CoWorkers | Filmmakers


Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Nick Johanson, along with Robert Larson. We are COWORKERS and we are filmmakers.

How long have you worked together?
R - 5 years? N - Yeh, we started working together at a company that produces commercials. R - We shared an office and would often brainstorm ideas while working on other projects. N - From there, we started producing our own projects and here we are… five magical years later.

What are some of your influences?
N - We’re influenced by a lot of stuff. The “masters” are always going to be there, like Hitchcock and Kubrick, but we can also pull from what we grew up on like The Goonies and Back to the Future. R - To add to that, documentaries and commercials are key influences as well.

How does today’s technology play a part in your style?
R - With the ability to take in as much info as you want, sites like Pinterest have allowed us to constantly be researching while also being a reliable source of inspiration. It’s like a melting pot of media! N - (laughs) Exactly.

What project(s) are you the most proud of?
N - One of my favorite projects is the short film we did for NERF called "Super Soaker". I remember thinking, while we were filming, that it was going to be good... I could just feel it. The Kahlua work we did was pretty cool too. R - Yeh, for the limitations we were givin, the Kahlua work was cool because we were able to make it our own. It was behind the scenes coverage, but we had creative freedom from start to finish.

Within your art, what are you the most insecure about?
N - The biggest insecurity I’ve had to overcome is the need of sharing our work. At first, I would find myself in the mindset of “it’s not good enough”, “people won’t like this” so I wouldn’t share anything. I eventually realized that though we might receive a some negative feedback every now and then; we’ll at least learn from that and grow in the process. R - There’s always a sense of pressure when delivering a final product to the client. There’s a certain level of expectations, on both sides, so we strive to do the best we can while also exceeding what the client may have expected.

How do you use one another to get through obstacles that show up during the creative process?
N - Working together, as long as we have, has made us comfortable in how we do things. I think we’re a good team in the sense that we pick each other up in spots that one of us may not be good at... R - Like our time management. We need to work on that.

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in doing what you do?
R - I think creating stuff in general is one of the keys to finding any amount of success in this business. Whether it's for fun or for profit, you have to keep creating. N - Exactly, keep working and keep sharing.

Aside from the audience, what benefits are there to sharing your work?
N - I think sharing your work allows you to learn what works and what doesn't. It opens you up to critique, which can be very helpful in finding your voice. R - Yeh, sharing helps enhance your craft. You find things in the process that you may not have noticed if you had only shown it to yourself.

Last Question: What is your favorite cereal?
R - What comes to mind first is Honey Nut Cheerios. N - I knew that was going to be your favorite. I, myself, like Cinnamon Toast Crunch... with Fruit Loops being a close second.

Brian Molina | Mixologist


Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Brian Molina and I am a mixologist/barista.

What is your art?
Making the perfect drink. That involves everything from the components I use to how I shake it all up; with the end result being the moment the customer tastes that first sip.

What kind of drinks do you specialize in?
At Home Brewed Bar, we specialize in cold brewed drinks... which means we brew everything, our coffees and teas, for twenty hours. Beyond that, we also serve monthly specialty drinks along with blended beverages you might find at other establishments.

How did the idea of a strictly cold brew menu come to be?
I was sitting in my apartment one night, preparing coffee for the opening of the store we now have, and had the idea to cold brew the tea as well. Milk teas were also becoming popular at that time, so I thought it made sense to combined these two types of drinks.

What's your process for coming up with each month's specialty drink?
I always like to start out with what season we're in. Since we deal in drinks, I want to create something that compliments the weather or a special event, like a national holiday. From there, I try and figure out what drink best represents that month and then I see if I can create it.

Where do you find inspiration?
Honestly, I like to visit bars and see what they're creating for the season. They're on another level when it comes to mixing things, so they have been a great source for seeing what might work in our world.

Within your art, what are you most insecure about?
At the end of the day, I just want people to like the drinks that I make. When I make a new drink, I of course want to make something that I enjoy. But, we all like different things, so serving it for the first time can be a very nerve-racking thing.

What are you the most proud of?
That our drinks are good. I love that people keep enjoying the creations we have been able to come up with.

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in doing what you do?
Pay attention. Pay attention to where you are as opposed to in your own head. When you're in your own head, you're thinking of all the directions things can could go. But, if you are paying attention, you can see what you need to see in order to get to where you need to go.

Last Question: What are you doing when you're not creating?
When I'm not creating, I'm either playing basketball or watching Bar Rescue. That show is a good source of information on how to run a successful business.

SaRap | Rapper

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is SaRap (Grant Sarapo) and I am a hip hop artist.

How long have you been in the game?
I've always had the urge, and would make up little rhymes here and there, but it wasn't until a year ago that I decided to really give this a go.

What were some of the struggles you had when starting out?
In the beginning I had no idea what I was doing, so I went to YouTube and learned how to basically create a song. It really helped a lot because I knew what I wanted to do, but I didn't know how to do it.

What steps did you take to get moving in the right direction?
Honestly, the whole process was frustrating at first. Once I was able to get my voice sounding how I liked it, I then moved on to piecing together a complete song. I had given up a few times along the way, but once I had a song, that I liked, I knew I could do this forever.

Who are some of your biggest hip hop influences?
I'm influenced by a lot of different artist and how they each bring something different to their music. For instance I like the lyrics of Joey Bada$$, the creativity of Action Bronson and the soulfulness of Big Krit.

Where do you find inspiration?
Most of the time, inspiration comes to me while I'm driving. My theory is that since I'm doing that and not directly focusing on trying to write a song, it allows my brain to be free and come up with better quality stuff.

What are you insecure about when it comes to your music?
Playing it for people that I know. I don't like it.

Why's that?
It has a lot to do with the polarizing effect hip hop has among society. I don't like people knowing that I rap, sometimes, because I don't want to give them a reason to think differently of me based on something that I like to do.

What advice would you give to any aspiring MCs?
For starters, don't be afraid to be yourself. Find your voice and go from there. Also, you can learn almost anything on the internet if you know what questions to ask. From program settings to what effects other artists are using on their vocals, it's all out there... you just have to know how to find it.

Last Question: What are you doing when you're not creating?
Most of the time, I'm trying not to break my TV while watching the Detroit Pistons. They're my favorite team that consistantly play with my emotions. When I'm not doing that, I'm either working out or watching shows with my wife.

Music: Soundcloud / IG: @Sarap_Fresh / Twitter: @Sarap_Fresh

Daniel Furukawa | Storyteller

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Daniel Furukawa and I am a freelance filmmaker.

Have you always had an interest in art?
Definitely. With my dad being an architectural designer, I've always appreciated art in general. What started out as painting and drawing, grew into the discovery of film and a new creative medium.

When was that discovery?
It was around ten years ago; when I started making and editing videos for my youth group.

Then what?
From there I became a full-time editor at Shepherd Church.

How did that position have an impact on what you do now?
When you start as an editor, you gain an appreciation for what you need and don't need in the end. Now that I'm a director, I know what I am going to utilize in the edit before we even get to that stage of things. Overall, I'm very thankful for that job because it allowed me to learn and grow while being encouraged to try new ideas and making the occasional mistake.

Back to your dad, What impact did he have on your artistic upbringing?
Since his career was in design, he showed me what it's like to focus in on the detail of things. Even now, I'm always consuming what I see... I take everything in.

In what ways do you use that focus today?
Honestly, I use that focus in what I offer to clients. By that I mean staying away from being a "jack of all trades". By defining my strengths, I can focus on what I am best at and give my clients a better product.

What are you most proud of?
Last year, my team and I won Best Picture at the 168 Film Festival. Although the award is a nice reminder of our accomplishment, I'm most proud of the fact that we stepped out of our comfort zone and went for it. We had an idea, filmed it and now have something we can all be proud of.

With that being said, do you have any advice for someone who might want to do what you do?
The advice I'm always telling myself is to go for it... regardless of the outcome. It's a diservice, for me and my clients, to say I'm an "artist" but then not take any risks, so I force myself to do what doesn't come naturally and allow the finished product to be what it becomes.

Last Question: What are you doing when you're not creating?
If I'm not spending time with my wife, then I'm doing things that allow me to turn off my brain for awhile. Activities like woodworking and lawncare are very therapeutic for me and allow my mind to recalibrate during a busy day/week.

Jeff Cravens | Musician

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Jeff Cravens and I am a worship leader at Shepherd Church.

How long have you been in the game?
I've been leading for three years now, but my desire to do music in the church started back in 2008.

What did that desire look like?
I'v always loved music, especially hip hop, so when I heard what artist like Lecrae, Trip Lee and Tedashii we're doing (producing guality hip hop for the church); that inspired me, and my friends, to write and produce our own music.

What other artists inspire you?
Being from a multi-cultural family, my influences range from The Temptations to Nirvana. It wasn't until I was older, and really began to understand music more, that I started listening to Michael Jackson, Prince, Daft Punk and N.E.R.D. (to name a few). More so now, I really love what Hillsong and Elevation Church are doing as well as the artist I mentioned before.

Is that where your music comes from?
I consider music and singing, or any talent for that matter, a gift and that it comes from a "gift giver" who is God. With Him as my #1 source of inspiration, it trickles down through my wife who brings with her new life experiences that can be used as well.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to do what you do?
No matter the art, or type of work you are doing, I think it is very important to surround yourself with two types of people: The first type is someone who is at a place in their life/career that you inspire to be at and the second is someone who wants to be where you are currently.

In what ways do those two types of people allow you to further your art?
Having those two types of people allow you to have a really good balance of setting goals while also having influence on those around you. Where one person is helping you unleash your potential, the other is letting you put it into action.

Who are those "Made It" guys in your life?
I look up to so many, but one of those guys would be Isreal Houghton. He has been a worship leader for so many years and is amazing at what he does. Another guy is David Ware from Hillsong. He not only shares a passion for leading worship, but also has a love for hip hop that I can relate to.

Are those two people whose brains you'd want to pick?
Definitely. I'd love to sit down and see what worship music is to them and how they present that to others.

At this point in your career, what would you consider to be your biggest accomplishments?
Recently, I had the opportunity to be a part of Shepherd Youth's live album. I had never done a project like that, so being able to go in, record and see the joy it brought people was a pretty cool experience.

Last Question: What is your favorite cereal?
Hands down... Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Golden Grahams. As you may know, one has the cinnamon thing going on while the other has the honey and honestly... they taste great mixed together.

Live Album: Shepherd Youth