Written by Zac Stracener

I guess I’ll start from what would be the “beginning” of my story. I started off with just a cheap handheld camera, like a point and shoot, and I ended up making my first short film, which was Broken Valor—that’s on YouTube. That was literally just me and a buddy in a backyard, and it was a sniper little short. People liked it. It was okay.

A couple of months passed by, and there was a film festival coming up, and I thought to myself, “I did this one a couple of months ago. Maybe I can do another one.”

And I made another one completely by myself—just an actor and then me with a camera and holding a light microphone. And it ended up winning the festival. I was like, “Woah, that’s cool! Okay! This actually is possible.”

Trying different platforms

Lo and behold, a year and a half later, I downloaded TikTok, and I made a video with my camera. It was a little short story and it got something like nine million views in a day.

I was like, “Oh my gosh. This is everything I ever wanted.”

So I just continued posting on there and really, even to this day, I’m still trying to figure out exactly what works and what doesn’t work. But at the end of the day, every video I make and post, I’m trying to tell short stories, short little scenes of a grander story that will hopefully help inspire some people.

When it comes to my gear now, I’m using a Sony A73, and in the past month, switched over to DaVinci Resolve to edit, and I’ve seen a lot of improvement in my workflow since making that switch.

The importance of teamwork

If I didn’t have a team for everything that I do, I would be nowhere. I would be in my room, running into a wall.

Recently, I did the Baker Grace music video for “I Feel For You,” and I had a team of seven in my crew, and they were really great. I would not have gotten it done without them. I think having a team helps me and my creativity. You know, I can spit ideas at somebody, and they might counter with another little piece to the story that can make it even better. Maybe they can provide some troubleshooting or reveal some problems with my original idea that I might have missed.

A lot of times I have pretty big ideas, and I want to do pretty big things, and I have to have somebody reel me back in and say, “Okay, you have literally zero dollars for this shoot. You need two million dollars to do what you’re saying.”

So in that sense, working with a team is super crucial, and I would be nothing without the crews that I’ve worked with.

How to keep growing

In terms of my goals, I want to keep growing on social media, just keep pumping out the best content I can. Something I really like to challenge myself on is getting better with every video and how I can make the content better. And not necessarily, “How can I get more views,” or whatever. Obviously, that stuff is important, and if anyone tells you it's not, they’re lying.

But ultimately my goal is just wanting to get better at filmmaking and storytelling. Really trying to figure out, “Okay how can I tell a story in 16 seconds?”

I mean, if you can tell a story in 16 seconds, my goodness, give somebody two hours and you’ll be so much further along in your ability to do that.

So, yeah, I want to keep growing on social media and while doing so, break my way into actual film—like feature films or even series. I just finished writing a feature script that is also divided up into six episodes, like a limited series. So ultimately I want to be making full-length movies.

My advice

Some advice I would give to anyone trying to do the damn thing is to just do it. I think there was a long period of time where I always would say, “I wanna be a content creator,” or an “influencer,” or whatever. And I would get into a pattern of just saying that, and telling myself that whenever certain dates or events came up, that I’d start making videos, or vlogging, or whatever it may be.

But I would never do, and I would never pull through. But as soon as I did start doing it and I was consistent with it, I was able to see it blossom.

Zac Stracener is a 23-year-old director/actor who has quickly gained a ton of traction for his POV videos about mental health, relationship abuse, and drug addiction. Zac's DIY mentality shines through the quality of his content and his personal love for fitness. He plans to create consistent content on YouTube, collaborate with other creators, and eventually direct full-length films. Zac’s music video directorial debut brings fellow TikTok sensation Baker Grace’s single “I Feel For You” to life and was released just last week. 
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