Alumni Spotlight Jeremy Drake ’07

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Hello! Well I was born and raised in Northwest Arkansas. I graduated from UCA in 2007 with a Bachelor’s Degree and then moved to Louisiana to begin my career. I spent a lot of time working various departments on movies. I did camera, art department, office duties, sound, etc. I spent a couple of years working full-time for a production company where I edited and sound designed a narrative and a few feature documentaries, as well as dozens of commercials and short films. Ultimately I decided that the office wasn’t for me and I wanted to be in the camera department full time. Fast forward a bit and now I’m in Los Angeles where I plan on living the rest of my life!

What are you doing now professionally?
I’m a freelance camera operator/camera assistant depending on the type of work. I work on a lot of mid-budget movies and traveling reality television shows, with a few music videos and commercials thrown in the mix. I’m very fortunate that I work as much as I do (“free time” is a foreign concept to me right now!) and I spend good chunks of the year living out of suitcases in hotel rooms.

What books, artwork or other movies have inspired you, overall or recently?
I’m a huge fan of Newton Thomas Sigel’s work on Drive and Roger Deakin’s work on… well anything. Recently I was blown away by the photography in Silver Lining’s Playbook. I didn’t realize until the ending credits that the DP was Masanobu Takayanagi, the DP for the first movie I ever worked on in Arkansas and an inspiration for me to be in camera. If had to narrow it down I’d say the one thing that give credit to and the reason I’m in LA doing what I do, is a movie called Army of Darkness. If I weren’t a little nerdy fanboy obsessed with that one movie I’d probably be doing something else today.

Who are some early mentors or teachers that have inspired you?
The UCA staff were always super helpful to me and I’ve found that willingness to help is a mutually beneficial attitude in the industry. Its kind of an unspoken rule: You have a duty to train those under you. If you’re not willing to do this or you’re the type of person who is not willing to listen then you likely won’t go far. In the beginning I was a sponge soaking up any advice that any industry veteran gave me. I guess I’d have to give credit to the dozen or so people who helped me get started after moving to Louisiana, even if I only worked with him or her for a short while.

What is the most helpful professional advice you have received?
A friend of mine once told me that there a two people who make it, and I mean REALLY make it (don’t burn out, work on huge things)
1: A hardened professional. Somebody who does NOT make mistakes. This person is reliable and as long as he or she has a decent enough attitude he or she will always find work. I’ve worked with these people and while they sometimes aren’t my favorite personalities, they know their stuff and I listen to every bit of advice they have.
2: Be someone that everybody loves. This goes beyond the general “good attitude” bit and is especially important when working with people who have been in the industry a long time. I’ve met quite a few people who just get tired.. they act tired or they complain. You’ll notice that they’ve been in the same position doing the same thing for 20+ years. Don’t be that person!

How did your experience at UCA help shape your professional career?
UCA helped me realize what it was that I actually wanted to do. I knew I wanted to “make movies” but I didn’t know what that meant. I didn’t understand what the different positions were on set. Of course at first I wanted to be a “director” (who doesn’t?) but that was before I realized that wasn’t really a job the way somebody who wants to pay bills is concerned. It was when I started playing with cameras that I realized I was more about the technology and how its used to tell a story.

What is your dream project?
Ideally I would work in bigger and more technologically advanced movies. I can’t imagine how much fun it must have been for a camera guy on Avatar or The Hobbit. Otherwise I would love to work on a long running television series. Usually by the end of a movie the cast and crew are like “family” and you almost don’t want it to end (if you didn’t want the break so badly!). I wonder how profound that feeling would be on a long running series like The Office or Arrested Development. In fact make that the number one dream project. I would likely accept that over a big budget movie.

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