#DefineExperience is our new bimonthly campaign where we interview interesting and successful people about their *experience. *We ask them not only about their professional experience, but also about the more personal side of things.
1. Hey Patrick, what’s your story?
The most significant time of my life was during my Erasmus exchange in Iceland, where I discovered my love for video. To such an extent, that I decided to pursue cinematography full-time after finishing my degree in philosophy.
Before my Erasmus, I was already doing “Jackass” videos with my friends for several years. We’d done about 3 movies, but it was all mainly for fun. At the same time, I was working on my B.A in Philosophy & Psychology, with the end-goal of becoming a teacher. The combination was a surprise to a lot of my peers, since it’s considered to be a dead-end in terms of employability. Regardless, I had decided to pursue the two majors, since that’s what I’ve always enjoyed.
One day, one of my professors held a short presentation on the whole “Erasmus” thing. Wonderstruck, I realized that I had to get away from everything and go somewhere new. Needless to say, I was accepted to do a year abroad in Iceland, where I started filming my 4th “Jackass” movie. The early videos, however, were mostly staged, filled with pranks. One example is me running naked over a mountain ridge without realising that my scream would echo through the whole valley, leading to everyone watching the video.
During one of my courses, I realized how amazing of an experience the exchange semester had been, and since I’d already documented most of it, why not go all the way? Thus, the “Icelandic Dreams” project was born. Over the course of the year, I started taking cinematography more seriously, using the small projects as a means to get better. Over the first year abroad, I started to focus on learning how to actually do videos properly and trying to improve my skills with each new project.
In 2011, I returned back home and filmed my homecoming. I’d wanted to spend time with the exchange students again, so I went to the welcome meeting of ESN in Dortmund to film it.
In the next few years, I’d overcome my Erasmus Depression and joined the ESN, while a semester away from graduating school. I was a section president at the time, and while I’d really wanted to hold a welcome speech for the incoming students, I couldn’t, as I’d moved away from Dortmund to the city of Konstanz. I wanted to tell the students what kind of an amazing experience was ahead of them, so I did the next best thing. I put my now-honed cinematography skills to use and made a video: “Welcome to Erasmus – If Erasmus had a Trailer”](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-uwgnnTflQ). Initially, I was pretty skeptical. The whole video was done in only 3 days, and I’d thought the best I could do was 500 views, maybe even 1000. In the first 24 hours, however, it reached over 18.000 views and got me the attention of ESN international.
After my graduation, I decided that teaching wasn’t for me, and started a Master’s degree in philosophy. From one “useless” major to another, you can imagine the reaction I got from my peers. In early 2014, I got the chance to become the video director of the Mov’in Europe campaign](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPYyYP_SpPk) for ESN International, giving me the confidence I needed to delve more into cinematography.
After another mind blowing year with ESN International, I started a small business enterprise as a videomaker in early 2015, which got me my first freelance jobs. While the experience proved that I could actually make a living doing what I love, I still needed more time to hone my craft. So, I applied for a second Erasmus year in Portugal, where I am right now.
I started writing my Master’s thesis this week, hopefully graduating in September. Once I graduate, my dream is to make videos every day in the most beautiful city I can imagine.
2. Patrick, please define experience.
Experience is this tacit knowledge about how the world around you works, to the point that you can predict specific outcomes in a more abstract way. I remember a senior student in one of my classes who said that “you cannot teach experience, you gain it” and this is one of the biggest impacts my Erasmus has had on my life. It allowed me to turn my life into experience. To see things from a different perspective to a point where you can get a vision for the world around you and the way it should be and the fact that you can strive towards this vision.
3. What do you consider as your most significant accomplishment in your career so far? What about outside of your career?
Probably the most significant accomplishment was not when I got my first project or a job as a videomaker, but having realized that all this had been possible in the first place. I remember back in Iceland when I was working on one of my projects, the feedback I got was pretty mixed regarding the quality of the videos. So, I said to myself that even though I might not be that good now, in the future I most certainly will be. Besides video making, I’m proud of the fact that I was able to study what I love, philosophy, completely disregarding the whole employability issues.
4. Do you think failure is part of experience? What was your biggest failure?
Failure should be a fundamental part of the journey of getting experience and learning from your mistakes. In every video I’ve made, I’ve found some small detail that bothered me, so I made sure that the next time, I wouldn’t make the same mistakes. I think it’s also very important to be ready for failure, as much as for success, when it comes. Just a few weeks ago, I lost my new GoPro Hero 4 in the ocean. So, lesson learned – next time I’ll attach it to an extra arm or something.
Мy biggest failure was when I was the section president and expected or demanded more from the people than they could possibly deliver. I took it way too seriously and tried to push the other members without asking them about what they truly needed or wanted to do.
5. What life-hack tips would you give to your 18-year-old self?
Look upon your life goals as being activities, not static modes that you can reach.
6. Would you do something differently if you had the chance?
The first time I tried to force change, it took me out of a semi-professional environment I dearly loved. I was teaching skateboarding and tried to bring some change to the process that in the end got me kicked out and I had spend some of my best times with that team.
7. This is not from the questions list, but can you tell us which was your #Truest Erasmus Story?
The truest Erasmus story was certainly about the Erasmus Depression, which hit me for 10-11 months after my return from Iceland. Other than that, the truest story is hopefully ahead of me once I’m back home in Konstanz and can conclude how Erasmus, as well as ESN, have shaped my way of living to the point that I can’t wish for anything more than that which is ahead.
We want to thank Patrick for sharing with us his story. It’s always very inspiring to learn about someone’s lessons and achievements. And we appreciate video masters like him as the world is more than ever engaging with video content!
If you enjoyed reading our third #DefineExperience interview, then stay tuned, because we’re just getting started. Moreover, if you’d like to be part of our #DefineExperience project by doing an interview yourself or recommending someone to get interviewed, then write to us.