A lot of people can come up with great ideas. I can do that with the best of them but I also have the resources to actually bring just about any crazy idea to life. Toss in my curated network of best-in-class actors/musicians/influencers, and it’s hard not to want to jump on board.
My track record of running and selling a media company, combined with my extensive experience spearheading projects for the world’s largest brands, offers a unique perspective on the intersection of culture and content. My work has gone on to secure various prestigious awards.
My narrative work on a short film, SCARS (based on a viral reddit.com writing prompt), has landed high praise at top film festivals worldwide. My work as 2nd Unit Director on the feature film DEADLY ILLUSIONS starring Kristin Davis, Dermot Mulroney, and Shanola Hampton helped grab the coveted title of #1 film Globally on Netflix.
I don’t know if being ‘creative’ is an inherent choice. I think some are born with the ability; then, the choice comes when we decide whether or not to pursue it as a career. It can be a scary and abstract proposition, especially when you grow up in a part of the country/world where it's much safer to choose a “normal job.”
I’ve come a long way from a kid with a VHS video camera making snowboarding and skateboarding videos in the backyard of a small Midwestern town. The entertainment industry isn’t at the forefront of people’s minds in the Midwest so my parents were rightfully sceptical of my desire to take a leap of faith and move halfway across the country to pursue a career in directing.
I can’t imagine how many brilliant creatives are out there but just haven’t been given the opportunity to shine. Everyone deserves the ability to express themselves through their version of creativity.
As a Director, I get to tell stories of all shapes and sizes. Lately, I got to the conclusion that there must be a better term for what I actually do. I’ve grown to like “Storyverse Architect.” The backbone of my creative inspiration is rooted in multi-platform/transmedia storytelling as a way to create a new style of content that engages audiences in a more robust “story world.” This goes far beyond having extra deliverables for social platforms: It’s about creating a journey the viewer chooses to go on, a journey that helps the audience migrate across platforms. I’m very passionate about this type of storytelling because it can be applied to all forms of content from branded campaigns to narrative feature films.
My MUSE Platinum Award-winning project was created by Champagne & Gyoza for an NFT collection titled Cloud Niners. Champagne & Gyoza is a creative studio that works with brands, studios and talent of all types to produce multi-platform content for any sized screen. We understand that pre-set menus aren’t for everyone. After all, the last time we ordered directly off the menu, we may or may not have been at a late-night taco joint. “Can I get a number 7, please?”
That’s why we have created “à la carte” opportunities for both brands and agencies to create cinematic content at scale with a sense of agility that would make even a contortionist take note.
Anyone who has worked in the creative field knows that you can’t survive just being ‘one thing.’ First, you come up with an idea—great! But then you might also need the ability to promote, sell, pull together a team and find the funding. Sometimes you might even have to be the camera person, editor, producer, etc. I personally associate creativity with having a final product to share. This means that being creative goes far beyond the art and encompasses everything from ideation to execution to distribution—at least, to me. I’m creative throughout the whole process (and I love that), but I don’t feel like I’ve become creatively fulfilled until I have the finished product staring back at me.
I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunities I’ve had to express my creative abilities, but it hasn’t been an easy road, and I have a long way to go until I feel I’ve “made it.”
The bar for ‘creativity’ continues to rise and unfortunately, the by-product is that we’ve all become a bit jaded when seeing new work. Something that would’ve been mind-blowing five years ago might seem commonplace now. Therefore, I think it's essential to continually step back and appreciate others’ quality work on its own rather than always drawing comparisons to learn something new and come up with the next idea.
Creativity can strike at any moment, so I consciously try to keep my mind open for inspiration. Sometimes it can be a person I see in the street or even an ad on a billboard. If my headspace is open and has a particular project (or multiple) running through it, the chances of finding inspiration are much higher.
I complement this with much research for the specific project I’m working on and then lie silently on the couch, visualizing ideas. I run through them in my head like they’re on an auction block, searching for something that clicks. It’s a pretty fun process!
I aim to create stories that resonate with the audience using visceral visuals, complex emotional portrayals, articulate VFX, or all of the above. These are usually applied with a sense of scale.
I love taking an otherwise ordinary world and twisting it to create a subtle surrealist-like aesthetic. Likewise, discussing social commentary within my narrative is always a driving force behind my style.
"Experience Life On Cloud Nine" is one of the first live-action NFT teaser films ever produced. This narrative follows the journey of the 2nd Cousin of the inventor of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, as he invites unsuspecting participants to join his world through a series of riddles.
It was crucial for us to think three steps ahead while creating the storyline. Everything that was put into the film potentially would have positive or negative repercussions on the story down the line. Much like building a TV series, the scope of the ongoing narrative is ever-evolving, and the entirety of the Cloud Niners Cinematic Universe hasn’t been conceived yet. Unlike a traditional TV series, we needed to create a foundation allowing some room for the Web3 community to help shape the story in the future.
Executive Produced by Chris Garrison and Chris McKinley, Produced by Tim Frazier, Cinematography by Matt Staker, and cut by Dave Phelps. We also had an amazingly talented cast and hardworking crew (sorry for the early mornings) that came together to make this project possible.
Take every online business training course you can. You have to learn how to be your own brand.
SCORE.org – (In the USA) They are a part of the Small Business Association and offer free business mentorship. Sign up, get a mentor, and learn how to build/grow a business. The better you become at the elements of running a business, the more opportunities you will get to get paid for your work.
I also like Lynda.com as an inexpensive platform for learning all types of software.
Building a team of smarter people around you and utilizing the “Fail Fast” mentality is essential to succeed. For example, if you’re the most competent person at one part of the process or business, partner with someone better in an area where you are a bit weaker.
Additionally, know that “Everyone wants something.” Even the world's most powerful people have something they “want.” Returning to what I said earlier, focus on providing value to others first. If you can approach every situation to give them what they want, then you can become a pretty valuable person yourself.
I would love to share the bigger picture behind our NFT Collection Cloud Niners. There’s an immense storyline that will only evolve over time.
Cloud Niners is a Web3 brand that takes shape as an NFT (Non-Fungible Token) collection, a cinematic storyline that we plan to turn into a film, an access pass for some genuinely unforgettable real-life experiences like a flight in a fighter jet, and even a platform for brands to dip their toes into Web3. This all comes to life as a multi-platform media expedition released through NFTs, videos, photos, cryptic clues, and much more.
About Our Storyline:
Our narrative follows the evolutionary tale of Satoshi Nakamoto’s 2nd or 3rd Cousin, an eccentric billionaire whose life’s purpose is that of helping others find their own feeling of Cloud Nine (well-being, happiness, excitement). Satoshi Nakamoto is who created Bitcoin, but no one knows who it actually is. People have speculated on this mystery since Bitcoin was created in 2009. Our storyline follows Satoshi’s 2nd cousin on his journey. It’s sarcastic (think Ryan Reynolds) in tone and tongue in cheek since if no one knows who Satoshi is, then we obviously don’t know who his 2nd cousin is.
Jonny Zeller combines his natural ability to bring crazy ideas to life and his extensive experience in spearheading projects for the world’s largest brands to produce mind-boggling content for the amusement and enjoyment of many.