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How I’m Crushing It

Rodrigo Tasca, Tasca Studios

IG: drigo_who

Rodrigo Tasca is not leading the glamorous life. The thirty-one-year-old moved back into his parents’ house in Florida to save on rent. He hired his sister to help with his videography business, and his studio was his bedroom. It’s a far cry from when he used to live in New York, where he was photographing models and shooting behind-the-scenes videos for magazines. Yet, he still thinks he’s got it better than some of his friends. In fact, he feels sorry for them.

“Moving back to Florida was a risk, but I knew that I had to get out of my comfort zone. . . . I wasn’t getting any younger. But I was willing to start back at zero and put in the work. I wake up every day and I’m happy with what I’m doing. But then I’m hanging out with some friends and they’re just like, ‘God, I hate what I’m doing.’ Dude, there’s no reason why [you should be] doing something that you hate nowadays. But they’re afraid to fail, or they’re afraid about what their image will look like.” He gets it. It’s hard to impress women when you tell them that you’re living with your parents. “I’m thirty-one years old, definitely feel like I want to settle down more. But if I meet a girl nowadays, there has to be an understanding. I’m trying to create something bigger here, and I need to make this sacrifice for the next year-and-a-half of my life so I can have a better life, and a potentially better life for us within the next five years. If you’re not cool with that, you’re not the girl I’m looking for.” Rodrigo started out in the restaurant business, first with his family, later working for a large corporation. About seven years ago, he won a GoPro at a company holiday party raffle. He loved playing around with it and making videos but had no intention of doing anything else with it until he visited a friend of his living in Peru. The friend was a real estate agent, and one day, when his photographer didn’t show up, he asked if Rodrigo could take the pictures instead. He agreed but then offered to take some videos of the property, too. He spent the next seven months filming and renting real estate properties in Peru.

Upon his return to the United States, he moved to New York for a short-lived position at one of his previous employer’s new restaurants, then paid the bills by working at a tennis club, where he landed his next job as a personal chef for a family in the Hamptons, while also freelancing with a catering company. He discovered Crush It! when his company cooked for Techweek 2015 and he heard this Belarusian immigrant tell the story of how he made money as a New Jersey teenager buying Shaq dolls at the dollar store and returning them to Kmart across the street for a full refund. This kind of hustle was familiar to Rodrigo, whose family had moved to the States from Brazil when he was a small child. Money was tight, so when his parents would go to Costco to buy supplies for the restaurant, he’d buy a box of candy bars for six or seven bucks and sell them to his classmates at school for a dollar each.

He’d listen to Crush It! during his hour-long subway commute from his apartment in Crown Heights to cook for his clients’ family on the Upper East Side, and it convinced him to follow his passion and start filming. Film school was financially out of the question; he was going to have to learn on the job. He started with his roommates, who were models, and then offered to do a shoot for a clothing company where one of his friends worked. They put the shoot up on their Instagram, and it got so much attention that they invited him to shoot another event. He earned a little money for that gig, but it would be the only one that paid out of the next ten or so videos he’d create. And that was by design. While taking so many online Udemy classes that the company contacted him to find out why he was consuming so much content so fast, he was offering his services for free to anyone he could find. “I’d find someone who was having an event, and say, ‘Hey, is somebody shooting for you?’ And if they said no, I’d offer myself up. It was pretty much, what can I do to get my foot in the door? I didn’t have the technical skills, but I figured going out and learning and getting the field experience and the opportunity to work with clients was going to benefit me in the long run, so when I was ready to charge somebody, all those skills from the free stuff I was doing would come into play.” He had the perfect day job to accommodate his training. The family he worked for in the Hamptons and the Upper East Side would have him work about forty hours over two or three days, which left the rest of the week open for him to work on his craft. “You have to start building those connections. That’s what drove me. At first it could be discouraging, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

After about three months, he finally got paid $200 to film a behind-the-scenes video for a large publication. Eager to get away from the New York winters, he started researching the Florida market for those types of videos and discovered that there was a void. No one was doing that kind of work down there. He decided he would be the one to create a market for it.

So Rodrigo moved back to Florida in March 2016. Things did not go well.

In New York, I would find a client and then do the whole project for them, the whole process, shooting a video, editing, and producing. I thought I was going to come back to Florida and be this hotshot from New York, and then I realized that no one cares that I was in New York. It’s one of those things; I needed to wake up and realize that the other thing I learned about from Crush It! is growing a personal brand. At first, I was like, “Hey, I’m Rodrigo Tasca from Rodrigo Tasca Productions.” And everyone is like, “Who?” And pretty much I got a lot of doors shut on me. But then I changed my brand to Tasca Studios, and then people were willing to set up an appointment to meet with me and hear what I had to say, and learn that there was a market for small-business videos versus behind-the-scenes for magazines. So changing that brand was like adjusting to the market, realizing that people didn’t want to hire just one guy who does it all, unlike New York, where if you’re not the one guy who does it all, they’re going to find someone else. There are still clients here who have only recently started a Facebook page.

Rodrigo is committed to helping his clients learn how to market online, teaching them the basics of Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube marketing, even when they resist at first. His persistence and commitment have paid off.

A year ago, when I started, we were calling businesses and offering free videos, and people were like, “No, we’re not interested,” or “No, we don’t need it.” Compare that to the fact that I now charge clients twelve hundred dollars for the day to shoot. I’m going to California. I just got back from Tennessee after shooting at a music festival. It’s just so crazy that within one year of hard work and hustle—where that has led me.

I could move out, but I’m considering staying at my parents’ house for another year and then getting an office space. My family is super supportive about what my sister and I are doing (she left her job and works with me full-time now). They’re like, “Whatever we can do to help. We wanna see this work out for you guys.” I really wouldn’t have made it this far without the support of my friends and family.

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