Hi, I’m Valeria Ayala, filmmaker, multimedia designer, and founder of Boxologie, a creative studio based in Miami that creates visual content for brands businesses and artists.
WHAT STEPS DID YOU TAKE TO GET WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
I’ve been a video producer and editor for a little over 7 years for companies like MTV, Discovery Channel, and Sony Entertainment, My background is in film production. When I was still in school I took on an internship at MTV where I did everything from casting calls to production management for reality shows. My experience there eventually took me to Discovery Channel where I was part of a very small team that created all of the video content for Discovery Channel and Discovery Kids websites in Latin America and Brazil.
While I was working in my field and had a great job there was a part of me that felt like I was missing something but I wasn’t sure what it was. So I looked up one of my favorite directors for inspiration, Michel Gondry. It turns out he had a background in graphic design before going into filmmaking. That made a lot of sense to me so I thought that if I could find a way to give myself a graphic design education that could only help strengthen my storytelling skills.
Even though I didn’t have a chance to formally study graphic design, I made sure I grabbed every resource I could find and taught myself things like color theory, typography and motion graphics. Eventually I saw how the combination of all of these things really helped to push my work forward and I was able to create projects that were much more versatile.
As I started taking on more projects at Discovery, I got the opportunity to take my career freelance and start working for Sony Entertainment. Working for Sony was a really great experience because not only did I have the flexibility to work as a freelancer but I also had the opportunity to work with teams around Latin America and Brazil.
I was able to work on a variety of different projects and create content for many different platforms. And I got to watch a lot of TV. So much TV. Having made the jump to the freelance world really pushed me into wanting to start a studio and continuing to work for entertainment companies and anyone that wants to tell their story in a visually compelling way.
There's actually a really important part about my background that I forgot to mention! Before starting my career in film I actually went to culinary school and majored in baking and pastry art. Although it may seem completely unrelated to the work I do no, I really credit my experience working in a kitchen and in pastries to having helped train my eye and given me a sensibility for detail. It really taught me that sometimes all you need are very simple components to create something very beautiful.
FOR OTHER PEOPLE IN YOUR FIELD, WHAT DO THEY USUALLY LACK?
I think people in my industry lack a bit of empathy for clients and a bit of difficulty separating the personal need for creative expression from the business aspect of creative work. It can be easy to forget we work in the service in industry and the end of the day our job is to really provide a creative solution to help solve a problem.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
Right now we’re working on a combination of person and private clients. Most recently we’ve been working with the Rhythm Foundation which is a local music organization that brings concerts and cultural events to Miami. We’ve been capturing a variety of music related events they’ve brought to the city so I was creating and curating content for their instagram feed.
We’ve also been working with a local music school developing content for their blog, social media accounts and creating videos to help showcase students and instructors. We're also working on a project designing movie-inspired menus and creating an illustrated gif series that we’re launching on instagram.
WHAT'S YOUR STYLE/PERSPECTIVE/TASTE? DO YOU HAVE A PROJECT THAT REPRESENTS THIS?
I draw a lot of inspiration from retro cartoons, children’s books, old toys and games. Pretty much anything that reminds me of my childhood. As for my taste in design and aesthetics in general I like anything that can take me back to another place in time. I have a strong affinity for anything vintage whether it’s an object or process. I really love something that has a lot of history behind it.
I try to incorporate these elements into my work as much as possible and started Boxologie as a way to work digitally and include analog processes along the way like shooting on film or creating a design that requires me to work by hand whether it’s with food or paper or clay or fabric. It allows me to take a step back from my computer for a bit and work in a way that’s really fun for me while still embracing digital tools that help bring my projects together.
WE ARE ALL SLASHIES WITH MULTIPLE SKILLS, WHICH ONE DO YOU WISH YOU COULD DO MORE OFTEN?
If I could spend more time on a particular skill it would have to be screenwriting. I would love to develop a story idea for a long form project. I spent a lot of my career creating short form content and while that’s really fun and also very challenging, I would love to develop something like a documentary or narrative piece.
WHAT IS FRUSTRATING YOU RIGHT NOW?
Finding people who see the value in investing in visual content for their brand or business has to be the most challenging thing I’ve come across so far. I also find it a bit challenging knowing how to find and connect with people that I would really love to work with but have no direct connection to.
IF YOU COULD HIRE SOMEONE FOR $20/HOUR, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE THEM DO TO MAKE YOUR DAY EASIER?
If I could hire someone for $20 an hour it would be someone who could help create partnerships with people in different industries like food or travel or education. Ideally this person would help connect us to companies, brands, other creatives, or really anyone that would benefit from the services we offer.
LET'S BRING OUT THE TIME MACHINE. WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU COULD HAVE TOLD YOURSELF, WHEN, AND WHY?
Something I wish I could have told myself when I was younger would be the importance of taking action. Simply wanting something very badly or passionately isn’t enough to make it come to life. You have to consistently make opportunities for yourself and put yourself out there and take action even if it’s in small measures. It’s impossible to not get better at something or to achieve a long term goal when you’re taking action.
IF YOU COULD TALK TO AN EXPERT TO GAIN MORE INSIGHT ON SOMETHING, WHAT WOULD IT BE ABOUT?
If I could sit down with an industry insider I would love to speak with a director at a creative studio or production house and see how they go about acquiring new clients and how they build relationships with clients and how to go about pricing projects when it comes to bigger brands.
WHAT KIND OF OPPORTUNITIES/PROJECTS ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
Any type of film or video projects or projects involving multimedia design or editorial or product photography are all within the scope of things I really love to do. I also really enjoy traveling and would love to collaborate with national and international brands. Coming from a Latin American background myself, I know a lot about local culture and customs and would love to connect with nay brands or businesses that have an interest in the Latin American market.
WHAT IS YOUR IDEAL CLIENT?
I’d love to continue working with networks and entertainment companies creating fun content for social media. I’d like to start working with up and coming brands and artists, documenting how their projects come to life or developing a visual strategy that will help tell their story. Finally something I’ve always wanted to do is shoot a music video so I would love to collaborate with a musician or band or dancer or choreographer and combine those two worlds of music and dance together.
WHAT IS YOUR RATE?
For video projects a rate per project is most common which would cover everything from travel expenses and gear rentals to the conception stages and story boarding. These can run anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. It all depends on the complexity of the shoot. For video postproduction which covers everything from motion graphics to color correction and sound mixing we charge an hourly rate that ranges from $80 to $150 an hour depending on how much or how little is needed. For design and photo projects we start at $125 per hour, we can charge on a per project basis for larger scale projects.
HOW SHOULD SOMEONE APPROACH YOU ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER?
An initial introduction email with a brief description of the creative services you’re looking for is always a really good starting point. I like to follow up with an in person meeting, Google hangout or Skype call to be able to hear and see a person talk about what they do and get a better understanding of how I can help.
HOW DO YOU STAY CREATIVE?
What keeps me feeling the most creative is just giving myself the freedom to make mistakes. A lot of them. And by taking breaks to pet my cat.
This member profile was originally published in June 2016.