By November 24, 2019 0 Comments Read More →

Interview – Community Creativity with Mike Daniel

Community Creativity – Mike Daniel
By Chris Murphy

Modesto is great because of our community of people that give back, share their talents and give of their time beyond what their job is. I think it is this type of community service that is the secret sauce of Modesto. What I have found is that when people have a talent, they put it to work in ways that lift up our community. ModestoView has made it our priority to find and work with people that want to create a positive dialog. When they have a special talent or skill, this can help amplify this issue.

I have worked with Mike Daniel, Sam Kneiss and the Final Cut Media group for nearly 20 years. I began to work with them back when they managed the community public access TV process in the basement of the SCOE building. They would team up with me for the MAMA Awards, local video projects that shined a positive light on our community. Today, Mike Daniel leads Final Cut and his community spirit is still as strong and their professional media and video services are first class. He and his team recently produced a 90-minute long Legends of the Cruise interview show that included the late Bart Bartoni and many of the Cruise Legends enshrined on the Walk of Fame and has begun a new community podcast that ModestoView will support. Not only is Mike a good community volunteer, his role as a single father is his greatest care. His appreciation for his community, and like me, wants to create a community where his kids will WANT to live. Let’s get to know Mike.

ModestoView: Where did you grow up?
Mike Daniel: I had the privilege of growing up in our community. I was raised primarily in South Modesto. I loved growing up in that community – it introduced me to various cultures at a young age, and challenged me to see past what many consider to be a

MV: How did you discover the world of video and media production?
MD: Folks who know me know that I grew up a die-hard pro wrestling fan. Watching Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, “Macho Man” Randy Savage and others do their thing captivated me. What caught me most wasn’t the in-ring action per say, but how it all came together. It created this interest in production, and all of the moving parts.

As I got older, I had the chance to learn the pro wrestling craft and have my own community access pro wrestling TV show. We’d cram 50 people into an old warehouse in Stockton and produce several 30-minute episodes for TV. Through doing that, I learned project management, graphic design, videography, and how to manage people. I joke that pro wrestling taught me about business and life.

MV: Video production is a hard business, what does it take to stay in front of the new tech and techniques?
MD: Stay young. I mean that literally and figuratively. The key to success is to stay in front of creative trends, and continually groom the next generation of cinematographers and producers. I think what makes Final Cut unique is that we are creative risk-takers. We see each project as a chance to push the envelope in terms of look, feel, message and style. We pride ourselves on creating content that always feels unique, and unafraid to try new things.

MV: What do you find most interesting about the Modesto area?
MD: Having grown up here, I’ve had the chance to see the community evolve. And I feel today we are in the midst of a tremendous evolution. The next generation of concerned citizen-leaders are taking on the role of community advocates, and its inspiring. Between the movement downtown, events like Gala in Graceada, and the movement to create a Children’s Museum, gorgeous murals on every corner, and a Cruise Museum honoring our amazing past, I feel we are at the apex of a cultural renaissance that will truly separate Modesto from other valley cities.

MV: Like me, you left Modesto for a time and returned to continue your career, what brought you back?
MD: Professionally I saw Modesto as a market chock-full of opportunity. I took what I learned running firms in Seattle and Washington DC and applied it to my own agency. I saw there was an intersection of need and timing that would embrace an agency like Final Cut – one that is obsessively focused with creating good content and telling the story of our community in a meaningful way. I feel we’re doing that, and I’m so proud of it.

Personally, above all else, I’m a dad first. I am so lucky to have the pleasure of being a father to my seven year-old son Matthew. He’s taught me far more about life and priorities than I’ve taught him so far. Being a good dad to him is my passion.

MV: What is your approach to creativity for your clients?
MD: Get to know your clients in a meaningful way. I look at each engagement as a true partnership. Our success is their success. Many think storytelling is easy. It’s not. Understanding, then articulating a brand that someone is very passionate about takes similar passion – and at Final Cut, we focus on that as our mission: to produce best-in-class content and offer a better-than-class experience every time. When you do that, creativity flows because you learn to trust each other.

MV: I was fortunate to be your guest on the first community video podcast, what do you hope to accomplish with this new series?
MD: To tell the story of our community in a thoughtful, honest way. And I feel the best way to do that is to bring in divergent opinions, as them the same question, and see where the corollaries exist. Our first series “What is a Community Brand” is bringing together artists, advocates, and community leaders to discuss what and why a community brand is so important. The project is early on and will refine itself over time – but early on we are very excited about the message and the responses we got.

MV: What are some of the misconceptions about Modesto that you want to correct?
MD: That we’re simply a small-minded cow town ran by old, generational money and influence. I hope to be one of many that see that as a false premise – and that we’re a growing community full of creatives, business-minded folks, and those who see that Modesto has retained its small-town charm but is growing into a bustling metro community. And this only happens if people are ready and willing to take risks and are unafraid to try something new and different. If we don’t evolve, we die. I firmly believe that.

MV: How to you think we can best work as a community to create a perception that we are a creative and innovative place to live and work?
MD: If we work as a true collaborative, and not in silos. I feel we have a surplus of passion but work at a deficit of organization. Everyone has their idea of what makes a community thrive, but it’s much more difficult to decide together how to bring those ideas together in a cohesive message. It’s not impossible. Look to Sacramento for example. Different opinions coming together to create a kaleidoscope of who they are: Farm to Fork capital, artiss haven, sports town…in conversations with folks in that community, it all started with a passion for creating a message. It wasn’t about their specific message; it was about a message.

I feel any good city image is built upon the various things that make them unique. For us, it’s our cruising and rockabilly heritage as much as it’s our ode to cinema through George Lucas, our role in the wine and almond industry, and today – as a place where business leaders are looking to create the next ag technology tool, or tell a story about their brand.

MV: Describe your idea day in Modesto.
MD: I just had one! It started with a Nitro Cold Brew at Heart & Soul with a friend visiting from DC, then we headed over to Picasso’s to talk art with Jordi Camps over a sandwich. After that, I introduced her to several friends and talked about life, business, and friendship. As she left, she walked away so impressed with the sense of community we have. She couldn’t wait to tell her friends she was staying with in San Francisco about how fun and unique Modesto truly is.

MV: Our signature question:Beatles or Stones?
MD: While I have a hearty appreciation for both, I’m a Beatles guy. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da is one of my go-to’s.

MV: Anything else you want to add?
MD: As a small business owner in the community I love, it’s so exciting to see other like-minded young(ish) leaders emerge. I hope we all take the time to appreciate the opportunity we have and pay it forward to the next generation we hope to encourage to invest in the community in their own way.

Mike Daniel, CEO
Final Cut Media
1720 G St. Modesto, CA 95354

Please take time to watch the first in the series of community podcasts featuring Mike Daniel and Chris Murphy. Your feedback would be great and please share these with your friends and colleagues.



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About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.