We had the good fortune of connecting with Chad Weber and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chad, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I think about the classic “paid in exposure” or no budget type of opportunities that are available when you first start in a creative field. I think there’s a balance between opportunity and exploitation. You have to decide where the value is for yourself.
Whenever I’ve gone after a venture I’m passionate about – I’ve found good things have followed. In the form of jobs, relationships and paydays.
We all kind of want to roll our eyes at making work for free. But we all also want to make the shit we want to make. And sometimes you can’t wait for the world to create opportunities.
When I was a few years into my career working freelance for the first time – shooting weddings and real estate type content – I started volunteering for a local zoological park. We made educational videos about the animals and even a mini-doc. It gave me an opportunity to put in hours toward my craft and gave me yes… that dirty word “exposure”.
When a local ad agency came around to partner with the park – they recommended me as someone to reach out to. We collaborated on the project and a week or so later they called and offered me a job (no interview) right over the phone. It was a big step for me. More money than I had made before and it put me in situations to continue growing as a filmmaker. Even now as a freelance filmmaker – I still work with this agency. We’ve traveled the globe together from Germany to Educator to Alaska. We created a feature length doc together and have formed long lasting personal relationships. All of this – in part – because I put the work in on the front end…with no guarantee of any compensation. But it wouldn’t have worked if I didn’t enjoy and wasn’t passionate about the work. That part is important.
My most recent effort to try to “make the opportunities happen” is Free Range Films. It was born out of the pandemic when paid work had slowed down to a crawl. I had always wanted to make documentary films about everyday people and their stories. I just needed a reason to do that. And nobody was hiring me to do that yet. So I’m trying to do it myself.
Hopefully I’ll get noticed and they will become funded someday. But at the moment the project has been incredibly creatively fulfilling. I’ve met some amazing people – both collaborators and subjects of films. I’m getting hundreds of hours to hone my craft. And of course … a bit of exposure bro.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I won’t knock your socks off telling you I’m a filmmaker passionate about storytelling. It’s pretty much a cliche at this point. But also, it’s true.
I think for me – I’m interested in stories that are relatable. And not necessarily the most fantastical stories of achievement or fame. But perhaps the everyday type of occurrences that go less noticed until a light is shined upon them. And honestly stories I’m personally interested in or topics I’m curious in learning more about.
At a high level – I’m trying to understand how we tick.
Who are we? How do we see the world? What are the forces that shape the way we view the world? Our environment, influences, relationships?
Documentaries can help us be charitable in the way we see each other.
Hopefully we gain perspective and form empathy for each other. And how we arrived at our current state.
We can also take the best of each other. We all have strengths and flaws. I have personally incorporated some of the perspectives from film subjects into my own life/business. “We don’t have problems. They’re opportunities”.
Creatively – sometimes the challenge is not being too formulaic…too predictable and safe. Having a story structure of problem, solution, and then “happily ever after.” Sometimes things don’t work out and it leaves us feeling unsettled. Or there’s just more nuance to the story. But it’s often easy and tempting to simplify a story to leave that satisfying feeling for an audience. It’s also easier to follow and more digestible for the audience. It’s a challenge to try to find the balance…where a film is engaging, not too long…but still contains nuance and digs below the surface.
Whenever someone is willing to be vulnerable and share something we all relate to but is often unsaid…I think that’s a win.
It’s a constant journey. Just trying. And trying to improve. It’s an awesome career.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Definity don’t go outside. It’s ugly out here.
Ha, I mean a good formula in my mind is always a good hike followed up by a local brewery.
Work hard and reward yourself.
I’m up in Longmont and we have some top notch establishments including Lefthand brewery and Dryland Distillers.
Then try to explore some mountain towns…preferably hit the road during the week or super early in the morning to avoid traffic. Georgetown, Idaho Springs, Estes Park. Same formula. Hit the trails and then explore the town… eat and drink. Learn about the history, the native flora/fauna. Even in tourism – the stories add so much depth to the experiences. The context is powerful. You can stand out in a field of wildflowers and see the beauty. Then you can read the plaque about the homesteaders that used to live here and how they rode miles into town and endured harsh winters. You can put yourself and their shoes and time travel a bit. It’s the stories you remember.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My parents. I’ve had heaps of opportunity – in part- because of the position my parents put me in. Through their hard work and selflessness. I’ve had a safety net if everything went south…which is huge. It has allowed me to take risk.
The film community in the Denver area was very welcoming when I first flirted with the idea of moving out here three years ago (from Illinois). Several were willing to grab coffee with me after sending a cold email.