Today we’d like to introduce you to Jeffrey Prosser.
Jeffrey, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I grew up in a little creative town four hours north of LA called Visalia, CA. As a kid, I didn’t like to be bored, so naturally, I got involved in whatever I could to avoid the perpetual central valley boredom. Of all the things I did, the one I did the most was acting and performing in theatre. I was constantly in plays, musicals, and even some improv. I really loved performing and was good at it, but it never outshined this crazy dream I had of wanting to make movies. On the weekends my friends and I would make short films. Each year we’d submit something to the local film festival and a few times, I was nominated or won awards.
That encouraged me to keep going as a filmmaker. A few years later I stumbled upon this thing called InnerSpark, a summer school held at CalArts for high school students. I applied and got in for Summer of 2009. It was an amazing experience where I was pushed out of my box to take risks. In the four weeks that I was there I made about ten films! (I remember that’s where I shot my first roll of super-8 film, as well, which ignited a new passion in me for learning how to shoot on old formats) It was basically game over after that, I went back to my hometown determined to experiment more and find my voice as a filmmaker.
I knew I had a lot to learn, so I started to look into film schools. For two years, I studied theatre at my local community college and kept making music videos and short films in my free time. In that time I also started a little production company called PopCinema for wedding videos — something I realized could help fund my film education.
In 2013 I moved to LA to transfer to Biola University for the film. Biola is a small private school with a surprisingly equipped film department. I was able to create a lot of work there and more importantly, meet a lot of great people who I still work within the industry. My senior thesis film “Birthday in a Dark Room” was my final project there and went on to win 8 awards at the school’s film festival my senior year. I graduated in 2015 and immediately went into full-time freelance. All in the same year I moved to downtown LA, closed down my film company (PopCinema). Not sure of what to do for money, I joined up with another friend from school who also had a homegrown wedding company, Paintbrush Weddings. My first years in freelance were spent trying desperately not to lose my passion as a creative amidst the hum-drum freelance odd-jobs I had to do to pay the bills.
That summer, I happened upon a little thing called OMG Everywhere! which is a non-profit organization in LA started by a bunch of music video directors that is all about teaching kids how to make movies. Long story short, I got involved as a volunteer. It ended up being one of the best weeks of my life. Just by being there I felt like I was learning just as much from the kids as they were learning from me. The counselors’ passion mixed with the amazing, unfiltered and uncynical energy from the kids totally reignited my passion for filmmaking.
It also started a hustle in me to get my first official music video made. This was quite an effort (as I had no representation) but eventually, after dozens of unanswered cold emails to managers and bands I loved, I was fortunate enough to land my first official music video for a viral subway band called TOO MANY ZOOZ. (Which just dropped online last week! http://clashmusic.com/videos/too-many-zooz-have-a-message-for-all-true-warriors).
It’s been just over 2 years since I moved to LA. Right now, I’m making a mixture of branded content, music videos, shorts & VR. I live in the lovely area known as Echo Park and spend most of my days directing/writing/editing projects, drinking wayyy too much coffee for my own good and dancing to trap music with the windows wide open.
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?
Oh yeah, there have been many challenges. I’m still facing them! I guess, generally speaking, one of the biggest challenges so far has been the whole ‘making money’ thing. Freelancing is a lot of work for not a whole lot of pay.
Trying to balance a steady freelance work schedule while also staying inspired and making passion projects to further myself as an artist is like trying to juggle two full-time jobs. There have been many times when I have had to say goodbye to my social life for a few months just to make sure rent would be covered. It has always worked out, though.
Needless to say, it’s always a challenge finding balance. I’m learning how to rid myself of the fear of failure, or any other day-to-day anxieties that stand in the way of my passion and creative drive.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
Outside of directing my own projects, I also co-run two companies with the same business partner, Andrew Schundler. Our companies are Paintbrush Weddings where I serve as the Creative Director. In this position, I oversee all of the creative decisions and branding. I also manage all the gear owned by the company.
What I love about Paintbrush is our approach to the process of wedding videos. Our approach to a wedding is essentially to create a mini-doc about the couple and their day rather than a flashy music video or commercial like a lot of other companies tend to do. We don’t want any two stories to feel the same, so we spend a lot of time and care on these videos, making them for only 10-15 couples per year on average.
My other company is Thing3, founded in 2016, where I serve as a co-producer and director for a variety of projects. Thing3 began as a VR company focused on immersive VR theatre. In 2016, we created an immersive dance piece in VR for the band M83. It is now our main banner for music videos, commercials and VR. Most recently, Thing3 produced our music video for TOO MANY ZOOZ – WARRIORS.
What were you like growing up?
Ambitious, deep-thinking, spontaneous and a bit rebellious. My main interests have always been in the arts. Growing up I spent a lot of time looking for new music, hanging with friends, antique shopping, skating and surfing. I tend to be a pretty positive, energetic person as long as I am staying creative and keeping busy!
- Website: www.jeffpross.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @jeffpross
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/jeffreymprosser
- Twitter: @thejeffpross