Erik Smith, Videographer

In our ongoing series of chats with talented young makers, doers, dreamers, and artists we sat down with Erik Smith (Banana Man Films), the videographer responsible for the catchy riff for NPO Pure Drift, as well as short clips for our alma mater UCLA Anderson and several Silicon Beach start-ups. Here’s the scoop, straight from the source:

erik smith

erik smith

Where is home?  Hastings Nebraska, Population 23,000

What brought you to LA?  I moved to LA with my funk rock band in 2004.

How do you describe what you do?  I create promotional, informational and commercial videos and try to work with non-profits and humanitarian groups as much as possible, with an eagerness to do so in foreign countries.

How did you know you wanted to be a videographer?  Several years ago I moved to Bali, Indonesia to volunteer at the Bali Life orphanage there and a few months before I moved a friend helped me to do a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for some video equipment and to shoot a documentary about the orphanage and the work they’re doing.  I had never done anything serious with video before but during my time in Bali, filming the children at the orphanage, getting to know the mothers and their children begging on the streets of Kuta, sleeping in lots of random places as I shot lots of night time time-lapses, I realized that this is what I was meant to do.  Telling stories through film.

What are you working on now?  Currently I’m in preproduction for a commercial for a local app start up company that looks to be an intense but fun shoot! I’m also prepping for a big shoot with the Zildjian Cymbal company.  A few of their rockstar drummers will be in LA for the NAMM convention and they want to get some cool studio footage and interviews with the drummers for their site and Youtube channel.

Describe a technique or material you see as an essential part of your process.  Hearing the client.  Being a small company I often work directly with my clients to create and develop the storyline and/or script for their project along with them.  They may not have the ability to hire an advertising firm so I kinda play multiple roles: creative, producer, director of photography as well as imagining myself as the end viewer of the video and keeping everything in check that the message will come across clearly and efficiently.  Especially with people’s attention spans on the internet!  “Oh look! Is that a kitten video?”  *click*

Tell us about someone or somewhere that inspires you  When I was living in Bali, the orphanage had a project where a few of the volunteers would go into the streets of Kuta and Denpasar to hand out little food packs and water to the mothers and children who were begging on the streets.  We would play games with the kids and I would take a ukulele and show some of the kids some chords and they loved it.  We didn’t do this to feed them but rather to get to know them and understand their stories about why they’re on the streets begging.  I often think of this one time when I was sitting on the curb handing out food packs to the kids and this one little boy around 8 yrs old decided to eat his sitting next to me.  We started talking, with my pathetic Indonesian, when he asked me if I was hungry and wanted to share his food.  Here was this barefoot little kid who begged on the streets to help his family get a few extra bucks a day and he was asking if I wanted to share his food? That blew me away and I will never forget that. No matter how little you have, there’s still enough to share.

Nikon or Canon?  Canon

Favourite surf spot  In California: Malibu, but only late at night when there are only 20 guys out instead of 120!!  In Bali: Litts, don’t bother looking on a map, you won’t find it!

Favourite breakfast place in LA – and what do you order?   Cafe 50’s, Power Breakfast for $5.50 Love that place!!

Five Things you can’t live without  Family and friends   |   Playing music  |  The Ocean  |  Sunshine  |  Air

erik smith 

erik smith