Chatting To Filmmaker Jackson Averett

1/05/2021Jake Ryan

Some people, you know you'll never meet them but they continually inspire you. Their work, their attitude towards life just has an impact on you and how you do things. That's me with Jackson Averett. Jackson is a filmmaker who's work has landed him what at this moment he might consider his dream job. And he got there through his own hard work. 

I recently spoke with Jackson about his life, his career and his upcoming plans. You can check out the entire interview below. 

Hey Jackson, first of all tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was born and raised in Springhill, Utah. It’s a small little town but a really fun place to grow up. We just kind of grew up driving our dirt bikes and four wheelers around and blowing stuff up with my friends. Causing a little bit of trouble but we had a good time and eventually I grew up and now I have just moved to Salt Lake Valley and I am really excited for the new opportunities up there.

Can you tell us about your career as a filmmaker? How you got started etc?

I have been a filmmaker since high school. I say that very loosely as time has gone on I just suck a little bit less because I have made about every mistake possible. That’s what is really fun about film as there is no right or wrong way to do things but you learn a lot of the more wrong ways to do things. 

I have been doing that since high school and in 2016 I started doing wedding videos. I really enjoyed that for a while but after a while it stated feeling a little stale, a little bit stagnant. I broke my hand while snowboarding and needed surgery, so I couldn’t do anything as I couldn’t hold my camera, I couldn't edit so I had 4 months worth of jobs that I had lined up so I reached out to some people on Instagram who I thought could do a good job, one of those was a great guy named Mitch who was looking for some work at the time and he took some of my work for me. 

This got us talking and we both realised we wanted to get out of the small gig freelance world which we’d known for years individually, so we started doing gigs together. At first we had to take payouts but took a little more collaboration. Over time we got better and better until eventually we started a little production company named AvenueFilmCo

It went really really well. It started off small but by the end I would have described us as the in house video team for the biggest Utah tech companies that didn’t have a need for a full time in house team. We also did a full TV campaign which was a great time, we didn’t really know what we were doing but our clients said it was one of the best commercials they’ve ever had and the it has had million of views now. We’re very flattered. 

Long story short, we stepped into a lot of unknowns and did a lot of things that were very comfortable. We spent every cent we had back into the company and had to send money back and forth to make sure we were making rent but by the end we were doing really well. 

Can you tell us about ROUTE and how you got involved?

One of our clients we were working with at the time, it was doing very well and it was ROUTE. What ROUTE does, it has 3 areas of the business. 

1 - If you’re a merchant online, if the stuff you’re sending gets lost or stolen, it’s kind of a finger pointing business of who’s at fault. So you either have two options which are to not replace, and probably lose a customer or to bite the bullet and resend your stock at cost to you. Well what ROUTE does is a shipping insurance which is 1% of whatever your check out is. So if it’s lost of stolen ROUTE buys another item from the merchant. So if the merchant was losing 50K in lost items, its now making an extra 50k as its getting double purchases. 

2 - It tracks all your shipping on one map, so whether it’s UPS, FedEX or Amazon, instead of having to dig through emails, you can keep everything in one place.

3 - Discover. So Discover is like the Pinterest for shopping. The same way Amazon might host products, it can kill the customer experience for these brands. So if Amazon was like walmart, Discover is like a mall where you can house the shopping experiences. 

So ROUTE was blowing up, it is very quickly becoming one of the fastest growing tech companies of all time. They had a huge need for video and a lot of new projects that needed some pretty intensive work. They approached us and offered to acquire our production company and that we would come on and work for them full time. 

So after a little wine and dine scenario with the CEO and some of the other executives me and Mitch decided to sell them what we’d worked on and come into ROUTE and work on all of the video within the company. So that’s where I am at now, it’s been awesome. It has been a whole lot of work, a whole lot of stress, more than I have every experienced, but all for good reason. 

It doesn’t make much sense initially why a package tracking insurance company would want to purchase a production company but where this all ties in, and where this is super fun, basically we are able to go around the country, and when it opens back up, the world. We will do short documentaries, maybe one or two minute spots and tell the stories of brands. To help people discover new brands that are either incredible, innovative or that have made huge strides when it comes to sustainability or environmental sides of their business. Whatever it could be, we can go and give them the spotlight at the top of the Discover section of the ROUTE app and people can get to know these brands and then shop their stores. 

Every week as this gets rolling, we will have four or five new spots where people can discover new brands, as I’m the kind of person who wants to support new brands but I don’t always know where to find them. So to be able to be on the front lines of making a positive impact, and to tell these stories has been a dream come true. 

Looking through your Instagram it looks like you’ve been on some pretty cool trips. How often are you travelling?

When I first got into the freelance world, I really wanted to get my name out there and to get a lot of practise. A great way to do that was to travel and make videos of my trips. I met some friends that had very similar interests who were also entrepreneurial and far more well known on Instagram than I am, which really opened up a lot of great opportunities and created a lot of great friendships.   

2017, 2018 and 2019 I travelled a ton and 2020 I was going to slow down either way and Corona obviously slowed that down regardless of if I wanted to or not. These days I don’t go on as many international trips, not just because of Corona but work wise we are travelling a ton, we’re in a different state at least once or twice a month. 

I noticed you’d been on a safari in Africa. How was that?

Africa was amazing, we were contacted by an organisation called Family Humanitarian. Their cause is to bring clean water to the rural areas of Africa that don’t have that as well as providing safe schools so these kids can have the education and provide the materials needed etc. 

They contacted us and asked us to go out to them and document and make them a video that they could show at events to try and get funding, raise awareness etc so we jumped on that as we had made a commitment to ourselves that at least once a year we would do something to give back and this was our way to do that. 

Video is such a powerful medium to tell stories and share messages that need to be shared. This was a really great opportunity to get out there and see things that most people never see and to me it was eye opening. I really try and centre myself in that experience often and remember how grateful we are for what we have, as well as me going in and learning so much from these people who are so much happier than we are with much less. 

It was actually equally adventitious for both sides, yes we did bring them clean water but it was a new perspective for me and it has really helped me in my life. 

Of all the cool places you’ve been, do you have a favourite place? Or at least a favourite trip?

I have three answers for this. 

When it comes to the people, hands down Africa was my favourite place and experience. 

When it comes to the Geography, I would have to say the Faro islands which is a little island chain in-between Scotland and Iceland and is a part of Denmark and that place is incredible. Tourism out there at the minute isn’t that big of a deal yet which is mind blowing. It felt surreal having the kind of views we were having almost to ourselves. 

My favourite experience from any trip would be during a trip through Europe with some friends. We were there for two days and we were in Paris for Bastille Day, where they let off fireworks from the Eiffel Tower and they have a symphony playing music and it was just crazy. It was the most surreal experience of all time and then the next day happened to be the World Cup when France won and it was insane. We were around the Arch de Triumph afterwards and there were fireworks going off, crowds as far as the eyes can see, flags literally everywhere, cars flipped over. People were taking streets signs and throwing them through store fronts, it was insane and definitely sad for the people who had property damage, I don’t support that. We nearly got teargassed for just being in an area where this was going on. And this was a celebration so I don’t know what would have happened if they lost. 

Of all the things you’ve already achieved in your life, what’s been your proudest moment so far?

Life is tough and when you look ahead you set these goals and when you reach them sometimes, if you’re not careful, you don’t take a step back and realise you’ve met them.

For me one of my proudest moments was when we were acquired by ROUTE. To see that somebody else saw as much value as we did in it, and appreciated what we were doing enough to close down our business and bring us in to their’s because they saw that value. 

Another one was that I just bought my first little house and I’m really proud of that as I’ve always had the dream of having a little brick house. And then to make it super fun, nice and really me on the inside and to have finally done that with three good friends living with me as roommates is definitely a proud moment. 

It’s something I’ve worked super hard for so it’s not something I want to flex about financially. My parents were amazing and gave me everything I needed, yet they were also amazing in giving me the drive to work harder for the things that were outside my basic needs. This was self made, I just don’t want to lack giving credit to those that deserve it. 

As someone who is an inspiration to many, who are your biggest inspirations?

That’s a very flattering statement as I don’t look at myself everyday as someone who is inspirational to many, but I hope that for at least people in the film world that are starting out, there is more than just a good time in filmmaking. It seems saturated but it’s actually undersaturated with people who really do a good job and for anyone who works really hard at it, they really is so many opportunities for people. 

My biggest inspirations when it comes to filmmaking, I know Sam Kolder is a household name now, but he really was one of my first inspirations when I was first getting started, when I first saw his stuff and he was just getting started he blew my mind and I was like, “I want to do that” 

And now, looking at people like Salomon Ligthelm who are just pushing the boundaries, visually, creatively and conceptually in ways I could only dream of. 

My biggest inspiration though outside of filmmaking is a guy named Alan Watts. He lived in the 1900’s. He was a philosopher that I think has helped me keep my groundings in life in general. He’s helped me realise, that no matter how successful or not successful, or no matter how much money you do or don’t have, just that whatever happens in your life externally, all of the control of how your life goes can really be boiled down to what kind of person you are and how you view life internally. 

What makes you happy?

I love my job, but my job is my job. It’s not everything I do. What really makes me happy is living my life in the most authentic, positive way I can. I love spending time with friends and family. I love spending time in nature and feeling connected to the world around me to this crazy, freaking life we are all lucky enough to live. 

And finally, what are your plans for this new year?

I have absolutely no idea. No matter which year has come up, I’ve had the same amount of lack of foresight I guess. 

Honestly with ROUTE there are so many big things coming and I am just going to keep pushing and pushing to do my part with the little lane I have been given and work really hard with the team. We have to really make a difference here. Not just in telling the stories of these amazing companies and people but I feel we can make a big difference with e-commerce, and to make things more authentic and to start slowing down areas of fast fashion and to discover the brands that deserve their vote money wise. 

That’s pretty much the plan, keep on keeping on. No one could have predicted this year, so I’m definitely not going to try and predict the next. So just living life the best I can. 

Thank you Jackson for taking the time to answer our questions. 

Be sure to follow Jackson on Instagram and check out ROUTE if you haven't already. 

All photos in this post belong to Jackson.

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