Y Not You Media had the pleasure of interviewing Steve Adams, who began his journey unsure of what his calling was, but hopeful to find an outlet to leave an impact. After landing on a life as a personal trainer, he began filming his own workout videos, discovering along the way his talent and passion towards forging a filmmaking career. Now the owner of Destined Films, where he creates everything from wedding videos to promos, Steve not only focuses on cinematography but in storytelling to develop emotional investment. Every video he directs is memorable.
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Steve Adams. I am 29 years old, living in Westchester, New York, and I’m the founder and owner of Destined Films. Growing up, I was the nerdy kid that always sat at the front of the classroom, mostly because I couldn’t see the board from all the way in the back. I spent most of my early years not knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up. I just knew that I wanted to leave a mark on the world and help change peoples’ lives. I was always into sports and fitness, so I majored in kinesiology in college and became a personal trainer, helping people improve their health and their way of life. However, I quickly got stuck in a rut where I felt like I couldn’t express myself. I left the personal training world and became a security guard as I trained to become a police officer. After several years, I found myself on the cusp of entering the police force at a time when tensions were high. After stepping aside and getting a nine to five job, I started to reinvest in my passion of film. I began to ask friends if they needed any type of videos that I could then use for my portfolio. What simply started out as an idea, turned into a business of helping express people themselves and realize their own potential.
What made you get into doing what you do now?
I have always had a camera since I was 7 years old. It only took pictures (no video), but I would take it with me everywhere and take photos of anything I could. A few members of my family would always take pictures and videos at special family events and I guess I wanted to imitate them, as young kids usually do. Over the years, I kept taking many pictures, but I soon realized that I needed to shoot video too. Pictures can only do so much when it comes to telling a story. As I got older and into the fitness industry, I began filming my workouts. I would edit them to music to make little highlight reels. I soon realized that it’s very challenging to film yourself, trying to operate the camera while also being in front of the camera. So, I started filming other people working out and, of course, the videos improved because I could actually focus on operating the camera, adding movement to the shots, and creating depth. The videos were well received. As I began to become more invested in filming, I gradually upgraded my equipment. It got to the point where people were really enjoying my videos and advising that I should charge for them. Everything took off from there. I figured that if I could shoot fitness videos well, then I could shoot other types of videos also, with slight modifications. That led to shooting weddings, real estate, music videos, corporate videos, and promos, where I am today.
What differentiates you from others within your industry?
There are a lot of great cinematographers in the industry and there’s always new trends popping up from interesting and “different” styles. That being said, I feel like many cinematographers have forgotten the basics. I see lots of videos with beautiful colors, saturation, and great image quality, but the video itself has nothing to hold it together. It seems like it’s just a bunch of clips randomly put together. Without an actual story, videos lose their meaning and cause people to click away or keep scrolling because they are not being emotionally involved. All of my videos have a story that convey a message to the viewer and makes them feel emotionally invested. Now that may be tough to do in a video about real estate, but no matter the subject, every video can follow the basic principles of a well-written story.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
I’ve been asked many times how far I’d like to go in this industry, if I would want to make it to Hollywood and produce full-length films. For me, I’d like to continue to develop my skills and make a name for myself as the go-to camera guy in the wedding film industry and the fitness industry. I would also like to enter the world of short films. I think that is where there is the most freedom in terms of how you bring a story to life. Really, anything that allows me to tell someone’s story or provide a voice to someone who has not been heard would make my videos that much more rewarding.
What challenges have you faced while building your business and brand?
The initial challenge and probably the biggest challenge I faced when building my business was self-doubt. Often times I found myself stuck in my head wondering if my work was good enough for a successful business. I questioned if I was making the right move by quitting my comfortable job to start my own business. I worried about having to build from the ground up and the fact that its success would solely depend on me. From there, I had to get the word out and build up my clientele. Like anything else, it takes time. Lots of it.
What have you learned from these challenges?
I’ve learned that all challenges can be overcome when you focus and come up with a well-organized plan. It seems scary at first, when you’re just getting started, but the most important this is that you do actually start. Doubt will stop you in your tracks and destroy your dreams. But once you actually start, you begin to see all the pieces come together. You can’t worry about what other people are doing and how you’re going to match up. Everybody has their own unique style and that’s what makes you stand out. Then very soon, you realize that this wasn’t as difficult as you originally thought. That’s when the doubt turns into confidence.
What advice would you give to others while on their journey?
The journey is often treacherous and never-ending, but it is always worth it. Along the way, you learn more about yourself, what you’re capable of, what you need to improve on, and what you need to do to get where you want to be. Of course, you’re going to have to put in many hours, late nights, early mornings, and a whole lot of sweat. You may need to start off working for free to help build your clientele and your brand. Although it may seem like a waste at first, it will surely be worth the benefit. I’ve always followed the infamous words of Muhammad Ali, “Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” Put in the work now so you don’t have to later.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to follow your passions. Realize that if you are told your passion is not a proper career or not a means to support a family, create your own path. If you love something so much and do it well enough, people will pay you for it and you can make a living out of it no matter what it is. Do not let anyone obscure your vision because they do not see what you see. Nobody is you and that is your power. Instead of being the next Elon Musk or Gary Vaynerchuk, be the first you.
What is your why?
Everything I do, I do for me. There is no better feeling than setting a goal for yourself and finally achieving that goal after endless hours of hard work. To be able to say that “I did this” or “I created this” is such a great feeling, but it’s also great to share that feeling with my family. I do what I do in the hopes of providing more for my family, to give them what they never had or what they could never give themselves. I also like to help people tell their story, to get their message out. I want to be able to instill confidence in someone else and help them chase their own passions, which is very rewarding.