…My education and experience brought me to teaching and I love to help young creative individuals find their way and their passion in whatever creative field they want to pursue. One of the goals of the current project I’m working on is to give young talent a platform that they wouldn’t typically have available to them. This is one of the aspects of the Dam Short Film Festival I am most proud of, it has given local filmmakers a platform they did not have 17 years ago. The short films that come out of Nevada are vastly improved over the years and now represent some one of the best programs in the festival every year.
As a part of our series about “Filmmakers Making A Social Impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ken Cioe, Director of Operations for Dam Short Film Festival, has enjoyed a long history with the festival, having served as lead projectionist, trailer producer, and board member for many years. He has returned to Las Vegas, and now serves as the festival’s Director of Operations. Ken spent several years working in feature animation and his credits include “Anastasia” and “Titan A.E.”, before dedicating over ten years teaching animation and film here in Las Vegas.
Thank you so much for doing this interview with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit. Can you share your “backstory” that brought you to this career?
I started out pursuing a career in architecture, but it was not a good fit for me. After a few years in college and not getting anywhere I took some time off and did some research into different potential careers. One of them was filmmaking. I have always loved storytelling and had dreamed of having my name in the credits of a film, but never really believed it was a realistic possibility. When I started to research schools that offered film as a major it just started to evolve into the right direction for me. It’s like they say, a good story writes itself. You just need to let it.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your filmmaking career?
Most of the funniest stories that come to mind are probably not appropriate to share. There were many however. I have had the opportunity to work in both creative and non-creative jobs and without a doubt the creative jobs have been far more interesting and rewarding.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
I had the honor of working with and getting to know individuals from all over the world and that experience has made me a more open-minded and all around better person.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Currently I am working with a team of local artists and we are in development on our first video game. We are still in the pre-production stage, but we are targeting late 2022 for release.
Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?
My inspiration always comes from my son and daughter and the people that are an important part of my life. The reason I decided to chase my dream as a storyteller was an article I once read about George Lucas. It inspired me to go to film school and that turned out to be one of the better decisions I’ve made in life. That led to my opportunity to work in feature animation and then from there to go into teaching. These experiences allowed me to meet incredible, creative individuals that have helped shape who I am today.
Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview, how are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting social impact causes you are working on right now?
Like I mentioned, my education and experience brought me to teaching and I love to help young creative individuals find their way and their passion in whatever creative field they want to pursue. One of the goals of the current project I’m working on is to give young talent a platform that they wouldn’t typically have available to them. This is one of the aspects of the Dam Short Film Festival I am most proud of, it has given local filmmakers a platform they did not have 17 years ago. The short films that come out of Nevada are vastly improved over the years and now represent some one of the best programs in the festival every year.
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and take action for this cause? What was that final trigger?
I can’t really recall my “Aha moment”, I have always enjoyed telling stories and enjoying other people’s stories and I have always preferred to work as part of a team, so maybe that is why I enjoy helping others discover their path to their “Aha moment”.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
I can’t think of one in particular story, but I have had many students during my years teaching that have expressed gratitude to me for helping push them to be better. Every student I watched graduate was a badge of honor for me. Most of them taught me just as much as I did them.
Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?
Not really sure. There is a lot we need to fix in our society. Maybe we just start with everyone trying to understand each other.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Make yourself as versatile as possible. — Things evolve and change rather quickly in life, especially in the creative world. Looking back I wish I had educated myself on more technology and various skills. The more versatile you are the more opportunities will be available to you.
Prepare for your financial future. — I wish I had started investing at a much earlier age. Life goes by fast and you don’t want to waste any opportunity. You can still enjoy life when you are older, just need to have the money to do it.
Don’t be afraid to take a risk. — The best way to learn is through failure, however, failure is very hard to face. The sooner in life you get used to dealing with failure the sooner you can learn from it.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
Just because you cannot see how something affects your life does not mean that it is not.
We are very blessed that many other Social Impact Heroes read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would like to collaborate with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
Currently I am collaborating with the individuals I want to be collaborating with and in the future I hope to be collaborating with the yet discovered talent that is dreaming the same dreams I once had.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My older brother once told me “Never go into something you aren’t willing to walk away from.” I backed out of a lot of bad projects because of this advice and helped me learn to make better choices in life and my professional career.
This was great, thank you so much for sharing your story and doing this with us. We wish you continued success!