Graphic Communications grad flipping the script on his future
In his heart of hearts, Brad Cohen wanted to be a writer – until videography caught his eye at Clemson University and his penchant for storytelling took a different direction.
“I switched to video while taking professor (Erica) Walker’s digital imaging class,” the Charleston native and recent College of Business graduate in graphic communications said. “We had a video assignment and my team won the competition. That project eventually landed me a position shooting video for the athletic department’s social media team, and that’s where I fell in love with the art form and found my new career path.”
Cohen’s undergraduate venture into videography culminated in late April with his five-minute mini-documentary “Just a Smile” being screened at the famed Tribeca Film Festival in Manhattan.
“Just a Smile” debuted at Campus Movie Fest, a student film festival that came to the Clemson campus in February. Cohen’s was one of eight student films screened at Tribeca. It focused on a mainstay of a Greenville soup kitchen.
“Originally, I was going to document a week in the life of a person who is homeless, to put a face on a community problem. I went to Project Host, a soup kitchen that’s been around for 30 years, with a rough plan,” Cohen said. “But Project Host’s volunteer coordinator, Diane Martin, introduced me to ‘Floyd,’ a regular at the soup kitchen, and my video began to take clearer shape around him and his story.”
Cohen said many of the soup kitchen’s clients aren’t homeless, but are unemployed or have fallen on hard times. Floyd is a frequent soup kitchen client with a very happy disposition, and he isn’t homeless.
“Floyd is a genuine good guy, outgoing and incredibly happy. He stands out among other guests at the soup kitchen in that he isn’t quiet or shy,” Cohen said. “His personality sort of took over the direction of my film. He brings such a warm and welcoming atmosphere to the soup kitchen, and does the same for a Family Dollar store every morning, where he serves as a ‘doorman,’ greeting people.”
Cohen’s soup kitchen video and his subsequent trip to New York in late April for the film festival further whetted his appetite for storytelling beyond the sports world.
“I like people stories, ones that open your eyes to things you don’t normally see, and Floyd’s and the soup kitchen was one of those,” he said. “As much as I enjoy my role in the Clemson Athletic Department as a social media videographer, I see myself taking a deeper dive into documentaries and further explore the work I do as an independent contractor.”
Cohen will continue his assignment with the Tigers’ baseball team through postseason play, but eventually, he sees himself moving to a bigger city such as New York.
“I made a number of really good connections while I was in New York for the film festival. There are a lot of opportunities there, either going the contractor route or full-time. I’ve worked with so many incredibly kind and talented people over the last year, and am looking forward to continue building on those professional relationships.”
As his love of storytelling has evolved from writing to videography, Cohen would like a similar transition to music becoming a part of that deeper dive he wants to pursue.
“Unfortunately, I never learned to play any instruments growing up, but music has always been a big part of my life and the way I express myself. In an ideal world, I see myself working for a record company and shooting behind-the-scenes documentaries that depict the unseen sides of the music industry. So much energy and emotion goes into the writing process of an album, and I’d love to be able to capture that vulnerability, and tell those stories.”
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