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Conversations with Colton Walter

Today we’d like to introduce you to Colton Walter.

Hi Colton, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
Well, I started making short films when I was about 12 years old with some buddies in my hometown of San Luis Obispo. I remember that it felt significant to hold the camera in my hands, and without really understanding it yet, I chased that feeling. I grew up in a family of engineers and accountants so, naturally, when I told my mom I wanted to pursue filmmaking as a career, her reaction was, “Do you ever want to make any money?”. My mom has a history of always being right (yes, I’m admitting it in print – you’re welcome, mom) but thankfully, she wasn’t on this one. The more time I spent behind the camera and telling stories, the more I fell in love with filmmaking, and there was no going back.

Fast forward to age 19 when I wrote and directed my first short film and it was accepted into the San Luis Obispo Film Festival. My film premiered in the same theater that I went to as a kid, AKA the first place that I could really lose myself in the magic of movies without any distraction. So, watching something there that I made, with all of my family and dearest friends at the time, was beyond exhilarating… and all the convincing I needed that this was my path.

However, the world didn’t agree with me right away. My application to the film program got rejected three times. (Spoiler alert – I didn’t let that stop me.) I continued making short films in my free time and in my other media classes and graduated in 2012. Shortly after, I was offered a job in Denver, CO working with a company that specializes in unique military training courses that feature cinematic scenarios to enhance their instructional design. I worked with a Senior Editor there who begrudgingly showed me the ropes, and while he was a stubborn one, I learned so much more than I could have asked for being fresh out of college. I learned technique, but more importantly, how to cut with your gut. Cutting for feeling rather than action. Relying heavily on instinct and nothing else.

It’s this instinct that drives my career now. My work is rooted in finding the core of the story and landing on the best possible way to relate to the audience tuning in. Whether it’s a short film, digital ad, documentary, corporate video, commercial or a feature, I’ve found that cutting on feeling and intuition can never steer me wrong.

I moved back to LA in 2015 and found a job working for a corporate chain as a Video Producer. It was a great experience to have a company invest in my abilities, and through those opportunities, I was able to produce some of my best work. My time there furthered my confidence as a Director and was pivotal to my career growth. Since then, I’ve started my own production company, GRAVITY, which produces branded content focused on telling genuine stories.

Over the last few years, I’ve expanded my focus to narrative projects on top of branded films and digital content. I’ve shot, directed and produced several short films and written three features. The goal from childhood was always to be making movies, and although this industry is unforgiving, my persistence will never fade. It’s ingrained in me.

Currently, I’m directing commercials and writing a pilot. I’ve recently completed a short film titled ‘stay awake’, which is a proof-of-concept for a horror/thriller feature I’ve written on spec. The short, one I’m particularly proud of, was well-received at festivals in a very upside down 2020 year and even took home a Best Director award in the process. I didn’t think when I was holding that handheld Sony digital camcorder as a 12-year-old kid that it would turn into a real career at some point, let alone what I love doing the most in life. Through all of this, I’m reminded daily of where I came from and the love and support I’ve had, for which I am incredibly grateful.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I’m reminded of a quote from one of my favorite filmmakers, Chris McQuarrie. He writes, “For me, it comes down to embracing that control is an illusion, success and failure are relative, and the outcome is always uncertain. A plan does not ensure success and chaos does not ensure failure. Focus on execution, not result.”

I’ve had plans my entire life, personal and business-related. Nearly every time, those plans are thrown out and you’re forced to adapt to what life throws at you. I’ve found I operate best when my back is against the wall and the pressure is on. Resilience is one trait that everyone needs to find in themselves and keep developing. When the road gets tough, it only gets tougher until you do something about it.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I’m a filmmaker at heart, a small business owner, and a creative. I specialize in telling stories. Whether for a budding brand looking to make a name for themselves, an established company, news outlet, or an individual who just wants to tell their story on camera, they come to me to give them that spotlight. What I’m known for is finding the most creative and genuine way to share their story to help them connect with their audience or customer-base.

What sets me apart is my instinct and my love for telling human stories.

So maybe we end on discussing what matters most to you and why?
Professionally – Working in a collaborative environment where we value the story being told above all else. To immerse myself in creative ideas, challenging projects, and always thinking one step outside my comfort zone. And lastly, what matters the most is that I am constantly pursuing and striving for goals that can only be reached if I put in the time, effort and hard work to get there.

Worldly – What matters most to me, and my hope, is that people never lose sight of others around them. You don’t need to put everyone before yourself, but just be aware of them. Make an effort to know people, learn about them, learn from them, and occasionally see the world from their perspective. I think in the end, it can be a humbling experience.

Personally – My family, close friends, and my Siberian Husky, Arya are the easy answers. But in all reality, these people (and doggo) are what make my life. I wouldn’t be here without the constant love and support of those people around me.

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