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Daily Inspiration: Meet Dan Brenkert

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dan Brenkert.

Hi Dan, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers.
My journey in Filmmaking and Video Production is one that’s followed me for most of my life.

As a kid, some of the first movies I remembered seeing were Beetlejuice and Ghostbusters, but it wouldn’t be until I saw The Nightmare Before Christmas that my creative interest would be peaked. I remember my family renting the movie from Blockbuster one week and I prodded my parents to let me watch it (they thought I would have been scared). From start to finish, I was captivated. Immediately after watching the movie, my Dad and I went through the bonus features to watch the behind-the-scenes and making of the film. My jaw dropped when I saw the overlap of traditional arts, puppetry, and photography all dialed into what we call a movie. Ever since that day, I have been obsessed with the medium and its various ways of storytelling and artistic expression.

It really helped that this discovery for me was in the age of consumer digital cameras and the internet. I began browsing the internet at a young age mostly flash animation sites like Newgrounds and Albino Blacksheep. However, once I stumbled across YouTube, I realized there was no longer a barrier outside my own creative capabilities. Wanting to contribute something back and learn how to hone my craft in the process, I took to Windows Movie Maker, grabbed the camera, and began to create.

What started out as simple stop-motion animations evolved into short skits with my friends. We would all piggyback off of one another’s creativity and as we grew up, some of us would pursue this further in High School and into College.

In College, my path in education wasn’t typical for most film school students, so I had to make do with the hand I was dealt. I went through some trials in my life during that time took me to the lowest points in my life but also to some of the highest. Through my own pursuits, I went my own route when it came to “getting my foot in the door”.

Whether I realized it or not, in my adolescence, I had found some kind of a calling that would not only give me motivation and purpose but would become a tool for creating opportunities and breaking down challenges.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Not in the slightest. I think for anyone who puts creative passions first, there is never going to be an easy route.

There are internal struggles as an artist wanting to share your voice with the world, whilst finding a balance between nurturing yourself & the world around you. It’s also important that you protect your ethics and values whenever you can. The creative world is a living for a lot of us, and like everyone else, we are exploited just as frequently.

There are also the pressures of the world. You have to deal with people calling you a starving artist, telling you to think realistically, etc. It’s important to me to remain selfless at every step. Success can quickly fuel an ego. While proving someone wrong is always liberating, use that accomplishment to help liberate the next person.

Mental Health has always been my biggest struggle. The thing I point to as saving my life in a way is the Family Guy episode Brian and Stewie. Brian questions his purpose as a dog revealing throughout the episode that he was struggling like me with finding his place in this existence and those same contemplations of life. Stewie says to him “You give my life purpose, and maybe, maybe that’s enough. Because that’s just about the greatest gift one friend can give another.”

Having a cartoon reflect the same things I was facing as a person made me realize that the only thing I want to do, is to help another person find their place and reason to live another day,

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I’ve worked a number of jobs in various departments of Video Production since I first started taking steps in my career. The thing I would say I’m most proud of was co-founding Vidjam, a non-profit filmmaking initiative based in Harrisburg PA, alongside my good friend Sam Miller.

Our creative passions and endeavors, not only brought us opportunities in our own community but opportunities for others as well. If it hadn’t been for Vidjam, I would never have found my way into this industry.

Are there any apps, books, podcasts, blogs, or other resources you think our readers should check out?
Crying in H-Mart has quickly become an important book to me. A lot of the struggles Michelle Zauner discusses in her memoir are things I have been able to relate to in my own life. It felt like the hug I’ve needed in times of sadness, and the visibility I need to let me know I’m not alone.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Dan Brenkert @dan_brenkert

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