- Name: Alec Locktavitch
- Creative: Commercial Filmmaker
- Location: North Carolina, USA
Alec Locktavitch graduated from Full Sail University and began working project to project for local businesses. After years of barley making a profit and investing tens of thousands of dollars into camera gear, Alec was on the brink of abandoning his passion as a filmmaker. That was until he discovered the Next Level Creators program. Quickly he went from begging for the next project to booking a $72,000 sale with a new video client.
Alright. Well hey everyone, it's Paul Xavier here, and today I'm going to interview one of our customers for the Next Level Creators program. So Alec, how's it going? Hey, how you doing, Paul? I'm good. So to get started here, Alec, what was it that led you to want to become a filmmaker and a video creator as a career path? Well, it was interesting. I didn't really have a set path. I started out of high school. I went and played division one football for two years, and then I decided that I really didn't have a future. I couldn't foresee a future in football after college. It was either you went to the NFL or you became a PE teacher or sold insurance or something like that. That's usually the roles that these people, or my teammates were accepting. So I decided that I needed a change to figure out what I would be doing for a living once I get done with college. So my father had a friend, introduced him to a college called Full Sail University, and it's a media school down in Winter Park, Florida, right outside of Orlando. So me and my father took a trip down there, and we saw the facilities, and I was just blown away. It was just, we walked in on a giant soundstage. I don't even know the square footage, just huge. So Hollywood set basically with light cages, every type of light, every type of camera, everything you needed in this one location. So it really just sparked a creative interest in me that I don't think had ever been sparked before. So we decided that that's where I was going to go. So I went down there and got my bachelor's degree in film. Then instead of going out to L.A. or staying in Orlando where there actually is video work, I'm a homebody, I moved around, but I love where I am in Concord, North Carolina. My family's here. I just feel comfortable here. So I had decided that I'm going to move back home, work for myself, try to freelance, and see if I can make a living doing videography. Now when I graduated and came back in 2008, I started freelancing. The jobs were very few and far between. It was a reality check, but it wasn't discouraging because I continued to do it. Luckily I had a support system, a family business that I could work for doing media stuff during the week, so I could have a steady income stream, and I was allowed to whenever I booked gigs to go shoot the games or do whatever. So I've been doing freelance and that kind of setup for until about 2015 when I finally built up my clientele amount where I can strictly do freelance. So I've been doing strictly freelance since 2015, 2016. But it's been uphill battles, super frustrating. It's just the jobs are scarce for the quality that I produce. Always thought that my price point was too low, but I had to get it at a point where people would actually work with me, and it's kind of frustrating because I'm right outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. So if you go 15 miles up the road, people are charging 10 times what I'm charging and no one's shaking, no one's batting an eye about it. But when I hit all the people with my prices that I know are affordable, and then they try to talk me down, when I first started out, I would take the jobs where if you do this, we're both gonna blow up together, or you do the next job, I'll be able to pay it for you, and just all these empty promises. And honestly, I did them, and I always knew that nothing would pan out. But then in my head was like, "What if something did pan out?" And so I took that. It was weird. I had held up a guard because I knew that I couldn't be taken for a ride by people saying that because they see me as eager, starry eyed, I'm trying to get started, and they can play on my emotions. So I let him do that a little bit, but I was so guarded because I was like, "This is probably going to happen, but let's see," because if it does happen it'd be kinda cool. And then I did that for the first four years to 2012. And then after that, I was like, "I can't do anything unless I get paid my rate, and if I don't get paid my rate, I just can't do that." And so last few years, I started getting with some good reoccurring clients that were willing to pay my rate. I remember, I think it was in 2015, somebody said, it was a band, they need a promo video. And I said, "Alright. Here's my price. It's $2,500." And it's the most I've ever gotten for a video thinking that they would be like, "No, that's too much." And they were like, "Okay, we can do that." And so that kinda opened my mind. I was like, "Wow. Maybe all I have to do is ask or go the right people, to try to get a price that makes us both happy, because it's usually before that job, it was always me bending over backwards. So I'm kind of curious here because you said you graduated in 2008 from Full Sail university, which is you had all the experience, all the knowledge on how to use the equipment, everything there, but then it still took you seven years to actually be able to support yourself. Yes. Why is that? Well, it was two things. It was probably numerous things, but I would say myself, I really am the only one to blame. I think if I'd say out of 100 percent, I was probably only giving 25 percent effort, maybe 30, 40 percent tops. And I think because I had the luxury of a little bit of security and a family support system, it wasn't a sink or swim type situation for me, and I'm blessed. I'm lucky that a lot of people don't have that option. It's usually if you don't get this job, you don't eat. And I've never been in that situation, thank goodness. But yeah, I think it was just not me pushing it, and then.. Full Sail University, I love them to death. I think it's awesome, and I'm proud to be there or from there, but we didn't have any business classes. So basically, I had to learn as I went. I had to do an impromptu business school. Basically, I'm trying to learn to deal with clients properly, how to ask for things properly, how to make sales properly. So I think if you put that, my lack of education for sales and with my lack of pushing myself, or the lack of effort that I put into it, and at the time, I thought I was giving really good effort, I thought it was moving strong, but now hindsight's 20/20, so I'm looking back, I'm like, "I wasn't doing what I should have done, or I was wasting my time doing that." So yeah, that's kind of what I saw where the hangups, and then basically, in 2014, my daughter was born and then I was like, "Alright, I need to start at least start acting like a grownup or doing this properly or pushing it a little bit harder." Still I always felt like I was spinning my wheels ,and I don't mean to jump ahead or anything, but until I found your program and went through it, it's like the only time probably since 2008 where I don't feel like I'm spinning my wheels. I feel like there's a direction. I feel like I have a clear path to go on, and that's something that I have been lacking and something I've been searching for and I didn't know how to find. So let's talk about that, because before, it sounds like you were really kind of working the project-to-project cycle. You built up a couple of clients in 2015, so that seven year period happened where you were working, building, doing a bunch of the free work that we all fall into, and then you got out of that finally, you started getting some clients, and you went full time into it in 2015. And so we fast forward here to where we are today. You joined in January 20th, and so what's it been like to go through the Next Level Creators program? What has been the biggest takeaway for you so far? Well, going through the program, I'm a really deep thinker. So I like that we were, when we first started off it wasn't, here's how to create an ad, go do it. It was, what's the mindset of a customer, what are we really providing for them? Everybody wakes up wanting to get to be, so how can you sell that to them to help them get there faster. Just stuff like that really resonated with me and it really stuck out in my head, and it made sense. And it was something that I needed to hear. And then learning how to sell properly, earn the deal sales model, I think was really cool. Of course I have to listen to that a bunch more times before I feel like I have it down, but I did some cheat notes and kind of a rougher skeleton than you had so I can kind of do my version of it for a pitch or something like that. Not really a quick pitch because you can't do a quick pitch with that. I'm curious here because you've been doing video production sales for so long. You've studied, you're not someone new to video production. You've sold the projects, you've done some bigger projects. Up to this point, how has this changed sales for you? What are the big differences here for you specifically from selling video before to selling video now? Now I think this helped validate my worth, and being in a community where literally, I'd pop on Facebook and I see, "Hey, I'm a skilled videographer making two to three grand a month. I want to make this." And I was like, "You know what, that's what I was thinking, two to three grand a month." Every day, someone's like that. So it was weird. I thought, "Am I just no good at this? Should I give up?" Because when I was at the point when I was going through Facebook and I saw your ad, that was at the point where I was like, "I don't think I'm going to do videography anymore. I'm gonna sell everything. I'm going to do real estate, or I'm going to figure out some new career path." I applied to be an insurance adjuster or something, a storm chaser when you have hail damage because it was a six figure job, and the funny thing is I didn't even get a call back, and I was like, "All I gotta do is talk to people and, like, write something down on a notepad." But yeah, I was at the point where when we talked on the phone for our initial call, I told you, I said I will make six figures this year. I have to make it. I don't know how I'm gonna make it, but I have to make it. And I have the birth of my second child that's coming in June. So that was kind of like, and it still is a deadline for me. I was like, I want to do this, I want to have it so my wife doesn't have to work anymore, and that we can still maintain our lifestyle. So I've been telling my wife for the last year since she's been pregnant this time, you're not going back to work. And she's like, "Well, prove it to me. Show me. You've been trying this video thing for a while," and that's rough in its own sense, having a partner that she is supportive, but she also sees what I put in to what my clients put in, I have to have. And this is another thing that I've learned that you don't need the newest gear and you don't need the best stuff from your program to create. It's all about the message. It's all about the product. So my wife will watch me over the years, just spend money on gear. That's a hard one. Spend money on gear. People have a huge connection to that because they view video value as quality, and first, what was it like to get into the program and just hear me say, "You can shoot on an iPhone 10 and make $100,000?" What went through your mind when I said that? Was it kinda like disbelief in a sense or did it click? Well, it wasn't disbelief when you said that. So I've always known that it's not about the quality. I've always sort of known that it's not about the quality because the Blair Witch Project was the number one movie when it came out, and they shot it low quality, like $40,000, and it's making hundreds of millions of dollars. So that is always, I've learned it's not about the quality as much as this is about the content and story. But I've heard it from people that weren't doing it. It never made any sense to me, it was always in the back of my mind. And then once I heard you say, "It's not about the quality of your equipment it's about the content, it's about all this other stuff," it was a huge relief. Honestly, I remember that because I was like, "Wow, I literally just bought a $10,000 camera," and I was like, "Maybe I should sell it." And then I was like, "Nah, this camera I'll hold onto." Freedom to know. I was like, I'm watching the creators program. Paul's doing a PowerPoint, talking over a microphone. I was like, "There's nothing fancy here, but I feel like this is worth every cent that I'm paying." And that really just opened my mind. I was like, "You know what, it really is about the content. It is what the customer is getting out of it." And that's something I think is huge, and I think nobody knows that because it really is, I live on Main Street, I can go outside and I can throw a rock and I can probably hit a professional photographer or a videographer right now because everybody and their brother has the equipment and everybody can shoot quality, and that makes the people in my profession that are like, "Those are amateurs." We have to step up and buy the $10,000 cameras, the $20,000 cameras, because we're like, "Well, if they're shooting this quality, we got to be shooting in 4K, 6K, 8K just to keep up, to let them know that we're the professionals. So it was a huge relief, and it still is a huge relief because besides my own personal want to have nice things, I could sell most of my gear. I could keep one lighting kit, downgrade a camera and still do everything. And I may do that honestly. I always say when it comes to your business, like if you're trying to start a subway, you have a lot of capital outlet you have to do. You have personality, you have all these things, and people come to me and they're like, "I've invested $75,000 in equipment, and I've got a carrier and a case and all this stuff." And then they tell me how many clients they have and they've got nothing. They've got no clients coming to them. They've got all this equipment, they've got a portfolio that dates back years worth of high quality video and no one is ringing the doorbell. And that's when you know something's broken, and that's why it's important to have more cash in the bank. Build up that war chest and have that be what's important. Having the money to provide for your family to get clients, provide real value to them, and equipment doesn't dictate value, and we know that. So tell me about, and tell everyone about what's happened for your business since you've joined, because you feel like you have a better direction. What are the results essentially, how much has your business grown, and where are you today? So I joined in January. I would say I'm 70 percent through the program. But I was far enough into the program that I learned what I was selling and how to sell it. So basically, I reached out to some clients and I said, "I'm pivoting my business model. I'm not doing one-off videos. I'm going to be working with a retaining model, and basically I'll be a digital marketing company that will use the power of Facebook to help businesses like yours acquire new and consistent customer clientele base, and all their ears perked up. I have two or three more meetings set up. But the first meeting I went into, I went guns blazing. I propose to one company that had four locations. I basically hit them with a retainer for $10,000 a month, that includes my $6,000 managing fee and then $4,000 in ad spend, which would be $1,000 per location. And I remember pitching that, having a good meeting. I was going through the Earn the Sales guide, and I remember getting to the numbers, and that was when the client kind of backed away a little bit and did the whole, "I need to talk to my partners." And in my head, I heard your voice going, "That's bullshit. You can't do that, I'd rather have a note, let me talk to people."So that was what I heard and I was like, "Alright, this is definitely going to be a no. I should just leave it alone." So I went back and I actually expressed my feelings on the Facebook forum, the creative community forum. And you had said, maybe just do like a pilot location, go back and counter if they say no. So I reached out and I said, "Hey, have you decided, have you talked to your partners yet?" And he was like, "Yeah, we're going to do something." And I was like, "Okay, let's meet." So when we met, I was prepared that they were going to do one location, one pilot location, and I was ready to say instead of $1,500 per location, if we're only doing one, I'll do 2,500 plus $1,000 ad spend for the location before we went to it. So we're talking about it. I get to the point and I'm like, "So what locations do you need to push more than others?" And he starts talking and he's like, "You know what, let's just push them off. Let's just do what you originally said, I'm good with that. I feel like that'll work. So that bottom line is the meeting that I thought I tanked, I bombed, I thought it was over tenacious about it, I ended up getting. So now 60, 70 percent through the program, and I just scored a job that will pay out 72,000 a year, which is awesome. I go six figures in, I get one more job not even at that level, I just want to do the regular level, the 2,500 for 12 months, and I'm over the limit and that's what I want. So I am tremendously happy and it's neat.I haven't really thought about it. I haven't let it sink in, I don't think it's real still with certain things because I've literally been begging to do videos for a thousand dollars, and then all of a sudden, I walk in and made basically a $72,000 sale. In one seat. In one sale. In one seat, yeah. And not to say that there wasn't- It's alright. Because I lost my train of thought. I had a really good answer for it because I like that. Okay. That's alright. So basically at this point, you've landed your first deal. What would you say to someone who's kind of sitting on the fence and they're considering the Next Level Creators program, but they have all those things in their head like, "I don't have enough time or I don't think I can afford this," all the things people use as excuses to actually making a decision. What would you say to that person who's sitting on the fence? Well, I think anybody sitting on the fence about the program., they should just go ahead and make the leap. I don't think that they have much to lose. They're in the same situation. If they're like me, they've been spinning their wheels. They need something just like I needed something. I needed a direction, I needed a new strategy for my business. It's kind of weird. It's not just paying to have you, Paul, to tell us about your successes. You're kind of paying to have basically like a brand new direction for your business and a fresh start, but it's a fresh start with a direction, and with a goal, and here's step-by-step how you achieve that goal. It's not like a shot in the dark blindly just looking for something. You just follow the program, and I truly believe that there's enough information that anybody who's competent and has the entrepreneur, they'll be able to achieve their goals that they want coming out of the program. Now I'm seeing some people that have been on Facebook, and they say they want to take their business to 50 grand a month from $1,000. That may not happen overnight, but I think they could do it with this program because it gives you those tools that you need. Sky's the limit. If I'm building a table, but I don't have the tools, I know how to build the table, I know I can build the table, but if I don't have the tools to build a table, I can't build that table. So you're literally providing us what we need to get the job done. Awesome. Alec, any final thoughts? I would say for people, the program, I really enjoy this program. I'm glad I did it. I was at the point. I'm glad I clicked on the Facebook ad. That's the bottom line when I was scrolling through. In my head, I was like, "I need to make six figures," and then Facebook pops up and it's like, "Are you a videographer and you need to make six figures?" I was like, "Well, if I don't click on this, I'm an idiot." So I click on it, and then just the information was great, and the community's great, and I'm just very excited. So yeah, I'm just very excited. I love this program. I think it's awesome, and I'm excited to finally have a solid foundation and direction for where I can take a business instead of just doing one-off, where's my next job coming from? I have a client that I've done video production work with, and they're not blowing me off or anything, and we're set up to do a big job, but this has gotten pushed back. It'll be a year in another month. So those are the pitfalls and things of being a freelancer, being one-off people. The money's there eventually, but it's just, there's no constant stream or flow or anything, and this definitely provides you with that. Awesome. Well Alec, thanks for sharing your story. I really appreciate you coming on and talking about your experience and what got you into this, and I'm excited to see you at the next live event. I know you're not coming to the April one, you're coming to the one after, but can't wait to have you there, and we'll get that foundation for seven figures in place. Yeah, it sounds good. Yeah, I'm excited, and I'm sorry I can't make this one. This close to the pregnancy and everything, it's not in my future for this one, but I do want to meet you face-to-face and meet all the other people in the community, and I'm excited about it. Alright, congratulations on that as well. So alright guys, signing off.