Tuesday Crew Day: Calvin Grimm

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Tuesday Crew Day: Calvin Grimm

Where are you from, where are you located now, and what are your ties to WV?
 
I originally grew up in the Shenandoah Valley area, just across the Virginia border near Winchester. John Denver’s “Country Roads” lyrics pretty much described my geography. In 12th grade, my mother took a job in Charleston, WV, bringing my sister and me along with her. After graduating from Capital High School in 2003, I left WV for the U.S. Air Force, serving four years active duty as a military intelligence analyst, including a tour to Iraq. After my honorable discharge in 2007, I stayed in California to work as a defense contractor. I wanted to continue my education full time, so I began attending Santa Barbara City College (SBCC). I made my first student film in a marketing class and fell in love with filmmaking. After two semesters, I was tired of living among surfers and missed the WV mountains, so I moved back to Charleston and finished my degree in Communications at WV State University. It was at WVSU where my professional filmmaking aspirations began and where I studied under some of the state’s best film teachers. I now live in Cross Lanes where I co-own Lost Valley Studios, LLC with my business partner, and fellow veteran, Tyler Miller. We have one feature length documentary (“37 Fallen”) and a six episode documentary series (“West Virginia Standing Together”) under our belts.
 
What was your first job in film production and what was the experience like?
 
My first film production job was as a sound editor, as well as some boom mic work, sound design, and Foley effects, for Razor Sharp Studios’ indie-horror film “Porkchop 3D.” I had met director/producer Eamon Hardiman through mutual friends and eventually signed on to do the sound editing for the film. Eamon and the entire crew taught me a lot about the movie making process, the associated moving parts, and most importantly, how much editing time goes into a feature length film.
 
What was your last job and what were you responsible for?
 
Our studio’s most recent project was the “West Virginia Standing Together” documentary film series. This is a six-part series with every episode dedicated to a different generation of WV veterans starting with World War II through post-9/11 veterans. I acted as director, co-producer, and editor. Our team interviewed over twenty WV veterans, the oldest being a 97-year old WWII bomber pilot and the youngest in their 20s, a recent Iraq veteran. While I conducted research and collected archival footage for the historical aspects of the series, co-producer Tyler Miller worked hand-in-hand with our narrator to create amazing narration scripts for each episode. Lost Valley Studios partnered with the WV Humanities Council to produce the series, with an objective of preserving the stories and histories of WV veterans through film. I believe our production team did exactly that and we are all honored to be a part of such an amazing project.
 
What advice would you give someone wanting to work in the film industry?
 
My biggest advice is to keep at it, but also keep learning. It’s easy to stagnate in your camera or editing skills, which can make you not appreciate your own worth and “wow factor.” Learning a new technique or trick, whether it’s through collegiate instruction, a workshop, a peer, or YouTube, can really jumpstart your imagination and motivation. I would also advise to not put limits on how to build your film career and resume. This might entail leaving West Virginia for opportunities in film-heavy markets, or this might entail building your own local production team, or this could also entail working a small job on a small project or filming your friend’s wedding (which I’ve done). I just encourage folks to look at every opportunity openly and never say never. Lastly, a small but significant thing I’ve learned as a studio owner choosing to stay in West Virginia, you need to be both realistic and innovative in the budget of your films. If you’re coming up with movie ideas and/or writing scripts to be produced in WV, look at what is available to you for cheap or free before including the Tyrannosaurus Rex and the explosion scene. There is a lot of organic beauty and story built right into what is around us every day and it is worth utilizing.