Today we’d like to introduce you to Carol Camp.
Carol, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born in São Paulo, Brazil, as the only child of a single mom. She taught me everything I know about strength, independence, and authenticity. As you can imagine, she and I are very close – but still, I had this incessant itch to take in as much of existence as humanly possible.
When I was 15, my way of scratching that itch was to get on a plane by myself and move to a small town in Oregon, where I lived with a family I didn’t know and attended high school. This new life I was building had an expiration date, though; I was only allowed to stay for a year. I have always been acutely aware of impermanence, and this ticking clock sprouted a feeling of angst in my mind that stopped me from fully enjoying the experience – all I could think about was the fact that it was all going away soon and never coming back. That feeling made me pick up a shitty digital camera that I had brought from Brazil to start documenting everything.
When it was time to go back home, I went back with two certainties in mind: I wasn’t going to stay, and I was going to be a filmmaker. See, I had always been an artist; I made drawings when I was around four years old that show an awareness of perspective that blows my mind to this day. I drew all throughout my childhood and slowly got into photography. I started making experimental mixed-media works and, by the time I was 14, I was totally addicted to my camera. Despite all that, I never connected the dots – I knew I was an “artist,” but that felt like such a broad concept. Once I focused on becoming a filmmaker, my future seemed much more tangible.
When I was 18, after graduating high school, I came to Los Angeles to study filmmaking, which simultaneously introduced me to an industry I knew nothing about, and scared me away from it. I am an artist before being a filmmaker, so I didn’t feel like I belonged in this place where people cared so much about technique, equipment, and rules. I wanted to share feelings through visuals, I didn’t care about anything else. I still don’t.
I had to go back to Brazil again after two years in LA, but this city already felt like home at that point, so I had to come up with a plan. I wanted to go to college since I was already 20 and film school didn’t necessarily give me the wings I needed to survive in the real world. As you can imagine, however, affording school in this country as an international student is no joke. That’s when, on my way from LA to Brazil, I suddenly remembered an instructor I had in film school saying: “…if you want to make money, don’t be a director, be a colorist.” That was it.
As soon as I arrived in Brazil, I applied to the cheapest college I could find in LA and started teaching myself how to color grade. I had six months to become a colorist. I worked on a couple of projects for free in order to build a reel, then started working on student short films for $50, then $100, and the next thing I know, I’m buying a one-way ticket to Los Angeles.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
These past few years have been the most challenging of my life. I was pretty much living off cortisol and almost lost myself trying to balance school, work, and my mental health. I only realize how insane some of the decisions I make are when I stop to think about them. So I try not to do that too often.
There’s this analogy that I really like. If you want to do something, if you want to get somewhere, but there’s a wall between you and that place, instead of making all these plans on how to get to the other side, just throw your backpack over the wall. Then you’ll have no option other than to just do whatever it takes.
We’d love to hear more about what you do.
I recently started a project called #0k, which is an objection to both the idea that you can only produce good work with the newest high-resolution camera, and the constant use of filters to enhance reality. I am sick of emotionless crystal-clear images, so I find ways to both physically and digitally manipulate these photos and videos in order to ruin their resolution.
The result is a beautiful image that, in my opinion, is a lot more expressive than reality captured as-is. I have also been producing a lot of poetry, digital art, and 3D work – all of which you can check out on my website. Everything I make is more on the experimental side of things, and they are all things that I am passionate about – things that pour out of me in an instinctual way. I guess it’s a way of survival.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Luck is an interesting concept. I’m lucky for being able to notice my luck. Life isn’t always black-and-white, but my awareness of the different shades of gray allows me to keep an open mind and an open eye always. If things are bad, I don’t see that as an obstacle that is holding me back, but as fuel – either for my art or for personal growth. But I’m aware of my privileges.
If you had to start over, what would you have done differently?
I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I don’t mean this in a deterministic way – but you have to accept all that you have gone through in order to be present.
Countless things could have happened differently, which would have taken me to places I can’t even see from here. But here is all I am. As long as I stay true to myself through it all, the mistakes and heartaches will be nothing but background noise.