Producer Celeste Peake sat down with Jacob Mendez, incoming Creative Director, to learn what fuels his unique creative process. Read an excerpt from their conversation.
Celeste: Jacob, can you tell us a little about your background in video production?
Jacob: I started out as a freelancer back in high school. I was lucky enough to have an incredible teacher at the time in my digital media vocational class who saw something in me and started providing me contract opportunities. They were nothing big back then, but I was inspired to keep going. See, I used to be as stubborn as a bull: not wanting to do anything unless it was in the film industry.
So I worked on some really low-budget student films but I found out pretty quickly that it doesn't really make a lot of money. So when I was provided this opportunity, I kind of ran with it. Since that time I've done some great work and multimedia with a focus on video production for Ford, Cinemark, MetroPCS, and some smaller family owned businesses from my hometown.
Eventually, I hit a wall with my freelance work as I was more of a creative than a business strategist back then. And that's when a buddy of mine told me about an opportunity at Quicken Loans, now Rocket Mortgage. So I took a position there and built an incredible media team with the help of extremely talented creatives
I ran that team for about seven years before I decided to take a break from the corporate world – and that's when I came to Flow. I started from a strictly video production background but in these last 11 years I've been in the role of media manager, producer, director, editor, photographer, even an assistant designer and finally Creative Director.
Celeste: Awesome! I think it really helps to have that diverse background to put yourself in any of the many shoes that people working in video wear. Could you talk a little bit about what the Creative Director brings to the video production process?
Jacob: Creative Director (CD) is such an interesting title because it honestly depends on the company! A traditional CD is going to be in charge of the overall vision for creative of any given company. So for an agency like ours, that means the traditional role takes on the responsibility of the creative vision and strategy not only for Flow, but all the clients we partner with.
That's not really where it ends though. On occasion, you have the CD taking on the responsibilities of an on-set Director for production, collaborating and helping to develop creatives, finding the right talent – whether it's in front of or behind camera – and ensuring the product is creatively impactful and provides value to the client and the agency. A lot of times these companies who partner with us are are gonna be coming in with the idea that we hold their creative fate in our hands – and sometimes that is the case – but it's my job to make sure that it's more of a collaborative environment where the client can feel comfortable and trust that we're going to get the project done together.
Celeste: Love it, thank you! So, can you walk us through a little bit of your creative process when you start a project from scratch and how you blossom it into a fully developed final product?
Jacob: Background is probably the most important thing: to understand the ins-and-outs of any organization as a whole and give them exactly what they need in order to accomplish their goals. You want to make sure that you're doing something that Flow and the creatives involved would be proud of. Ultimately, our job is to accomplish the goals that our client sets out to achieve. It's a give-and-take. I have to make sure that I am bought-into that client: I can't take on a project without being passionate about it.
So when I'm looking at a given client or project, I have to find out what makes them tick? What's going to inspire me and the creatives that are going to be working on this project to work on this with such a ferocity? It's honestly a lot of research and banging my head up against the wall: creativity is not something that just pops up most times. It's nurtured and shaken out. Sometimes you'll have that golden goose that comes to you. But every single project requires an immense amount of caring to ensure that it's something great.
Celeste: Yeah, I like that you speak to being passionate about projects. You know our mission is “Video with a Higher Purpose”. That sounds like an absolute perfect fit.
Jacob: That was actually the biggest thing that drew me to Flow to be honest with you. I love to do my research, so when I came upon the position the first thing I did was look at the website and when I saw “Video with a Higher Purpose” that resonated with me: to ensure that I'm enjoying the work and I can be living my dream and that's different for everyone.
Celeste: Aside from your creative vision and your keen eye for engaging and meaningful stories, do you have any hidden talents to share with us?
Jacob: Sure. I'll give you a little bit of background. Aside from making videos with a purpose, I also try to live with a purpose and each year I've themed my years. So starting back in like 2016, I started with the year of “reinvention”. 2021 was the year of “learning”, and I decided to take it upon myself to learn how to renovate my house. 2022 is the year of “strategy” for me.
So I’m living in my very first home, pretty proud of it, but I remember waking up one day and I said this doesn't feel like my house, it just doesn't feel like home to me. So I decided that tearing down a wall between my kitchen and my living room would be the best way to start making it feel like mine. I even did the decorative wall here behind me. I've built some desks and shelves. I’m really into woodworking and just trying to learn new things. I've rewired half of my house, I've done plumbing, drywall. I would say I am an all around handyman of sorts. I also just love to write in general. I am a published author. I do like to sing on occasion – I wouldn't say I'm world class by any stretch of the imagination!
Celeste: I actually theme my years as well and this year, 2022 was “strength” for me. Strength of body, strength of mind, you know, getting stronger after a couple of crazy years. And then last year… you will not believe this. 2021 for me was also “learn.”
Jacob: No way! We have the same 2021 then.
Celeste: What types of video projects are you excited to dive into with Flow?
Jacob: I'm really big on storytelling. I think that it's such an impactful craft that can really make people feel and buy into things. I think that's really the background of any kind of media. You have to be bought-into it and think about it in today's market, right? With Netflix, you can easily watch the first five minutes of a film or a show and be like, this isn't for me, I'm turning it off and you can do that with basically anything.
So, it's so important to be able to grab your audience’s attention and retain it. I think I'm really looking forward to more storytelling. You know, projects where we can really evoke a certain emotion or tone. You can create your own world in a way where it will accomplish the goals of the people that you're working with, as well as yourself, and it allows you to creatively run loose with the things that you would only dream of that now become a reality. The idea of being able to tell a story where people can really latch onto it is something that gives me pride.