We had the good fortune of connecting with Denis Ogorodov and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Denis, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I think risk is an essential part of growth.
It’s a powerful driver, that if used correctly, can motivate you to learn new tools of the trade, explore new spaces, and reach out to people you might have never have considered otherwise.
Coming to the US was a gamble; expensive education, high cost of living, uncertain long-term prospects. This uncertainty forced me to develop connections with other aspiring artists, and to work as an assistant/helper in many different roles which otherwise I might have chosen not to take on. It helped me quickly realize the difference between what I was comfortable with, and what I needed to do to get ahead.
Moving from a steady full-time job to becoming an independent contractor was a huge risk. I did not have the capital or savings to leisurely choose my preferred jobs or clients. I had to take what clients I could get and live from paycheck to paycheck, while trying to develop good long-term relationships with coworkers, recruiters, and B2B clients.
When I started out, I would take jobs that would generally require someone with more experience or better gear, or even jobs with less reasonable deadlines, but I always delivered on time and tried to exceed client expectations. This again forced me to learn quickly, be more creative in how I used my limited resources, and to become comfortable asking others for help and advice when I couldn’t do it alone.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a video artist based in Santa Monica. I work mostly in advertising and the commercial space as a video editor and designer. Occasionally when an opportunity presents itself, I work on long-form content, such as features. For example, recently I worked as the online editor for the documentary, “The Donut King,” directed by Alice Gu.
One of the benefits of being a contractor is that it has encouraged me to learn many skill sets in addition to video editing, such as color grading, motion design, VR, 3D-modeling, video game engines, and now I am exploring music as well!
I think what I am most proud of is that I was able to avoid being pigeon-holed into just one role, and that I have leveraged my wider skill set to my advantage. This allows me to work with clients from very different disciplines with very little friction. Acting as both a technical consultant for workflows (identifying bottle necks and pain points) as well as an artist with an expansive toolkit up my sleeve, I’ve developed a deep trust with several clients that know they can lean on me when things don’t go according to plan.
I’ve learned that it is a careful balance of how much you can learn, and how much you can actually be proficient in. It’s hard to present yourself as a “a renaissance man” without coming off as a generalist and master of none. Remaining competitive and valued in this industry requires constant learning and being on top of new trends.
Starting as an independent contractor was hard, scary, and a lot of work. I am very lucky to have had the support of my family, close friends and trusted co-workers. For the longest time, I was racing the rent cycle, and being rejected from jobs I knew I could execute. But with a lot of perseverance, and some luck, and support from my mentor, I finally feel like I am in a place where I can make my own path. It’s both exciting and terrifying and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
One of the things I love about LA is there is so many beautiful places to see and visit. I think first I would take them to the Hollywood Walk of Fame for a good dose of celebrity culture.
Then I would take them to the Pantages Theater or the Hollywood Bowl.
After this I would take them to Pasadena to walk around Old Town and have a nice meal or a glass of wine. I’d make sure we visited the Mt. Wilson Observatory so they could get great vistas of the city.
Then from there I would take them all the way down Sunset Blvd, stopping at one or two iconic bars, until finally we reach Santa Monica, where I would show them the pier, the end of Route 66. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am very fortunate to have had Director David Kellogg as a friend and mentor. Thanks to his encouragement, I was able to develop the tools I needed to learn and thrive on my own. David has been instrumental in helping me get the work experience I needed.
When I met David, I was a green, curious student, and now thanks in large part to his guidance, I have a stable, successful and happy career which allows me to both be a confident artist, constantly learning and growing in this industry.
I would also like to give a shoutout to my two close friends and talented artists, Ivan Cruz (https://ivanjcruz.com/) and Jesse Woolston (https://www.instagram.com/jessewoolston/), who have both been a source of inspiration and support.
All photographs were done by me, or are stills from my work that has been cleared for both reels and press.