On Thursday, Jan. 17, Travis Abels gave a talk titled “Throw Away the Process and Just Play” in the Student Center ballroom.
Abels, who graduated from Ball State in 2006 with majors in advertising and art, now works as a multimedia artist, with his most high-profile work consisting of several trailers made for popular films such as “I, Tonya,” “La La Land,” and “Westworld".
Throughout his talk, Abels gave advice to the large crowd of faculty, undergrads, and graduate students present. To illustrate this, he talked about his own experience at Ball State as he climbed the professional ladder and how he found fulfillment along the way.
He described his initial fascination with trailers and how he would remix trailers to his favorite movies, such as making his own hip-hop inspired trailer for the 1941 film Citizen Kane. Abels talked about how he traveled west after graduation and eventually got a job with a trailer house. He thought he would be creating trailers and working with industry professionals, but he was disappointed to be assigned to uncreative tasks, like restocking supplies.
Despite not being paid to use any of the editing equipment, Abels would stay late and create his own trailers while off the clock. Eventually he got the chance to submit one of his trailers to a studio.
“And when the studio called back, they picked mine,” he said. “All of a sudden when they wanted to make revisions, I was called away from regularly stocking the toilets, and I got to work on it. Three years later and a dozen crappy movies later, I was no longer having to cut on my own time. I was getting to do it as an actual job.”
Despite finally being given his own workspace where he could edit and create, Abels still had to challenge himself to make trailers that could compete with the other people he worked with, several of them being industry professionals with decades of experience.
However, Abels revealed how he managed to not just keep up, but to excel: “When they were clocking out at seven, that’s when I was kicking into gear because I wanted it. So I stayed, and eventually I started beating out some of these other editors.” Abels went on to talk about his meteoric rise, eventually working with his hero he’d idolized from the start of his career.
Beyond the pure words of his address, Abels stories helped communicate to the audience how attainable his success was. Though he never shied away from the work and the time that went in to his success, Abels was able to make his experiences relatable and aspirational. He used what he had learned to encourage his audience to reach for the stars, to never give up, and to listen to their own creative intuition.
To cap off his presentation, Abels left the crowd with a concise message about how to find their own success.
To see a collection of Travis Abels' trailers, photography, writing, and other art, you can visit his website here.
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Photography: Jeremy Rogers
Photo slideshow: Directed by Jeremy Rogers
Edited by Emily Reuben
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