From Filmmaker to Flatiron

Almost fifteen years ago, my good friend gave me a freshly printed script and asked me to make a movie with him. Three weeks later we started shooting and I was hooked! I had found my passion for filmmaking and I became obsessed with making movies.

On set in 2007
On set in 2007

I began to hone my skills as a filmmaker by delving deep into every aspect of the craft. I started to direct, shoot, produce write and edit my own films. Filmmaking lead me to locations and film festivals all over the world. I got to meet a lot of interesting people and I had the honor of working with some very talented individuals. I was living my dream.

My journey in the film industry was not only exciting, but it was also humbling. I saw how much hard work went into the smallest details and I realized that the most successful people in the industry were the ones that worked the hardest. The further I got into the craft the more interested I became in the technology that went into making films. As a modern day filmmaker you interact with a lot of technology.

Computers are the backbone of modern film production. Cameras are computers who’s purpose is to record images. Films are edited and animated on computers. Special effects for films are produced on computers. These are just a few of of the many ways computer science has impacted the way movies are made today.

Reviewing the last take on set in 2017

The more I created my own films and worked on productions of all different sizes the better I got at understanding all of the technical aspects. I wanted to know more about the the new technology that went into creating content, how content was being consumed and all of the new places content was being distributed.

When I started out as filmmaker, you could watch films in a theater, on TV or rent movies. You could go to a library to find obscure films or you could try to illegally download a film through a platform that would also probably give your computer a virus.

The worlds last Blockbuster. Photo by nofilmschool.com

That all changed with the birth of streaming platforms. As I began to to evolve as a filmmaker the tech industry was also evolving at a rapid rate. This didn’t only change the way content was made, but it also changed the way everyone watched and consumed content.

My focus shifted from filmmaking to content as whole and how our societies viewing habits were changing. I was mostly interested in the technology that went into building, streaming and curating these large platforms, and I was watching all of this change before my eyes.

I felt like all of the content I could ever want was at my fingertips. I could watch content the way I wanted, when I wanted and I could customize my experience on these platforms based on my viewing habits.

I could see how the industry I loved so much was changing and I wanted to be a part of this change. At the time that I was having all these thoughts a friend who was working for a large broadcast television company reached out to me. He was heading off a division that was building out the digital end of one of their networks. He knew it would be right up my alley and asked me if I wanted to come on board. One month later we were building out a streaming platform from scratch.

I had immersed myself into a whole new world. With no previous programming knowledge, I began to work closely with a team of developers. This was a very different experience than filmmaking and I was taken completely out of my comfort zone. I am grateful for that team of patient developers who took the time to explain things to me at length like the development lifecycle, agile workflow, how to report bugs, code inspecting and most importantly how to speak to them as a creative in such a way that produced the results the company wanted.

As the builds went live and thousands of users began to interact with the platform we built, I fell more and more in love with the tech side of the entertainment industry. I spent a lot of time analyzing large streaming platforms, trying to figure out how all of their features worked and researching streaming technology. I started playing with the streaming platform we built and releasing new features and testing them out on our audience. I was interacting with the team of developers on a higher level and we were having a lot of fun expanding on our streaming service.

At the end of last February along with so many others in the entertainment industry and other industries. I was let go from my job due to COVID-19. The entire network was shut down along with the streaming service we built. I was deeply saddened by this and it was unclear when the entertainment industry would bounce back.

I spent the next two months applying to jobs at companies that just seemed to be letting people go. I was feeling stuck, frustrated and like my life was in limbo. After many conversations with my girlfriend, who works in the tech industry, she suggested that I look into coding bootcamps (bless her for being so sweet and positive during that time).

The more I researched bootcamps the more I realized that this was the best next step for my professional journey. Software engineering is the knowledge I had been seeking and the perfect compliment to my already acquired skillsets and experiences.

I spent the next few months learning Ruby, HTML, CSS and Javascript. Whenever I completed an online course, I always wanted more. I realized the world of programming and coding is endless.

When I felt like I had a good base of coding knowledge I started speaking to bootcamps in New York City and I realized that the Flatiron School was the right fit for me. I loved their methodology and the community they built.

I’m writing my first blog as a Software Engineering Student at the Flatiron School. After long days of learning, a coding challenge under my belt, my first project underway and pushing myself further than I ever thought I could, I couldn’t be happier with the choices I’ve made. Every day affirms that I’m on the right path and I’m grateful for every step on my journey to get here!

Software Engineer & Filmmaker