The Job PDX
The Job PDX
55. Jacob Hinmon

Jacob Hinmon is a commercial/video director and photographer.

Note: The photos in this article came from the Instagram account of Jacob or Tuesdays on Tillamook.

The Interview

I’m here with Jacob Hinmon. Hi Jake.
Said both, see. Thanks for being on the show. How are you doing today?
I’m doing good.
Okay, awesome. Not drunk yet or anything?
Not yet. Although it is Friday, so never too early, right?
Right, right. Why don’t you tell me, just first give us a little background like where you’re from how did you come into video and stuff.
Yeah, so, let’s see, I grew up outside Portland in McMinnville, Oregon for the most part. Finished up high school near Los Angeles, north of Los Angeles. I was always interested in the study film in college. Started working doing video stuff and never stopped.
Okay. What was your … Did you like major? Was it your major in film production?
Yeah. That was my major. My emphasis was directing.
Cool. How did you, I mean, did you come straight to Portland or did you work in the L.A. area for a while?
Right out of school I had feature film making aspirations, so for a time I tried to go down to L.A. and was just staying at my mom’s place down there and working a little bit, writing a script, working on like a PA or a grip or whatever. My dad actually runs a little Ad Agency in McMinnville. I kept wind up, I kept, all my best work was coming through him. He did little projects for for just local clients there. He started hiring me more and more and it just made sense to come back this direction and follow the money and do video here.
What would you say that you started doing it under your own name or brand or had you done that all along or-
No, for the first few years I was working as an employee for his agency, the Hinmon Agency. In 2009 I formed my own production company, Four Plus One Productions, and from there it was, kind of like, a gradual change to finding my own clients. A lot of the work. I am still getting through him at first and then just gradually to the point where I’ve built up a client list all on my own and very rarely worked with his clients or his agency down there anymore.
Did you typically get your clients through word of mouth?
Yeah, that’s a good question. I think a lot of word of mouth, a lot of people seeing the stuff that I’ve done for other people when they’re looking into doing video. That and then I guess also just kind of building relationships with creative people or networking is a tricky word to use, but relationships and friendships and friends of friends is also a pretty good source of where my work comes from. That’s all.
Okay. Yeah, I think the first work I saw of yours was first Schoolhouse Electric. It can’t remember what the occasion was, but with that, how did that one come about?
That one came about … I did a little video for my friend Jordan who did Winn Perry, the men’s clothing store.
He actually had closed Winn Perry to take a job at Schoolhouse Electric and so there was the connection there. They were going through a transition and felt like a video would be a good opportunity to help the history of the company as well as kind of launch their home goods beside their brand.
That was how that came about.
Was that shot in their newest space, that warehouse?
The warehouse on Nicolai.
Yeah. For that kind of a project, how much, it’s hard to probably say in general, but something like that that’s maybe just a few minutes on. That one might have been more like 10. How many weeks or hours or how much of that is spent shooting or how much editing for you?
It’s definitely a project by project basis and the tricky thing usually is how much time passes between when the clients, like, “Yeah, let’s do this.” And when they’re ready to shoot. Sometimes that can be a while, so my general process is, after the business is won, all the normal stuff of winning business goes into before that treatments and negotiations and everything.

After the business is won then I strengthen the creative treatment and go into more into detail there. Usually, it’s kind of a rough outline ahead of time and then if it’s near the project, I’ll write the script and story board and kind of build the crew and everything like that. If it’s a documentary style project then I’ll get the crew together have a further conversation with the client in terms of what sort of ground they want to cover, create a list of questions for the shoot.

I usually walk through in the location and get an idea of the types of video shots that I want to get.
Generally, it’s about two weeks worth of pre-production. One to two weeks before the shoot and then production is generally a day or two and editing is anywhere from a week to three weeks depending on all sorts of things. Depending on the feedback the client might have. Depending on their timeline if there’s a hard deadline or not. I would say roughly it’s five to six or six to eight weeks for an entire project.
It sounds like you’ve kind of have a pretty good idea of the story you’re trying to tell before you start shooting anything for those.
Yeah, it depends on the project. I mean, taking that Schoolhouse one, for example. That was basically what I knew ahead of time, was that they were going through this transition. They had started in lighting and they want us to tell the story. That actually was all built through the interview that I did with Brian, the founder, and then, the story really came clearer in the editorial process.
A lot of those, a lot of the documentary style stuff that I’ve done in the past and that you see around is … I like to take that approach, because I feel like it helps you get out the best or impossible and helps them deliver the most comfortable dialogue or story if that makes sense?
Yeah. It’s almost like what you’re shooting is kind of evolving as they tell their story and you think about what they’re saying.
You leave a little bit of room for-
Yeah, yeah for sure. I mean, I start always with the list of questions, so it’s a broad outline of the direction I want to go, but a lot of those details are found in their responses and follow up questions and just kind of that sort of thing.
That is the tricky thing about shooting things documentary style as you don’t always necessarily know what the Be-Role, how well the Be-Role is going to match with what they’re saying and what you get in the end. I think it works out pretty well for me working on those clients that it make sense to use a kind of documentary style. That it tells their story in a pretty strong line.
I noticed there is kind of another, like maybe the one you did for Ann Sacks for instance, it’s almost like a commercial piece, like a 30 second thing or something like that. Is that a completely different process than like that Schoolhouse Electric? It strikes me as that was a little more descriptive like with Cindy get, like a Martin Lawrence Bullard walking up the stairs kind of a thing.
Yeah, absolutely. That one was definitely more. It’s heavier on the pre-production and heavier on the kind of pre-visualization. Then we only have one day with Martin, so it’s kind of like make sure we get all these shots that we have outlined and get as much B-roll and his amazing office as possible.

It was much more scripted. There’s a spot that I just, TV spot that I just finished up in the fall for and that was done through an agency. An agency hired me and so they had the concept already and then I was just hired to kind of visualize and execute on their concept.

Tuesdays on Tillamook

I do a fair amount of that type of work as well. It’s funny, because I don’t think clients necessarily draw that line, but I definitely think of those as kind of two very separate types of video work.
Yeah, I mean, it seems like a lot of the stuff that you do is, it’s almost like your work or your business is almost a child of the internet era. No one is going to pay for a Schoolhouse Electric ten minute super bowl slot, but someone who is really interested in that brand and their story is … I watch that video several times and I’m like, “This is great, you know, it really does-” whereas, I mean, I guess some of those stuff you’ve done is probably for TV. Has the internet for you kind of been changing the nature of the work that you get?
Yeah. Well, first of all thank you. That’s very kind of you to say about that. The work there. I don’t think I would have a career doing this if it weren’t for the internet and for streaming video.
You’d be doing infomercials on QBC or something if not for the internet.
Yeah or maybe I would have just had to kind of go all in much earlier on a narrative filming track and say, “This is do or die” and then maybe I’d be managing an Arbee’s now or something after having failed at that. I would say absolutely the internet and the invention of YouTube which wasn’t around when I was in college and studying film. Even though it seems now like it’s been around forever.
Right? That’s why I have a career. That’s why I was able to do this type of work and I think even now it’s shaping the type of work I get hired to do. The type of … The methods for shooting so that there can be deliverables for Vine or Instagram video or something.
Have you had those kind of request? I mean, that’s crazy different. It’s different. It’s not a video aspect craze or anything.
Yeah. No, it is crazy. I did do a job a couple of years ago that was strictly Vine.
This was for Jack in the Box. We just did a whole … The concept was to do like a hundred and one Vines on how to eat this burger and it was ambitious, because even though the Vines were only six seconds. You still have to come up with ideas.
At least a hundred and one ideas.
Yeah, more than that in that case. It wound up being kind of a nightmare, but I think now that is the more mainstream concept is just that people want either teaser for those types of channels or content that you’re shooting at the same time that can be lived on its own there. It definitely has changed though and still photos along with that. Everybody is looking to maximize the investment they’re making.
The more deliverables that I can offer in those terms, it strengthens my case to be hired for the job and its better for the client. It’s stuff that I like doing also.
Do you promise a certain number of stills or a certain number of minutes of footage?
It depends on the project or project basis. The scope of the work and the kind of pace that we’re working at. Project that I’m prepping for right now, they have very specific deliverables. They need still photos for their website. There’s places that they’re going to go. We’re building the shoot around still photography and video. That one is very tied to x-amount of still photos is what they need. We’re going to do these interviews and deliver this video at this and you know at this length.

Some of them are much less formal. And I think especially earlier on when I was getting hired to do stills as well, it would just be kind of like, “Ann, can we pull stills from the video? Or Ann, can we get a few stills along the way?” That still is what everybody is looking for a little bit. I definitely prefer to do the opposite where we’re putting a little bit more time and thought into the exact stills.

Are you shooting HD video?
Yeah. I definitely am shooting HD video, but I no longer really. I don’t think I was ever very comfortable with the idea of just pulling straight from the video, because it’s a very different product. A lot of those requests early on were just kind of them wanting something they could use for stills as well. Now, it is part of the workflow to kind of make sure we’re getting a still shot of that stuff along the way. It’s another aspect of living and working in this era.
How would you describe your Collected Works business?
Collected Works is a company that I co-founded with a friend of mine and primarily we make backpacks and the company is built on the idea that the things we buy should be functional, durable and beautiful.
Okay. That’s elevator pitch.
Yeah, we had to work that out.
We basically was just an idea we had for this backpack that we both thought was pretty interesting. We went down the line and got the backpack design, got it developed, felt like we were pretty excited about it. Decided to see if other people were pretty excited about it. Rene kick started campaign. A certain amount of people who were pretty excited about it and now we have a business.
It’s not really your background doing that kind of a product. Was it interesting learning about that? Was it fun, was it harder than you imagined?
Yeah, it was very fun. It was harder than I imagined. I mean, somebody that cares about the way things are made. Part of what I was just describing is that it’s functional and durable. That doesn’t come out of thin air. At that time that we were developing it, I was working, I was renting a desk out of the Taylor Good Space, they are friends of mine and I’ve always kind of been drawn to makers. People who are making things and they were doing it on and still are even more, so, now they’re doing it on a larger scale and doing it very, very well.

That kind of gave me the sense that you could start from small and grow and they were also a tremendous resource in terms of finding the people that could execute this for us. I don’t sew, myself. You know, I don’t sew these backpacks, so we came to our partners or the people that we hired with was a strong visual idea and asked them to execute on them.

The part that was much different or that was more difficult than I anticipated was just the logistics of running a business like that and manufacturing a product and keeping that in stock enough to be sold and all that kind of stuff was something very foreign to me, because my background isn’t at all in that sort of thing.

The design process, if you have the right people ready to develop it and you have people around you, you can ask questions that sort of thing, isn’t necessarily the most difficult thing right now.

I watched a video about Collected Works recently. It’s still in my display. How was the experience? I think most people would assume, well you do a video for your own project. It’s going to be easier. And I can tell you, with someone who design websites that there is a reason there’s an expression about like, “the Cobbler’s children are the last ones to get shoes.” I find it to be a huge pain in the ass. How about you?
Absolutely. Well, so there’s two sides to that. It is a huge pain in the ass especially when you’re … I think the hard part is when you’re trying to run the business and do client work and everything else. It is hard to make time for that. The videos that we did for Collected Works early on were pretty easy for me to do, because I was so passionate about the product. It was so close. It is so close to my heart. And the ethos of what we’re trying to do, what we are trying to do is was very readily available.

It was kind of almost like just doing a spec project. It’s like this is what I believe in and so I’m going to communicate them. But, at the same time our social media channels with Collected Works are wildly neglected. I haven’t done 10 videos for Collected Works and I don’t have the … The ongoing process of continually marketing our brand is something that I have the skill-set to do. It is something that I that I feel the weight of and it’s not something I’m doing very well.

Yeah. I also can empathize with that. How do you find music to go with the videos?
I am very lucky to have a friend who is a musician.
He is very versatile. He is very talented as a composer and essentially every video that you see on my site, he’s composed the music for.
Okay. That’s nice.
Yeah. It’s one of the … When I talk to clients about it, I always feel like there’s three elements to a video. It’s what’s being said what’s being seen and what’s being heard and that includes the music. I would consider it, in terms of setting the tone and carrying it through, as important as the the interview or the dialogue and the visuals that I’m producing.
Are there any folks doing similar stuff that you look to for inspiration or other random places you look for inspiration?
I look everywhere for inspiration. I think less so in the video world especially in the same styles of video that I’m doing. I find myself more reaching toward narrative stuff, whether its TV shows or films or photography or just design stuff or writing, books, blogs, men’s style, men’s wear. All that kind of stuff I think is stuff that I look to for inspiration in my work.

Jacob's Photos

Do you have any favorite shows right now? Got to ask. Our researcher randomly came up with something about Lena Dunham. Can you speak to that?
I don’t know. I’m a huge fan of Lena Dunham.
Okay, she claimed you’re a big fan.
Yeah, that is true.
She has a show.
Yeah. Her show I think is great. What was the context of you-
I have no idea. It’s under miscellaneous. It’s just in from Twitter.
You know it’s funny, because we were having like a wrap dinner after project that I shot last week and my wife and I just finished watching the season four finale of Girls and I was kind of like very excited about it. The show did a lot of interesting stuff in the season and the finale is firstly like really, really interesting to me.

I think she gets a lot of flak and a kind of unnecessarily and she’s extremely talented and I think that her character, Hanna, in the show kind of disguises how hard working and talented and unbelievable she is. To be able to do something like the work that she’s doing.

Girls, I think it’s been somewhat uneven of a show from my critique column per se over the years, but I think Season 1 was just was kind of unbelievable and then this last season I think was really, really great too. I mean anytime you can get Colin Quinn, Spike Jones and Mark Maron all to like guest star. She just has to be this amazing person on all levels.

For sure. This is more for my own edification and probably anything that … I don’t know who else is curios, but what video software do you use to edit your videos.
I edit in Adobe Premier.
It seems like since a final cut went weird years back. It seems like a lot of people just said, “You know, after this I’m going to, anything else.”
Yeah. That’s exactly right, when they went to the final cut x it was a strange transition that a lot of people that do the type of work I do took a slap on the face, because that was our go to for years and years. At that same time I had a client that was going to do a little bit of post work on my project, on the project we’re working on and it was an agency and not just the clients themselves. And they said the work flow would be way smoother if you were working in Adobe software. Can you do that, give it a shot and so I gave it a shot imported my final cut pro shortcut settings and it’s a very seamless transition.
Yeah, maybe it was around a similar time frame, but Adobe went to that sort of subscription thing which is, to be honest, the only reason I use half of their software now, because it’s kind of like they’re throwing it in for free at this point. I might as well use Premiere.

When you say shortcut settings, do you mean kind of like you have certain presets for like tone or like a visual look you’re going for or just a keyboard shortcut?

A keyboard shortcut.
Okay. Oh, so you can kind of just pick up using it the way that you’re comfortable.
Yeah. I was never super well trained as an editor. It wasn’t my emphasis in school. I hated editing for the most part and so it took me … I’d always had to drag myself to edit and then once I would get into it and waiting for all that stuff, I think it is partially like I’m not a very naturally organized person. If you get through all the stuff that I try to organize in a way they could be useful.

Then get to that point where you are actually making editorial decisions and throwing shots against each other and seeing how, you know, the feel that it creates. It was long and tedious and a kind of a convoluted process, so to be able to use those short cuts straight across, it was very helpful. I am just not great at that process of learning these software and knowing it like top to bottom that sort of thing.

Could be a pretty distracting for sure. I am just going to go down rabbit trails here. I’ve noticed a lot of stuff that’s done lately, I’m pretty convinced that people are using like those visual supply filters and things like that. It’s almost as if we’re in a post digital era where people want you to think that they’ve never used a digital camera at all and they’re still shooting. They’re still shooting with … It was like, “Look, it’s ectochrome. I swear.” And it’s like, “Nah, I don’t know that’s a video.”

That doesn’t seem … Do you have an opinion on that sort of thing or do you find that to be interesting or too heavy handed or too generic?

I think it depends on how it’s used. I guess that’s my opinion and I think that that’s kind of the same with any technique whether it’s using a slider to make a move, slow motion or-
They come in fashion or for a year or two is just light leak. It’s like, “You’re not sure …”
Yeah, not even. It’s was this video-
Just random light leaked footage overlaid over.

Jacob Photos

Exactly. I think that any of those techniques or tools can be extremely interesting if used in a way that’s motivated by the story. That where we go array is using the technique for the technique and I think that’s kind of a personal thing. Although I think the look that sometimes people are producing with VSU camera or whatever other filters and that sort of thing can wind up being really cool and creative, very nice aesthetic across the board. Which is something that I definitely admire.

I guess I would say that some people, I see their work and I am impressed with how just the technical aspect of their visual production and the continuity of color and image and everything like that. I think that people who use those sort of filters or dial in the way they’re shooting so that it produces that and then they are able to do it in post-production. It’s something that I aspire to be better at. I kind of hand it over to someone I hired to do the color correction and that’s always kind of a process of dialing in all of them.

Yeah, I played with those little in video, because I just recently realized that you can actually use video in a light room and you can use those filters in there if you bought the sets for the light room. I ran into the problem you’re talking about which is that you have to kind of … It knows the profile of your equipment. It knows the camera I’m using and it knows what I’m trying to get it to look like.

Inevitably I’ve shot everything too dark. It wants it to be really light. It wants a lot more light than I’m used to shooting with. So far everything I’ve done looks like crap, but it’s something like you can only move that exposure sliders so much.

I think that’s the hard part of the whole process and I think that’s what has recently in the last, we are talking about photography in the last like six or eight months, I could just spend a lot more time on photography and a lot more time on those technical elements of producing images that have continuity, that have a look to themselves.

It’s something that I am more and more interested in on that level and I think that it’s a process to figure out. Okay, how do I shoot all these things, all these shots in a way that when I process them whether it’s through a filter like that or it’s a one off of, you know, adjusting exposure and everything else. Maybe you’re own final color or recipe or whatever. What’s the correlation there and how am I able to most often produce stuff that delivers in the same way that I can then finish the color treatment in the same way and get the same result?

It’s extremely difficult, because a shot that you get at sunset or dusk is going to be way different than a bright sunny day at noon and how you make those kind of feel of the same world without it looking too over produced or anything else. I guess I am also finding that process a lot more fun and I think that’s part of just spending time in Photoshop or spending time with post with the images which in the past I’ve mostly considered the editorial for video mostly doing continuity editing or editing shot to shot and making sure the story is all dialed in.

Not that I was overlooking the visual aspect of it, but that I was kind of mostly taking care of that during production. And that was where I felt like I was producing the images and then the post-production of those images are kind of hand off or that sort of thing.

Would you have the same person who is doing color work on your video do stills or it’s just kind of a different?
It’s different. Well, a lot of the still works that I’m doing right now is personal projects. And so, it’s half way just for me to experiment with it until it get wraps in it and to figure out what I like and don’t like. If for no other reason than to better be able to communicate that look to my post people. I think if I had kind of a larger job that was strictly stills then I would have to make a decision on that and see if it made sense to me to bring in an editor who is more experienced than I was and stronger than that. But, so far I’ve kind of just used the same, the same look that I’m producing in my personal work for the most part.
What’s next for you? You got any exciting projects coming up that you could talk about?
Let’s see, I’ve got a couple of things that I’m working on right now that are that are fun. I think that there’s a couple of ways that I’m going right now that I think are interesting. I’m speaking in more general in terms I guess.
I think this idea of doing a campaign content which again I think content is kind of like networking in terms of a word that feels not great when you say it. It feels like something that doesn’t have a personal touch.
Or businessy.
Yeah, a little businessy. I am kind of embracing this idea of doing campaign contents, so that it is not just … The idea behind the Schoolhouse video was we’re going to tell your story in one video. It’s going to be, like you mentioned, I think it’s three minutes, but it may feel longer than that. It’s going to be kind of longer. It’s going to take the attention and now I think that what I am more interested in delivering is, okay, where are you headed right now in delivering video versions or alternates in kind of shorter snippet forms, main video elements, photography and building kind of a mini campaign around what people are doing now.

The work that I did with Ann Sacks has afforded me to kind of do that and also do that on a little bit of a longer working relationship. It hasn’t been one off type work, it’s been, okay, what’s next? What do you need now? I’m finding that opportunity to deliver the content in that fashion and to build those relationships directly with the clients over the long term to be really rewarding.

Because you get a lot of insight into what a company is trying to do and when you only get to do one project for them and it’s one deliverable and one video it just doesn’t as comprehensive as you’d like to be. It’s not quite as helpful as I like my work to be. It’s not quite as useful. That’s kind of where my head is at, client wise right now. I am doing more and more traditional TV, commercial directing as well which is a lot of fun, because that’s able to work on a different scale on kind of a larger scale like what I was trained in, in the first place, in terms of directing..

I am also, personal project wise, working on a script right now. That’s something that I’m dedicated to producing, directing and you know, in the next year. That’s kind of where my head is at right now in terms of client wise and building my business wise and then also personally on the film and video front.

That’s awesome. Are you thinking about doing anything, another product with Collected Works?
Another product?
Yeah, we’re definitely … That’s coming down the line. Right now we’re in a place where we’re still giving our feet under ourselves with the one product and more of the kind of business side of things. Like I was just describing. My partner in Collected Works is a lawyer and so he and I both have full time jobs outside of Collected Works and we’re at that point where we’re saying, “Okay, how do we transition this from an idea to a hobby business which essentially is right now a hobby business? Are we fine with that or are we looking to turn this into a business-business that is going to be more sustainable?” Build more products out in the product line. Do more marketing and advertising to get in front of people and that sort of thing.

I think the short answer is we are moving in that direction, but there are few steps that we’ll have to take before we are able to execute on another product idea which we have a bunch of ideas in the hopper. It’s kind of at this point, we’ve realized how difficult it is to manufacture products and do it well and so we really wanted to take the time to make sure our next products are … That they are as good in our eyes as our first product and are something that people can get excited about as they have with the backpack.

Nice. I had no idea that you partnered with a lawyer. How did that come about?
He is actually a friend. He went to high school with my wife.
We’ve been friends for years.
Okay, you just got to talking one day about this.
Yeah. We also really nerd out on products. To give you an example right now, he is looking at buying a kind of a nicer camera than he’s had before and so it’s probably been like four or five weeks and he knows that like … It’s something that I like and I’m excited about and have a certain amount of knowledge around these cameras. He has has narrowed it down to three, but then he’s like researching all the specs of each one and the color difference. He has a camera that he likes, should he go for that one or should he … That kind of same family, same manufacturer, she branched out and so that’s kind of the approach that we take to many things in our lives. Our wives might tell.

That’s kind of what we did. We’ve done this for years and whether it’s a pair of shoes or like a coat or a backpack which is how the idea for a collaboration came around. We’re kind of really interested in the details and how those details affect the product and the use of the product and how they’re going to make it better or not as good.

Awesome. I totally forgot to do a sponsor read. Just kidding. The camera-
Let’s see if I need more designs later.
Cool. Well, thank you so much, Jacob. Where can people find you online? Where would you like them to find you online?
Yeah, I think in terms of social media, my best work is done on Instagram.
I’m just Jacob Hinmon on Instagram.
There you go.
That’s my same handler everywhere. My personal website is a good landing place. You can find everything that I’m doing from there. I like to keep that part simple.
Awesome. Cool. Well, thanks for coming by.
Thanks man.
Appreciate it.