Jake Frew’s Creative Triumph as a YouTuber and Freelance Filmmaker

Jake's secret ingredient for films that truly resonate lies in the power of good music, seamlessly weaving emotion and narrative into his cinematic creations.

Filmmaker Jake Frew

When he’s not sharing his filmmaking knowledge with his worldwide audience on YouTube, Denver-based Jake Frew is creating thought-provoking short films on mindfulness, photography, and more. His cheat code for films that resonate? Good music. Read his interview to learn what motivates him to create, his favorite projects, and his method for finding the right music for his films on Musicbed.

Musicbed: What sparked your passion for filmmaking/storytelling?

Jake Frew: If I had to choose one single moment when I fell in love with filmmaking, it was when I saw Picture This, an old snowboard film by Mack Dawg Productions. It was unlike any other snowboarding or skateboarding film I had seen at the time, and I must have watched it over a hundred times. Beyond that, my dad and brother were a massive part of my developing interest. My dad was always great at documenting our family’s life as I was growing up, and he would always let my brother and I use the camera to make action movies, comedy skits, and skate videos.

What keeps you motivated and creatively inspired?

Simply paying attention to life. We are really good at distracting ourselves and numbing ourselves, but if we find a way to be present each day, life is endlessly inspiring. More practically, when I feel like I’m lacking motivation or inspiration, the answer is usually found just by moving my body. I’ll go skateboarding, go for a long walk, or just escape the work for a little bit and live life.

Jake Frew taking picture outside in cold

What makes a story visually appealing? What role does music play in storytelling?

I love it when visuals can convey or evoke an emotion. Sometimes that can be very beautiful and appealing, sometimes it can be revolting or unnerving. I am so inspired and impressed by cinematographers who can convey a feeling just by how a shot is composed. Music is no different. It is such a powerful force to evoke emotion and really pull together the entire story.

What elements do you think are essential for crafting a compelling story?

I will probably spend the rest of my life trying to figure out how to craft a compelling story, and I absolutely love that. One element that comes to mind is honesty. Human beings are extremely compelling and are an endless well of stories. Any time stories are told honestly, they will resonate with someone else. We all seem to worry that we’re somehow different and excluded, but an honest story can make people feel far less alone.

How important is music in your work?

I’m sure people will assume this answer is exaggerated for an interview with Musicbed, but music is honestly everything to me. It helps me process my emotions when I’m searching for a story to tell, it’s the catalyst for imagining visuals and potential scenes, and it’s the glue that can tie a project together and make it finally feel complete. Good music is the cheat code for filmmaking.

What advice would you give other filmmakers/creators who are just starting their careers?

Find your “why.” Figure out why you love filmmaking, why you want to pursue it, and what type of work you dream of making. Never stop reminding yourself of that reason. Some distractions and forces will want to pull you away from creating the type of work you love, so I think it’s crucial to continually check in with yourself.

How do you find the balance between pushing boundaries creatively and delivering what your client or audience wants to see?

I love the classic “one for me, one for them” idea. If you have a client project with strict expectations and minimal creative freedom, so be it. Finish it, and commit to a personal project next. One where you can push your creative boundaries and engage your curiosity. It won’t always be a perfect 1:1 ratio, but there are few things more fulfilling than making something simply for its own sake.

What is the most challenging aspect of being a filmmaker/creative?

I have had many different types of jobs/careers in my life, and nothing has required more soul-searching introspection and self-work than filmmaking. Creative work can have such massive ups and downs, and sometimes it can be difficult to see the value in your own work. It’s also difficult to just “call it a day” and stop thinking about work. That’s ironically also what I love so much about it. Filmmaking changes how you see your life and the world around you, and any mundane moment can become inspiration for your work.

What are some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on?

For the past 4 years I have worked on a video series called Dialed on Fox Suspension’s YouTube channel, and it has truly been a dream project to be a part of. Essentially it required me to travel the world with my best friend Shaffer Nickel, film the fastest mountain bikers in the world, and make daily videos that had no review process. We’d just film, edit, upload, and repeat.

On my own YouTube channel, one of my latest favorite projects was called Your Cringe Is a Superpower. I planned a trip to NYC with a couple of friends and only had a vague idea about the video I wanted to make. It just ended up being one of those trips where everything fell into place perfectly, and I’m so happy with how the video turned out.

How do you search for music on Musicbed? What are some tips that you’d give other filmmakers to search on Musicbed?

From a broad perspective, I’ll often listen to music on Musicbed in the background, and favorite any song that sparks my interest. Then when I’m brainstorming video ideas, I’ll listen through all of my favorited songs, and see if any scenes/visuals come to mind. More specifically, when I’m in the middle of a project and need to find a song, the filtering tools are incredible.  By filtering a combination of mood, attributes, and instrument, it’s really easy to find a good match.

Why do you utilize Musicbed in your work?

Easiest question yet: Musicbed has the best music. I really believe music has the power to make or break a film. It’s a creative partnership with another artist, and Musicbed has a roster of truly exceptional artists for me to work with.

Explore Jake’s curated playlist of the go-to songs he uses to soundtrack his films—available for licensing only on Musicbed.