Like many other creative pros, Jake Blackman found love at first sight when exposed with what is now his life career. Choosing life behind a camera rather than in front of it, Jake set out to create and edit on iMovie from a very tender age, apparently since he was as young as 10.
The rest, Jake says, "is history." Now the owner of his own freelance business JB Visions, Jake has had the chance to work with a number of different and great clients, from McDonald's to the CBS, from the National Guard to Trinova, Smucker's and beyond.
For this Member Spotlight, we are learning more about Jake's own style, aspirations and dreams, including some nice and useful advice for all the creative professionals out there.
How did you get into the industry?
I have been making funny videos and “movies” ever since I was 10 years old with my friends. I was never comfortable in front of the camera, and always found myself being the one to edit everything together afterward on iMovie. I couldn’t get enough of it, and knew it was what I wanted to do the rest of my life.
I was lucky enough that my high school had a video production program and had just gotten a brand new iMac Pro desktop with Final Cut Pro. From there, I went to Indiana University as a Telecommunications major where I took classes learning Adobe After Effects and Photoshop. Those classes laid the foundation and propelled me to my first job out of college at a start up news network in Chicago as a staff video editor. The rest is history!
Where are you based now and who do you work for?
I currently live in Chicago, and work for a company called Gold Eagle Co. I’m a full-time editor there and actually played a key role in setting up their first video content team. In addition to this job, I’m constantly working freelance projects on the side for various clients all over the world!
If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?
I actually think about this question a lot. I honestly don’t know what else I would be doing, because I’ve honestly wanted to be a video editor for as long as I can remember. If I HAD to guess… I’d say I’d probably be doing something in the sports industry. I’ve played every sport competitively, and played volleyball in college.
Can you explain your creative process?
Since my early days video editing, music has played a HUGE role in my creative process (assuming the project requires music). I’m completely inspired by whatever song I end up choosing for a video. Once I hear the music of a piece, I can see everything being laid out and fitting together in my head like a blueprint. Editing on beat of the music is one of my strengths and something I pride myself on.
I’m strong at being able to hear what a client needs, taking in their thoughts and visions for their project, and being able to execute their vision while adding some upgrades of my own.
How would you describe your style?
My style is typically fast paced, bold, emotional, modern, and often outside the box. What often inspired me in my early days were epic film tailers. A lot of my style stems from a film trailer-like quality. Video is a powerful thing, and I like to extract as much emotion from my audience as I can. If I can get someone to say they had goosebumps watching my video…that’s a huge success to me. Obviously not all projects can achieve this affect, but I like to go big wherever I can.
Which individuals do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?
Hanz Zimmer might be one of my favorites in the industy. I’m also a fan of Christopher Nolan, and Tom Hanks. I realize that’s kind of all over the place, but those three definitely make me feel something every time I see their work.
How has technology affected the way you work?
Well, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without my trusty Mac computer. I still get excited when I sit down at my computer each morning with my large cup of coffee….ready to create something. The Adobe After Effects software has quickly become my favorite piece of software. It’s pure creation. I’m able to bring most of my ideas to life in that program. Lastly, platforms like Fiverr allow me to connect with clients who need work done, WeTransfer allows me to send files all over the world, and Vimeo allows me to store and share my work to whoever wants to see it.
What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?
I’m one of the lucky few who found my passion early in life. I’m living out my childhood dream of being a video editor and working for myself! I have this hunger to constantly look for more work, and learn new techniques and skills. Luckily, I have found those two things go hand in hand. When I have a new client, they often challenge me to do something I’ve never done before. This prompts me to go learn how to do it, watch tutorials, or often just try out new things and teach myself. My ultimate dream is to be able to work FULL-TIME for myself as a freelancer. When I keep that goal in my mind each and every day…it pushes me to do whatever it takes to get to that point.
What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?
I’d say one of the things I’m most proud of is working as the Senior Video Editor for Governor JB Pritzker of Illinois when he was campaigning. I was his staff video editor for 2 years, and I like to thing I played a small role in helping him get elected! Creating all his digital content and telling his story, I truly felt like I was making a difference.
How do you recharge away from the office?
Outside the office, I’m typically hanging with friends and family, planning my next trip, and occasionally in the summers I’ll go out and play some beach volleyball. I’m now a proud father of a beautiful daughter, so she takes up a lot of my time these days as well.
What is one tip that you would give to other aspiring creatives looking for work?
My advice would be to determine what you ultimately want. What’s your end game? Once you have that, keep that goal in mind and let it fuel you every day. I’d also say to apply, apply, apply. I can’t tell you how many jobs I’ve applied for (freelance as well as full-time). There’s no harm in putting your name/work out there, and even if you don’t get the job right away…they might come back to you later on. It puts you on people’s radar.
What’s your one big hope for the future of the industry?
One of my big hopes is that people/companies open themselves up to remote workers and freelancers more. I know this is quickly becoming the trend, but there’s still a lot out there who aren’t open to it.
If you could change one thing about the industry, what would that be?
Storage seems to always be one of my big struggles. I wish video files weren’t so darn big! Or I wish there were at least some better options for storage space out there. It’s also possible I haven’t quite explored this enough.