Career Spotlight is our new monthly feature where we interview individuals about their career paths. This month we talk to Joe Compton about his career as an Author, Filmmaker and Web Producer
Q: How did you get into this career?
I’ve always had a passion for storytelling. I grew up as a “latchkey kid”, and had to watch my brother after school and during summers. I would make up stories and put on plays to entertain him. I then realized I loved comic books and creating them.
As I always had an entrepreneurial spirit, I would sell my comic books and magazines. I was often bored in school, but the two classes I aced were speech and creative writing; these kept my attention. I’ve always loved to entertain people, and I sought opportunities to do so. I did acting early on, and tried to publish books and screenplays since I was 12 until now!
Post high school I went into the Marine Corps. My uncle used to be in the navy and told me how it: 1) would pay for college if I decided to go, 2) give me a break from school, and 3) would allow me to travel the world. Although I didn’t pursue college, it did give me a break and a change to explore other parts of the world, like Japan. I learned how to push myself and figure out how to spend my time on the Base. I decided to start writing screenplays and my novel, Amongst the Killing, was started there. I would also write games to entertain others on the base.
Q: How did you publish your novel?
Self-publishing was still taboo in early 90s. I needed a traditional publisher. After moving to Denver, Colorado, I joined a writers’ group and went to a writers’ conference and met my agent and pitched my novel. An agent took me on and fostered my development, and got a publisher interested. Unfortunately, this publisher wanted to change it entirely, completely wiping out what I did in order to make it a TV movie. I walked away as I didn’t want to go down that route; it made the book too shallow. It didn’t fit with my values, and from that point I went on to create movies.
I finally ended up self-publishing Amongst the Killing two years ago and it’s doing well!
Q: What do you like/dislike about your career?
What I love is being creative using the outlet I’ve had since I was born. I get to interact and put my work out there. This feels very rewarding.
What I dislike is the financial uncertainty; you never know if you’re going to make enough money. I have another part-time job on the side to help pay the bills, but the creative outlets are my true passion!
Q: Would you recommend this career to someone considering becoming an independent author, filmmaker or web producer?
I’d recommend it if you have a story to tell, as you need to get it out there! But remember that you have to do your research and learn how to succeed. Artists need to work very hard to get their work sold; nothing will just sell itself. Marketing is very important, even if you’re traditionally published. Talk to people who are doing it. Immerse yourself in the community, whether it’s writers, filmmakers, entertainers, etc. You become successful by going in fully aware of how you can make your creative passion into a viable career.
Q: What’s the best part of your job?
Being part of an amazing community. I have friends who are making movies for a living. We learned together. GoIndieNow is an online platform I created that highlights and supports artists of all types. It includes blog posts, spotlights, and Q and As. I produce several shows including author interviews, short films, and new book releases.
I put together shows about artists to give them exposure. It’s my way to give back. This platform also helps artists meet one another and develop a sense of community.
Interview by Dr. Laura Hambley
Founder and Registered Psychologist
Calgary Career Counselling