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When Ricky Staub, founder and director of Neighborhood Film Company, decided to make his first narrative short film, he went back to the oldest writing adage in the book: write what you know. And what did Ricky know? North Philly, that’s what. “It’s the most inspiring place I’ve ever lived,” he told us. “It’s a unique world that I don’t see explored a lot — a world I have tons of nuanced insight into.”

Filmmaking, for many, is a treadmill. You spend so much time clawing your way into a position to make films for a living that you find yourself in a place where you’re not making the films you want to be making. Or at least the films you’re personally invested in making. There are deadlines. There are clients. And, of course, there are bills to pay. Sometimes years can go by without stepping off of the treadmill and our big ideas for passion projects do nothing but collect dust. It happens to the best of us. But, here’s the good news: by working to put yourself in this position, you’ve (maybe unknowingly) given yourself the tools you need to pull off a film you only would’ve dreamed of making in your early days.

Commercial filmmaking is experiencing a tectonic shift. Clients are expecting better projects for smaller budgets, and if you’re part of the old guard, you may get a few cold sweats thinking about when or where the next project will come from. If you’re an up-and-comer, though, the outlook is a bit brighter. Just take it from Dan Walser, Executive Producer at Neighborhood Film Co., and Ryan Smith, Creative Director at Counsel, who just wrapped up our commercial Find the Music You’ve Been Missing.