“Hey, bro, how much did that camera cost?”
Believe it or not, that was the question that brought Will Aker to the His Grace Productions team.
As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve put together a great team at His Grace Productions, and I want to introduce you to the people I’ve been working with. So, my next few posts will be focused on the people that make this place extraordinary. To start things off let me introduce you to the legend of Will Aker.
Will is a director of photography, which means he’s responsible for the entire aesthetic of the production.
If you ask Will when he started filming, he’ll tell you he’s been behind a camera most of his life. “I started really young with my mom’s VHS camera. I would literally shoot movies and have two VCRs to edit it, pressing play and pause on one and recording on the other.” (Side note: Will and I have never talked about this, but if you follow my blog, you know I did the exact same thing as a kid!) And, like many of the great filmmakers of today, when he was a kid, all of his friends would come over and they’d make an action movie.
“I always wanted to reenact what I’d seen in movies,” he tells me, starting to laugh. “I really liked movies with a ‘great escape,’ so we’d dig tunnels in my backyard that we could ‘escape’ through. I even went to Goodwill and bought a typewriter so I could type my scripts!”
Once he came to college at Baylor, he was able to take things to a new level. “I kept making videos for friends, at first just for free. Then I started doing it at my church and people would ask me how much it would cost for me to make a video for them,” and just like that, Will became a professional. He took some film classes at Baylor and worked for productions companies, filming for a 3-D printing company (a company that makes the fastest 3D printer in the world! That’s not totally relevant to his filming, but it’s insane!), Mars Confectionary, Clay Pot (a Waco Vietnamese restaurant), Bare Arms Brewing, First Baptist Woodway, and a music video for Honest Men Music. (This is by no means an all inclusive list but you get the idea.)
Since then he’s continued to grow as a cinematographer and has traveled around the country—and around the world—to work on a variety of projects. (When we talked he’d just gotten back from shooting a documentary in Mexico.)
While it’s true that we first crossed paths when he was filming something for Antioch Community Church and I asked how much his camera cost, it wasn’t until later that we began working together.
“I actually reached out to you,” he reminds me. “I’d heard about your work and let you know I’d love to DP any of your personal projects—and would do it for free. I knew your portfolio was growing and if I could contribute to the His Grace Productions brand it could be an opportunity.”
Every once in a while I find myself in these rare moments when I feel like Jesus is just tapping on my shoulder, waiting for me to pay attention. Meeting Will was definitely one of those times in my life. Having people on your set who are truly dedicated to serving and not stuck in their own ego is a game changer. Will and I worked closely on our very own HG Productions promo and since then he’s DP’d for me on “How to Hippo”, a pre-show short you can check out before seeing a movie at the Waco Hippodrome and some secret squirrel projects we’re excited to release soon. Having a guy like Will around affords me the ability to set things up, communicate the vision, and leverage our creative process to the maximum. “Meh, good enough” is not in his vocabulary and that type of excellence is what I’m excited to present to our clients.
“I love working with people and serving people and building relationships, and I have a standard of quality that—well, it makes me sick to my stomach to sacrifice on quality. And one thing I like about working with His Grace Productions is that they have that same standard and they’re committed to doing everything they can to make excellent products.”
“Telling stories is something I’m passionate about,” Will tells me as we start to wrap up our chat. “Film is such a powerful medium to do that. It creates an experience—it can make my job as a communicator, telling stories, really fun,” and as he says that he’s beaming.
“My goal is to be the best cinematographer in Waco, in Texas even, and be able to contribute to everyone’s goals.”
That sentiment right there sums up why Will is a part of the team. If you’re looking for a crew of passionate, highly skilled, and dedicated team members to tell your story, please reach out now by clicking the “CONTACT” button below. You can also just give us a call at 254-300-7492.
As I continue to introduce you to our amazing team, I have some exciting news on the next short film in our production schedule! Make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the news!