MEMBER MONDAYS | Jeremy Nelson
MEMBER MONDAYS is a weekly interview series highlighting current members & alumni of the Austin School of Film + Austin Cinemaker Space community! Each week, we’ll be featuring one of our incredibly eclectic community members, and doing a deep dive into their work. Insight into what makes them, them. This week, we caught up with Austin School of Film student Jeremy Nelson, who's journey as a storyteller has taken him from music, to graphic design, photography, videography, and now? Traveling the world.
Tell us a little background of how you got to "here."
Jeremy Nelson: I’ve been interested in visual storytelling most of my life, but never considered it seriously as a career--with no good reason why! I made a couple of short films here and there, but more as a one-off, side project sort of thing, as playing in bands took more of my focus than storytelling. I think at a certain point I realized I'm wasn't obsessed enough with music to make a career of it. I enjoy it and will be playing my whole life, but it's not gonna be "the thing" that gets me anywhere.
Shortly after coming [to the Austin School of Film] I was thinking about creating a YouTube channel with a friend of mine, and I was looking into what it would take gear-wise to get into that. That's when I realized how much I didn't know about videography and editing! My background was more in graphic design. My wife and I moved to Northern California and I worked for a company that owned a chain of coffee shops and they needed a graphic designer. I had been doing it as a hobby for friends and bands, but never had any formal training. I stumbled my way through the programs, learning as I went. It's not necessarily what led me into video, but I did learn a lot about presentation and visual storytelling. I continued working in graphic design and playing in bands, but didn't really dive into video until we came to Austin.
So what made y'all come to Austin?
JN: That’s a good question! My wife I and want to move around a lot. Austin was on the list! I actually got a membership at the original location just to edit because I didn't have a computer powerful enough to edit video. So I just came there to edit and met Spencer, ASoF’s Community Coordinator, a few times and that was kinda the extent of it.
I think it was maybe 6 months after when [ASoF] had just moved to their new location that I knew I wanted to take another class. That's when I saw their internship opportunity that give me an opportunity to earn classes for free, so I started interning to check out the vibe of the place and starting making connections. I really enjoyed the cooperative environment, helping everyone to learn and advance, so with the money I saved from being able to intern, I went out and bought a camera and got to start taking classes.
How has that changed your life?
JN: It’s been incredible! I feel like I'm getting started late in the game because I'm in my mid-30s. Like, I'm kicking myself for not fully diving into video over a decade ago. But I love it a lot, and I'm glad that I found it now. I'm just trying to pursue it as fast as I can, so I'm doing simultaneous learning for photography and videography. I don't really think I am catching up to anyone, but the older I get, the closer I get to who I want to be. I'm more comfortable with myself than I've been.
What motivates you to take projects?
JN: Right now it's education. I know that have so much left to learn, so I'm taking every opportunity that I feel like is going to stretch me. I think that attitude will always continue. I've been saying yes to pretty much every opportunity I come across. I had to turn a project down today only because I'm leaving for another one tomorrow! But other than that, I haven't hardly turned down anything!
Tell us about that project. What are you working on?
JN: S right now, I'm working on a documentary with Matt Koshmrl [local filmmaker and Instructor of Documentary Filmmaking at ASoF] and Steven Pearce (who I met in Carrie Cates’ Digital Filmmaking class here).
The documentary explores meditation and mindfulness and how it has become secularized. It's also going to delve into how medical studies are proving that regular meditation can impact brain chemistry and actually make you a happier person. So we'll be talking to scientists, doctors, and specialists, maybe even Buddhist monks, all over the world.
Sounds like an adventure! All that being said, what would be dream scenario? Your life goal?
JN: My life goal that I kinda boiled down is that I want to have adventures and tell stories. So under the "have adventures" category, it would be travel; it'd be trying new things; it'd be meeting people; just seeing the world, essentially, and telling stories in any form that happens. I enjoy writing--I used to do a lot more writing and poetry. But that's definitely taken a backseat to first music and now photography and videography. So a dream job would be to travel with experts in a field and document what they are doing--following them around and telling their story. Like Matt--when I heard about his Antarctica trip, I was like, THAT is exactly what I want to do!
And now you are!
JN: (laughs) Yeah. I guess I am!
INTERVIEW BY: Stephanie Franks