Asude: Hello Caleb, we appreciate you giving us the chance to have a chat with you! We have been following you for a long time and wanted to talk about you and your amazing work which we admire so much. For starters, could you please tell our readers when and where were you born and how you get started with videography?
Caleb: Hi Asude! I was born in North Carolina in 1990. And, I found videography through skateboarding. I skateboarded in middle school. My friends and I would borrow cameras from school and film each other skating around town after school. Then, we got to edit them for projects in our TV Production class.
A: So, you started skateboarding at a very early age and soon after found your love for videomaking through it, excellent! We wonder how you got to make money off of this. For example, what was the video project you earned your first money?
C: When I was still living in Virginia Beach, VA, I sent out a mass email to a bunch of DC area lifestyle bloggers offering my video services to help build my portfolio and ideally help me build a network in DC. Nothing came of the email until 6 months later when I got an email about a video project for Meg Biram, one of the biggest lifestyle bloggers and artists in DC. Meg needed a video(https://vimeo.com/130432197) of her and another DC artist for an HP computer campaign and it was paid!
A: What a great and fun project to start! And, although you took Video Production in school, we still wonder what’s there more? What is your background in videography in general?
C: At the time, I was only focused on making and watching skateboard videos. After school when skateboarding dwindled down, I found that I still wanted to make videos. I offered to make a music video for a local artist in Virginia Beach for free. The shoot went well and the artist asked me to film at a fashion show where he was performing soon after that. While at the fashion show, a guy approached me asking me about my video equipment. He was the owner of the venue and asked if I was familiar with the local music video production company Visually Inklined. I hadn’t heard of it but he asked if I would be interested in an internship if they had one available. Of course, I said yes and he immediately called the owner of VizInk, said a couple of words, and then handed me the phone. I went in for a proper introduction the next day and had an internship before I left.
From there, I started taking on freelance projects on the side from my day job and was able to work on them using the studio’s computer and editing software since I didn’t have any of my own. I was able to get editing tips from my internship. Honestly though, I would go home and watch hours of YouTube videos on Final Cut Pro and come in and apply it the next day because I was too intimidated to ask most of the time. Beyond that, my background in videography is a ton of research, trial and error. I’m always doing my own film studies and researching things online.
A: You film different kinds of projects: weddings, real estate videos, profile videos, music videos like Ed Sheeran at Sofar Sounds or Robert McFarland, promotions, and so on. But, how would you describe your videography style in general of these videos?
C: Playful yet thought through. I am consistently studying and thinking through new innovative filmmaking techniques but exercise great patience as to make sure everything is being implemented properly and executed with taste.
A: So, what about the preparations you make before you begin filming?
C: I literally follow the rules - lights, camera, action. I first unload gear and then my initial thoughts go towards lighting. Once I have lighting complete, I think about what camera support systems I’ll have to use. Then I build up the camera, fitting it with whatever lens and focal lengths I need. After I’ve got that going, I set up audio if it’s required. If there’s talent, I coach them through everything and then - Action! I’ve found that going in this order works really well when dealing with talent or clients on set because the last thing they see me handle is a camera and audio gear, which cues them that it’s almost their time to shine.
A: An excellent way to go! What’s the best advice you've ever been given?
C: If you don’t jump, your parachute will never open.
A: So true. And, do you prefer buying or renting your filmmaking equipment?
C: Buying. As a freelancer, I have to be ready to go at a moment’s notice so I need to have all my equipment with me. (I’ve had clients email me at 9AM on a Saturday for a 10AM shoot and it’s great to be able to say yes to those opportunities.) Owning also allows me to make modifications to customize equipment to the way that I want it. I’ve modified every piece of equipment I own to fit my personal needs and make it more functional for the way I work. I often find myself using a lot of gear in ways they’re not originally intended to be used. I also enjoy being able to loan or rent out my equipment to other filmmakers in the community. It helps to grow my network and helps others learn more about how I use my equipment.
A: After all that, what software do you use for post-production?
C: Adobe Premiere Pro CC.
A: Nice. And, what is the best piece of advice you could give to other filmmakers?
C: Try harder every time.
Thoughts become things.
A: We see lots of BTS photos on your Instagram. But, we would like you to share the equipment you generally bring to a set with our readers as well!
C: I never want to say that I don’t have a piece of equipment. So size, weight, and portability of equipment are a big factor for me. Ultimately, I’m always trying to show up to any set with a pop up studio. For every client, I want to be able to have a burst of creativity, even if they didn’t ask for it. I pride myself on the illusion that I come to set with a Mary Poppins bag and can pull together a whole studio with just a couple of bags. Specifically, I carry a bag designated for audio gear, another with two cameras and lenses, and a large rolling bag that carries two tripods, a monopod, a hi-hat tripod, a slider, a gimbal, two light stands, and lights.
A: What do you think about the future of filmmaking with the technology is advancing so fast?
C: I’m super excited about how fast technology and equipment are changing and how affordable they’re consistently becoming. But, I’m fearful of creatives lowering the price tag on their creativity and their talents just because the gear is cheaper.
A: And finally, what’s your biggest ambition for the future?
C: My ambition is to grow my name to being one of the heaviest hitters in the industry.