We had the good fortune of connecting with Nick Ramsey and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nick, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I’ve definitely always been a bit of a thrill-seeker, so I kind of live to take risks. Nothing good is gained easily, so the only way to really get ahead in life, in my opinion, is to take risks. This attitude has definitely shaped my life. I was working a 9-5, shooting video as a contractor in the Army, but it wasn’t providing the creative outlet that I was looking for. I wanted to take my career to the next level. It was a huge risk to quit my job, take out loans, and move my family across the country to go back to school. I have plenty of classmates that aren’t in the industry anymore. It’s not like trying to be a doctor; There’s not a guaranteed job waiting for you at the end. Not to say becoming a Doctor would be easy or wouldn’t take risks, there’s just a much higher probability of having a job once you complete the education process. In my life – freelance life – none of my jobs are guaranteed. There’s always a risk! You’re only as good as the last thing you’ve done. I have been lucky to always have the support of my wife and family back home in VA, so it’s helped me have more confidence in taking those risks.
I also think that in order for you to grow and get better in your work, you have to be constantly taking risks, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone so you can learn and get better. I feel like I learn the most when I am most uncomfortable. It’s easy to fall into doing what is comfortable and what has worked before, but if you don’t fail every now and then, are you even trying? In this industry, taking risks is the only way to make your work stand out among the crowd. You have to be willing to try things; You have to be willing to explore; You have to be ok with failing, but knowing that you’re also going to get back up and try again. That’s the most important thing about taking risks: Knowing that it’s ok to fail… It’s just not ok to quit.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
“Go Big or Go Home” is a saying that’s typically found on a t-shirt, but I have also unofficially tried to live my life that way. I hope that really comes out in my work. I love to push the envelope and production value. I like to think I can help a project look much more expensive then it really is. That doesn’t mean it was necessarily cheap. I’m constantly parodying or recreating million-dollar productions for much less, so I enjoy finding creative ways to help bridge the gap.
I think what sets me apart is the way that I look at the world. When someone brings me on a project, I try to bring it to life with through my eyes, my lens, & my light. It’s hard for me to really describe that in words, but I hope if you’ve seen my work you can see what I mean. Certainly one of the keys to my success has been surrounding myself with a great team. I am lucky to have so many talented, positive men and women that support me in all of these projects. It’s always nice to hear people say how much they enjoy working with others that I have brought on the job, and it’s something that I hear over and over. When you’re creating, I believe it’s very important to control your environment and soley fill it with people who are fun, positive, and happy to be there. It really comes out in the final project and definitely makes showing up to work everyday a little more fun… And if it’s not fun, then what’s the point?
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The best thing about LA is that there’s always something fun and interesting to do. I always try to take friends and out-of-towners to comedy clubs because it’s pretty easy to catch big names coming in and out of places like The Comedy Store or The Improv. The WB Lot Tour is a good staple,a s well’ It lets you get your movie fix. I’m definitely partial to all the behind the scenes opportunities. Good food is everywhere from Pink’s Hotdogs to Slab BBQ, or some seafood on the west side. It’s always fun to ride bikes from Venice to the Santa Monica Pier and see all the art and vendors along the way. LA has so many things that you can do. It all depends on what you’re looking for. If you can get an invite, The Magic Castle is always a fun night. My favorite beach is probably El Matador Beach in Malibu. It’s a little bit of a hike from the parking lot to the beach, but if you go at low tide it’s a whole new world. It always reminded me of a place they might shoot the swimsuit edition.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Man, there are so many people who deserve credit in my story. Where do I even begin? I was blessed with wonderful parents who helped and supported me in any way they could. They taught me from an early age that I could try anything as long as I gave it my everything and never quit, and they held me to it on many occasions. My basketball career never took off, but they made sure I finished the last season. I owe a lot to them and I am certainly lucky to have them. They’ve been there for me throughout my life and plenty of times since I have been in LA. I couldn’t be who I am without them being the wonderful examples that they have been.
I’ve had so many great teachers and coaches along the way, it’s hard to single just one out. For Cinematography, specifically, Steve Pullen wrote my letters of recommendation and pushed me to believe that I could be successful in LA. He is definitely the reason I went to Chapman. He suggested the school, and it turned out to be one of the strongest programs out there for Cinematography. While at Chapman, I was lucky to have two amazingly talented professors to learn from. Bill Dill, ASC and Johnny Jensen, ASC. It was great because their own personal styles were so different and I was able to pull my favorite things from both. Bill is very technical and made great use of technology in his work and teaching. My favorite lesson started with a slide of the universe where we started to explore how the sun moves around the earth, how that affects the light we see, and how it changes at different times of the year. Johnny would tell you to put your light meter away and look at the scene with your eye and your heart. He’d say it a little more colorfully then I can say here, but it was wonderful to be able to learn from these different approaches. I hear them both in my head on set often. Both of these guys had plenty of technical and emotional prowess, but their attitudes and personalities reflected them in different ways. My classmates and I were lucky to have the lessons and experience we did. The Chapman community is a little outside of LA, so you end up learning a lot on the weekends from each other just as much as you learn from the teachers. It was a great environment to study and elevate my work.
Other: https://vimeo.com/296792985 – reel