Field Notes Interview #43: Carson Nyquist, Filmmaker
Ever since middle school, Carson Nyquist has been experimenting with film. Fast forward to today, Nyquist is an immensely talented creative director for Colorado-based Envision, freelance director and family man. Over the course of his creative path, he's used all of the lessons and experiences he's had to create beautiful works of art. There's a lot to unpack with Carson's work. From one frame to the next, his work boils down to capturing the essence of human experience and connectivity.
We were recently blown away by his reel and got a chance to pick his brain about his filmmaking process, how he chooses his soundtracks and what music inspires him.
M: Who are you and what do you do in the world?
CN: I’m a husband to Maggie, who is my best friend and always willing to kick my ass. I’m a dad to Cora & Millie, the wildest baby girls on the block. And during the day, I split time as a Creative Director for Envision & a freelance Director/DP for brands & agencies.
M: When did you know you wanted to be a filmmaker?
CN: I’ve shot stills and video since I was in middle school, but I didn’t make filmmaking my sole focus till this past January. Since that time, I’ve thrown myself fully into creating films that (hopefully) don’t suck. Via photography, I learned a ton of lessons about people, color, and lighting. I’m excited now to lean into filmmaking for many years to come.
M: What's your favorite moment of the filmmaking process?
CN: When the story and visuals and music all come together. Even though the film isn’t done, you know it’s not a failure. And if you keep pushing it through the editing process, it could become something worth sharing.
M: What's the hardest decision you've had to make when filming?
CN: Making the decision to move from one scene to the next. Often there is a time crunch on the entire day or shoot and the moment to move on, even when you could shoot it again, is always filled with tension and a little anxiety. But it’s a necessary decision you have to learn to make over and over. And often those around you will question those decisions. But, that’s where experience and a little intuition help you earn your paycheck and respect from the client.
M: Tell us more about your process when filming
CN: My process begins with questions. Questions about client expectations, brand values, future usage, and the all-important budget. But questions are just the beginning. After that I do my best to get to know the people behind the piece, knowing that building relationships will create a better experience, and quite often, a better product. From a point of clarity and relationship I throw myself into the process, doing what I can to add my aesthetic to a project.
M: Are there ever any happy accidents when filming?
CN: Absolutely. My favorite is when I leave the camera running and capture that random moment after the action is over. Love those.
M: What role do you feel music has in film?
CN: I feel like music is often the lifeblood of a film. It sets the mood, creates emotional triggers, and sets the audience up for the visuals that will follow. For me, I often can’t get too far into an edit without a clear idea of the music that will fill out a piece.
M: How do you feel music is misused in projects?
CN: That’s a hard question because it’s so subjective. Unless the music is peaking all over the place (which could still be a filmmaker’s choice), it’s all about the emotion you want to create. Having said that, one misuse of music might be relying on it to “make” a film. While a soundtrack might push a film over the top, it’ll never take a film from crappy to great. It’s just not possible.
M: What's your favorite album so far this year?
CN: I think it came out in late 2014, but probably Noah Gundersen’s latest album “Twenty-Something”. It’s simple and honest and uses imagery to paint some beautiful pictures. Looking forward to his new record this fall.
M: What's coming up?
CN: A lot. A month-long trip to London, Barcelona, Greece, and Poland this June. Then a few freelance gigs in Colorado. And our second baby being born sometime in August. This summer is going to fly.