I Am A Filmmaker. By: Zack McTee





***A guest appearance by: Zack McTee***

When I was 14 I got my first job at a water park. When I was 15 I got my first LEGAL job at Kentucky Fried Chicken. As cliche’ as it may sound, by this time I already knew I wanted to make movies when I grew up.

I’ve been working professionally in the filmmaking business for nearly 10 years, so I’m completely comfortable calling myself a “filmmaker.” However, a while back I came to realize that I was using the term as a crutch; a way to convince myself I was doing what I knew was right back in those days at KFC. Now, in those awkward conversations where a stranger asks me, “So, what do you do?” I can proudly respond “I’m A FILMMAKER,” and then go on to explain about all the branded content, and corporate docu style work I created over the last 6 months. Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally proud of every piece of work I create, and I get the opportunity to work on some pretty awesome projects. However, I’m constantly dreaming and trying to move towards something bigger.

In those days at KFC there were plenty of smoking-meth-from-glass-dicks-by-the-pressure-cookers-and-using-the-giant-ventilation-system-to-suck-up-the-smoke type of employees (not kidding) that I didn’t look up to. However, there was one cook who I admired quite a bit. So much so that I think he’s a good analogy for the situation at large here. He wanted to be a Chef. Being a chef was the most important thing to him. This guy could take a breast of chicken at KFC and turn it into a gourmet dish with the very limited resources of Kentucky Fried Chicken. He was a seriously good dude with a passion to do something very specific. I’m sure he’s doing exactly what he set out to do, and if not, I hope he’s still chasing after it. My point here is that he was a cook. He could go to parties and say “I’m a cook,” but there’s no way in hell he would have slept at night telling people “I’m a chef.”

I think “filmmaker,” has become too broad of a term. Although I use it all the time because it’s certainly describes how I make my living, it doesn’t really describe what I want to be calling myself, which is a Moviemaker. It’s easy to convince yourself that you’re doing exactly what you want to be doing when your work is so closely related to your passion, but it’s not enough to stop because you can throw around a prestigious title. I’ll continue being a filmmaker, but my hot pursuit for “Movie Maker” will fuel everything that I do until the day comes when I can call myself that.

My friend Chris at Production Junction (my favorite rental house in NYC) hooked me up with one of PJ’s new t-shirts. I wear it often because it’s a constant kick-in-the-ass. If I’m wearing this shirt, then I need to be living it. If you live in NYC and want to make movies, you should go to PJ and buy a shirt. If you don’t live here, email them and I’m sure they’ll make it happen.

At the end of the day the title doesn’t really matter. What matters is whether or not you’re doing everything you can to move forward and advance as a filmmaker/moviemaker/imagemaker/cinematorapher/dp/editor/videographer.

Zack’s bio.

Zack McTee is a New York City based filmmaker. A graduate of the school of experience, He left his hometown (Ogden, UT) straight out of high school to pursue his dream of making motion pictures.
When a beat up VHS camcorder came into his life at the early age of 13, Zack was hooked. Despite the battery not working, His passion for making skateboard videos meant bringing a giant extension cord everywhere in hopes that there was an outlet nearby.
As a senior in high school Zack had the opportunity to work as a PA on a film that was coming through his town (Benji: Off The Leash). After convincing teachers that he couldn’t make it to class anymore but would turn in homework on the weekend, Zack found himself working on a feature motion picture. His interest in Post Production took him quickly to the task of helping the Editor (Dava Whisenant) set up her cave. There was no Assistant Editor and the budget wouldn’t afford one but after seeing Zack’s passion, Dava requested that He be her assistant editor. At 17 years old, He’d finagled his way into his first official movie credit as “Assistant Editor.”
After Benji wrapped and the high school experience was finally over, Zack moved to Los Angeles where he spent 6 years soaking up everything he could in the world of production. From junior producing at Mandalay Entertainment to starting his own channel at advertising experiment Honeyshed, He had successfully gained a resume full of experience and was ready to take on a new city.
In November of 2009 Zack moved to New York City and made the decision to work as a freelance director/producer. He has since worked on projects for Nike, MTV, Pepsi, IAC, Plantronics, and Timberland to name a few.
In addition to client work, He continues to create personal projects that have collectively seen millions of eyes.

Jared Abrams is a cinematographer based in Hollywood, California. After many years as a professional camera assistant he switched over to still photography. About two years ago a new Canon camera changed the way the world sees both motion and still photography. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
  • Anonymous

    Couldnt agree more. I make a living shooting and editing online and corporate videos, which I have seen plenty of people do under the title ‘filmmaker’, which is definitively accurate. But I see that in a way de-valuing the name. I find myself constantly at odds with that to call myself. So I just call myself a professional hack, at least is doesnt give any false sense of entitlement.