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You may have seen Chime member Edgar in our latest testimonial commercials. As a filmmaker and founder of Rising Again Productions, Edgar knows how hard it is to bring your creative vision to life. His first feature film, Ember’s Edge, has won Best LGBTQ Feature Film at the Las Vegas International Film and Screenwriting Festival and Best Director, Feature at the Silver State Film Festival®.

Today, we dive beyond our 30-second promo and go deep with Edgar about the creative process and how to budget for your artistic aspirations.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

How do you kickstart a creative project?

Edgar: I suggest taking baby steps with your passion projects. You want to either find a way to tell a story that doesn’t overwhelm your budget or pick another story that’s more grounded. That way, the scope of the project is realistic and attainable – and it’s also because you’ll likely fail. The word ‘fail’ has a negative connotation, but it’s a beautiful thing to fail.

Be as resourceful as possible. Look at what you have available. For instance, the first short films I made were on an iPhone, and they’re films I’m still proud of. 

For this current movie I’m working on, Ember’s Edge, I sat down and asked myself, ‘What elements do I have that I can use to make a very compelling story?’ I started with my buddy’s cabin. He has this cabin in Utah [where we could shoot], and I worked backward from there.

It’s also OK to shelve a project, especially if it requires a huge budget. For example, my buddy loves writing these mythological stories. And he was able to realize, ‘That’s a project I’m shelving for another time. Once we have a larger budget, we’ll tackle it.’ He ended up writing a more down-to-earth drama that we’ll be filming. 

What are your top tips to save for a creative project?

Edgar: The budget for Ember’s Edge ended up being $10,000, which is very low to make a movie. Once we broke down the script and realized the budget was $10,000, it was just a matter of saving up for it. It wasn’t easy by any means, but understanding that that was the goal made it a lot easier to work toward and keep track of.

I saved up for it entirely on my own, which was tough, especially during the pandemic. But it was such a fun goal to work toward. I took on a second job and did ride-sharing. But at the time, I didn’t have good credit. I needed good credit for equipment rentals and to take care of hotel stays for the cast and crew. And Chime helped out with building my credit.¹

You never know when you'll need better credit to pursue your goals. Start building credit with everyday purchases and on-time payments1 — apply for Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card in two minutes without a credit check.

How did you stay on top of your progress for a savings goal?

Edgar: It was really easy to keep track of my finances through the Chime app. As soon as I swiped my card or had money coming in, I immediately knew the amount in my bank account. That’s because I could customize how often I got notifications and the Round Ups Automatic Savings feature, which rounds up every dollar from every purchase², was cool, too.

Before, I would check my savings and hope it was good. But it was nice once I got over that fear – I realized I should know exactly how much I have every day. And I didn’t even need to check through the app because I get these notifications constantly. That totally shifted my mindset of checking my savings and hoping it was good.

Edgar directing on set.

What role does collaboration play in making creative projects happen?

Edgar: My strength is having the main creative vision. But to make a film, undoubtedly, it’s about surrounding yourself with people with different strengths to bring to the table.

It’s about delegating responsibilities and trusting your team to tell you when it’s time to cut the rope. Many times, I would’ve loved to have kept working on a scene. But I had this great AD [assistant director] who kept us in check and on schedule. Without her, we’d still be working on the first scene. The nature of the beast is that things always go wrong on set, and there will always be something you could go back and improve.

Literally every crew member, down to our invaluable PA [production assistant], added to the film. They would come to me with all these little ideas, and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s amazing. Let’s run with it.’ It was just great to have a team that felt that they could voice their opinion.

There are also three business partners in my production company, Rising Again. This has its pros and cons. We always have to run things by each other. Sometimes we move a little bit slower,  but with people, you go farther.Edgar: My strength is having the main creative vision. But to make a film, undoubtedly, it’s about surrounding yourself with people with different strengths to bring to the table.

It’s about delegating responsibilities and trusting your team to tell you when it’s time to cut the rope. Many times, I would’ve loved to have kept working on a scene. But I had this great AD [assistant director] who kept us in check and on schedule. Without her, we’d still be working on the first scene. The nature of the beast is that things always go wrong on set, and there will always be something you could go back and improve.

Literally every crew member, down to our invaluable PA [production assistant], added to the film. They would come to me with all these little ideas, and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s amazing. Let’s run with it.’ It was just great to have a team that felt that they could voice their opinion.

There are also three business partners in my production company, Rising Again. This has its pros and cons. We always have to run things by each other. Sometimes we move a little bit slower,  but with people, you go farther.

Does making art for a living change your relationship with the work?

Edgar: I’ve been fortunate enough to get to a place where filmmaking is a full-time job, but what pays the bills is commercial work.

I’m very thankful for that type of work because it’s taught me the importance of being able to let go and set deadlines and boundaries. It helps you with boundaries in the sense that you realize it should be a film you’re proud of, but it’s also meant for the audience.

I think the business of filmmaking is important, especially if you want to continue and grow. That’s still a journey I’m on. We’ve been talking with distributors, and that’s exciting, new terrain for us. We’re hoping to finalize something within the next few months.

A still from Edgar’s debut film, Ember’s Edge.

What are some of your favorite films?

Edgar: A recent one that I love is Top Gun: Maverick. I think it’s what every blockbuster should be – an entertaining ride from beginning to end. It made me enjoy going to the movie theater, and that’s why I really appreciate that film.

One that appeases my artistic side more would be Parasite. It was particularly inspiring to me because it was a genre bender – it felt like a comedy that takes a swift turn into an almost horror-thriller. And it was so cool to see a foreign film rise and take American media by storm.

Everyone I show it to, and everyone who has seen it, gets excited. Great stories can come from anywhere, and we have a lot to learn from international filmmakers and films. They can go deeper, or at least have a different understanding of how to tell a story.

What advice would you give to someone having trouble turning their creative pursuits into a money-making venture?

Edgar: Art doesn’t have to be a career. It could very well be a hobby. And in many ways, that might be better.

Everyone should have some artistic outlet. It’s so fulfilling to express yourself creatively. Because your job can be draining at times, you should have an outlet not related to your career. 

If every person in this world pursued art as a hobby without the intention of making money, we’d all have a deeper understanding of ourselves and the people around us. And I think we’d all be a little more compassionate toward one another.

Creative goals are within your reach

You don’t need a million dollars in the bank to pursue your passion projects. With a bit of planning, saving, and a realistic grasp on what you need to get started, you can make your artistic goals happen.

Dreaming of pursuing your passion 24/7? Find out how to turn your side hustle into a full-time gig

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