We had the good fortune of connecting with Jason Augustine and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jason, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I’ve always been a bit of a risk taker and every time I’ve taken a risk it’s pushed me to make things work. It’s the flight or fight, sink or swim mentality. When I decided I wanted to go away for college and pay for it on my own instead of staying local…I had to make it work. I got a loan and a job. I kept my expenses as low as possible and just made the best of it. I graduated in 4 years and landed a full-time job. A couple years later I was unhappy with my career path. I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to make a change but in order to do so I had to risk it all. I had bills to pay and expensive rent; however, I knew if I didn’t do something drastic, I wouldn’t get to where I wanted to be. So, I quit my job, lost all my benefits and source of income. I got an internship as a photographer. I wasn’t making any money, so I had to live off a personal loan from my bank and work nights delivering pizzas. It was definitely hectic, but it paid off because I had to make it work. 9 years later I found myself in a similar situation. I was outgrowing my role at the company I was working for. So, I thought, “ok look for new opportunities that pay better and provide benefits”. I was regularly applying for jobs everywhere, but nothing was the right fit. The idea of quitting and going freelance wasn’t something I had the guts to do. At this stage in my life, the risk seemed too daunting. But after the pandemic hit, I knew I had to get back out there and take a risk. I started reaching out to people seeing if they needed work. You know, just putting feelers out there. A few bites led to more bites and eventually I was too overwhelmed trying to balance side gigs with my full-time gig. I still didn’t have enough side gigs to even come close to supporting myself, but I had the feeling the potential was there. And it was also at that point that I realized…If I want something I have to go get or make it happen. I can’t sit around waiting for the perfect situation to land in my lap. I knew what I wanted, and I knew it was a big risk. At the moment I said…”ok time to actually quit my job and take a leap of faith”. I took the risk, and it hasn’t been easy but I’m a lot happier. I’m excited and inspired again and I think that’s what matters if you’re creative. Ultimately, at the end of the day taking risks are a great way for me to push myself. To force myself to get out of my comfort zone and really do what inspires me and makes me happy. The rest will follow.
Please tell us more about your career. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I’m a filmmaker/photographer, previously an art director; however, filmmaking and photography were my first loves and always will be. I think that’s what sets my video/photo work apart from others is my art director background. I’ve worked as a photographer, videographer, graphic designer, fashion designer, and art director over the span of 9 years. It’s may sound sporadic and all over the place but in reality, they all go hand in hand. All these creative mediums need one another and push one another. As a result, it’s given me the ability to see things from so many other perspectives. When I shoot and create, I don’t just see things from a cinematographer/photographer’s perspective but from an art director and designer’s perspective as well. I think that’s what I’m proud of too. The fact that I try to look at things and capture them from a variety of perspectives and disciplines. It wasn’t easy. I took a lot of risks, made sacrifices, worked hard, kept my head down, but also never settled. A lot of challenges have come my way. Sometimes I’d think “Can I ever get a break? Why does this gotta be so damn hard” but the reality is everyone goes through it and anything worth achieving takes hard work. So being determined, keeping a positive attitude, and staying humble has helped me get to where I am today. The biggest thing I’ve learned is to not worry about financial stuff so much. I grew up stressing about finding a job, buying a home, paying the bills and making ends meet. But to be honest focusing on that was a huge distraction. I learned the hard way that I needed to take all my energy and focus it on doing what I love and creating work I’m proud of. The rest will follow. And I found myself the happiest when I’m doing what I love rather than feeling financially secure. I want the world to know I find beauty in everything and that there is always a great story behind everything. My work is to show the beauty in everything by telling its story through filmmaking or photography. We are all human and we are all guilty of judging a book by its cover, but I think filmmaking and photography can help myself and others discover how cool, beautiful or interesting anything can be. I think there is so much to explore and learn about the world and everyone/everything on the planet. So, what better way to explore than with cameras.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
San Diego has a lot to offer. It’s so diverse. I’d take my friend to coastal north county for the slow mellow vibes and great beaches. Encinitas and Leucadia are great for beach vibes. I’d then take them the city and give them a tour of some of the fun little neighborhoods like Normal Heights, City Heights, University Heights, Golden Hill, South Park, and Barrio Logan. Any of those neighborhoods would be ideal for great food. Pomegranate has great Russian food, Salud has amazing Mexican food, Buona Forchetta for Italian, and Donna Jean for vegan. I mean, the list could go on and on… But those are some fun spots. If the pandemic wasn’t a thing then I’d definitely take my friend to Starlite for dinner before a show at the Casbah. Or maybe the Turf Club for a burger and cocktail followed by loud music at Soda Bar or Space. Aside from that, a little trip out to the Salton Sea would be fun maybe Julian for a graveyard tour and some pie.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I definitely didn’t get to where I am today without the help of others. Taking the leap of faith to start my own business showed me how many great friends I have. Everyone has been so incredibly supportive in so many ways. I can’t thank all my friends enough. I have to say my friends Don and Adam at Saint Archer Brewing Company have been some of my biggest supporters. They’ve always believed in me and have given me the opportunities to shine through my work. I also want to give a shout out to one of my lifelong best friends; Dave Phelps who is a freelance editor/colorist. We’ve been friends since freshman year of high school and have always loved film making. Most recently, he brought me onto a project that opened up a new set of doors for me. In addition, my good friends and married couple Sean and Tristine Drews have been instrumental in my decision to go freelance. I’ve worked with the two of them over the years and they understand my roadblocks better than anyone else at my full-time job. They regularly are recommending me to people or sending me any opportunities they hear about. On another note, I want to just throw out there that Todd Garner’s podcast has been tremendously inspirational. Every time I think…”man I can’t do this” I stumble on an episode and slap myself out of it. Everyone he interviews is so inspirational and they all have taken risks, worked hard, and kept their eye on the prize. Being able to listen to so many legendary and inspirational people for free is a true gift. And although I don’t know Todd, I can’t thank him enough for putting out his podcast. And last but not least I want to thank Jenna my fiancée for all her love and encouragement. She’s been the guiding light for me to pursue my passions. It’s not on easy road for us but she’s a visionary and a dreamer, so as a result she’s always pushing me to live my dreams.