We had the good fortune of connecting with Nate Doane and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nate, are there risks you’ve taken that you are really happy about in retrospect?
One of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in my career has been to leave a traditional 9-5 job to pursue my freelance Film and TV career. At the time, I was making more money than I ever had in my life and I had dozens of very close friends at work, but still felt like something was wrong. One thing I realized about my coworkers is each one of them had an incredible talent or skill that they were neglecting. In the office, we had this common area where we could gather for our 15-minute breaks. At one point there were some instruments in there and you could walk in to see three or four people playing guitars they brought from home, maybe someone singing, and, if you were lucky, maybe someone would play a makeshift cajon with their seat. Sometimes they were original songs that they had all written together during their breaks, but mostly it was incredible acoustic pop-punk, midwest emo, and math rock covers that would have rooms full of former emo kids screaming lyrics in unison. And then we would stop, and we would all go back to our computers for another 4 or 5 hours. Some of them would be there all night working overtime to make ends meet and get home around 10pm to wake up for a 9am shift the next day. Everyone was burnt out. Sometimes I would try to get collaborations together so we could shoot live music videos akin to NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert, but most everyone was working too much or just couldn’t find the time. In fact, if I tried to schedule something I would’ve found that I didn’t have the time either. Sometimes I was able to schedule a shoot with my friends outside of work, but then I would get pulled in to cover for someone. All of this took its toll on me, and one day I was sitting at my desk, doing the same work I had done every day for the past few months and I just couldn’t find it in me to fill out another form. I had neglected my own passion for so long, and seeing everyone else do the same thing was too much to handle. So I stood up and walked into my managers office and let her know that I had to quit. She was actually, very happy for me. She was a great artist herself, incredible at digital illustration. She asked what I was going to do. I didn’t really have that part figured out, but I had done a few freelance jobs on the side. With no safety net, I left a job that paid me more than I had any right to make. Throughout my life I’ve always had the theory that the only way you’ll get something done is if you’re uncomfortable. So while I didn’t have a direct plan, I knew that I would find a way to make it work out. My last day there was April of 2018. I didn’t even know that two years had gone by until I looked it up. Since then, I have not made nearly as much money, but I have gotten some of those friends to collaborate with me on music videos. Some of them quit to form incredible pop-punk and emo bands that are touring the country. And I’m spending a hundred percent of my time working on projects that make me happy, making my own schedule, and doing exactly what I love.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As a filmmaker, I try to focus on telling dark, emotional stories in interesting and experimental ways. I believe what sets me apart is my dedication both to the craft of filmmaking and to my own cast and crew. I spend a lot of my time during pre-production and production making sure that everyone is on the same page and has everything they need. I have spent a lot of time working on all kinds of projects and that’s given me a lot of insight into how to effectively run a film set without being condescending, disrespectful, or egotistical. Practically, this translates to a very warm, inviting environment where the actors and crew have the respect and freedom to try out new things. I love giving everyone a chance to shine and try something new, as that is usually what leads to the best and most honest performances. To get to where I am professionally has been a long road full of lessons and stumbles. I spent a lot of time being frustrated with where I was at, and it wasn’t until I changed my mindset that things really started to change. When I was starting out, I had a lot of low-paying event gigs that mainly revolved around taping down wires and lighting corporate interviews with cheap equipment. At the time, I didn’t see what an incredible opportunity this was. Most people never get the chance to get on any set whatsoever, and here I am being asked to light an interview. Why not take the time to make it as good as possible? I annoy my girlfriend by calling this “Being in the Dojo”. If you stay in the mindset that you’re always practicing and do your absolute best, it will take you incredibly far.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
The very first place we would go is Kuka Izakaya in Tempe. I’m scared to put this out here because this place is so low-key, but trust me when I tell you it’s the place to be. We’d sit at the sushi bar and get as much Izakaya and Nigiri as we can physically fit inside of us. In fact I’m tempted to make that the entire itinerary. It’s a party every day at Kuka. Some other incredible places to munch at: Adela’s Italian Restaurant, Curry Corner, Serrano’s, The best drink spot I could imagine taking anybody to would be Bitter & Twisted in downtown Phoenix. I can recount spending hours (and over a hundred dollars) with a friend after we drunkenly stumbled in from a Mountain Goats concert at the Crescent Ballroom. Downtown Phoenix is another place that happens to be a 24/7 party (or maybe I have a problem), and I have met some of the most interesting people by yelling across empty streets of Phoenix at 1am. Where Arizona really shines in my opinion is on the long drives between cities. I spent so much time after high school visiting a friend in Flagstaff that the drive between it and Phoenix is burnt into my mind. Every mile of it is absolutely beautiful and dynamic. You can get these absolutely dramatic, massive shadows on the mountains with monsoon clouds circling, or you can get beautiful mountaintop plains with miles of yellow straw and sheer cliffs. While on that trip, I recommend of course stopping in Prescott, Jerome, Sedona, and Flagstaff if you can. If not just to drink, then to talk with the wildly diverse pool of people occupying these nostalgic, scenic cities.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would love to give a shoutout to Taylor Dahl, who is one of the most hardworking and dedicated people I’ve ever met. He’s always been inspirational and a great collaborator, and I’m proud of all the work he’s done.
Kayla Windsor, Shayne Gastelum, Nero Manalo, Daynen Biggs
Nominate someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.