Some mold-breaking young entrepreneurs from Clermont, FL loved the Praxis idea so much, they decided to create this great ad for us. Lakeside Studios director Austin White sent it to us with a simple message: “Our gift to a good cause”.
I asked Austin a few questions about his own education, and how he helped launch the business. Watch the ad, and enjoy the interview.
Praxis: Tell us a little about your own educational experience. What did you have, and what do you wish you had?
AW: I basically had thirteen years of mediocre adults telling me to follow a mediocre path, to work for a mediocre future, and to have mediocre goals so I can be mediocre. I wish I had dropped out at age twelve and been able to devote that sixty hours a week I was in school to my passions and hobbies! My kids will probably just be allowed to run wild. I’ll give them their diplomas when they learn to read and then they’ll have a two-decade head start on their peers.
When I went to college I switched degree paths three times I think. Half the classes I would be taking didn’t even apply to whatever degree I was working towards. After a lot of sampling off the college menu I realized there was nothing for me there. The day I decided to leave for good was a very happy and exciting day.
Praxis: What kind of reaction did you get from your friends and family when you dropped out?
AW: Unfortunately, the reaction was basically a prediction that I would end up eating out of trash cans or something. Most people assume that all dropouts quit college due to an inability to excel. Even if you have a straight-A transcript the reaction from people is along the lines of “Damn, bro. That sucks, I’m sorry.” You can either allow this to break you or use it as motivation to succeed. Now when people ask me if I’m in school I reply that I’m a proud dropout and then I brag very extensively about all the cool things I’ve become involved in since quitting college.
Praxis: What prompted you to start Lakeside Studios? How did you and your team come together?
AW: Lakeside Studios was originally started by my friends Alec Larson and Karlton Tillman as a recording studio to make money for their band, they later started an aerial photography company, then they built a top 100 app under the name, and with all the equipment and knowledge they had accumulated doing these projects they realized they had a film studio. We had all played in metal bands with each other since high school and Lakeside Studios is basically just our latest metal band, but we make movies now. I was brought in to write and direct because of my experience as a hobby film maker. Because each of us has always pursued our passions and interests we have enough talent and toys between us to pull off our videos as a three man crew. I write and direct. Alec is the helicopter operator, audio engineer, and marketing strategist. Karlton does the photography, editing, and music.
These are all skills that each of us originally developed as hobbyists for fun. None of us went to school for any of this stuff.
AW: Yeah, Alec built a giant, high-powered RC helicopter for their photography business so now our videos feature awesome aerial shots that none of our local competitors can pull off without spending a bunch of money or hiring us.
Praxis: Is film production a dream you’ve always had?
AW: Yeah, it’s one of many dreams. I was pursuing it hard for about a year after I graduated high school, but got discouraged and moved on because I had such a hard time assembling the casts and crews. I’ve always been ashamed that I gave up so easily and I now I’m redeeming myself. I think it’s a really good testament to always pursuing your interests though. Even if you have no plans or idea of how to make money off your interests, or even if you lose your passion for them and move on to other things, you just never know what opportunities will appear in your future. If I hadn’t screwed around with making movies for a little bit years ago I wouldn’t be with Lakeside Studios now. I thought I wasted my time and would never use any of the skills I developed, but in fact they opened a door for me later.
Praxis: Why start your own instead of working for an existing production company?
AW: Because we make better videos than other companies.
Praxis: Favorite part about what you do?
AW: Delivering the finished product.
Praxis: Advice for young people trying to find their path to a great career?
AW: Think really, really hard about what the term “great career” means to you because your definition will be different from everyone else’s and only you can actually decide what’s best for you. Don’t ever let anyone else decide your path for you. I’m more concerned with having a great life and the career aspect is just one small part of that.