When Stellar Image Studios recently opened its casting call for female videographers, the sisters behind the increasingly busy Kansas City production team discovered a talent pool not quite ready to hit the streets.
“We had applicants who had the potential, but they didn’t have the skill yet,” said Amber Baulder, who co-founded Stellar Image Studios (SIS) with her older sister, Jasmine Baulder.
Their solution: foster the innate talent they’d seen in interested women to empower a stronger pool of potential freelancers/employees.
“Amber really pioneered [the SIS Hands on Workshop (SHOW)] to get those girls who had some foundation or interest in [videography] and take it to the next level,” Jasmine said.
Click here to read more about Stellar Image Studios.
The seven-week workshop launched in January with each week covering a different business or technical topic — from interacting with potential clients to editing with Adobe software. The program ends with students creating and presenting their own individual video for a mock client.
“The storyboarding week was really fun because I created three mock clients based on experiences that we’ve had,” Jasmine explained. “They were all different types of clients, and I wanted to see how the girls would react to those personality types.”
Because of COVID-19 and the intensive-nature of the program, the sisters capped the workshop at three students to adhere to social distancing safeguards while providing a thorough education with SIS’ four-person team, they explained — noting that they hope to expand the workshop in the future.
For participant Syerrah Samone, SHOW has been an invaluable source in moving toward a career in video production, she said.
“Beforehand, I just didn’t know the specific details of everything,” Samone shared. “Now, I know exactly what settings all my cameras are supposed to be on, what I should be filming with and also how to edit with Adobe Premiere. I’ve been really excited and happy about the process so far. I feel empowered.”
With small class numbers, Samone has gotten to know the SIS team and other women in the workshop extremely well, she said, describing the cohort as feeling like a family.
“It’s awesome to have that support system,” Samone said. “And it’s inspiring to see Jasmine and Amber killing it in the [production industry]. I feel like I can talk to them about anything, and they’re always going to be there if I need help.”
Samone has always been interested in videography, she said — recalling making short vlogs with friends growing up and editing then on Windows Movie Maker — but this is the first time she has felt certain in her abilities.
Post-SHOW, Samone hopes to eventually leave behind her corporate desk job for a more creative venture, she said.
“YouTube is my main dream because I get to have control and tell my own story,” Samone explained. “A lot of people look at that as a far-fetched goal, but that’s always been a dream of mine. … I’m going to continue working toward it.”
Click here to check out Syerrah Samone’s YouTube channel.
Samone and her two fellow classmates are set to graduate from SHOW on Thursday. At the graduation, each student’s final video is expected to be shown to a virtual panel of judges, Amber said.
“When I was going through art school, I always really benefited from group critiques,” she detailed. “So these girls have the opportunity to receive unbiased feedback on their work.”
SHOW is offered at no cost to its participants. With “mentorship” being one of the SIS pillars, it’s important for the sisters to find ways of using their skills to give back to the community, they said.
“Amber and I both have a business mentor who’s in his 70s,” Jasmine said. “He is retired, but volunteers his time to mentor us through our entrepreneurial journey. He’s been so incredible, so we really want to pay it forward.”
As the first cohort for SHOW wraps, the duo shared how impressed they’ve been with both their own team and the students — noting they are excited to tap into the newfound skills as SIS continues to grow.
For those interested in video production, the duo urged them to reach out.
“We do look at people who have little-to-no experience in video production because it’s trainable,” Amber said. “I get a lot of DMs from girls, saying how they’re nervous about starting in the video production industry. My main thing is just start doing it. You can learn even without any experience.”
Although there is no set date for the second cohort, the team has big plans for SHOW, they said. SIS is also in the works of planning its annual music event, “On Stage with SIS.”
“That’ll be June 19, and we’re hosting it at an outdoor venue,” Jasmine said, adding that SIS’ camera operator and video editor, Lava Dreams, will be the headlining performance.
“The real mission behind that is to unite creatives with the local business community,” Amber added. “We’re really looking forward to it.”
Stellar Image Studios produced the video interview special for Startland News’ Kansas City Startups to Watch in 2021. Click here to watch the video. Click here to view the full 2021 Startups to Watch list.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.