Table of Contents
Welcome back to another edition of creator reflection! This is a written series where I share milestones, improvements, self-correction and insights on my journey to becoming a successful creator in content creation, filmmaking, photography, storytelling and beyond. And I’m very happy to say that as of this writing, I’ve officially accomplished my first full calendar year of documenting my creative evolution every year quarter.
In this entry, we’ll be covering how getting my own apartment is affecting my creative output, creating for myself vs. others, the vicious cycle I’ve been trapped in, why a calm mind and calm energy are critical to video editing, how caffeine was holding me back, learning to create from the dark side & the best time I’ve found to edit videos.
Let’s get into it.
Goals I’m focused on
Replace my freelance income with consulting + energy work, so I can lean all into the aforementioned and content creation
Partnership on the main channel (4K hours of watch time in the last year and 1K subscribers)
Sony A7IV (or whatever full-frame camera is most essential for me) along with the essential full-frame lenses
Becoming the best storyteller, filmmaker, editor, photographer and overall creator that I can possibly be
Get my own apartment (that can double as a studio for filming and photography)
Cut caffeine out of my daily habits
How did I move forward?
5 years of making content. As of November, I hit 5 years of consistently making on the internet. Now, it’s not about the time but rather what you do with that time, and recently, I’ve been slacking on creating for myself. But I’d like to acknowledge myself for being committed to the long haul and all of the skill that has been built in that time span. From a random dude documenting his journey, to someone who’s showing great signs of becoming world-class at filmmaking, editing and storytelling in the years to come. I’m not sure how many people see it like that, but quite frankly, it doesn’t matter. Even at an object level, it’s incredibly obvious to me. I now just need to work on shipping consistently and creating a situation where I can focus on this craft with laser focus. More on this later in the reflection.
Detaching from perfection. I was comparing myself to the greats to such a strong degree — whether it be the best filmmakers, directors and producers of all time, or the most skilled YouTube creators in the game — that it wasn’t useful. I was trying to be something way above my skill set, instead of creating where I’m at. But recently, I healed a lot of my resistance to releasing anything but the greatest films of all time (lol) and I now feel like I can post again.
I posted 3 videos — My first short on the main channel and two second-channel videos. The short was a highly produced video on the midterms, which was really enjoyable to make despite the crazy sleep deprivation and exhaustion that seemed to follow me for weeks afterwards — but I at least get to say that I warned people of the corruption. On the second channel, the 2022 Spotify Wrapped video was insanely invigorating due to observing how quickly I can get things done when I’m all in, incredibly focused and not letting outside nonsense affect me. The “christmas ‘21” video also came out really nice, was very much appreciated by the family and can serve as a time capsule for years to come. While both got almost no views, they were internal W’s for me.
Made strides on 3 key main channel videos (unposted). These should’ve likely been posted by now, but I got a little sidetracked with moving, work and end-of-year reflections. They’re all scripted and filmed now, it’s just a matter of editing them, which will be straightforward due to the story being fully developed already.
Thumbnail game. After my commitment to thumbnails was established in Q3, action followed in Q4. Through consistent reps, I’ve really strengthened both my eye and skill by putting together some W thumbnails on the backend for myself and others. Though I still personally prefer a base of a real photo to work with for the main channel, I’ve let go of my attachment to using photographs for thumbnails and have leaned into the idea of extreme photo manipulation — especially for others’ thumbnails as it’s what people on YouTube want. Instead of it being a last-second burden, thumbnails have recently become one of my favourite parts of content creation — they’re so much fun to make if you know what you’re doing. Just wanted to say a big thank you to my friend Kyle Pritchard for helping me so much in levelling up my thumbnail game and teaching me how to get even more out of Photoshop!
Simplicity and minimalism. As I’ve healed more on this and as my mind and energy continue to be calmer and calmer, I’m finding that simplicity and minimalism are easier to achieve than ever. I’m embodying “less is more” — letting go of the inessential has become easier and easier. There’s less attachment to “all” and a stronger willingness to let go. This will become increasingly obvious in my upcoming edits if it isn’t already.
Speed of editing. My mind has calmed to such a strong degree, my energy is more relaxed and peaceful, my self-image has changed in terms of how long something should take and does take me, my perception of time has changed — it moves differently now — and my skills and processes continue to become ever more refined. As a result, my ability to handle the chaos and matrix of video editing has become a lot easier. It was abundantly obvious how much I’ve evolved in the past year when I compared what it was like to edit this year’s Spotify Wrapped video compared to last. So much simpler, so much faster, so much more fun.
A new style of photo editing. I moved from my first real “style” that I was proud of — darker, moodier, cooler, very low saturation with crushed whites and crushed blacks — to my current style — warmer, way more saturation, slightly brighter, and a lot more color manipulation recently! And that’s where the magic really happens.
Integrating the iPhone 14 Pro Max into my wheelhouse. Though it was an expensive investment, it’s been worth every penny to have a camera like this in my pocket. After rocking the outdated iPhone X for 4 years, it’s incredible to know that anything I film or take photos of now is high enough quality that I can use them in my content amongst camera shots. Additionally, the wide-angle and low light performance is insanely clutch while I don’t have a camera that can support either effectively — and the phone has saved my ass in the meantime, especially with super wide shots.
Getting my own place. As I write this, I’m a month into living in my own apartment. And so far, this has been one of the best investments I’ve ever made. Though seemingly unrelated to my journey as a creator, being here has fundamentally changed my output as there’s no more nonsense and BS, just me, my cat, my work, and clients/collaborators. So much more time, energy, focus and peace. This is such an incredible, game-changing opportunity and I’m so excited about what I can create going forward.
Timelines. Instead of fearing timelines or having resistance to them, I’ve recently become friends with timelines. I treat them so much lighter now — I see it as a game where the rules could be changed if need be, and an opportunity to make the best product/output in a period of time, rather than a crippling deadline. Going forward, I want to add more timelines into my workflow to maximize my creative output, as timelines in the past month and a half really helped me execute creatively at a high level and faster than I could’ve ever expected.
Creating from the dark side. For a few years now, I’ve been resistant to working from the work side on meaningful work, whether it be reflections, content or the energy work/consulting business. I’ve wanted to keep its divinity intact and to keep the art pure, and instead, I’d use the dark side for things like fitness where the energy wouldn’t be stuck to the project. But recently, I healed resistance around “tainting” the work and instead realized that I can use it to get started or keep going, then as soon as I’m good, I can go back to using the momentum on the light side as I don’t want to get burned. And worst comes to worst, if it’s evident in the final product, I can always do energy work on it or redo it in a different state of mind. Learning to create from the dark side again has been critical for my work recently as it’s helping me execute regardless of what’s going on and use the dark side to help me focus.
Cutting caffeine. This has been surprisingly helpful with my output throughout the whole day. No caffeine high = no caffeine crash. Without caffeine, my sleep is better, my energy is more stable and my ability to work under all sorts of physical energy levels has significantly increased. Instead of being tired and reaching for coffee, I reach for a nap. It’s become a lifestyle now that I prefer to work in because I’m going slower to go faster. I made it 2 and a half months without caffeine, and over the past month, I’ve found a healthy balance of drinking caffeine here and there, currently averaging once a week. Big ups Musa for the inspiration.
Watching amazing storytellers, especially if they’re great filmmakers too. As always, observing some of the best creators in the game really helped me learn a lot, be open to more experimentation and level up my own craft. The creators who impacted me the most were Casey Neistat (I am over the fucking moon that he’s creating again), Ryan Trahan and Kelly Wakasa.
Setting up a locals account. I’m going to experiment with what to post there but I expect it to be the most behind-the-scenes that exists for me. Still trying to figure out what I want to be reached by potentially all of YouTube vs. what I want to be reached by my core audience.
Leaning into Creativity Kit. I touched on joining at the end of Q3 and in Q4, I really made an effort to show up, learn and become a part of the community. In addition to the amazing value that I’ve received from directly asking Sneako, Musa and their guests contextual, specific questions about content creation and business, the kit has significantly expanded my network and allowed me to cultivate friendships with creators and entrepreneurs who are based as fuck. I’ve really come to love the kit and the people in it.
What requires improvement?
My main channel. Though I made a highly produced short, it was still another quarter without any main channel videos. Perfectionism and misuse of resources are the main culprits. By the time I post again, it’ll be over a year. What a damn shame. I can’t wait until I can just focus all in on content and be fully up to date. I miss this.
Creating for others instead of myself. Though I’m grateful for my current situation and the opportunities to make money through creativity, I’m just over freelance work as a whole. I crave the ability to set up my life in a way that I truly want — and in a perfect world, that would mean not creating for others anymore. In 2023 — and ideally sooner rather than later — I really want to work towards replacing my freelance income with energy work and consulting, then using the extra creative energy to write, film, edit and shoot for my own **businesses and projects. This would be a literal dream for me.
Consistency. As I mentioned prior, I need to work on consistently creating for myself again. The foundation is laid. The skills are strong, the ideas are present — now I just need to execute, and create consistently again. The next quarter and year will be different for many reasons. I can feel it. My goals, commitment, drive, mindset, actions, energy and environment are all just different now. Something’s clicked. You’ll see soon.
Being spread out too thin. As I alluded to before, I’m struggling with the idea of balancing multiple projects at once and not being laser focused. I recently noticed that I’ve been stuck in a vicious trap of not making money to sustain myself through the things I most want to do (energy work and content), so instead, to survive, I finance my lifestyle through working for others (freelance marketing). But then, not only is my time and energy reduced by working on those creative projects but there’s this lingering feeling of “this isn’t what you’re supposed to be doing” so it drains my resources even more. And as a result, I keep myself trapped in this loop where I don’t have enough time and energy to go all in on either content or energy work because I’m always worried about making enough money. It’s critical that I change this and build up to a place where energy work and consulting can be my main form of income so I can have enough money to not stress about surviving, and also, have the required time and energy to make content at the level I want to too. I crave going all in on both of these things — it will be incredible. I’m committed to getting out of this cycle, however long it takes.
Being so tight financially that if something like a camera were to break (though thankfully I have 2), it could really set me back. I want to create a situation in which I have more breathing room and less financial pressure.
My process for exporting footage. After I complete a video, how do I handle exporting the reusable b-roll? Deleted scenes? What are the ideal render settings for reusability? How much quality am I going to lose? Should the footage be color-graded or RAW before I render it? I don’t care anywhere close to what I used to, but I still overthink this too much.
My process and schema for storing footage, as well. I have a decent system in place for handling RAW files, but I want to further refine it. And I want to do a better job of organizing my iPhone media into local folders after it’s taken.
Shorts! Now that shorts have their own tab on YouTube, I have literally no excuse but to utilize these. It’s free distribution. It gives me the ability to have a trailer for my long-form content. I can either clip the content or make dedicated shorts that relate to the video and I feel more pulled to the latter for my main channel.
Letting people and situations outside of my control get in the way of my creativity. Waiting for other people to not be around, waiting for the right environment to film, resistance to just creating in my room, attachment to having a certain type of background and lighting, trying to work around people’s schedules and being too considerate of others to the point where it affected my creativity. At the last place, not only was I attached to shooting in a certain way (usually in the common area) and having a certain standard of audio quality (they were insanely loud), but I was trying to be considerate and work around my roommates so they weren’t burdened by the environment I required for filming, yet none of it was acknowledged, appreciated or reciprocated. And guess who it cost? Me and my audience. Looking back, it’s silly as fuck and I regret how much I put their needs ahead of my own. At the end of the day, letting other people, circumstances, situations and be the excuse for my inaction and therefore lack of results is 100% on me. And in the future, if I do roommates again, I’m going to need to find people who are peaceful and quiet, create their own content and understand what’s required for the craft so I don’t let a year pass by with as little content created as last year.
Being slightly uncomfortable getting the talking shot when others can hear me, especially if it’s controversial. Knowing that someone’s watching can be a bit weird, but even weirder, is when I live with them and they hear everything I’m saying. When my roommates were home, it was so strange for me and I tried to avoid it at all costs. But I didn’t heal my resistance around this, and now the pattern has followed me to the new place where sound travels very easily into the hallways and people can hear me very clearly in the hallways (and visa versa). It’s just an opportunity to work through as I shouldn’t realistically care.
Resistance to saying what needs to be said when I know people might not like it. It stops me from saying so many important things in my content that should be said. And if I do, the delivery of the message can sound off because I’m too in my head. Heal on this. It’s critical for my journey of truth-seeking and truth-sharing.
Waiting until the last second to get b-roll, photos or footage of something; waiting until right before something noticeable disappears to capture it before it’s gone forever. I love living in the moment and not feeling the need to capture things as they happen for the first time like I used to when I was vlogging. But recently, I’ve waited way too long to capture something that’s about to vanish from existence (ie. changing residency, switching gyms, cutting off my hair, getting footage of someone you won’t see for a while) and it adds unnecessary pressure to the shots. Not only am I stressing about if I’ll be able to get the shot before it’s gone, but if I the shot doesn’t look right, there’s a possibility that it’ll be gone forever and I won’t have an opportunity to correct this. Or, decisions and progress will be slowed because I’m waiting to get the right shot of something before I do it. For example, my hair. If I didn’t need to keep my hair for filming 3 videos, I would’ve changed my hairstyle back in October. Going forward, I want to do a better job of casually filming more b-roll and footage so that I’m not waiting until the last second to capture moments with unnecessary pressure. And then when I do, create a system so the footage is easily recalled to be used for future videos.
Balancing being a videographer and a photographer at the same time. This is just confusing for me. When I’m looking to get visuals, I want to capture the shot as best as possible for videos, but part of me wants a photograph as well because there’s more to work with and it serves a different purpose. Maybe I should just lean into videography exclusively and save photography for rare occasions as I’m more skilled with video. But sometimes a photograph just works better! Allegedly, there is an option for taking photos while you’re filming that I recently learned about but I haven’t tried it yet and I’m hoping that this might be the hybrid that I’m looking for. As of right now, I’m not sure what to do, but it can be a real pain in the ass trying to double-shoot everything and jump between the modes.
Being behind on content! I want to change this in the next quarter. Though business is prioritized above content, at a certain point I’d like to rip through the good concepts from the last year, then vault everything else. I just want to be back, creating in the present, and editing videos right after I film them. That’s the most fun.
Deleted scenes. I’m thinking that it’s officially time to move these to locals instead of my second channel.
My handle on YouTube. My podcast channel literally has @joshmoxey reserved, so I can’t use it on my main channel. A little bit annoying, cause YouTube support hasn’t been able to fix it yet despite me giving them a clear diagnosis of what happened. But for now, I guess I’ll keep rocking @joshmoxeyfilms until a path to correcting this appears.
My reasoning for why someone should subscribe or follow me. My value proposition isn’t clear enough and needs to be refined.
What did I learn?
To be an effective editor, you need a calm mind. Because editing is inherently a matrix with a lot of chaos, you must have a calm mind to effectively navigate the edit in a smooth, efficient, and orderly manner. The calmer my mind and energy, the easier the editing becomes.
The best way to improve is by making the best you can with where you’re at right now. Not trying to compare yourself to the greatest of all time to the point where you don’t release your work because you’re not at that point yet. You’ll improve far more through consistent reps and constantly shipping and in improving through action than you will through mental hypothesizing.
Short-form vertical video is the modern-day equivalent of a movie trailer. Its purpose is reach and discovery. If people like it, they’ll come and watch your long-form content.
If the story isn’t clear, refine it with bullet points. If there’s a chance that you film a video on the fly and can’t establish a clear story, instead of trying to figure it out exclusively in the video editor amongst a mess of footage, create an outline and structure in your notes and use those pieces in your timeline to move the story forward. And if it’s too much of a mess and can’t be salvaged, take what you were trying to say in your footage, create a script and re-film with more order and structure. (Note: this saved the casual sit down, “what it was really like living here”)
The best time to edit is right after you’ve filmed. I learned this from Casey Neistat at the beginning of the year, but only recently have I fully embodied this and made it a part of my process when I have the time to and it’s so much more fun and enjoyable. Not only does it save your ass as you can easily re-film something before it’s too late, but the longer you wait, the more challenging the editing is.
Perfectionism is being attached to the vision that you see in your mind’s eye; the way you think it should be. To free yourself, accept the fact that you will never be able to fully recreate your vision perfectly in the physical world and instead, embrace the differences between how you see it in your mind and how it’s unfolding in reality. [Ryan Kao on Perfectionism]
The magic of photo editing is color manipulation. Master this to make your photos look incredible. [seeing how impactful color manipulation has been on my recent photos, even as a beginner]
I am not built for editing clips. I tried it, and it was pretty much my hell as an artist. I’m more of a long-form creator who likes the ability to tell stories using a plethora of footage and visuals (and do so without subtitles on every word!).
I’m ready to create for myself again. The best creative work is the stuff you’re working on for yourself.
Thanks for taking the time to read this far. I hope that the perspectives and insights I shared had a positive impact on your own creative or entrepreneurial journey.
Big year ahead in 2023 — a lot is about to change!