Nashville is a hub of filmmaking. Whether it’s music videos, shorts, television, or feature films, there’s always some project being filmed at any given time. But oftentimes, filmmakers run into the problem of location. That’s where Vince Wallace comes into play, providing a visual studio rental facility perfect for so many filming needs. I’m excited to help share more about this great resource we have in our backyard. 

What is your film/tv background?
When I went to college, I started in music composition, because I had thought of being a film composer – I’ve been interested in photography and film for a long while.  However, at the ripe old age of 19, I decided I could never succeed in the music industry since there were already so many amazing composers, so I switched to something I thought would be more stable and got an art degree, with an emphasis in photography.  Of course, I was mistaken looking back on it now.  If you are in the arts, you can pretty much count on it never being stable like one might think of a job as an accountant or corporate manager, etc.

I was also very interested in writing, so started looking at ways to get training in that area.  After getting a secondary teaching degree, I taught for four years.  Three in art and music for junior high and high school, and one year overseas as an ESL instructor.  During that time I also studied piano performance on the side, and then took several film courses at a school in L.A.

Finally, I started working freelance doing some writing, photography, extra work on set, mostly Touched By An Angel in the early 2000’s, and video and documentary production work.  I was just all over in the creative fields, trying to find a way to pay the bills and figure out my life path.  In 2005, I decided to make the move from Phoenix, where I had been living, to Nashville.  During that time I decided to pursue freelance photography and did that for 15 years, and still currently do a very little of that.

Story Forge - Nashville studioAs a photographer, what creative advice would you offer to filmmakers?
I’ll modify this question a bit since I’m mostly segueing out of photography and hopefully more full time into the film production and writing arenas – something I’ve always wanted to do but never got around to doing more fully.  With anything in the arts, the very first thing you need is some business SKILL.  Business sense will help, but for those of us who don’t have “natural” business sense, we can learn some skills that will help.

It doesn’t matter so much where you pick it up from but find ways to learn about building a business from scratch.  How to market.  How to advertise.  How to set your pricing.  How to do sales and talk to potential clients.  Turns out, this is sadly 80% of a creative job.  OR, find an agency or manager to do all that business stuff for you, but no matter which way you cut it, you’ll have to do the business part or you won’t succeed.

Second, hire yourself out, even if it’s “free” hire, to established creatives to learn as much as you can.  And KEEP ASKING.  Don’t just ask one person “hey, can I help you?” And then when they say “no”, you just give up and say “well I tried.”  Ask a hundred people if you need to, and you’ll start getting somewhere.  I’m introverted and I hate this part, but when I start doing it, I always find success.

Story Forge - Nashville studioThird, be in it for the long haul.  Do whatever you can to keep doing what you’re doing.  Part-time jobs, moving to other places, taking all kinds of jobs in the field you want to be in, or whatever it takes to pay the bills.  Don’t give up.

Fourth, don’t be AFRAID to try something new or different creatively or on the business end, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.  People, in general, are very willing to talk about their experiences or give you some insight on the problems you’re facing<

Fifth, be willing to help other people succeed.  We need each other in the creative community.

Sixth, don’t offer your services for free unless you’re totally new and have zero portfolio.  Then you might do a few portfolio shoots but it’s usually better to do that with friends/family or with college students and then offer your services to potential paying clients at a fee.  If you want to pay the bills, you have to make the money.

Story Forge - Nashville studioFinally, be realistic about your talent and your skills.  If you want to sing but can’t carry a tune, well – I live in Nashville and there are amazing musicians on every street corner playing the blues.  Film is even harder because it’s such a collaborative project (which is why I opted for freelance photography, because the overhead, crew requirements, and production time were usually less).  PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.  We’re not gonna create masterpieces overnight, and maybe not ever, but we FOR SURE won’t if we never invest.  Become a good artist.  Even when you don’t feel like working at it.  As Nike used to say, Just Do It.  Don’t expect people to love your work.  Just do your work because you love it.  Have a lot of grace for yourself, too.  Because if you’re like me you’ll probably do all of the things I just suggested about 50% of the time.  

As far as filmmaking goes, I’m just learning myself, but I’ve intuitively discovered and heard over and over, filmmaking starts with a good story.  I’ll let you know when I make my first good story.  Or more likely, someone else will.

Story Forge - Nashville studioAs far as the studio goes, I’ve always wanted to have a creative space where artists who love God and love creating could work, learn about God, and learn about good storytelling.  I started a creative space a few years ago that fell through.  Then I had the opportunity to open this studio and decided to do it again to see if I could make a successful effort.  We’re a year into it and things are finally starting to pick up a bit.  At this point, I’m still asking filmmakers and other artists “what do you need from this space?”  “What will be helpful to you?”

Tell us about how Story Forge came to be.
I was renting a 15-acre farm.  I wanted to start a space that was a cross between L’Abri and Anderson Arts Ranch, kind of a communal space for mentoring people in their faith and in their artistic pursuits simultaneously.  It didn’t work out the first time around, and I learned a lot of good things from it.  Then a friend of mine came up and asked if I’d be interested in helping turn a space they had into a creative arts space and it seemed like a good time to try again.

We started Story Forge in that office space, and I spent the next several months doing renovations and, along with a few volunteers, putting everything I had into it financially, physically, and mentally.  We officially opened June 28, 2017, and in January 2018 I completely took over the studio so currently am the sole owner and space manager.

Story Forge - Nashville studioWhat does Story Forge offer for filmmakers?
Story Forge is a visual studio rental facility.  Everyone is welcome, but we have a core of members that help sustain the studio.  Members pay a monthly membership at some level and get free 24/7 access to the studio facilities, including our white and green cyclorama studios, a smaller headshot studio, load in bay, offices, conference room, lounge and kitchen, and some cool nooks and crannies to shoot in as well.  Non-members can rent the different spaces within the studio on a day rate basis.

We have a small compliment of studio gear such as c-stands, light stands, flags, silk, apple boxes, Arri lights, LED panels, tripods etc.  We are also right next door to a staging and lighting company which works out amazingly well if filmmakers need additional access to various lights or staging and props.

One of my favorite things about the studio is that it is a smaller space with a great communal vibe to it.  If you need a giant sound stage, we’re not the ones for that, and Citation or Skyway would be more the ticket.  But if you need a reasonably sized stage for a smaller production and access to green screen capabilities too, we’d love to have you come visit the studio family!

The other thing I like about the studio is that it has plentiful, easy parking and super easy access right of I-40E, and we’re less than 10 minutes from the heart of downtown Nashville, so production-wise it is a breeze.

Story Forge - Nashville studioWhat is your vision for Story Forge in the future?
My vision, hmm.  First, to keep the doors open, haha!  Next, to eventually have it serve as a facility out of which good stories are told from a Judeo-Christian worldview, and where events take place that encourage and inspire artists in their pursuit of such stories.

Anything else?
If you’re a filmmaker out there, I’m also interested in having film screenings and other film-related events at the studio so feel free to get in touch if you have an idea!  The more we can network, the better!  As an example, we are having a 48 Hour Film Festival crew shoot their movie here.  We love participating in the creative community so hit us up and stop by for a visit if you’re in the area!

Social Corner:

Story Forge website (Note: Beautiful website!)

Story Forge on Facebook

Story Forge on Twitter

About the Author Sharon Wilharm

Christian women’s speaker, Sharon Wilharm, is a ministry leader, podcast host, and female filmmaker whose stories have impacted audiences around the globe. An accomplished storyteller, Sharon draws the audience in with humor, engages them with stories, then ties everything together to bring to light spiritual truths. Her heart’s desire is to encourage women in their walk with the Lord, showing them how to find God’s will for their life through prayer and scripture. “God is the Master Storyteller,” says Sharon. “I love helping women see how God is always at work behind the scenes laying the foundation for the glorious future He has in store for us.” Sharon is a firm believer in the power of prayer and has many stories to share of God working in miraculous ways in her own life as well as those around her. She’s passionate about teaching women how to pray and loves engaging with women in personal prayer. Wherever she goes, she finds herself surrounded by women in need of prayer, and she considers it an honor to pray with women whether they’re friends, family, or complete strangers. Sharon has enjoyed a lifelong fascination with women of the Bible and loves applying the biblical stories to modern situations. She teaches a Women Through the Bible study at her church, applying the S.O.A.P. method of scripture study. She especially enjoys delving into lesser known women and discovering encouraging truths for women of today. She recently launched a new podcast where she works her way through the Bible sharing the stories of All God’s Women.

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