Paul Tetreault is the owner of Possibilities A/V, a digital content production firm.

He has been involved in various forms of content creation since before he graduated from Cal State University, Long Beach with a degree in marketing in the mid 80's.  Starting with a love of music that was fueled by playing in a band  making the fraternity party circuit during the rise of the synth era.  He is well known and respected by the creative arts community in Orange County and beyond.  He lives in the mountains, on his own terms given high speed Internet and telephone and Skype, and drives into Orange County and L.A. for client meetings and getting together with colleagues in the business.

SOCAL: Where were you born and raised?  Did the arts play a prominent role in your life while growing up?
Paul: I have always lived in Southern California, The arts didn’t really come in to play until I was in High School. Instead of going out for sports I chose to get into photography for our school newspaper and yearbook.

SOCAL: When did you seriously get involved in the creative arts, as in a career?
Paul: Creativity and Technology are two facets that came together in my life just as I was coming into my own.  It was a natural step to include business as the third leg to that powerful triangle.  I was teaching folks how to use the computer, the basics, like “Intro to the PC”, “Beginning Excel (or Lotus 123 at the time)”. Then the teaching gigs became sporadic. To fill in the gaps, I went back to my first love, the Creative Arts. Photography, Music, and Design. Video seemed to encompass them all. So I started Possibilities A/V, my content production company.  

SOCAL: Please tell us more about the role technology played in your professional life.
Paul: Being able to control synthesizer keyboards with these new 'personal computers' was the proverbial spark that started the fire. What Roland and Yamaha did to music in the eighties, Sony, Canon, and Adobe did for moving pictures in the 90s and the convergence just keeps on going. I intend to ride that wave as far as it can take me.

SOCAL: What has your work experience been like?
Paul: I have been self employed since I graduated from college. There have been ups and downs, good times and tough times but I love what I do and even if I win the lottery I would still do what I do, I just wouldn't have to charge for it.

SOCAL: What are your specialties?
Paul: I've shot and edited video for events such as weddings and graduations, soccer games and SCUBA classes.  I've done promotional and training projects for small and large companies I've even done some documentary pieces. But I got my degree in Marketing and really love the shorter formats. Motion Graphics mixed with compelling Video are my favorite projects.

In addition to video production, I assist companies and organizations in getting their word out by helping to brand and craft their message using tools such as photos, layouts for print ads and product literature, web graphics, animated GIFs,  PowerPoint presentations with a bit more flair and pop than the clients can muster on their own.

SOCAL: Do you have a particular ‘style’ of work?
Paul: One thing I learned by playing in the band while I was in college, was the value and excitement of collaboration.  It really took all the parts to make the music. I strive everyday to get that kind of collaborative synergy with the projects I engage in now. Some time it's just me and the client, but some times I get to call upon my colleagues in this creative industry.  

SOCAL: Tell us about your typical client and how you market for new ones.
Paul: My favorite clients to work for, some would call my competition. We all want our own companies to be bigger than just ourselves. Nobody understands or appreciates your value as much as others trying to do the same thing. I attend trade shows and user group meetings trying to find others who are trying to do what I have been working on and hope that I can solve their needs.

SOCAL: Do you consider yourself first and foremost a videographer?
Paul: I don't really refer to myself as a videographer, I am more of a freelance imaginer.  I don't put that on my business card because it sounds like I am ripping off Disney, but that is how I see myself. I really enjoy the fact that video requires all the parts.  So yes, I am a videographer, but not just a cameraman. I am more of a director that can shoot and edit.

In addition to working on various forms of digital content creation on a daily basis, I also teach many of the software products I use, to folks in corporations and government organizations.  I've taught classes in Photoshop, Illustrator, PowerPoint, Excel, Lightwave, Premiere, Final Cut Pro and audio editing apps.   Some of my clients have been: Toyota, Mitsubishi, Fox, the U.S. Navy, Metrolink and many more.

SOCAL: Please tell us about some of your most challenging projects and/or clients and how you solved their problems.  (I can probably construct this question better – but it would be great to share 2-3 examples)  
Paul: I once shot a video, documentary style for a Catholic Community of Franciscan Friars doing missionary work in Mexico. They called it a “Vocational Video” for young men to watch who were considering a life of service. It was after all is said and done a 2 hour marketing video to show how life would be if that were their chosen path. It was early in my career and I learned a lot on that project. It was before NLEs, all tape based and heavy on dialog that was recorded without headphones. It took me a year to finish that 2 hour VHS deliverable form 14 hours of raw Hi8 footage with audio that every problem you could imagine. Problems were solved by learning more and more about the gear that was becoming available and calling upon others who have tried projects like this. It was 1992 and the internet was not the treasure trove of info like it is today. I had to go to store that sold microphones and cameras and talk to others in the store who were shopping for similar gear. I asked them about their gear and what books and magazines they read.

Although it was not problematic, A group of challenging projects came in one summer where I shot 5 or 6 SCUBA Certification Class Weekends in Catalina. From May through September I was on Catalina Island or in the pool almost every weekend. The challenge was not technical but people oriented. There was no “real “ client, (that part was kind of nice). I videotaped the classroom and pool sessions, attended the graduation weekend in Catalina with boat and beach dives shooting above and underwater. Then I would come home and with the Dive instructor, edit all the footage into story based productions of the class’s collective experience. Then I would try to sell the completed videos to the students. I didn’t make a lot of money that summer but I learned  a lot about process, workflow and equipment maintenance.

I guess the biggest challenge, and it’s not one project, is bridging the gap between client expectations and the capabilities I posses between what I know and the tools I am familiar with. I am always up for a challenge and willing to take on projects with elements I have not yet explored, but making sure the client is aware of what I am promising and what I am willing to learn, have got to be spelled out clearly so there is no disappointment or missed deadlines.  Many clients, not knowing any better, expect Hollywood style production values, but want to pay you like your Uncle Joe at a wedding and hey, you’re going to be there any way right?

You have been a mainstay in local industry organizations.  Now we see you less often, when you come off the mountain.  How did you get involved in industry related volunteering?
Paul: I was introduced to the Orange County Multimedia User's Group (OCMUG) in the mid 90s and found a rich environment to plant myself in.  It wasn't long before I chose to be part of the leadership of this group and then the named changed to the Orange County MultiMedia Association (OCMMA)  They had grown in size beyond a mere user's group providing education, insight, networking and camaraderie. I served on the board as a member for a year, then a year as Vice President, and finally three years as president before I moved my business to the Mountains.

SOCAL: Okay, this interview would not be complete without the story about you and the mountains.  Please tell us about that part of your life.
Paul: In 2003 I moved my studio of 12 years from Costa Mesa, CA to the San Bernardino mountain community of Forest Falls.  Technology's rapid march has allowed me to work from a relatively more remote location.  Possibilities A/V now operates from a 1400 sq ft studio building created just for the kinds of projects I love to work on. I still come “Down the Hill” for much of business, face to face meetings, shoots, trade shows and the like. But I do most of my editing, both photo and video, as well as the graphic design, print ad layout, and product literature at my studio in Forest Falls. Hey I have a 500 foot waterfall out my front door it’s gorgeous.

SOCAL: Where do you see your business going in the near future?
Paul: In the past few years I have made the switch from Standard-Def DV acquisition and editing to HD, with new Canon cameras both video and still.  I have also moved most of my production tools from the Windows XP platform to a Mac based 64 bit platform.  Still a big fan of all of the Adobe tools but now using quite a bit of Apple's offerings in software as well. As I said previously I like marketing and promotional projects, I like being able to conceptualize the content before acquisition, unlike typical event shooting. Short format, directed shoots and layered editing is my preference but if the project is challenging and sounds like something I’d like to sink my teeth into, who knows what direction I’ll go in.

SOCAL: What advice do you have for people thinking about pursuing the creative arts as a career?
Paul: Never stop learning, network with others doing what you do and what you want to do. Get some business cards and tell the world what you're up to.



To learn more about Paul click here:  

Saturday, June 15, 2024