Follow Friday: Fantastic Filmmakers

On Twitter, "Follow Friday" (#FF or #FollowFriday) is a way to recommend people you think others should know about. It's a very neat idea, though most people just add the hashtag and then list a bunch of Twitter user handles. It's a nice way to give someone a shout out, but often lacks the context. Why should I follow these people? Well I've decided to answer that question & provide that context. Each Friday I'm able, I'll write a post briefly profiling 3 local or relatively lesser known creative people who you should know about. In this post I'm going to profile three folks I know who I respect for their film/video talents: Gabriel Ratliff of Red Cliff Media, Rob Kaczmark of Spirit Juice Films, & Jon Barnes of The Pumthugee Underground.

Gabriel Ratliff

Website: Facebook: Dirt Worshippers: Fin del Mundo Twitter: @gaberatliff

Gabriel is the definition of "jack-of-all-trades" when it comes to creative production. He's knowledgable and skilled in graphic design, web design, photography, film/video, music (live & recorded) and about whatever else you can think of. Dammit, I bet he's a great juggler. Or could be if he wanted to be. I met Gabe in October 2011 and was instantly impressed with his diverse background and skill set. He was high energy, had tried a bunch of stuff in life, yet really hadn't settled on "I'm a ____." However he is pretty great at all he has so far tried out. Except juggling. I don't know about the juggling yet.

Gabe's also been responsible for a rapid growth in my creative technical skills over the past year. I worked closely with him at New Hope Natural Media in Boulder, CO. Initially we were direct teammates, working together on redesigning ads, websites, & responsive, mobile-friendly email templates. While my then-coworker Jeff and I had a pretty good understanding of design and how to use the tools like Adobe Creative Suite, Gabe took our crazy ideas and made them reality like this and this, and then taught us how to use those tools better.

In working with him I realized Gabe has a fantastic eye and a true knack for video. I wasn't the only one that noticed. Eventually he would become the company's main video producer, with much of what you find over the past 12 months on this channel and this one (or his website) being his production. Recently though, Gabe has begun pursuing filmmaking more seriously outside of work.

In December, he joined an expedition to Guatemala to fight off Mayan zombies or something and to make a film about it. He just released the trailer and it has me stoked to see a final cut of the film. Watch the trailer here and check out all the links above to his super awesome creative stuff. Then tweet to him and say "@andrewjcoate said you don't suck that bad. Congrats!"

Rob Kaczmark

Website: Facebook: Spirit Juice Films Twitter: @robkaczmark

I went to high school with Rob. He was one of those cool seniors when I was an awkward freshman. Just kidding. I was never awkward a day in my life *cough* Anyway, I remember Rob as being super smiley, creative, having cool hair and a good fashion sense. He was always somehow involved in entertainment at school assemblies and I would hear about him being involved in making films here and there, or so I remember. I also remember him being involved with church youth groups, which I thought must be why he was generally a nice guy.

Now those might be blurry memories for me, but they combine to form a cool reality now. Rob is a co-founder of Spirit Juice Films, a multimedia company serving primarily Catholic, faith-based organizations. Their vision, according to their Facebook page, is to "raise the bar on Catholic media, and to offer the same production quality seen in secular media." I really dig that. One of my knocks on churches has always been that they don't reflect "real life". I felt many of the churches I had visited or been a part of, especially Catholic ones, neglected or pigeonholed artistic expression.

Seriously though. He's a fashionable dude.

Rob is clearly an artistic person with a great eye and feel for filmmaking. Regardless of your views on faith, I believe you can appreciate what Spirit Juice is doing.  They're finding a way to make messages that often get lost on current media savvy generations, and bring them into an accessible realm. Rob has chosen to use his talents in service of a message that's important to a lot of people. But this isn't just pizazz and effects for the sake of pizazz and effects.

You get the sense watching the pieces Spirit Juice produces that there truly is heart behind them. I don't particularly relate with many of the views in these films, but I do enjoy watching them and many of them have some great food for thought. I appreciate Rob's creativity and his decision to use it for something that isn't strictly profit driven...and I still appreciate his sense of fashion.

Jon Barnes

Website: Facebook: The Pumthuggee Underground Twitter: @pumthuggee

Pum what now? Pumthuggee. You know. Like, [insert reference here]. Okay, I don't know what that means, just the same as I don't know exactly how to place this last guy. The Pumthuggee Undergound is the digital world of Jon Barnes. Jon Barnes is along the same lines as Gabe and Rob - a vastly multitalented individual. Browsing the hundreds of videos on his official YouTube channel, you see content ranging from videos about painting cars, drawing cars, being awesome, rapping, spoofing, being weird, guitars, music, art, design, creativity, & faith-based topics as well.

Jon Barnes is an "author, artist, writer, businessman, musician, producer and thinker", according to his bio and "hilarious and deeply intriguing" according to me. While some videos are obviously parodies, like this one about "the creative process", others walk the line between being actually instructional/educational and tounge-in-cheek. He has awesome videos about drawing flames on cars and also videos about how to make a duct tape suit (a three part series, that is the example of being useful yet silly at the same time).

I started interacting with Jon's alter-ego (work-self) through my alter-ego (work-self) back in August. I was tweeting for the official Natural Products Expo twitter account, while he was tweeting for Live Forever Juice. You know, Live Forever Juice, the world's only great tasting, calorie-free immortality juice, by the same makers as Unicorn Breath. I'll let you do a little digging there. I'll wait....

Okay, now that you've figured it all out, Jon and I connected in person at Natural Products Expo East this past September at the very popular Live Forever Juice booth. We chatted briefly about the brilliant marketing work they were doing, swapped info and stayed in touch. As I got to know Jon a little bit through follow up emails and stalking him on them internets, I realized I had come across a guy who really understood branding, and how to filter his obvious abundance of creativity into both a work and life balance, which is something I'm pushing toward. Spend some time on his YouTube channel and learn how to draw things or play guitar with just three strings. Or get deep and ponder art and stuff (below).