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Community Highlights: Meet Mark Obradovich of MAO Films Cinematic

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mark Obradovich.

Hi Mark, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I got into filmmaking when I was really young starting around age eight. I would use our family’s 8mm camcorder and make movies using my Batman action figures. I would create mini-sets in our family’s garage and use household props such as baby powder (simulate snow), walkman (for background music), pops fireworks (simulate gunfire), sparklers (simulate batmobile engine thrust), etc. I even used my legos for a high school project where we were to present a story using posterboard, but I requested from my teacher if I could make a movie instead. She was blown away with my creativity as I presented Noah’s Ark using Legos and grabbing screenshots from Forrest Gump (storm boat scene) and Lion King (when all the animals came back).

My “filmmaking” days were done for some years until a friend of mine while I attended the US Naval Academy showed me Windows Movie Maker where this was the first time I was exposed to a computer program that could create digital videos! The way I was making videos before was very chronological on the camcorder where I would do each scene one after one another and then present the sequence of clips to my audience.

After graduation from the Naval Academy in 2006, I entered the submarine force. I quickly became known as the officer that loved taking photos with my digital camera. The whole crew would then love to see what I put together after each deployment to what would become our submarine’s deployment videos which would be slideshows of photos and videos of our deployment.

I would then take my love for making these types of videos with what I was doing professionally to what I was doing personally – whether that was for travel or special events. I would take this creativity and also create special videos for family members for their birthday or holiday and they would love it. Each time I would make a video, I would make it more and more “movie” like.

In 2017, I came across a cinematic wedding film – Marcus and Kristin Johns (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teLhLLlhfzc) and I FELL IN LOVE. Never before have I witnessed something like a wedding told in such a way that felt like you were watching a movie. This is where my filmmaking would take a huge boost. I then would find myself spending hours, days, weeks learning about how to film weddings. Whereas before I would make videos with my iPhone, GoPro and Drone; I soon would learn about using more professional cameras, learning how to use manual settings and really understanding the true art of filmmaking and photography – learning about shutter speed, frame rate, white balance, exposure, different types of lenses. Additionally, I would learn about the importance of audio. As my wife has heard me say many times – BAD audio is worse than NO audio – since no audio you’re not experiencing pain, but bad audio you have to painfully hear something not pleasant to hear! I would learn about lighting. Soon I would find myself investing in a lot of money in camera-related gear!

In 2017 I left Active Duty Navy and entered the civilian workforce as an IT Security consultant working for Control Risks (Washington, DC) for about a year, and then Gartner (Arlington, VA) for a little over three years.

Toward the end of 2018, I decided to turn my passion to a legit business and created MAO Films Cinematic, a videography company focused on creating cinematic video stories where I primarily film weddings. Over the past three years, I have filmed over 15 weddings, two corporate conferences, in addition to various video projects for clients and me and my family (most recently, I created a cinematic birth story of our son Mason – (https://www.facebook.com/MAOFilmscinematic/videos/484442355994895).

I do all this on the side as I currently work as an Account Executive for Amazon Web Services. Additionally, I continue to serve in the Navy where I’m a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy Reserves drilling out of Fort Meade, Maryland.

My goals for MAO Films CInematic is to continue to improve my storytelling, have my son one day help me where this can be his part-time job during high school while also learning the components of business and running and owning a business, turn the company one day to be a retirement job for myself, and have my son take over the company one day if he chooses.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It’s been relatively smooth. I’ve been able to carry over many things I’ve learned in the Navy that has prepared me for this. Things like being prepared prior to big events, doing my homework, being a professional, maintaining calm even in the event of newly introduced chaos – all of that allowed me to do really well.

The biggest struggle was more in learning the technical pieces of learning new equipment – camera, audio, lighting, video editing. But since I was passionate about learning it, it didn’t really come off as a struggle to me.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
MAO Films Cinematic creates breathtaking digital content. Cinematic films for weddings and special events are curated with beautiful imagery captured naturally while telling a story and augmented with captivating music, audio, and natural visuals effects.

What sets me apart is that I consider each film as an opportunity to tell a beautiful story and really bring out all the feels for clients as opposed to a cookie-cutter approach of just piecing video clips and sappy music in the background. Each film, I tell a beautiful but authentic story to allow customers to relive the day the way they experienced it.

What I’m most proud of is how I was able to accomplish all this on my own through self-learning in addition to the 100% customer satisfaction I’ve achieved with all my clients. I genuinely take so much pride in seeing that my clients absolutely LOVE their film.

The best feedback I got was from a groom who used the following analogy (note: keep in mind that each film is delivered digitally): “You captured our wedding perfectly and we will treasure that video for the rest of our lives. If our house was on fire, that would be the one thing I would go back into the raging fire to retrieve. Thank you so much.”

Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
Take advantage of Facebook groups. I used various wedding filmmaking groups to learn and network with others. Find good YouTube channels that help speak to growing your craft.

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