Today, we’re picking the brain of Trevz, a Brooklyn-born filmmaker who started traditional filmmaking in 2005, and is now recognised as a “Next 100” video blog pioneer. We’re curious about how he got here, where he’s going, and how Strikingly fits in with other mediums — his book and video series.
Q: Tell us your story. How did you get started shooting video in NYC?
A: I initially started shooting artists I met on Myspace back when Myspace was a big deal. Quickly I started documenting the story and struggle of local artists — this was in 2005 before HD camera phones were available — the filmmakers at the time were all making indie films or indie music videos. For me, Downtown Manhattan and Williamsburg was Bob Dylan’s West Village. I wanted to capture that!
I dedicated each week to telling a new story. I first tried to get local businesses to sponsor these portraits by going store to store with my little brochure — it was a very elaborate idea that involved payment to the artist from the sponsor per video view. This idea did not catch on…
I did end up building some great relationships with these same local entrepreneurs that exposed me to a new storyline: “The Entrepreneur.” These entrepreneurs were on their own kind of hustle and were just as cool as the artists that I was trying to get them to sponsor. In typical New York fashion I walked in to their establishments trying to sell them and instead they sold me! I was pretty much the only one then telling these stories (affordable, quick to market, intimate), and slowly brands started approaching me to shoot for them.
I had two partners, photographers Tone and Texas. As a unit we would cover events and tell stories four or five times a week. We were lightening fast! We decided to brand The New Pop as “New York City’s Online Video Magazine” It caught fire; it was non-stop. We were invited to every cool event, people would be buying us drinks — suddenly the guys from the AV department were the cool kids at the party!
I’ve matured since those early days, but the memories will last a lifetime… and if they don’t I can always play the video.
Q: You also founded The Videographer’s Guide – where did that idea come from and what has it evolved to today?
A: Eventually after finding some success as a videographer, I started posting some tips on my blog on a weekly basis. There is a little teacher in me always wanting to get out. After about a year or so of posting these weekly chapters I realized that I had enough entries to make a handbook, so I opened my Google Docs and got to editing!
In the book, I use a tool from Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” pyramid to take the aspiring videographer from one stage in their development to another. I’m still working on the 3rd of five levels myself, and I wrote the damn thing! Goes to show how new this genre of filmmaking is, even for a “veteran” like me.
The Video Series is more about showing a young videographer how to navigate this new landscape. The first episode is about music videos. The second, on event coverage, was my favourite because it was more personal.
Q: What’s special about seeing the world through video?
A: I like the idea of getting to the kernel of each story. I like breaking things down to what the underlying meaning is, and doing it through a 16X9 frame. It filters out all the noise — especially in a city like New York, a city that never shuts down. It’s even cooler when someone sits down to watch one of my videos. It means that they have also entered the “filter.” The Screening Room is an extension of that.
Q: You’ve used WordPress before in the past – how have you found your experience has been with Strikingly for The Videographers Guide website?
A: With WordPress, it always felt like I was settling. It was like, ‘Ok I need a web presence so I have to do it’ but it always left me feeling like there was something missing. Eventually I stopped updating my WordPress site and just relied on other Social Media platforms to establish my web presence. It was too much of a pain to stay updated.
When I was introduced to Strikingly, it felt like the good old days when The New Pop was completely customized and under my fingers. Now, instead of hiring a programmer and graphic designer, I am doing all the customization myself. It’s a blank canvas that let’s me get the right pieces to the right places. Not to get weird, but I know I love a site when I just gaze at it for hours and new ideas stream in and out of my mind. That’s how I felt about Strikingly for the first time.
We are trained to pick up on good design. I find that Strikingly put the work into the details — the way the design elements roll in and out of the screen, the color palette, the gradients, the fonts, the icons, Strikingly nails it! I already had most of my brand elements in place so it took me less than 10 minutes to get from reading instructions and “setting up” my page to the point where I was purely creating. It was the most fun I had working on a website since early New Pop.
The Videographer’s Guide: Ep 2 – on documenting music festivals and other events.
Q: What’s been the toughest part of your journey?
A: Making ends meet.The ebb and flow of work is a challenge for anyone who is a freelancer. But I’ve been a freelancer all my life, I am not sure if I know any other way to exist.
Q: What’s next?
A: Pop Fiction. Keep your eyes peeled!
Q: What’s been your favorite advice?
A: I read Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers” in 2008, and its premise that it takes 10,000 hours to become a master craftsman seems to be a constant reminder to be patient whenever times gets tough.
Q: Any word of advice for other Strikingly users thinking about either using video to promote their ideas and businesses…or even to promote their own video work?
A: Never lose sight that what we as videographers and brands alike are doing is telling a story.
In 2010, the Canon 7D camera came out. It turned photographers into videographers, and musicians into videographers, and everybody and their mama into videographers, I got a little nervous because suddenly there were all these options for my clients. I thought I needed something else to distinguish my skill set — I took up After Effects and was getting very good at it, but in the end I found it unfulfilling. I lost site of the storytelling that was the foundation of my videography passion. I dropped After Effects and got back to the basics of telling the raw story.