43. Finding Pleasure in Failing Forward with Chris Evans

Chris Evans is a local London Ontario Producer and Director for music videos and commercials who has a wealth of knowledge in the music video genre, working with some of Armada Music Label's biggest artists. His videos have seen hundreds of millions of plays and he continually improves his craft. Chris and I speak about his creative process, when and why videographers should consider renting equipment, the joy of failing in business doing what you love, It's an inspiring conversation about finding pleasure in the hardship and difficulties of the daily grind, which is something that everyone can certainly benefit from. I found this conversation one of the most inspiring from season 3, so enjoy the episode!


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Alex 0:00

Chris Evans is an inspiring videographer. And I hope you enjoyed that quick clip from our interview together, it was an absolute pleasure to speak with Chris. And to hear more about what he's been up to, I can't wait to dive into this interview with everybody. We talk about a lot of really useful information such as you know, how to get started, and film and what you should be really considering when you're trying to find a niche that you want to sell to. And so Chris has done this with such an amazing and lightning striking precision. It's just absolutely incredible the success he's been able to build. And it's also really cool to hear his thoughts about renting equipment, and why you should consider doing more of that if you want to work on bigger shoots and the benefits of renting. That's something that I personally have never considered. And so we talk quite a bit about that. It's just really about finding that internal drive and motivation to succeed and the value of a network.

There's so much good stuff to unpack here. So thank you again, Chris. So much for listening. I really appreciate it. And I'm sure everyone's gonna enjoy this, but let's get right into the episode. All right, Chris, thank you so much for coming. You are technically the first guest on the creative kind podcast season Fleury. Oh, wow. Yeah. Wow. So this season flies. Yeah, no, my pleasure. Thank you, man. So this season was originally going to be really focused on really focused on people who work in TV and film, I actually have some some really amazing people coming on the season yourself included, of course, I'm really excited. I think you will actually really enjoy the season, every new season is becoming more and more niche. Cool. So I don't even know if you're going to be the first episode of this season. Because one thing that I'm doing now and we're just talking, you know, maybe this will get the cop maybe it won't. But one thing that I'm really doing this batch editing. Okay, so for the first two weeks of April, I'm recording like, I think 10 of the episodes each season prior to that has only been 20 episodes per season. I'm super stoked about this season, as you can tell. I'm now keep I keep adding people into the season. I think now I'm actually at 30 episodes for the season. It's gonna be a bit bigger. Wow. Yeah.

Yeah, I have like 25 of the guests already confirmed. So. Damn. That's exciting. I'm happy to be I guess the first Wow. I mean of the season. Yeah. Yeah, the first of the season. So anyway, that was just a little preamble. You know, it needs a guide. It's probably not even gonna be the first. But if you're listening to this little easter egg, Chris was the first. So talk to me, Chris, about where you are right now in your career as a filmmaker, and how long have you been making videos?

Chris 2:24

I mean, I kind of right now I would say I'm more focused on producing and directing music videos and commercials. And I've been doing it I'm 29. I've been doing it since I was basically in high school, even elementary school a little bit. I was making some interesting, fun videos and stuff and just kind of escalated from there went from funky fun videos with your friends that were, you know, kind of embarrassing to school projects. And then I started taking more serious to college wedding videos. I started reaching out and doing events, filming festivals, music festivals, and shows that meeting artists and those artists need music videos and music videos. And here we are. So that's kind of a quick, kind of up to speed situation, I guess. Yeah, it's, it's interesting. That's how I feel like a lot of people start right like doing that. I feel like that's a common trajectory, like you started like on YouTube or something like this. I had a bit a bit different approach my own self, like I didn't really know start on really doing YouTube videos.

But I'm curious to like, one thing that I appreciate about you and your grind is that you do a ton of music videos. But these are like, you know, like low budget music, like you're doing like high budget like high end music videos with like big people. And that's a cool niche. Like, I don't think a lot of people go to that niche. How did you kind of end up in that niche? Yeah, I mean, it's funny because music videos usually never money in it, even with big budget sometimes, which people don't tend to realize. And so you're actually in the trenches making them but like kind of going back a bit. I did a lot of events locally in London, Ontario and work with a musical did block party festival, 10th party and all these kind of I guess raves at the time. I've been doing it for like 10 years now, which is kind of crazy to think back in the day, like EDM was really big electronic music DJs traveling so I would shoot at a venue in London and all these DJs and to be touring and I'd feel for them. And then what happened was over time, some of my friends from here were to local DJs that are now known as La luxury, which I'm sure you've heard of, and kind of this just, we were all friends and I've always seen them backstage and then that escalated and we made a video in LA when they moved there and I was like, this is fine. I don't make a music video my Friday pretty much my first music video and we went out then it was like all London people and Ontario people in Los Angeles and then that turned into a big song that the label picked up that they're now under called our motto music and then through there, I started actually getting a lot of traction through the label because of that video, so you know, huge thanks to those guys letting me do that initially, but at the beginning it was there was no plan it was just friends making cool content. But yeah, for the music videos now it's just because I've stayed in touch with artists now I'm now actually just recently shot two music videos last two weeks locally with I guess you'd say up and coming artists. They haven't revealed themselves. Yeah, but they're super talented and budgets aren't huge, but we use it to make it as epic as possible. Yeah, super cool. And so I know what video that you're referring to them with love actually. Body of course, really amazing video will have a link here. Yeah. And so like that. That's a great video and like that video won some awards didn't and not like that song got Yeah, nice, pretty property as well.

Right? So big song, like the song blew up the video below on YouTube, the lyric video. So Originally, it was a music video that we made. And then it turned into a lyric video. And then we like try to recreate the video again into an official music video that I mean, personally, it just didn't work out as well as it could have been, you know, you live you wearing. And it's all good, though. Because the Yeah, the song really blew up. It's right now I think as an 800 million streams on Spotify, which is I don't even understand that number. By for the video, the music video has 100 million views, which is also crazy. And yeah, we ended up winning a much music video award like three years ago for song of the summer. So that was really cool. Because I actually didn't even expect to like be there, let alone winning award for the music videos. But yeah, that happened. And that was the coolest thing. Because I grew up watching that. I want to show how am I How did this happen?

Alex 7:28

Yeah, no, I love that. And it's interesting to hear you talk about it. And it's something I want to dive into a bit deeper. So with music videos, I feel like you can really it's like you have a lot more freedom in terms of creativity. You know, like when I'm doing more corporate videos, client videos, you know, there's generally like, you can't experiment with, you know, facts or things like this, but music videos, that's kind of what helps make them pop or helps, you know, on top of everything.

Chris 8:28

Yeah, of course. And so like for you, like, I think I think we talked about this when we first met, but like, what do you added on? And where do you do all your effects? Yeah, so I know all my videos are pretty like I try and focus on the image and I just tried to focus on the artist story but like, you know, most of the budget goes towards camera gear and so the tog Rafi and lighting and location, which I think are the most important aspects and I usually try and edit most of my stuff, but for a lot of the bigger music videos, I'll collaborate with an editor and it's just a really cool process and we use Adobe Premiere so I have an iMac that I'm week of leasing from Apple and if you do that you could actually lease higher end I guess equipment from Apple from the Apple Store. So I've been leasing one I'm almost done or financing it rather I guess it's going to be bought out. So iMac pro and I use Adobe Creative Cloud the whole system. So Premiere Pro is where I edit I started in Premiere Pro way back and then I went into Final Cut seven subtle font or seven for a while that Final Cut x came out I wasn't into that too much and I went back to Premiere Pro. So that's I don't really have too many effects heavy stuff I do. For example, in the body video, I collaborated with a local animator and a good friend of mine who helped by creatively direct the idea of how the images or sorry the lyrics gonna look in my blend in with the actual video. And that was a really fun process that we did. I rarely try and stick to like a lot of animation stuff. I'd rather do more cinematic and filmic style videos. So that's kind of where I'm really trying to push my I guess traction. Nice.

Alex 10:00

Talk walk me through your camera bag. What's like, okay, the Chris came back. Well the Chris camera bag is involved for sure. Like I always I started with a Canon T two I, the nifty 50 lens I run to that back in the DSLR days, I upgraded to 60 D, and I ended up getting a Panasonic GH four which shot 4k I look really sick. I remember that came out I was really excited because they did a side by side comparison with the red camera and I was like, I don't even notice the difference. So I was stumped on that. And I upgraded to the GH five which I currently still own. And I do I do corporate and a lot of freelance work still. So I'll do interview stuff and you know, corporate videos where we just need, you know, log off camera and stuff. And the GH fives have incredible little powerhouse camera for that. So I've used that. Wow, when it comes to like budgeted productions in terms of like higher end commercials or music videos, where we actually have a budget meaning like, you know, more money than just going in my pocket. I'll hire a lot of my cinematographer friends who have a lot of equipment, and I try and use mainly Ari, which is my favorite film camera. I mean, they're only like $100,000 so I'm not looking to own one anytime soon. But I definitely have a couple really awesome talented friends who own them and also rental houses I'm used to renting from so for bigger productions that there's money, I'll put the money towards renting high end equipment and lenses is that's always really important. Yeah, it's, it's something I generally haven't really done is doing a lot of like oriental.

Chris 11:34

And you know, I guess like part of me would be a bit weary like if you read you know, if you read something, and then you get on set and you don't like you don't know how the camera works like, just stick with what works for you. Yeah, work. So like a good friend of mine from Montreal. He just got a job with a rental company and all they rent is Aires and reds. Wow, super high end. Yeah, like really, really high rental in Montreal. And like he's he's always like, been a huge proponent to me, like, Oh, you know, just rent dude. Like you don't have you just read things. So yeah, I mean, like, talk to me, like, why you think renting is so valuable? And like, how has that helped you? Ah, like, I guess kind of going back a bit. I do own like a maverick pro too. And I've used that in my high end music videos. And I've I've operated on a DJI Phantom three, which I still actually have. And I've used my gh five for music videos before and I've I've kind of kept it in, like, you know, guide cam. So my personal kit, it can only go so far in terms of like the quality. But that being said, I've seen people shoot on like small cameras and make incredible images, it really comes down to the cinematography, the lighting, and obviously the story. But for for camera gear, I really don't think it's a huge deal. I think everyone makes a big fuss about you know, what's the best camera and blah, blah, blah, and what's 4k aka whatever, Ari's which is my favorite camera that even shoot 4k. They should like 2.7k.

And it's really interesting because like you'd think, wait, that's like a really expensive camera. Yeah, there's a reason it's like the, you know, the the colors, the compression, everything, it's like really beautiful with that image. And again, going back to like trying to do more filmic things, that's why I will read that. But if you don't have a budget, then you're not probably gonna be able to rent like any equipment. But keep in mind, like an RV kit, you can rent for like about $1,000 for a day, which is a lot of money, but like sometimes, you know, even a local artist might have $1,000, you might have $2,000 Yeah, $500. So it really depends on the money you're working with, and the concept and the idea. And then you also keep in mind, these bigger cameras come with more expenses and more build and like, you know, cage and follow focus. And it's a whole thing. There's a reason there's like a cinematographer and a first AC and a second AC for bigger things. But I read because I'm really you know, blessed in a position where I can get budgeted music videos that I can shoot quality. So that's the realm of my producing and directing. Going back into my freelance world, which I still do a lot. It's Yeah, he's my GH5 and I maybe I'll rent lights from a friend or I'll rent a really cool lens from you know, a local artists and other photographers on Bing. So it really depends on the project. But I think if we're all talking freelance, which is most of us that we're all working for ourselves and making our own videos and editing, directing breezing at all, then there's so many cool tools right now that you can use, but it all comes down to just knowing what you're doing with the image, which is the most important thing. Yeah, absolutely. And it's, I think what you're talking about that we kind of have graced on it, but the idea of like, the location is so valid You know, that's so important. Right? Like Like, gearing kick can only get you so far. Right? So like it's all the other kind of, you know, a bit less tangible aspects that that really help you

Alex 15:00

Bring that story to life for you. What's one of like your personal favorite videos that you've made? That's just like a personal accomplishment that maybe we haven't spoken about yet? That's a good question. I feel like I mean back in the day I did a really fun thing with my friends we go for wings every Tuesday like religiously like when A is a thing and we have different friend groups joining and we all did like all the time we always meet new people and have a good time with that we ended up getting this opportunity where Buffalo Wild Wings and open London for the first 100 people in line got free rings for a year. So we're like I told everyone I'm like guys we got to like do this we end up camping out doing a whole putting out a whole thing together like we had friends our playing games, there are other people camping I documented the whole thing and I ended up on the news on the radio and I just made made this video that's all occupied Buffalo Wild Wings. And it turned into like the actual the CEO of buffalo wings.

They played it at a convention in Texas or like the whole company. And then they contacted me like oh, we we have other another location opening up and Barry, can we send you guys so I made another documentary that's just like a little fun road trip video with my camera and I can't do too. I like my friends. And that just was so fun because it was like, we're literally doing it for free wings. And there's no, there's nothing. It's just my friends being friends with like rod at the time. There's no strings attached. There's no politics, there's no money that was just an authentic time and video and I think it shows but that was years ago. I was like eight years ago, 10 years ago or something I don't know. But more recently, as I've evolved into music videos, I guess one of the first ones I did in London was a song called stay by Ben Gold, who's an artist from the Netherlands, I ended up hiring some local talent like people I I knew, and we ended up shooting all over London. And that was really fun, because I got to shoot London in a way that I never thought I could, which is like with an Aryan, an anamorphic lens and like a full kind of production. And that was really special because it just showed me that like, Oh, yeah, I can use what I have in London. Not in Toronto, not in LA, not in New York. It's in London, Ontario and area.

And I think it is kind of an extra boost of confidence to realize, hey, you don't really need to reach too far away to make something cool because all these small towns and little cities are actually unknown. People don't realize that like St. Thomas is like using Netflix shows and movies and Hollywood. It's always here shooting because it's a secret gem, hidden. Like there's all these little towns and beauty. We have beaches, we have cities, we have it all here. And it's like, why not utilize that and tell the story you want because you have that location. And it's really special. So, yeah, kind of a little rant there. But I like it, man. That's uh, that's awesome. I need to go watch that video bank. All right, I asked you that filmed here in London. Yeah, who knew? What was named that track? So that was called stay by Banco Hall. And then there's another one actually recently, that's very loud. And he tried another video here called silver lining by Andrew Wright owl was another electronic music artists. So that was all filmed here, too. So it was really fun. Yeah, yeah, definitely, definitely check those out. include some links to those.

And, and so yeah, no, that's that. That's awesome to hear. I appreciate you sharing that with me. And it kind of Yeah, it makes me think, right. Like, sometimes we don't realize the potential of what we have. I think a lot of people always want to are attracted to like urban centers, or can say like, put themselves down, they don't necessarily think that there's a potential to grow. We know where they are. Like, what would you say is one thing that you know, now that you almost wish you knew before you started your question? I, I feel like I was in a weirdly convenient position at a young age because I always knew I wanted to make videos. And it was like it. You know, there's a lot of burden that comes with following your dreams and like, be doing what you actually love, especially in the arts, because I feel like most people my whole theory is everyone's an artist, like we're, we were created to create. So the and you can just see that, like, at the simplest term, and the simplest of ways when you're a kid, all you care about is creating and like playing and, like make imagination you know, imagining things and scenes and movies are so influential to you. And that kind of stuck with me my whole life. And I always just realized I love this. So like, even if I'm failing at it, I'm still winning because I'm learning something. So I think something when I was younger, maybe just like, I didn't have to be so hard on myself that I wasn't, you know, a director yet. I was still you know, paying on in wedding video. I wanted to make music videos, but then I was like it was always in my peripheral. I just kept getting there. And now it's like, actually shocking to think Oh, wait, I can call myself a director and a producer because I literally do that now.

Chris 20:00

Ironically, this whole year, I've been actually only doing music videos, which is like my dream to just do that. So I've already you know, in theory, I heard this quote, I haven't I butcher it, but it's like, just remind yourself where you are today is where you imagined you'd be five years ago or like it or something about like, you know, the thing you were complaining about five years ago. Now, it's like irrelevant or something. So I that's not the quote, but it's something like that. And it kind of reminded me like, Oh, yeah, why if every time I'm like, you know, down on myself or something going bad or wrong, I'm always like, wait, but I'm failing in what I love. And you're failing, give me anything give me like your you know, your video. He forgot to press record. That's happened a lot. Not a wedding. It's like, Oh, yeah, I should probably film The times your batteries regard to charge your batteries. And it's like these, like almost embarrassing banks. So we've all done it, I still do it. It's just a matter of just just reset. Yeah, I was I take the amount of times I've put my drone in the air. And they're like I show you put an SD card.

Chris 21:09

That's a classic one actually. I like driving it for five minutes. I like this is great. I'm like, oh, there's no SD card. So yeah, I think like, that's kind of important to just, I wouldn't be so hard on myself and enjoy it a little more. But are you really enjoy it. I think I just want to tell myself to just, like, enjoy the failures. And that sounds so ridiculous. But remind yourself that if you're failing at something you love, you can't lose because you can only learn. It's really hard to fail at something you love and be depressed. I think a lot of people are more depressed and in their heads a lot more these days, because they are actually just, you know, in a job they don't like, and they're lying to themselves saying like, No, I do like this IPS while it's comfortable. But like I really want to, you know, play guitar for that. I really want to do that music video thing. I really want to shoot weddings, I really want to start a YouTube channel. But that's almost ridiculous. But it's like, no, it's nice. 2021 like this is how people actually are making the most money on their side. hustles and those side hustles can actually be your career if you really just believe in yourself that that's what you love to do.

And I think that's the hardest thing for people is not realizing what they actually love. Like, I asked a lot of my friends and somebody's like, I don't even really know what my passion is. And I'm like, well, they probably do some realize it. It's almost like Oh, wait, music. Oh, that's that's a hobby, you know. And that that was something that I thought was kind of funny, because it's like, no, a hobby can be a career. And I have friends who kind of make fun of me like, Oh, you don't work. You have a hobby? And I'm like, Okay, yeah, I guess I guess you're right now that's an insult or a compliment. But yeah, so it's kind of cool. Yeah. And no, I think I think that a lot of people do struggle with that, right? Like a lot of people are afraid maybe to take that leap, or to kind of go all in to what it is that they're interested in. And so like looking at, say, you know, upcoming generation of people who are maybe even people who have been working on your nine to five or whatever, but who loved their side hustle. And they slowly want to turn that in, because that's part of what the show is. It's people who have a creative side hustle, who don't know how to monetize it, who are doing passion projects all the time, but they don't know the business side. Right? And so like, like, what advice would you give to them? In terms of, Okay, take that leap?

You know, what was your point where you really just went all in? That's a great question. I think everyone's story is so different. And because so much has changed with technology and the internet and social media in the last literally 10 years. I'm over the slower like I've been doing I've loved movies since I was a kid I was influenced by movies into my like, you know, grade 234 or five then middle school and in high school, I was making videos. And I think like the kind of goes back to you know, figuring out what you really love, which is really it really at the core of it is like you You just need to figure out like what makes you like the happiest and for me it's making telling stories simply it's telling stories, and sharing them to other people. It's as simple as this conversation like, yeah, we're talking like there's a reason podcasts are doing so well. Now, it's because people love just talking like raw like no, no BS, it's just to humans are more interacting about a topic. I think I I took, you know, I'm 29 I started doing this and like I said, I was a younger kid in high school even younger than that. So I just kept at it. I literally just kept at it because it's all I knew I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to be a director and I just kept doing things that push