#14: Jason Coates
Jason Coates carries a camera wherever he goes — but he also wears his heart on his sleeve. The Denver entrepreneur, videographer/photographer and world traveler not only runs his own production company, Collective-Culture, but also documents and shares the underbelly of global cultures through his social-networking site Join Us Around the World. He’s more than an adventurous sightseer, though. Through his Clean Water Around the World program, he leads aid teams to disaster-stricken areas to install water filters in the villages and backwaters of places like Haiti and the Philippines. What powers his curiosity and humanitarian ways? We found out by tasking Coates with the 100CC questionnaire.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Jason Coates: Well, the list is long, and there is such a wide range of knowledgeable and fascinating people throughout history to collaborate with, but given where I am in life right now and what I find interesting presently, both personally and professionally, Martin Scorsese is one of the first names that jumps out at me.
My life today is very much structured around documenting the world through film, storytelling and creating interesting visual content for the world to see, and I think he is one of the best to ever do that. I grew up fascinated with gangster and mob movies, and some of my all-time favorites are Goodfellas and Casino, so that alone would make me want to meet and work with Scorsese. But I’m also drawn to his versatility to build out a film in such a compelling and captivating way, his ability to pull the best out of the actors, the crew and himself. To be able to watch and learn from him while he is in his element would be amazing. His range and body of films show a very creative and outside-of-the-box mind at work, and to have the chance to pick his brain, learn some of his tricks and build art together would be a life- defining moment.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
The age group of about five to fifteen years. I am very interested to see how they operate and what they do with the present world that has been given to them, both socially and economically. I am very interested to see who they become in the technology-filled, instant- gratification world we operate in today. As I, a 33-year-old man, get older, I’m also interested to see how the decisions they make and the laws they create affect me and my generation. The next thirty to forty years are going to be very interesting.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
This would be more of an architectural trend, which to me is still an art form, but it’s what’s happening in our neighborhoods and our city blocks in Denver. Every neighborhood is seeing scrapes and rebuilds at all-time highs, but the architectural creativity and sense of uniqueness has left our city, and every duplex, condo community and new, hot, trendy build either looks the same or is seriously diminishing what once made Denver and certain parts of Colorado so unique. With the booming real-estate market in Colorado, I sure hope to see a huge swing in a different direction when it comes to this issue.
What's your day job?
I am the owner, along with my partners Jeremy Pape and Shaun Burba, of our Denver-based production company Collective-Culture. We focus on video production, photography and motion graphics, but really can help with any multimedia needs. I primarily focus on the video and editing side, along with business growth and development.
I am also a world traveler and run what was my first company, Join Us Around the World.com. With that, I focus mainly on giving people a different look and visual representation of the world, the people in it and different cultures, using video and photo as my method. I try to allow people to feel the culture and vibe of a certain town or community somewhere around the world in hopes that they can connect with the people, see a different side of a culture and inspire and motivate people to get up, get out and go see the world. I love to film the world, so I made a business that allowed me to do that.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
First, retire my mom! She has always reminded me that Oprah retired her mother, and that she would be oh-so-happy if I was to do the same, so that’s the first thing I would do. Second, I would invest in as much real estate as possible, all around the world. I would own more land than Ted Turner, and with that land, I’d try and change our country and the world in many different ways.
I would create a structure and put systems in place to build housing on the land that would curb the homeless epidemic all around the world and give people new and different housing opportunities. I would build farms and greenhouses all over the planet. I would leave large areas of open space for parks, recreation centers and lakes. I would build schools and training centers on the land, and in order to build and maintain these millions and millions of acres of land, we would create thousands of jobs in return. More teachers in the schools, more farmers growing our fruits and vegetables, more engineers and architects building our communities, and less people searching for jobs and stability — you said unlimited funds for life. Then I would disappear to Fiji and sit in a hammock with a drink in my hand and listen to the waves crash in my ears.
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
I think the city and the state could spend more money creating programs and schools that focus on the arts — all forms of art. There are plenty of failing systems in place that are eating away at tax dollars, so it would be great to see the city and state fix broken programs and sink more money into school programs that are currently in place but not functioning like they need to be. There are so many young, inspiring artists out there in our community, and they need to have the outlets, resources and places to learn more about themselves and the art they can create.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
Geez, such a tough question. Colorado has really seen a huge upswing in talent and next-level creators in recent years, so there are so many great people to choose from, both young and old. But one of my favorites right now would have to be Thomas "Detour" Evans. I think he has a talent and a work ethic that separate him from the pack, and he shows very clearly just how great hard work and dedication can be for you and the community around you. To set a standard and produce consistent results motivates others to push themselves that much harder, and I feel like Thomas portrays those qualities. He’s a great talent!
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
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It’s always very open and most of the time on the fly, so it can always change quickly, but along with continuing to grow Collective-Culture, I will be finishing 2015 touring through Europe and South America filming and creating new content for Join Us Around the World.com. Then as I head into 2016, I will start to really put together plans for our next Clean Water Around the World project. This will be our third project in the last three years, and we have some new people joining us next year and some very big plans for the project, so I am very excited for this next one. I love all my “jobs,” but the Clean Water Around the World projects are my passion.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in 2015?
Anyone who is willing to take risks with their work and not be afraid to put it out there for the world to see. So many people fear judgment or overthink the project, but as I’ve learned, sometimes you just have to let it go, trust and believe in yourself, and the rest will fall into place as it’s supposed to. If you believe in yourself and your product, those who are meant to see you will see you. Market yourself right, know your audience, and attack.