Today we’d like to introduce you to Rich Ferri.
Rich, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I started, as many filmmakers do, as a musician. I learned HTML not for love of code, but as a utility to make my high school band’s website/myspace look professional. I learned audio engineering not for love of gear, but as a utility to make affordable recordings. So when the full-length record fell out of demand in place of singles and live-performance videos, I learned how to shoot and edit video, but in doing so, I fell in love with the medium and have now made it my career.
The world of visual art and freelance work in general were foreign to me for most of my life. I got my degree in Math and was a high school math teacher for a few years in Central Falls & Providence RI before I discovered The Met School, where I taught for 4 years as an advisor. I was given this incredible role where I worked as a teacher / mentor for the same group of 16 students all day every day. All of my students were artists and the school is structured exclusively around internships and projects so I served as a liaison between them and artists in the community. I spent 4 years coaching students to follow their passions and make their creativity their livelihood. When they graduated in 2016, I decided to stop being a bystander to that lifestyle and took the leap into freelance myself.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I am primarily a cinematographer. While I have done documentary work, corporate commercial work, and event coverage, I find myself consistently drawn more to visuals than to plot. Unlike many people who enter the field, I rarely watch movies or television. Instead, my biggest influences are directors of photography (DPs) for music videos and highly stylized commercial work, and I almost exclusively consume web-based video content.
More concretely, I use the composition of photographers combined with the lighting and camera movements of inspiring DP’s to form my own visual brand. However, I came to video by way of audio, so the backbone of all of my films is a compelling score or narration. Whether editing fashion pieces, wedding films, or music videos, I always begin with audio.
I am fascinated by street photographers and their incredible ability to find cinematic light and composition in natural environments. When I have a camera in my hand, my hope is to elevate the mundane, to make the ordinary look surreal. This is particularly true of my portraiture. Recently, I’ve been creating stylized narrative shorts for brands that toe the line between documentary profile pieces and fashion work. There’s a constant tension in that space that I love: the push-and-pull of capturing people for who they truly are while elevating them visually to a place of almost surrealist power / mystery / strength. My biggest hope for my profile films is that people feel “seen” and that their essence is captured.
The sterotype of a starving artist scares away many potentially talented artists from pursuing art – any advice or thoughts about how to deal with the financial concerns an aspiring artist might be concerned about?
If your artwork gives you life, protect its integrity at all costs! Trying to monetize your artwork is a slippery slope. Here are three ways to survive as a creative:
1. Ask yourself, “Is anyone out there making money in this medium?” If the answer is no, expect that you will also struggle to make money because you’re making something that “the world” is not buying in bulk. And if you’re not making money doing it, it’s not necessarily a reflection of your work, but more a reflection of a disinterested or oversaturated market. If you fall into this category, consider diversifying your work by working in a “neighboring medium.” For example, it’s tough to make money making music videos because musicians are often struggling financially. Consider shooting wedding videos to pad your income to enable you to shoot music videos that you love, rather than only music videos that pay.
2. In your free time, “make the work you hope to one day be paid for.” I cannot emphasize this one enough. This is singularly how I built my client base. You are so much more likely to be hired when you share completed work samples with someone as opposed to just talking about what you “would do” once hired. Plus, your work samples / reel can be 100% aligned with your vision and brand because you authored it and were in complete control of its execution.
3. Work a day job that doesn’t destroy your soul and allows you to leave work at work. There is no shame in this. You are no less legitimate as an artist if you have a day job. In fact, by creating a hard boundary between your income and your passion, you open yourself up to the opportunity to make your most pure work.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
All of my work is hosted on Vimeo (vimeo.com/richferri). Also, Instagram (@therichferri) has been an incredible tool for connecting with other creatives, staying inspired, and finding work. In the age of diminishing attention spans, most of my IG is frame grabs from my videos.
- Website: richferri.com
- Email: RichFerriRI@gmail.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/therichferri/
- Other: https://vimeo.com/richferri
Personal Photo: Evan St. Martin