Film Connection apprentice Ron Reid learns the shared expression of filmmaking
Some forms of artistic expression are very solitary and personal—for example, an artist painting on a canvas usually paints alone. But film is a special art form that relies on the collaboration of many creative people—and perhaps that’s what drew Ron Reid to a filmmaking career.
“I served as a U.S. Army officer for eight years,” he says. “One of my greatest treasured skills from service is that I maintained a strong desire to contribute as part of a team.”
When Ron enrolled in the Film Connection to learn filmmaking on-the-job, he says he was looking for a creative outlet to express himself. But when he began externing with Film Connection mentor Steve Carmichael at the RiTE Media Group in Atlanta, GA, Ron says he experienced firsthand what the collaborative filmmaking process looks like—and he was blown away by what he saw.
Perhaps the most notable example was a film shoot on a cold New Year’s Eve, a passion project that RiTE Media did for film artist TOTEM. Ron was there to work with the crew, and describes the outdoor shoot as very cold and very long—22 hours on-the-set. How did they stick it out for that long? Shared passion, he says.
“Everybody was just out there, had their own departments, grip and gaff and art department, extras and so forth, and everybody was just in tune to get their most creative process that they could,” he says. “People stuck around because they had vested interest, not just on making money, but they were involved in that collaborative process.”
Since then, Ron says he’s been part of a number of other productions, and each time he enjoys the collaborative process even more.
“The best [thing] is the experience of working with highly dedicated professionals that have fun at what they do,” he says. “I’ve seen firsthand how passionate a collective group can work even when there seems to be no real compensation other than fulfilling the expectations to imprint oneself into a collective creative project.”
Anyone who’s been around a film production realizes that the filmmaking process is a unique blend of creativity and collaboration. Films don’t magically appear from the figments of someone’s imagination: it takes a whole team of talented people working together to turn an imagined story into something that others can watch and relate to. One might say that the real magic of filmmaking, then, is in the teamwork.
For Film Connection apprentice Ron Reid, these two things—creative expression and collaboration—are perhaps the two things that have drawn him the most toward pursing a career as a filmmaker.
Regarding creative expression: “I think for the most part, I just want to have an outlet to take what’s internal to your own imagination and share that with others,” Ron says. “Film, particularly, is that instrument or that tool you can use for that…I think filmmaking can be like a painter illustrating themselves on to a canvas. For me, it’s part of inviting others into my own world.”
As for the collaboration part, Ron developed his appreciation for teamwork from an interesting place. “I served as a U.S. Army officer for eight years specializing in training and resource management,” he says. “One of my greatest treasured skills from service is that I maintained a strong desire to contribute as part of a team…It’s more than about oneself.”
When Ron decided to go to school to become a filmmaker and discovered he could learn on-the-job at the Film Connection, it was soon clear that this was a great fit for him. His first clue that he was in the right place was during his initial interview with Film Connection mentor Steve Carmichael, who teaches at RiTE Media in Atlanta, Georgia. “He’s very cordial, and he’s able to capture you into his own world,” he says. “Very intelligent, very inspiring.”
As Ron started his apprenticeship and began gaining experience through the various projects at RiTE Media, he saw firsthand the power of collaboration at work during the filmmaking process—most notably during a prolonged video shoot on New Year’s Eve for “Pride,” a song by up-and-coming artist TOTEM. (Check out the video here.)
“It was very long, it was very cold, it was outdoors,” Ron recalls. “It was like 50 people, just crew, and 50 extras, I don’t know, it was a massive amount of people. Everybody was just out there, had their own departments, grip and gaff and art department, extras and so forth, and everybody was just in tune to get their most creative process that they could…I was with them doing that one for 22 hours, which through all the different projects I’ve worked on, that’s been the longest. But people stuck around because they had vested interest, not just on making money, but they were involved in that collaborative process.”
Perhaps even more poignant for Ron was seeing the finished product, the results of their efforts. “Just to see that entire piece come together when they had the release party and the actual viewing and showing of the video itself,” he says, “—You know, we’re out there 22 hours doing it, just on the grind, getting it done, and [to] see what it came into—It was almost like the power of human spirit, I guess. We’re not existing alone, we’re of one mind type of thing.”
As Ron continues to work through his Film Connection apprenticeship, he continues to marvel at the experience he’s gained, and the power of collaboration on projects. “Over the past few months, I’ve been able to receive work on various commercial, film, and television productions,” says Ron. “The best [thing] is the experience of working with highly dedicated professionals that have fun at what they do. I’ve also had the pleasure of assisting in a few independent projects…A few I’ve participated in, I’ve had a prominent role, and seen firsthand how passionate a collective group can work even when there seems to be no real compensation other than fulfilling the expectations to imprint oneself into a collective creative project.”
As he finishes his apprenticeship, Ron plans to pursue a career as a director, and looks forward to taking many of the story ideas in his head and putting them on film. But he knows the real power behind telling those stories will be in the other people who take part in the process, which is one of the things he loves most about film.
“You can share that imaginative process with others,” he says. “It’s not just your vision alone; it’s shared between all the persons involved, and the audience as well.”