Hey, my name is Nicolas Heller, also known as New York Nico, and I'm a filmmaker based in Brooklyn. I'm also the self-proclaimed unofficial talent scout of New York. I love to spotlight talented individuals throughout the city and give them the platform to share their voice. And that's a way that I've helped build my creative voice throughout the years, through communicating with these amazing individuals and building a brand around it.
Finding your creative niche
So finding my creative voice and becoming this unofficial talent scout of New York is definitely not something that came overnight. In fact, it came because of a lot of challenges that I've faced. After college, I moved to Los Angeles to try to make it as a music video director, and I failed pretty miserably. So after being out there for six months, I moved back to New York, but that's what made me realize how much I love the city and I love the people and I love the community. Ultimately, that's kind of what pushed me in the direction of being this talent scout. The first thing I did with this kind of newfound love for my home was create a documentary series where I spotlighted really amazing individuals, performers, artists, musicians, you know, just eccentric personalities. This is really what helped me cultivate my creative voice 'cause now I'm mixing documentary with my love for people. It's set me on my creative journey.
Making your voice louder
Through making these documentaries, I learned so much. I'd never made a documentary before. I went to film school, but never made a documentary. Not only did I teach myself about how I tell stories, but it helped me with speaking to people. You know, I was generally kind of a shy person growing up. This really taught me how to communicate with people, how to tell their stories, taught me technical skills, and it really just helped me build my voice, which you'll see in my work to this day. This was fortunately around the time that Instagram introduced video. So I would take these videos of these incredible New Yorkers, upload them to Instagram, and then people would immediately resonate with them and wanna see more and more.
Taking a creative leap
So the work that I was doing up until this point was very like a fly on the wall. You would never hear me, you would never see me, you would just see what I show you. But once I started posting these clips to Instagram, I kind of became more of the story, whether it be writing the captions, or you hearing my voice in the background, to eventually seeing me on camera. This was a shift in my creative career that I think needed to happen.
So with that being said, in your journey to find your creative voice, the three key takeaways that I would recommend are:
1/ Always follow your passion and your interest. Don't do anything that you're not interested in just because you think it's the easiest way to make a name for yourself. For me, it was New York and its people. So obviously, you don't need to be in New York for this, wherever you live, just never take your passions for granted.
2/ Once you find something that you're really passionate about and interested in, just find different ways to use it to create. For me, I took New York, I took its people and I've created challenges like the Best New York Accent challenge. I did a campaign for the MTA where I enlisted New York celebrity voices to give announcements. I did a dating app on my Instagram where people would submit videos and I would help match them up with like-minded individuals. My whole identity, my whole brand is New York, and I found different ways to create projects around that.
3/ The last thing that I would recommend is getting out of your comfort zone. For me, it was leaving New York, going to Los Angeles, coming back to New York, and then kind of pushing myself to talk to strangers, build these relationships, build this community. I was generally a very shy person but I really pushed myself to do this because I knew it's what I loved and it's where I wanted to go with my career. Obviously, not everybody's gonna have the same situation as me, but try new mediums, try new things, meet new people, that's the best way to find your voice.
So that's it, don't get discouraged if you don't find your creative voice overnight, it definitely didn't happen for me overnight. It took a lot of trials and tribulations, but I couldn't be happier with where things are at right now.