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Conversations with Kim Stratton

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kim Stratton.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I was in my homeroom class on the first day of high school when the teacher rolled out a big TV. On the screen, two students sat at a news desk and read the morning announcements. The production included funny banter, creative video skits and promotional videos—all made by students. I wanted to be a part of creating this type of content, so I applied to be in the media technology broadcast class. As part of the class, I attended a program called FilmEd Academy. This was a summer workshop for filmmaking where we learned basic techniques and made friends from several high schools throughout Orange County. For the next three years, I spent all of my free time making films with my friends. It was so fun. I loved making projects that had a positive impact on whoever viewed them, whether that be through an inspiring story, words of encouragement, or a good laugh.

When I entered college in 2015, I wanted to keep pursuing film. I decided to apply to a BFA Cinematic Arts program. I became obsessed with the technique and creativity it takes in order to visually convey a story through the camera lens. I loved being in the camera department. While completing my studies, I also worked in my school’s media broadcast department, where I developed necessary skills related to live broadcast.

When I graduated college in 2019, I accepted a 9-5 job at an editing house in LA. I took freelance gigs on weekends or after work, but I felt pulled to do more. I quit my job to freelance. I took lots of gigs shooting music videos and weddings. Eventually, I got my name on a roster at an agency in LA where I shot commercials and branded/documentary content. The first PA job I took turned into an internship with a production company called Vanishing Angle. There, I was mentored by their producers and directors and was able to work on a feature film. Currently, I work with The Salvation Army as a travel cinematographer. I get to visit unique locations, capture people’s stories and share them to inspire and encourage others.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I wouldn’t say I have faced too many challenges— I feel very lucky to have met the people who helped me learn and grow, and I am happy to be doing what I love as my career. But, overall, I’d say the biggest challenge is being patient with myself as I learn, and confident in myself as I develop in my career. I am hard on myself, and I know I can always improve my work.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am a cinematographer, which means I direct the camera and lighting departments on film sets. I work closely with the director to create the overall visual style, and I plan how to achieve it through lighting and frame composition. I learn about the story we are telling, and help decide how the film should look and feel. I love the process of taking an idea and working with my team to turn it into an artistic image on the screen.

Where we are in life is often partly because of others. Who/what else deserves credit for how your story turned out?
So many people. I’m very grateful for the people I’ve met and opportunities I’ve been given. I’m thankful for my high school film teacher, Alex Graham, who supported me through my first projects. I’m thankful for my classmates at Azusa Pacific University who have learned and grown alongside me. And of course, my friends and family who always support me and remind me to take a break every once in a while.

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