Alumni Profile: Zack Wilson '07
Abby Sophir (a class of 2014 television-radio major from St. Louis, Missouri) caught up with Park Scholar alumnus Zack Wilson, Founder/Senior Producer
of PLOTPOINT Creative Media LLC.
As a junior at Ithaca College, Zack Wilson spent a semester at the Los Angeles satellite campus. When he took an internship with a production company called Anonymous Content, he had no idea it would involve moving a heavy couch and picking little bits of cat hairs off it.
“They tested me as much as you probably could with an intern,” Wilson said. When the couch was hair-free, “I brought it back in and went, ‘Okay, what’s next?’ I was always trying to be the first person in, the last person to leave, helping anybody I could with other projects,” Wilson said.
It’s with this attitude that Zack Wilson made his way from an unassuming intern to the founder and senior producer of his own media company.
Upon graduation from IC, Wilson found an opportunity to travel to Malawi with a family member for a month. He brought along a Canon GL2 camera to put together a basic video for the Presbyterian Church which was funding the trip; however, he began to realize the power of other mediums.
“I put a bunch of photo essays together as well which is actually what really resonated with people with donations and understanding what Malawi is like,” Wilson said. “I really tried starting to expand telling stories to outside of video. The structure is always the same, the theory’s always the same. It’s really just understanding what’s unique to that specific way you’re telling it.”
When he returned from Malawi, Wilson wanted to be in the heart of the film industry. Despite his familiarity with Hollywood, he found inspiration in the Big Apple. “New York is really one of the few places in the whole world where the entire world comes to one place. And so you can go out to Jackson Heights, which is the most diverse square-mile in the whole world, and essentially walk a few blocks and walk through the world,” Wilson said. “I realized LA just wasn’t for me creatively. I felt I found a lot more inspiration in New York.”
Though he headed to New York City looking to be an independent fiction filmmaker, the circumstances led him in another direction. Amid a stock market crash which destroyed hedge funds, job opportunities in the industry dried up. He was eventually put in contact with a fellow IC alum working at an advertisement agency and produced several videos for his company. When offered a job, he turned it down.
“That wasn’t the direction I wanted to go,” Wilson said.
He took on several other jobs in editing and production before becoming a consultant for commercial and nonprofit companies, which he continues to do to this day. Wilson’s company, PLOTPOINT creative media, creates short-form nonfiction promotional material for Fortune 1000 companies including Barnes and Noble, Walmart and Sony, as well as nonprofit organizations. Recently, he’s been getting into more transmedia and interactive media in which stories are told across multiple platforms using current digital technologies.
“Beforehand, as a filmmaker, I had a very limited palette of emotions I could play with because film is an outward experience— the audience is not interacting with the story in any big, meaningful way. And now, [with transmedia] the audience starts to become a character a bit more,” Wilson said.
Wilson recognizes the opportunities that are out there once the internet is used to its full potential. He believes the internet is currently just mimicking other forms of media.
“If you look at previous adaptations of a new media... The first 20 years of radio, all it was was people reading the newspaper. When television came around, it was really people doing what they did on the radio, there was just a camera put at them,” Wilson said. “And so, with the internet, it really doesn’t have a native storytelling format yet, it’s a copy of what the other stuff was.”
Wilson wants to be on the brink of this technological evolution. He is also conscious of the power of the media industry and the role that individuals play in its development. “We have more power in our industry than I believe in any other industry because we have the power of thought, we have the power of emotion and nobody else has that, not even the government,” Wilson said. “And that’s obviously a huge power and we really need to assess that a lot more and really figure out what we’re doing with that power.”
As a student at IC he made a point to branch out of the Park School of Communications. He took several computer science courses, philosophy classes, writing classes, and a Psychology of Television and Beyond course at Cornell. All of these experiences have enabled him to develop visual media for a wider audience.
As a Park Scholar, he learned the importance of being a valuable member of a community. “One of the big things that the Park Scholar program obviously has is a focus on giving back and now more than ever that really needs to happen,” Wilson said. “We’re really starting the see the ramifications where a one-way capitalistic mindset has kind of pushed society to a brink. It’s not just about how much money something is going to make. Media is really far behind other industries in service thinking.”
He advises graduating students to keep this is mind as they enter the “real world”.
“Keep going with service, keep thinking of ways you can help nonprofit organizations, but also think of ways that you can create larger, commercially viable projects and always be really conscious that every single thing that you put out will be significantly affecting people,” Wilson says.