From Minecraft Commentary YouTube Channel to Documentary Filmmaking
From Minecraft Commentary YouTube Channel to now Documentary Filmmaker whose films became official selections at film festivals around the world, including the Switzerland International Film Festival, Georgia Documentary Film Festival, Chicago Film Scene TV, Wales International Documentary Festival, and Oregon Documentary Film Festival, to name a few. How has your work, creative flow and goals evolved over the years?
Carmen Vincent: Over the years, I’ve learned to ignore the fear and anxiety that says I can’t do something, especially when it comes to film because I care way too much about the stories I’m telling to let my own mind hold me back. It’s not easy, that’s for sure, but I’ve learned to be confident in my ability to figure it out, no matter what happens. It helps that I’ve fostered a great network around me, so I have lots of people to go to if I’m struggling. Thank God for online networking events during the pandemic…without them, I would feel so alone in my pursuits!
Not only have I learned to be more confident in myself, but I’ve learned that good storytelling takes time. I used to feel pressure to get content out so quickly, that quantity mattered more than quality, and I feel the exact opposite now. Especially with documentaries, stories need time to develop, and we as creators need time to soak them in and rework them to be as strong as possible.
With my Minecraft YouTube channel, it was all about how many views and likes I was getting, but with my filmmaking, it’s all about the quality of impact I make on individuals who watch my films, which isn’t a numbers game at all. Because of this realization, my work is more ambitious now, and I tackle stories for their relevance to our human experience, not for their “clickability.” Views and likes aren’t everything!
My goal has always been to be my own boss in some way. This started as a goal to direct my own content forever, which is still a goal of mine, but now I want to own my own documentary production company in 10 to 15 years. I want to give myself time to learn my craft and the industry in a deeper way, so it’s a “down-the-line” goal, but I’m committed to it. I want to cultivate a community around me of diverse voices that I can collaborate with and employ in my production company, so I can support and amplify all kinds of creative minds.
Can you tell us about the technologies you’ve worked with since age 14, from the Internet and YouTube to editing programs and cameras? How have your tools evolved over the years?
Carmen Vincent: Since age 14, I’ve gone from editing in Windows Movie Maker to Adobe Premiere Pro. It’s a big leap, but it’s so worth it. As a freelance video editor, Premiere allows
me to do so much and after working with it for more than five years, I feel like it’s an extension of myself at this point. I feel really comfortable with it, but that didn’t happen overnight. It takes time and commitment to learn a software like that, so keep going with it!
Over time, I’ve gathered my own little “kit,” so I have flexibility to make my own films. This consists of a Sony Alpha A7 camera, a Sony A7 iii camera (which I’m in love with), some nice Zoom lenses (I like the flexibility they offer for run-and-gun documentary filmmaking versus prime lenses), a couple of Sony ECM-44B wired lavaliers, a Zoom H6, a Sennheiser MKE 600 shotgun microphone, a couple of external hard drives to back everything up, and some simple LED lights I bought from Amazon, nothing fancy. It’s definitely not top-of-the-line equipment, but it allows me to tell the stories I tell.
My college professor would call film equipment “toys” because he believed the equipment you used doesn’t matter at all in comparison to the story you tell, and I totally subscribe to that notion. Don’t sweat it if you have to film on your phone, or can’t afford the latest camera model. If you’re telling a good story, people will watch your film. However, if you have money to invest in something, invest in good sound equipment!
How are you navigating and keeping active and creative during these Covid pandemic months of social distancing, and times of quarantine and self-quarantine? Can you share some inspirational words with fellow creatives?
Carmen Vincent: It’s definitely difficult to stay creative during this pandemic at times, but I’m lucky that I started production on a documentary before this all went down. I’m currently working on post-production for my short documentary, “Teacher of Patience,” about a family’s experience with Down syndrome. While there is more filming to be done, one of my subjects is immunocompromised, so it’s not a risk I’m willing to take. I have plenty of footage to use in post right now anyways, so I’ve been crafting rough cuts, getting feedback from people in my network, and raising money. I’m always tell my fellow filmmakers to shamelessly plug themselves when possible (and appropriately), so if you feel compelled to donate to help me finish my film, please visit: https://fundraising.fracturedatlas.org/teacher-of-patience-documentary.
I have to raise $100,000 to finish this film, which is so scary because I’ve never worked with a budget like that before, but I thankfully have an amazing executive producer/mentor, Heidi Reinberg, who has been guiding me every step of the way. So, if you’re scared to do any part of your creative craft (even the boring business stuff), I’m telling you right now that if I can do it, you can. No more excuses, just do it! Even if you fail, you’ll be a better creative for it. Especially during a pandemic, do we really have anything to lose?
What kinds of stories do you want to tell and share with the world?
Carmen Vincent: I direct and edit documentaries that tell raw, often-misunderstood stories to validate people’s experiences because I believe we all deserve to feel understood in our own skin. I’ve told stories about gender, sexuality, mental illness, and disability so far, and I want to keep telling stories like these so I can give people narratives they can relate to and feel validated by. This world can get so lonely, and it’s easy to feel misunderstood and isolated for who we are. I want to tell stories that make you feel less alone, more understood, and embraced for being exactly who you are. That’s all that matters for me.
As a filmmaker who has lived with depression, anxiety, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder ever since I can remember, I’m working to be more open about my experiences, and let those experiences inform the way I tell stories. It’s easier said than done, but own who you are because it will help the people around you do the same, and so on. Don’t forget your own story is just as valuable as anyone else’s!
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carmen-vincent-55b63b15a/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CarmenVincentFilms/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/carmenvincentfilms/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/carmenvfilms
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/carmenvincentfilms
- Website: https://www.carmenvincent.com/
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Interview conducted by Jody Michelle Solis. Associate Publisher for StudentFilmmakers Magazine (www.studentfilmmakers.com), HD Pro Guide Magazine (www.hdproguide.com), and Sports Video Tech (www.sportsvideotech.com) Magazine. “Lifelines, not deadlines. Motion Arts. Fusion Everything.”