MILLI MOGUL MOVES | Will Harris, Will Harris Productions

When it’s all said and done, I want people to understand that what I do for a living I do out of pure passion. It chose me. When that happens it’s meant to be. Most people don’t love what they do in life. I was once homeless (by choice)… in pursuing this, I got everything I wanted.
— Will Harris

The creation and appreciation of art is universal across continents, cultures and classes, and at the same time is intensely personal. The Milli Blog got the chance to interview award-winning cinematographer Will Harris of Will Harris Productions. We were given the opportunity to understand that art is important in society for a number of reasons. It communicates across barriers of language, class and culture.


The Cinematography game changed when Will Harris stepped foot on the court. A once D1 College Basketball player, Will Harris had dreams of becoming the next big professional basketball player. Upon attending the University of Southern Indiana to gain an education and pursue this dream, his life had different plans when a career-ending injury caused him to "pick up" a different view in a whole new way. Will embraced this and went on to graduate with two degrees -- in Public Relations and Film -- but chose to follow his new found dream instead of pursuing the expected 9-5 career.

For some, a life passion can be found right away. For others, it may take a significant life event to direct us towards what we are meant to do. As for Will, he believed being a D1 athlete was leading him towards a professional career in the NBA. But like so many others, his dreams were deferred due to events out of his control. As discouraging as this may have seemed, it was this injury that allowed him to gracefully stumble into his 2nd, and now life, career. He went

on to fund (& become founder of) his own videography company, Will Harris Productions, and years later his work is definitely speaking for itself.

On March 3rd, 2011 Will quit his  job in Minneapolis, MN as a TA at Earl Brown Elementary School to be a filmmaker. He decided to move to California to learn how to grow in the videography  field. He crashed on a friends’ couch for 2 years with no questions asked so that he can fully commit to his new found craft. 

Skip forward to June 2016 when Will Harris videographed our Milli Blog Co-Founder’s wedding! Manoucheca had searched high & low online for someone who could capture her destination wedding in Mexico the way she had envisioned. After watching the 20th or so wedding video, she stumbled across Will’s work and immediately searched his profile -- watching every wedding video he’s ever posted online. After making the call and submitting a deposit she gained the opportunity to be part of the ever-growing (but soon-to-end) wedding portfolio he has created.

The Milli Blog Co-Founder Manoucheca Lord's Wedding, 2016. Videography by Will Harris Productions


 
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The Milli Blog

interviewed the

Milli Mogul Moves feature to give his growing followers a better understanding of this award-winning artist!

What are the biggest benefits to your audience / clients, and why?

I’m better than the competition. I provide high quality value for a lower price to get people to really see that. There’s such a disconnect between client and provider... I offer a personal relationship.

What has been one lesson you learned the hard way?

Back in 2010 I had agreed to do something for someone for way less money because, well, I needed money. I basically signed a slave contract and wanted to backout but couldn’t. That moment taught me to always demand my worth. Don’t ever sell your soul / happiness / creativity for money. You compromise your art.

What is a concern regarding Will Harris Productions that keeps you up at night?

Getting too big… bigger than I can handle.

Hearing this, we were actually in a state of astonishment and admiration. Most people we know striving to be the next big thing don't really understand what it takes to keep being “the next big thing”. Will went on to explain that one day while listening to a Podcast by Joe Rogan, Joe mentioned a study discovering the correlation between wealth, riches and happiness.

The finding was that Americans who make a $75k salary were happy. When that person’s salary was increased by $15k ($90k), the study compared this to a millionaire (just $10k more) and found no difference in happiness. To Will it's not about making millions, he simply wants a career that pays well enough to maintain his happiness and lifestyle.


What are some of your proudest moments so far in your career?

After tearing my ACL my Sophomore year in college, my girlfriend at the time would constantly come over and help me around. One day she came over and I got fed up… I went to walmart with my $700 Pell Grant money.. And brought my 1st camera from then on it changed the course of my life. My dream was to pick a career where I could travel the world and that’s what I have today

What do you believe is your purpose?

I had a phone call with the Nation of Islam about a project. In the Black community, we don’t have a lot of storytellers. I have a gift to help people tell their stories. The bigger I get, the more opportunities I get to help our community grow visually.

Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as an artist? Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you?

My uncle Charles. When I was in the 5th grade, he made me guard him in basketball every time we played. If it weren’t for him I never would’ve wanted to get better in basketball. Basketball then led me to college… which then led me to buying my very first camera.

What does success look like to you? What does your finish line look like?

Success to me is being able to take care of family (my mom and grandma). Being able to go out to dinner and enjoy myself without thinking about the bill. Just being comfortable in life. To become the biggest and best storyteller ever. I started with a $600 camera and 1 lens. My end goal is to be on the red carpet of MY own movie premier!
 
Will Harris filming footage for a documentary...

Will Harris filming footage for a documentary...

 

What tips can you recommend to those who aspire to be in your shoes ?

Are you ready to struggle before success? I’ve done free videos to build my brand. It’s a grind… ain’t nothing in this world easy!”

“Don’t try to do what I do. Everybody’s mission is different.
 

If you could offer advice to MILLENNIALS in order to produce change, what would it be?

Be nice to each other. Be more personable and open to others. A sign of weakness is meeting opposition and downplaying their success. Respect others’ hard work.
“Kindness is one of the best gifts you can bestow…We know that inherently that feels great.”
— Joe Rogan

What do you do to keep this from feeling like a job?

"Doing projects I know I’d want to watch… film = passionate art. Passion = income. Get what I’m worth...always doing stuff I enjoy. For example the UFC doesn't promote the fighters the right way. I want to change that."

What Will made us understand is that if film-making is all about storytelling through the vision of the director, it is the cinematographer who brings this vision alive on screen. In the ever-growing showbiz industry, the cinematographer is without a doubt one of the most sought after positions, and lucrative at that. Will Harris has become one of the top collaborative artists in the United States, that has earned him the opportunity to work with some of the biggest global clients such as the Discovery Channel, NBA, UFC, SHOWTIME SPORTS, PBS, MTV and ESPN.


Aside from documenting weddings, ...

Currently Will Harris has taken advantage of  the opportunity to document UFC fighters, which will feature some of the worlds best MMA and Boxing athletes, coaches, trainers and gyms. He has over 18,000 subscribers and over 2 million views to what he calls the Anatomy of a Fighter. His Youtube channel features exclusive cinematic behind the scenes content, personal interviews & the days in the life of MMA fighters.

 

As Millennials it's a growing trend to have your own business and be your own boss. But what Will has taught us, and what we hope you can grasp, is that to be The Boss you must be willing to endure the trials and tribulation that comes with success. You can not go into thinking that your latest and greatest idea will come easy. For Will Harris and many others successful entrepreneurs there is  no obstacle to high or wide enough for him to quit. However he did say, “I will quit film the day it starts feeling like a job”.

 



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