PROfile is a series of interviews with artists and creative souls who have built businesses around their craft and passion. We'll dig deeper to try and find out everything you could want to know from seasoned pros who have experienced the full gamut of highs and lows that come from running a creative business.
This week we are interviewing filmmaker Brian Morrow, who, along with his business partner Jonathan Lynch, runs Shark Pig, one of the most on-demand production companies based in Los Angeles.
What was your first ‘proper’ job and how did you land it? Was it what you intended to do as a career?
I've had so many MANY jobs in my life. All of them were weird, but none of them were what I thought would become my career. That includes the one that ended up becoming my career: Shark Pig. I sort of thought that I was failing on the dream of becoming a Hollywood filmmaker when I started making these cutesie little super 8 wedding videos. Little did I know it would be that which lead me through a long set of opportunities and ultimately became my career. To actually answer your question, I think my first job was being a paperboy in my neighbourhood in Cheyenne.
Has art always been in your blood?
I'm not sure. I basically didn't have a formed brain until I was already out of college. I was more of a spinning insane person back then, full of energy and up to no good. Back then being… I guess about the first 25 years of my life.
How did you get into filmmaking?
I really got addicted to it when I started working with some friends in college on some shorts. We dove head first into narrative film making, without really knowing a damn thing about it. It was fun, and tiring, and frustrating and intensely fulfilling. I'm lucky enough to still work with some of those original crew. Their collaboration means the world to me.
Photo: Jill Mitchell
How did you go about starting your own business?
The whole thing kind of fell in my lap. I had made a few wedding videos, and someone at an ad agency who happened to be planning her own wedding was watching one at work. Her creative director saw over her shoulder and said that she liked the editing, and asked who had made it. She called me up and asked if I would like to do some event coverage for a big weird conference in New Orleans. After ranting and raving at the conference about how I am capable of making full blown films and what not, she gave me the opportunity to bid on a larger scale campaign. We landed that job, and that was how I was able to really start the actual production company with my business partner, Jonathan Lynch. So I guess… dumb luck?
How did you secure your first clients?
All of our initial clients came from the marketing platform that The Flashdance (a collective of creatives you can book as a package to cover your event) provided me. Even before I started cutting wedding films, I would do silly little promo stuff for that crew, so they were happy to put my stuff on blast. I think the films also made the crew a more well rounded collective. But it was through that initial collaboration, and the other free or for trade work that we did just to get the name out there.
Here's for a luxury eyewear brand I work with, Leisure Society.
What is your typical daily routine like?
I have almost no routine at all. I've been traveling so much that I think I might just blow up or drop dead or something. I think I need to start a routine. That's a good idea. Thank you for asking. I'll try that.
What traits do artists have that help with running a business?
I feel like usually the traits that artists have are the ones that make it MORE difficult to run a business. Artists (myself included) want to meander around, dreaming up projects, having coffee and wine and what not. Business owners need to respond to emails, pay their damn taxes, and keep things legit. It's a rare type of person who can manage both, but make no mistake – it's fully about being able to execute tasks on both sides. Luckily I have a very pragmatic business partner who lets me and my mind meander. But I also understand the importance of growing holistically.
You work on a variety of different projects from commercial work to weddings. How do these commissions differ and do you have a favourite kind of job?
For me, I just need different things to satisfy my ADD. Hahaha. Seriously though. I can't work on any one thing for too long without going a little bonkers. I have a system to help me figure out which jobs to take and which jobs to decline. The criteria mostly has to do with which jobs will generate the greatest potential energy for the company. Maybe that sounds vague, but the full explanation would be too boring to read without crying and then dying. You'd be bored to tears and then death.
Here's a spot I did for UGG. I'm IN the thing a lot too, but just my feet. Hahaha.
What’s been the most beneficial business decision you’ve made?
To partner with Lynch (pictured below). He is the MAN! He was my best friend for a long time, so I trust him completely. I also care for his well being deeply and want the quality of life for him and his family to always grow. Those two things combined make him an amazing other half so to speak. Not only do I know I can depend on him, but I am also inspired to keep hustling because of him.
Photo: Lou Mora
Artists and writers often describe the compulsion to work – do you experience an overwhelming desire to create something new?
I don't even do cocaine and I feel like I'm bursting with ‘great ideas'. Hahaha. I'm sure some of them are really not that great, but nonetheless, I am constantly day dreaming about a concept, a story, a business idea, a marketing stunt or a party. Something. The trick is actually DOING some of them. I'm not the type to be very effective in that capacity on my own. So my collaborators are very important to me.
Photo: Geoff Boothby
Do you ever feel alone in your work?
Like crying and hugging a pillow? No. I'm never alone. I actually need some alone time. I think I'll try that. Thank you for asking. I'll do it.
How do you relax?
Oh well… I usually just freak out, have a mental breakdown, then sleep 15 hours a day for a couple days. I went to a very unique college though, where I learned, and at that point in time practiced, a mental technique called Transcendental Meditation. I am usually too exhausted to meditate anymore, but it's one of my new year's resolutions to start again.
Photo: Jenn Emerling
Where do you find inspiration?
I am constantly inspired by science and nature. It's just completely insane that our bodies even work. If you understand the mechanics of perception, it becomes more and more clear that every single second is literally a miracle. I know that sounds wild, but I whole heartedly believe that!
What advice would you give to your 21-year-old self?
Start a retirement fund, you idiot!
Here's a crazy music video I directed for an artist who's totally blowing up, Djemba Djemba.
What would you like to be remembered for?
To be totally honest, I would like to be remembered as someone who helped others. Not like in a philanthropic super idealist way. Just in a personal way. I take great interest in incubating the careers of those who work with us, and we always try to understand what our colleagues want for themselves even beyond their careers. It makes me feel really good when I can help someone do what they really want to do.
What’s been the best moment of your career so far?
This one time I was standing on the beach at night in Tulum. This very sweet groom had decided to give our videography services to his bride as a surprise present (which is wildly flattering). But anyway, I was standing there in the moonlight taking a self portrait (see below), geeking out about the fact that clouds are also water, that the star light that fell into my eyes all left their stars at such drastically different times, and that the ocean was literally being pulled up toward that big moon. Maybe it's because I took a self portrait that I recall this moment so clearly. But it was important. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. That's probably the best one so far.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The travel is really hype, but I think it's the people I've been able to meet and work with. There are so many intrepid, dynamic people out there working. It's wild! What a wild time in the world, right?! We just get to do whatever we want.
What have been the biggest challenges or obstacles you’ve faced in your business and how did you overcome them?
I fully assume that I haven't faced them yet, so I'm not sure how I'll overcome them. Or maybe they'll just kill me. I'm not sure.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
My grandpa Buzz once told me, ‘Brian sometimes you've just got to make a decision and live with it'. I'm a very worrisome person by nature, and I've often leaned on his advice. It's impossible to know which choices will lead us where. But delay, worry, procrastination, flakiness…none of those lead to progress. Sometimes you've just got to go.
Photo: Braedon Flynn
If you could have dinner with any inspiring person (past or present), who would you choose?
Oh jeez. I don't know. Part of me wants to say The Dalai Lama, but I kind of want to say Ghostface Killa or Dolly Parton. Too tough.
This one is the best. It's my OWN music video. Shot all over the world for free. I'm proud of it.
PROfile headshot: Rainbeau Tharp
Web: Shark Pig
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