Today we’d like to introduce you to Anthony Rivera
Hi Anthony, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I started as a lot of single dads do. Doing my 9-to-5 every single day. Working almost paycheck to paycheck trying to provide with the best I can with the cards I’ve been dealt. I would sit in traffic for about an hour each way to work listening to podcasts to pass the time. I found myself in an inescapable cycle. Wake up, drive to work, put in my time, go home, spend a few hours with my kids, then sleep and repeat. Most days I would see my coworkers more than I saw my own kids. All of our lives we are taught that you HAVE to go to school, get a degree, find a good-paying job, and work my way up the chain to management or above. I checked off everything on that list. With the help of my amazing parents, I got, not one, but two degrees. Both here in Tampa. After getting my associate degree in Network Administration, I got an IT job. I was a bit of a tech nerd back in the 90s, so it just seemed “logical” to go into something computer-related. And I had always heard the money was pretty good. But I’ve always had a passion for storytelling. As a young kid, I was drawn to movies because it was such an effective way of telling a story and conveying emotion. I would sit through ALL of the credits just reading names and knowing that they all made this work of art, and one day my name would be there. I didn’t know where, but I knew it would be. I figured the “safest” way to go would be through animation. It would be something I could do with a low budget and maybe one day work on a feature film. After finishing my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Computer Animation, I started looking for a “job”. Anyone in the industry can tell you how hard it is to start out. Nobody will hire the inexperienced. So I started working on my craft. I took on as many personal projects as I could. I needed to get experience one way or another so I created my own. I worked on short films with old classmates, I worked on personal projects and I did freelance a lot. Every project a learning experience for me. My content was catching the attention of companies and I started to get interviews. After about 30 interviews, hours of driving, nights at faraway hotels, taking days off work, I realized I wasn’t really getting much return on my investment. I had given up completely. It felt as though I was trying to accomplish the impossible. It was just unattainable. Maybe I was reaching too high. Maybe I just wasn’t good enough. Routine started to set in. Every day I would go to work.
Listen to podcasts to pass the time. Sometimes I wouldn’t even remember the day. Every day just started to blend into the last. My mind was a blur for eighthours a day. I knew that this couldn’t be the rest of my life. Living paycheck to paycheck, in a place I can barely afford, trying to raise two kids on my own. So I decided that I was going to carve my own path. I didn’t have a lot of money at the time but I did have an iPhone in my pocket and I knew it had a pretty good camera on it. So I started shooting little vlogs for YouTube. My life wasn’t too interesting so I would only vlog when I would take a vacation. And, as many YouTubers can tell you, consistency is key. Unless I quit my job and travel full time, I really can’t make much of a living doing that. Being a traveling vagabond was fun in theory but wasn’t an option for me so that fizzled like all of my other ideas. One good thing came from that though; I learned how to edit a lot of videos fast. And well. The quality of the videos was generating more buzz than the content itself. Everyone that watched my videos would comment about how professional everything was and how it would look like a production company made it. In the process, I found that the creation was more fun for me than the content itself. That’s when my focus shifted to finding people with great content ideas that just needed someone with a little bit of talent to make it happen. I reached out to family members and close friends that owned businesses and I started shooting small commercial spots for them. Shooting everything on my iPhone and editing on an old laptop. Over time I started investing in better gear. Using a bit of my savings, I started to buy a slightly better microphone, a slightly better lighting set, a green screen, etc. It was fun but it wasn’t making much money. At least not enough. And I knew that I couldn’t show up to a professional shoot with my iPhone either. A few years ago my brother was in town for the holidays and he had such a great year that he gave everyone a very generous Christmas gift. I finally had enough to buy a “good enough” DSLR that would give me a good image for not so much money. The production quality of my work took a significant jump and I started to produce content on par with the pros. I started working with local musicians on music video projects. I started making commercials and promos for local businesses. Each job would allow me to put money aside to get the next piece of gear. When COVID hit, as lot of people did, I started working from home.
A lot of things changed after that. I didn’t have to drive to and from work so I didn’t have to spend as much on gas and other travel expenses. I would have more time to spend with the kids and work on projects. I realized that in a month, I had made more money making videos than working at my IT job. I kept having to take days off work just to have enough time to work on client projects. One night I was having so much fun editing a client’s video, that when I looked at the clock, it was already time for me to clock in at work. That’s when I decided that I was just going to take the risk and quit my job. It took me about 20 minutes and 100 read-throughs before I hit send on that e-mail to my boss telling him that, after 13 years with the company, I would no longer be able to juggle the two. It was a leap of faith I knew I had to take. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. But here I am. I’ve worked with companies such as Amazon, Goodwill, Cracker Barrel, and many others in Florida. I’ve received 1 bronze Telly Award and two Silver Davey Awards for content I’ve produced for my clients. And I feel like this is just the beginning.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Life is full of obstacles. For me, the biggest obstacle was fear. I was afraid I wasn’t good enough. I was afraid to quit my job and let go of a steady paycheck. Everyone kept projecting their fears onto me. But as Will Smith puts it, God put the best things in life on the other side of fear. Once I stopped being afraid and took the leap of faith, I found out I could glide. I’m certainly not soaring but I’m starting to catch wind under my wings.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I am a content creator. A filmmaker. A storyteller. Every client has a story to tell and I help them bring that to life. I specialize in narrative art. The visual medium. Best known for music videos and short films. Epic wedding films and professional commercial videos. I am most proud of the awards. I was up against some tough competition from the big guys and I was able to place among the best.
Do you have recommendations for books, apps, blogs, etc?
There’s not a magic recipe for success. You have to immerse yourself in what you want to do. Work on your craft EVERY DAY. No exception. If it starts to feel like a chore, then it’s probably not your passion. Even when I’m driving to clients houses, I listen to podcasts and audiobooks about growth., success, and business from John Maxwell. Gary Vanderchuck, Tai Lopez, and so much more. Will Smith has one of the most inspirational and motivational channels on YouTube. But no other video has given me more inspiration and motivation than Jim Carrey’s Commencement Address at the 2014 MUM Graduation. I saw a lot of myself in his story.
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Anthony Rivera Zulmarie Perez