Willie Pena is a Digital Media Producer and photographer; here is a link to his website:
Q: What made you interested in digital media?
A: I first became interested in digital media due to my earlier career as a DJ. I used to have to carry around hundreds of extremely HEAVY and breakable 12 inch records to play, along with bulky turntables and other gear. It was entirely impractical and a giant pain in the neck.
Then compact discs came out and changed everything…especially when it became possible to burn your own music CDs. I remember that back then, audio “purists” hated the compact disc…calling the sound unnatural. The same effect happened when mp3s came out, and now that movies are also being shot on digital media rather than film, I see the same exact reaction again.
But I have always had a different reaction — one of excitement. To me, digital media is game-changing technology because it takes asset creation and delivery out of the hands of big monopolies and puts them into the hands of everyday people. You no longer have to rely on printers and manufacturers to get your work out into the world…everything is easily created and distributed, and that has changed the world for the better in most cases.
Q: What kind of services do you offer?
A: I do pretty much everything related to digital media. I think bullet points would be easier so here goes:
- Freelance writing for websites, blogs, marketers, ad agencies
- Scripts for commercials and films
- Content marketing and social media planning
- Web marketing strategy
- Video production and video editing
- Photography and photo editing
- E-books and whitepapers
- Graphic design and Illustration
- Original music production and scoring
- Red carpet coverage and interviewing
- Film, book, product and music reviews
- And yes, I can still DJ with the best of them!
Q: What kind of training do you have?
A: There are a lot of different disciplines involved in what I do as you can see from the list above. As far as the illustration and design stuff, I received early training from my dad, who was a commercial and fine artist most of his life. The video work is all self-taught.
As far as the content marketing side, apart from some basic writing and journalism classes in college, all my training has been on-the-job and through studying what experts do. You have to stay on top of the latest trends to be in this business, and I get daily digests from many sources to keep up with all the different technology and strategies out there to grow a brand and drive revenue.
Q: What is the oddest thing you have been asked to promote?
A: Probably weight-loss pills. I am amazed that companies still peddle this stuff…and that people actually buy it!
Another weird situation is regarding one of my side projects, a teen website and video program called Teens Wanna Know. I am constantly pitched adult things by publicists for this site, even though it is for kids, such as stories about the latest sex toys and celebrity porn, stuff like that. I’m like, I am sure some teens really WANT to know about this stuff…but a family-friendly site isn’t the best place for them to find out about it haha!
Q: What are some simple things people can do to increase their social media popularity?
A: You need to post a lot, simple as that. That is RULE NUMBER ONE! No posts equals no activity.
So an easy trick is to share/retweet cool things other people have written around the web…so you don’t have to come up with so much material yourself.
If I were a dentist, for example, I would share interesting things posted by Colgate and other familiar brands daily in addition to my own self-created content. This helps would help establish my social media channels as go-to places for everything regarding oral care, instead of just being places where I pitch my services.
And never cheat and buy followers on sites like Fiverr or Craigslist just to get your numbers up. It is very easy to spot people pumping up their numbers and this harms credibility.
Plus…if you cheat, you never really fix the problems that are causing your social media efforts to be duds.
Q: Do you only do red carpet events or do you take paparazzi pictures as well?
A: I do red carpet events mostly because stars expect to be photographed and videotaped there…they are happy about it.
I did “paparazzi” work for ONE DAY as a trainee before I quit. It was awful to go up to people and just shoot them without permission, I hated it — and so did the celebrities I shot.
Q: Why do you think celebrities feel compelled to say they don’t want their picture taken?
A: Because it gets to be too much. It really is an invasion of their space and privacy, even if they are in public.
Celebrities simply want to do their thing and eat lunch or buy groceries or whatever, and having a horde of stupid, aggressive low-lives getting in their face every 10 seconds gets old quick.
Believe me, from hanging out with paps in Los Angeles for a while, I can say that most of these people leave lots to be desired as far as ethics, integrity and even basic human decency…so that’s why celebs hate them. The good ones work red carpets and events, and the idiots rudely chase after people in the streets.
Q: What do you like about Los Angeles?
A: The whole city is a creative haven. Wherever you go you will find someone involved in a creative field, whether that be filmmaking, theater, music, painting, or even making YouTube videos. It is a city of artists, and very laid-back despite its size.
I grew up around New York City, and that place is pretty harsh. I don’t miss it at all. L.A. is sunny and inviting and inspiring.
Q: What would you change about it?
A: There is so much I would change, you’ve opened up a can of worms! Here are some bullet points haha:
- I would reduce bureaucracy and throw out about 90 percent of our laws and regulations which are simply a burden and most people don’t even know what they are in the first place, instituting a “no victim, no crime” policy for most infractions.
- Get a sensible plan in to reduce traffic congestion.
- Improve conditions in inner-city neighborhoods through outreach, employment opportunities, education, and the reduction of dependence on the government for basic survival.
- Reform the police department to improve their reputation and decrease their violence against citizens. I would make them “peace and safety officers,” rather than “law enforcement officers.” Plus I would have them in brighter cars and uniforms like in Europe instead of scary dark uniforms and cars that look like Killer Whales and intimidate people, rather than make them feel taken care of.
- Reward businesses by reducing taxes and eliminating many of the barriers to doing business here, such as overregulation, licensing fees and requirements, etc.
- Reduce the cost of healthcare and break the monopoly of the AMA by piloting reduced certification and education requirements for general healthcare practitioners within the city and encouraging smaller “mom & pop” medical offices to spring up to compete with major hospitals and corporations. Also, allow other practices besides allopathic medicine.
- Reform our judicial system through reduced requirements to practice certain types of law, allowing more people to participate in our judicial process and lowering prices.
- Reward citizenship, production, and contribution…and do not reward those who leech off of everyone else or who are here illegally.
How’s that for starters? : )
Q: What can I do to become an internet superstar?
A: Here is what I wish were true:
- Post a lot of good, entertaining, engaging, informative, and awesome content.
- Market the heck out of it however you can until it goes viral.
Here is how it actually works:
- Post something dumb, ridiculous, or horrible — such as videos involving cats, nudity, or people beating each other up in the streets.
- Sit back and watch the clicks come in.
Yep. As in everything else in life — the answer is not so simple, nor fair.
But given enough persistence, funds, and ingenuity, you CAN make it even if no one know who you are right now. I have seen it happen, and the main differentiator seems to be having the burning desire to make it happen no matter the cost or effort.
And you can always write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for some ideas…
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)