How to travel the world and get companies to pay for it

 Shepherds like unicorns or leprechauns, which are talked about a lot but actually don't exist. There are only dollars and cents, the bottom line and the ROI (which means ROI).


I make a living from company videos. Most of the videos involve doing really fun things. It's a great and totally understandable job that I get emails, mostly from young people, misleadingly asking how they can pay companies for their adventures. Emails usually read something like;


"We've been planning this trip for 3 years...dreams...inspiration...etc - how do we get a company like Nike to sponsor us?"


My response is usually harsh. He was offended by the suggestion that a profession that took more than a decade to create could be summed up for others to emulate in a single email.


not fair. It's a great dream job and I can't blame others for wanting to go after something similar. I can say with confidence that there is no definite path to such a profession. Perhaps an explanation of the path you took would be helpful, for example.


I've always made a living out of making films, not the other way around. When I first started washing dishes in a seafood restaurant to support the film industry. Only in the past few years have I been able to contract companies to produce the films I want to make, and the result has been mutually beneficial. This was not my specific intention. Just an organic evolution.


After my HBO series aired and my brother and I stopped working together, I shifted all of my focus to YouTube. Making movies for a new audience online. Share stories about the things that matter to me. These movies are not easy to make, they take time, I never know if they will be good, and I don't have any money to make; I only make them because I love every aspect of the medium. There is never a commercial or monetary ambition.


Bike Lanes, 2011 really pushed my YouTube presence out to the world. It remains my most watched movie with over 12,000,000 views

 When YouTube movies gained popularity, some lobbied, and eventually companies called asking if I was available to create web videos for them. Depending on how hot the company was and how bad it was to break up, I started participating in gigs. These videos were not like the work I do for clients now, or like any work people would expect from me. This early advertising work was more general. The companies (clients) loved my work and would hire me to do their work. I've been pretty good at it, but none of these campaigns have garnered that kind of attention in the current work.


Nike hired me for such a campaign in late 2011. The contract was for three videos. Nike might be the coolest company to work for but nonetheless there were typical considerations. They had a product for sale. As such, the first two videos remained close to the script. These videos have been very well received, and I am really proud of them. But this was the third video, where I walked away from the script and took a big risk in making something I wanted but was impossible to show, as something transformative was created.


"Make It Count" was a movie that I wanted to make my whole life; Absolute recklessness in each adjective is said in 4 minutes. It's easy to understand a movie like this later. At the time we had no idea what we were doing. I was confident that if we did, and try something great, we could flesh out that experience into a short film and that movie would benefit the client. This shoddy nonsense is something I'm sure the agencies hear and keep their eyes on all the time, as they should. No one should give the green light to such ambiguity, and no one should. We didn't have the green light, but we did without sharing the details with Nike. It was a big risk. There was more danger when Max and I returned from our trip with 40 hours of footage and no clear idea what to do with it. This was a scary time. Nike took a chance in hiring me and if I dropped the ball with this video I would have jeopardized my relationship with a very important company; The fallout from the failure could have gone beyond Nike - I would have had a hard time finding any paid work.


In the end, we created one of the most viewed Nike videos on the internet and a springboard for what is now my career.



It took more than 10 years to create an opportunity and then took a huge risk to take advantage of that opportunity. There is more to it than just making it important. It took years of work before this video was possible and there have been countless other videos made since Make it Count, but it was a major focal point showing that videos like this can work.


Do the work first. Create the following and the audience first. Prove your worth first. Show your understanding of the industry first. Do everything then and only then may the company trust you to give you the freedom and creativity to do what you want to do that will ultimately benefit them and their bottom line. It took me 14 years to understand this.


I've made 86 videos for my YouTube channel in the past two years. 8 of them were for clients, 78 of them were mine. My focus has been and continues to be on getting the work done that matters to me. It's such an honor to find a way to make money to start a business like this, which I really appreciate. There are no shortcuts. Nobody will pay for your vacation, nobody cares, nobody cares and never will. If you want something, anything, do the work and earn it.

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