This is the story of Jake Giuriceo. Meant4More Apparel contacted me about doing a series on people who have overcome great struggles in their lives and allowed those experiences guide them to a greater path in life. This is the mission behind Meant4More Apparel and Jake is the first of this mini series.

I have been asked how I approach projects like this and I wanted to share my creative workflow and how I develop these stories from Pre-production to the final edit. I have always loved documentaries because of their spontaneous nature and I strongly believe that curiosity is the best tool for documentary storytelling. 

PREPRODUCTION: Plan and allow yourself to be curious.

An old classmate from film school introduced me to Jake’s manager after seeing the first promotional video I did for Meant4More Apparel. His manager sent us an in depth news article on Jake’s life and why he has built such a  strong fan-base so early in his career. It was because of his story. Meant4More saw him being a perfect fit for their athletic line so now they are official sponsors of Jake's journey.

I didn’t have much knowledge on the sport of boxing so it was very easy for me to be curious while preparing for this project. I was curious about how Jake started boxing in the first place. I wondered what goes through his mind when he steps into a ring; what it feels like to have a fan-base and how his trials in life made him the fighter he is today. 

This list of questions become a structure for the narration and from here, I create a shot list of visuals to support Jake’s story.

The first visual that came to mind was Jake inside the ring and the camera shooting from outside. This places the ropes in between the camera and Jake so the ropes symbolized him being imprisoned within his old lifestyle.

I also visualized scenes of Jake training to the point of exhaustion and for me, that symbolized the times in his life when he was at the brink of giving up. We did this scene in two different locations, one being at the stadium and one inside the ring.

PRODUCTION: Plan, Plan and then Plan some more. Then allow those plans to change.

When I have my list of questions, shots lists, shooting location and schedule… We are ready to shoot! It usually always helps to visit the location beforehand to map out the shots and make sure they will work. With documentaries, the more you plan, the better. But at the same time, I also like to plan on being spontaneous. There’s always moments on set when someone will throw out an idea that just makes sense and is better than what we originally planned on. For this shoot, it was the freeway overpass scene!

When my DP spotted it, we immediately dropped our plans of moving to the stadium right away and shot a number of scenes here. While having Jake run underneath the freeway bridge, I knew this was the main shot that would be able to tell his entire story.

This is the shot you will see most in this documentary. It starts off with Jake in complete darkness underneath the freeway bridge and ends with him reaching the light at the end of the tunnel.

As his story progresses from Jake’s dark times in his life to where he is today, I felt this shot represented that best. If you watch that shot carefully, there’s a very short flicker of light that is reflected by Jake’s necklace while he was in the darkness. The necklace happens to be a cross and that little shimmer of light represented his faith that led him through those dark times in his life.

UPDATE December 6th, 2012 – This video was chosen as one of Vimeo’s Staff Picks!