Artist Spotlight, Pro Tips

Documentary Filmmaker Nick Enriquez on Finding Your Vision as an Artist

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Nick Enriquez didn’t set out to get behind the camera. In fact, he started off in the finance world before realizing he needed to find a new direction. Relocating to NYC, Nick fell into the world of filmmaking — specifically branded documentaries — almost by fate, and has since discovered a passion for telling other people’s stories in his own unique way. We spoke with Enriquez about how he found his career, developed his aesthetic, and learned what it means to be a true artist. Watch our exclusive video below, then read on for Nick’s tips on how you, too, can develop your style, your vision, and your career.

A non-traditional path to filmmaking

“As soon as I got to New York, my friend was starting a production company, and he just needed some help. He was actually my roommate at the time, so I was just available. I had basically moved to New York to reassess what I wanted to do, and just started out assisting him — carrying his bags, changing lenses, that sort of thing. The farthest down you could be on the totem pole, that’s how I started. I learned everything on the job. That’s how I got to where I am. I still consider that every time I go out, I learn something new. It’s exciting.”

Finding your aesthetic as a filmmaker

“There are a bunch of things I would say to someone who’s starting out. The first thing is to go out and just do it, but even before that, find an inspiration. Find something — a director, a film, something that you want to emulate — and in the process of trying to emulate that work that you admire, as you fail to do that, you’ll start to develop your own aesthetic. It’s like your aesthetic becomes your failed attempt to be someone else.

“There’s no shame in trying to emulate other people and other work. The beautiful part about that is just the process that happens, that takes place as you try to do that, and what you learn along the way. You realize, “Maybe I don’t want it to be exactly like that, or maybe it just can’t be. But this is what it is. This beautiful mess is who I am.” This is how you’re going to grow, and this is how you’re going to become your own person as a creative.”

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The importance of collaboration

Collaborating is the most important thing you can do, as you’re growing to make films. There are a few people that I just work really well with; I’m able to communicate my vision to them really well. They just kind of understand where I’m coming from, and naturally, you gravitate toward those people, because they make the process easier and more enjoyable. But I think I should still keep trying to push myself to work with other people, too. There’s a lot to learn when you work with people you haven’t worked with.

https://vimeo.com/86549678

Changing perceptions of ‘documentaries’

What I really love is when you can take something like a documentary, which traditionally isn’t known for being the most beautifully shot — because of the nature of how documentaries are filmed, so much of it is on the fly — and accept the challenge of making it as beautiful as possible, to the point where maybe the viewer doesn’t even know if what they’re watching is a documentary or narrative film. I think that that’s a really beautiful aesthetic, and that’s something that I strive for.

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Why work/life balance matters

It’s a challenge, to be able to make good work that’s going to keep you creatively satisfied, while at the same time having time to do the work that’s going to get you paid and not getting to the point to where you’re becoming burned out and just hating making films. I’ve gotten to that point before. That’s a dangerous place to get to. You have to take rest into account, as well. It is a struggle to find the balance, and that’s something that I have to think about every day. That’s key to any filmmaker’s life.

https://vimeo.com/134868025

The skilled documentarian’s secret asset

I think that part of what makes you valuable as a documentary filmmaker is how you’re able to work with people who are not actors. That’s like a skill in itself that can be learned. I would certainly say there are people who are just naturally more comfortable in front of a camera than others, but that doesn’t mean that they’re the only ones that have a good story. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t tell the stories of people who aren’t as comfortable on camera. The trick is getting them there, and building that level of comfort with them, and that level of ease. I think that that’s a skill that makes you a good documentary maker. That’s something that I’m still learning how to do, and still striving for every day.