images, and the knowledge of exactly how to manipulate the camera to do my bidding is what has carried me thus far in my career; being able to produce a product with the foundation of solid imagery has been the key to my success. And also Short Film Production with Sherwin Lau & Mitch Fowler; this is where I really first “got it” in regards to directing. Being able to understand my vision, and how to execute the necessary steps to achieve what I was picturing in my head really helped me in the long run. Not only that, but the experience of taking lower roles on the production ladder to help my classmates to achieve their visions. Whether it was tossing out ideas during table reads, or gripping/gaffing for as many hours as I could on their productions, it really helped to understand the significance of working as a team.
What are you doing when you aren’t working?
Being a family man! I have a beautiful wife, and three amazing kids who require a ton of my uninterrupted attention. We like to hike, play video games (my kids are Mario Kart prodigies), and spend quality time together. After the kids go to bed, my wife and I try to catch up on our favorite shows & movies. I fit in sleep where I can.
Discover and focus on what your specific passions are, and learn as much as you can about every other production position. It will help you to identify your strengths as a creative, while understanding the challenges of your peers. It will help you to work together as a unit, and achieve something you can all be proud of!
Where can people see your work?
What’s next for you?
I’d like to get better at landscape & black and white minimalist photography, so I’m going to start studying up on that, and do some experimenting.
Anything else you’d like to say?
CMI provided me with a solid foundation of skills and experiences, from which I was able to continually grow as a filmmaker & creative!
Thank you, Ryan, for sharing your experiences and advice!