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Life & Work with Grace Kanoy

Today we’d like to introduce you to Grace Kanoy.

Hi Grace, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today.
We are a husband and wife team. We did not intend to start our own production company. Cary worked as an adventure travel guide, wilderness medicine instructor, and video kayaker. I worked in the film industry in Vancouver, Canada from production coordination to the art department.

When I moved to North Carolina when we got married I worked in marketing for a law firm and Cary started an adventure travel company specializing in Ecuador and Galapagos Islands, and then doing specialized trips to Guatemala. We found ourselves filming some of our special trips with non-profit organizations and that reignited a desire to go back to filmmaking, leave the corporate world and Cary to close down the travel company to launch GeoCore Films to focus on stories that matter.

Eventually, we changed our name to GeoCore Creative, Inc to be able to expand our video and photography to other digital forms of storytelling and creative consulting.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I would like to say we were strategic in our formation, but we were not. Initially, we needed some cash flow and we accepted all manner of work from portrait photography, weddings, and events. (both video and photography).

Doing weddings did not last. Our children were young and beginning to attend elementary school and so, the weekends to us were precious. It’s when we can spend quality time with our kids. As well, weddings were not a category we were passionate about. We were more interested in the story of how people met and the development of their relationships.Plus, people were not interested in that kind of wedding video.

We realized that we had to decide what kind of video we wanted to do. If you fill your time with work that you don’t want, you can’t transition to the work you really want. At some point, you have to take that leap and simply be the storyteller you want to be and be selective. This transition was tough and stressful. We lived very frugally.

We did quite a bit of pro bono work to build our portfolio. In video and photography, you have to show proof of work. No degree or certification is going to sell your services. At the same time, you need to know when to stop doing things for free and value the work that you do.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
Storytelling is the core of what we do, whether it is through photography, videography, or print. We specialize in local food and farming, education, and outdoor recreation. However, through our education videos, we have tapped into a myriad of engineering and biotech firms and have learned to present those companies with a people-focused, behind-the-scenes style of filmmaking. As a result, our videos have an emotional tenor that makes the content relatable, accessible, and engaging.

We are known for making people feel comfortable during the filmmaking process, especially during the interview portion. In many cases, interviewees often exclaim how “fun” it was, more than they expected or how “easy” the process was. They come away enjoying the experience. Our relationship with the interviewee, however, brief the encounter, is very important and vital because it translates onto the screen. We are not dealing with actors who have the training, we are working with people who are essentially strangers and they need to trust that we are advocating for them.

We are genuinely inquisitive people and we love to learn new things. So when we interview or film it’s with that sense of curiosity we approach the content. Our clients sometimes perceive what they do as ordinary, but for us it is extraordinary. In that sense, we want to make the ordinary extraordinary.

What makes us different? We are not interested in expensive and flashy gear (although it’s all expensive) or shooting an image just because it’s cool. We are always asking, does that image advance the story? Does that reveal character? What perspective are we showing?

Is there a quality that you most attribute to your success?
Persistence,  awareness and compassion. Being an entrepreneur and a filmmaker requires persistence. It requires awareness of your weaknesses, awareness of the working environment, awareness of your client’s needs, strengths, and deficits. And finally, compassion towards the people you are filming, making sure you are understanding where they are coming from because you have the responsibility of telling their story.

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