Simon Sinek, author and motivational speaker, says, “Everyone has a WHY. Your WHY is the purpose, cause or belief that inspires you.” My why is helping people. I am guided by my pursuit to positively impact the lives of others.
Supporting others is why I fell in love with filmmaking in the first place. When I was in high school, I discovered the transformative power of film. It creates a story that takes viewers on an incredible journey, and the artist behind a film is its architect. When I found this connection, I knew I wanted to be someone who made a positive impact through film and help others do so too.
When I graduated college, I started as a Production Coordinator at Scheme Engine, a production company based in Manhattan. At the time, Scheme Engine was a startup working with artists such as Jay-Z, Rihanna and DJ Khaled, among others. As a result, I was able to throw myself into many challenging yet rewarding situations. My role consisted of coordinating, producing, managing, putting out fires--but most importantly--getting shit done. I worked with an incredible and talented group of individuals whom I still consider close friends. One of these friends is my greatest mentor, Chas Todd. He taught me so much through his inspiring leadership, which I hope to carry on in my current role as COO at FilmUp. One of the biggest projects I produced at Scheme was Kygo’s documentary, “Stole the Show.” It was an incredible opportunity, during which I grew tremendously as a person and as a filmmaker.
When I started at Scheme Engine, I was a planner. I had planned my life to a T up until that point. I made very calculated decisions and was more proactive than reactive. The thought of planning an entire shoot, just to have it rescheduled, made me want to dive off a cliff into water infested with hungry sharks. Then I started producing--and had to learn to swim with the sharks.
In documentary filmmaking you have to be open to uncertainty: concerts getting rained out, the artist getting sick, interviews getting scheduled and canceled last minute. There are so many things out of your control. I didn’t jump off a cliff, but I did learn a lot. The most important thing I learned was that in life and in work, you should learn to embrace the uncertainty--don’t resist it. Better yet, get excited by it!
In 2015, my Co-founder, Aryeh Hoppenstein, and I sat down in a coffee shop to create a production company dedicated to improving the world. As we started developing the company, we recognized there was an opportunity to build a community where filmmakers could help each other reach the world with their messages. By March of 2017, it was time to put everything I had learned at Scheme Engine into practice, to build something up for myself.
I believe video is an incredible medium that has the ability to improve the lives of many, and with Aryeh, I continue to strive to make FilmUp a place where creators have an equal opportunity to reach the world with their message. One of our main initiatives is to foster awareness and increase all industry opportunities for women and other historically underrepresented groups through our platform.
Filmmakers and entrepreneurs face very similar situations while creating a film or creating a company. In fact, I believe all filmmakers are entrepreneurs. As an entrepreneur and filmmaker major problem-solving skills are crucial. You will be putting out fires left and right in both situations. Teamwork and collaboration is key. It’s impossible to do it alone. You need to find people to work with who share your vision and commitment. Passion, perseverance, and persistence are crucial. You have to fiercely believe in your idea, recognize that setbacks are just tiny speed bumps along the way and most importantly completely take the word “No” out of your dictionary. You’re going to hear a lot of it, but if someone tells you no, find a different angle, figure out a different approach, GET CREATIVE. That’s what will set you apart. That’s what will make you successful.
Being a filmmaker and entrepreneur is like skydiving. It’s exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time. But you have to remember to enjoy the ride. That’s what you’ll be speaking about one day.
- Christina Chironna
Christina Chironna is a Filmmaker and Entrepreneur. She co-founded the video production platform FilmUp.co