Pete Chatmon followed his passion for storytelling and built a million-dollar one-man business along the way. He is a television and film director who runs the production company TheDirector in Los Angeles.
Chatmon has directed over 60 episodes of TV series, including HBO Max’s Stewardess, unsafe, Silicon Valleyand love life; youon Netflix; ABC Grey’s Anatomy and blackened; and Apple TV mythical task. Most recently, Chatmon served as Co-Executive Producer reasonable doubtHulu’s new show.
Chatmon’s production company began producing branded content for advertisers in 2014, relying on the help of a team of contractors. He dabbled in making podcasts (including his own, Let’s shoot!with Pete Chatmont, where he interviews directors); short films; commercials and live TV. “It’s an ecosystem of creative solutions that mostly revolves around hiring me as a director,” he said.
Chatmon is part of a rapidly growing trend: the rise of million-dollar one-person businesses. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 43,012 businesses had no employees in 2019, except for business owners with revenue between $1 million and $2.49 million, up from 41,666 in 2018. Another 2,553 earned between $25,000 and $4.99 million, and 388 earned $5 million or more.
“I think in today’s world, what’s really exciting about almost all businesses is the level of democratization,” Chatmont said. “For me, specifically, your phone is a camera. When I came on stage, I had to be in debt at NYU Film School to touch the camera. The barriers to entry have been lowered. Access to information has been enhanced. You’re in cocktails Add your own passion and perseverance, there’s nothing you can’t do.”
After picking up his first Super 8 camera at the NYU Film School, Chatmont began his short film career and took his NYU thesis film to the Sundance Film Festival, 3D, which starred Kerry Washington.He then wrote and directed feature films High qualitypremiered on Showtime after a limited theatrical run.
By 2017, his small store was doing well with branded content for Fortune 100 companies and advertising agencies. “We will primarily provide video content for brands to share with their social media channels,” Chatmon said.
Chatmon moved to Los Angeles and continued to work on brands, but remained open to other opportunities. “As the number of TV directors has grown, this has also been added to the portfolio,” he said.
It was during these years that he learned an important lesson: “No matter what your creative pursuits are, you have to master your craft,” he says. “You have to be curious about what happened before and what’s going on now.”
But beyond that, he learned that to go the independent route, he also needed to understand the business of his craft. “You have to understand the business side of it, the details of your business,” he said. “Movies, TV, commercials are different.”
To keep business flowing, Chatmon works with clients to help them come up with content that not only meets their creative needs but also fits within their budgets. “I appreciate where customers come from,” he said. “If we had $30,000 to make a short film, we would try to make those numbers work.”
Chatmon found his business grew during the pandemic. “A lot of content producers and distributors recognize that it makes sense to increase their inventory,” he said. “There is more production. If this happens again, the network will want to have more content in the well.”
Recently, Chatmon has entered another field: as a book author.Earlier this year, he posted Transitions: A Director’s Journey and Inspirational Handbook“In hindsight, it’s full of principles I’ve discovered and is the north star of what we’re doing,” he said. “This is a book I’ve wanted to read for years, and I’ve been trying to find a way to connect the dots and get paid for what I’m trying to do.”