We had the good fortune of connecting with Marcos Peña and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Marcos, what do you attribute your success to?
I can most attribute my success to my willingness to take risks and believe in myself and my skills. After graduating college in 2013, I didn’t know if I wanted to delve into a full-time job right away or build upon my name and business through freelancing. After taking a post-graduation trip to California, I realized that my path had been before me all along and I should continue to bet on myself like I always have, confident that I would receive a great deal of support from both my family and friends.

Some of my initial video projects as a full-time freelancer involved directing and shooting multiple Walmart commercials, working on the set of a video shoot for the NBA, and working on multiple video shoots for Blue Cross Blue Shield. However, I also began producing media for many local Texas businesses and non-profit organizations and found a new passion for live-music and fashion photography. This new passion provided me with the opportunity to shoot for bands such as KISS, Twenty-One Pilots, and Lil Wayne.

Even though I had just started freelancing, my career took off and I can attribute a lot of it to my attitude and willingness to take on new projects and never turn down meeting new people or exploring future opportunities. Growing up, my mother always gave me the following advice: “Be nice to everybody and treat them with respect, because you never know who they are, what they are going through, or even what it could lead to.” This mantra always stuck with me, and I always try to look at the proverbial glass as half-full, as well as try to find ways to help others around me, so we can all work to improve our product. I also like to maintain a light environment and make everybody feel comfortable and at ease, whether it be crew members, staff, or guests.

After many enjoyable years of freelancing, I received an offer to work to produce a cable television show called “RanchHer” for The Cowboy Channel, based out of Fort Worth, Texas. For this project, I worked with a Host/Producer named Kirbe Schnoor, as well as another videographer. Together we would spend the day interviewing women who owned ranches across America to tell their life stories, as well as share their experiences living and working on ranches. Featuring a 30-minute runtime, the program received positive feedback from both the network and audiences. After working on this project, I’m glad that they trusted me to help launch that show for the first season. I’m also extremely grateful to the Host and Producer of the show, Kirbe, for bringing me onto the project and allowing me to run with it and showcase what we can do as a team.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m proud of a lot of things I’ve done so far in my still young career. Getting to direct and shoot Walmart commercials right after college was a big highlight for me, as well as being selected as an official photographer for the South By Southwest Music, Film, and Interactive Festival. This opportunity allowed me to meet so many interesting people and even have a conversation with Buzz Aldrin!

However, all this early success came with its fair share of ups and downs. I was usually the youngest person on many crews (or the youngest person holding a higher position), which led to some people doubting my credentials. Despite this, I still went into my projects with a we-first attitude and accepted that not everybody is going to like you and all you can do is just work with them respectfully for the benefit of the project and client.

Out of all the work I’ve done, I’m most proud of the aforementioned TV show “RanchHer” that I worked on. We were able to create this beautiful program showcasing different women-owned ranches across America, who weren’t big celebrities like you would see on other networks, but rather everyday people who just love ranching and the cowboy lifestyle. The only difference was that they are the ones who work to put food on our table every day. Even though each one is about ranching, I think the beauty of the show lay in the fact that we were able to showcase that each rancher not only works differently, but also has a unique story to tell. It was a very special opportunity, and I couldn’t have asked for better people to work with when telling these stories than Kirbe Schnoor and my video partner Brian Thompson.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m from South Texas, so a lot of my friends have not made it up to the DFW area, so showing them what Fort Worth has to offer is usually a lot of fun. First, I would probably book Hotel Drover and take them to the Stockyards and let them explore all the shops and restaurants there. Then, I wouldn’t tell them about the cattle drive and let them be surprised when they see it first-hand! Then I would take them to all the museums down Camp Bowie, such as the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Kimbell Art Museum, and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. After all of this, I know a trip down the road to Taco Heads will be in order, to try out some good Tex-Mex cuisine and enjoy a few choice margaritas.

Then, we would spend the day at one of my friend’s ranches on the outskirts of Fort Worth and show them the importance of Texas ranchers. Also, if they’re lucky, they could ride a horse so they can say they rode a horse from a ranch in North Texas. (Haha) Later, after taking them to Dallas and coming back to Fort Worth, where the rest of the weekend would consist of trying some local BBQ and hopping to different breweries. For sure Goldee’s and Panther City BBQ would be on the list, followed by watching Stockyards Championship rodeo and ending the night and their time at the best brewery in town…Cowtown Brewery!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
As I mentioned in the previous question, my mother has been super supportive in everything I wanted to do and I attribute a large amount of my successes to her life lessons and continued encouragement. She taught me how to be humble and respectful and, whenever I’ve had doubt or wanted to weigh different options in my life, she would just be the one to really make me think hard about my choices. However, once I’ve made up my mind to go one direction, she always supports me 100%, and when anyone questions my course of action, she always just laughs and says, “do your thing son, don’t stop” And every now and then, even I can laugh at how well things turn out and have her voice saying that in my head chuckling.

I also have a solid group of friends who support me on a lot of different projects I’m working on, as well as successful business owners who own a variety of different companies that may not necessarily be in my field, but nonetheless helped me navigate through the ins and outs of being an entrepreneur. One of these people is Kaye Cruz, an independent media producer who I met when he guest lectured to one of my classes in college to share his experiences working on the NBA Finals, meeting and interviewing former presidents, and doing all of it with his characteristic laid-back Hawaiian attitude. While working as a freelancer, I always made sure to seek out his advice and look for any learning experiences he could provide. He always told me that, “the sky isn’t the limit for me, because if I really wanted to, I could be in space doing things that my peers in college or my family would never have even dreamed of.” This may sound like an odd analogy, but it clicked with me right away and pushed me forward to pursue my dream of being a media producer.

Website: illumelens.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/illuminate_marcos/

Image Credits
Marcos Peña

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