In just one year, Daniel Paula has built up his YouTube channel to more than 145,000 subscribers and given more than 4,000 hours of free filmmaking tips to aspiring filmmakers all over the world. His secret? He says he’s just a regular guy doing what I love, but there’s no denying that Daniel Paula knows how to create magic on screen and share it with the world in an honest and heartfelt way that keeps you coming back again and again. We talk with Daniel about how he does it here.
The importance of story
There’s an old adage in Hollywood that actors should never meet their idols. The thinking goes something like, if you meet someone you really admire and respect as a professional, you might let them down. But it isn’t until Daniel Paula meets his idol—the late Orson Welles—that he realizes that story comes first, everything else follows. As Daniel explains, He was just telling me about his time working on Citizen Kane…how much fun they had making that movie. And I said to him ‘Well why did you stop making movies?’ And he says ‘I didn’t stop because I got tired of it, I stopped because people wouldn’t pay me enough money to do what I wanted to do anymore.
Influencers are real people
Influencers are often perceived as individuals that are so lucky and gifted that they’ve found their passion and can do what they love for a living. And while some of these influencers may indeed be fortunate enough to do what they love—some of them didn’t. Take Daniel Paula, for example. He used to work in financial services, but he knew there was more to life than just making money. After saving up his money, he spent a year traveling around Europe and thinking about what he wanted to do with his life. And now, Daniel is a filmmaker whose work has been featured on The New York Times Style Magazine , ELLE , Vogue , Esquire , Harpers Bazaar , WSJ and several other well-known brands.
A pitch reel is your first film
You’ve got to show a director and/or producer what you can do. Daniel didn’t have a lot of experience when he made his pitch reel, but even then, it was enough to get him an internship with a top-notch producer. Once you see his reel (which, fortunately for you, I’ve included below), it’s not hard to see why he got noticed. His footage is crisp, well framed, and skillfully edited—even if you don’t know what a dolly shot is, you can tell Daniel knows how to use one. The video shows off his ability to work as part of a team as well as showcase his creativity. And while Daniel might be new on the scene now, who knows where he could be in five years?
The best equipment doesn’t always win
There are many expensive film making tools available to professional and aspiring filmmakers, but sometimes simplicity wins out. While at a film festival once, filmmaker Daniel Paula realized that he could use his cell phone’s camera to shoot a moving image. He also realized that by adding some light effects to his footage he could create an interesting effect without spending any money on fancy cameras or lenses. After all, magic can happen anywhere if you have a little imagination and creativity!
Check out other work
In preparation for creating a visual story that depicts Daniel Paula’s creative process, I watched several of his short films and read through his interview with James Altucher. (If you haven’t already done so, it would be great to check out both.) What stood out most about these pieces was how open Daniel was about what he liked (and didn’t like) about filming.
Put in the time
Talent is overrated. Or, more accurately, talent is irrelevant without passion and perseverance. It’s been said that talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see. For example, take Daniel Paula, whose name means nothing to you now but will very soon. I was introduced to him by my boss at a networking event in 2011 and his charisma, charm and big dreams were immediately captivating—but it wasn’t until years later that I truly understood how rare he is. When we met him again in 2015 (he had done some work with our firm), he came across as someone who had fully come into his own; someone who knew what he wanted and was determined to get it.
I am passionate about cinema, storytelling and what magic film can do for people, he says. At work I am demanding of myself and my colleagues, but once we’re done shooting for a day I want everyone to have fun. I want to give my actors creative freedom, because that is where real art comes from. Daniel Paula has used technology in his films before, including AR (augmented reality) apps in his most recent feature. I think augmented reality has limitless potential, he adds.
More Reading: Businessesinsiders