Jeffrey N. Baker
I consider myself an entertainer first. In High School it started with acting. Being on stage, directing, even dabbling in stage play writing it all centered around my desire to entertain people. I couldn’t help but feel driven to make people forget their problems for a few hours and have a good time.
So I became a professional actor, right?
Eh, not so much.
I tried for a bit, had an agent and everything. But nothing really happened and as years passed and I felt I really needed a career I could sink my teeth into. I had a minimal talent with drawing. Loved video games. So it seemed like becoming a professional animator would be right up my alley.
Did I become a professional animator?
It really fit well with all the talents I had pulled together. Animating is acting, I had a solid grasp of drawing and design, and most importantly it scratched that itch for entertainment. I loved watching people get excited about things I had made. For a time I even had the privilege of working on a Comedy Central show titled “Freak Show.”
In time I found myself animating for a casino slot company and things were good.
Or so I thought.
I looked at my passion for animating, acting, and that drive to entertain and realized they all had a commonality. At the heart of them all was the desire to tell a story. In all those years that had been what I was driving at — to tell someone a story. That burst of realization sent me off in a blaze of writing. Every discipline I had trained in fueled the pages.
Most people would say that I’m a writer now, but to me I’ll always see myself as an entertainer.
And I look forward to entertaining you.
Gregory A. Baker
I often describe myself as a recovering software engineer. So, how did I end up writing?
Way, way back when I was in High school, I loved writing. I was good at it, even got bumped up to an advanced placement English class where people loved reading my creative work.
Unfortunately, my mental health wasn’t so great and my grades suffered along with it.
As someone who’s struggled with depression most of my life, High school was the WORST.
I didn’t know how to get help, hell, I didn’t even know I needed help. I just knew I felt like shit all the time and that’s just how it was.
For a looong time.
I eventually squeezed through High school and ended up at Georgia State University.
During my Intro to Computers class (I know, it sounds like a social event)
the instructor asked us, “How much do you think a computer programmer makes?”
Probably pretty good money, and being one of three boys raised by a single mother, my perception of ‘pretty good money’ was rather skewed, and I answered – “$25,000 a year!”
The instructor laughed and said, “More like $60,000 a year.”
And that was it for me. Changed major, enrolled in the Computer Information Systems (CIS) program, and spent the next four years learning software design and development.
After graduating GSU I get a job programming in Raleigh, NC…got laid off, got another job programming…quit, started my own businesses programming…quit that, went back to a job, got laid off…
And HATED my life.
I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t even doing what I wanted to be doing!
I wanted to write.
I wanted to tell stories.
Then one day, my wife says to me after being laid off again for the third time in 8 years, “Did you know there’s a film school in Winston-Salem, NC?”
She continued, “Yep – it’s one of the best film school’s in the world.”
We visited the school, I applied, got through the interview processes, and started my BFA in Filmmaking at UNCSA in the fall of 2009.
I was a 33 year old freshman.
Which was not only a concern for me, but I was grilled pretty heavily about it during my interviews with the faculty.
Thankfully, it was never an issue.
The faculty and students are an amazing group of people, and I never once felt out of place or made to feel like ‘the old guy’.
Going in, I knew Screenwriting was were I wanted to be, and that’s what I did.
I learned a lot about all aspects of filmmaking – cinematography, production design, directing, editing, producing. It was the best experience of my life.
I wrote a lot of screenplays, tons of short films and a few feature length scripts. Got a chance to work with some amazing people and create some life-long memories along the way.
After graduation I’m back to software engineering for my day job, but my passion is writing for the screen.
I continue to write, and I love talking about the writing process.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned during my first thirty decades, it’s that life is all about the journey.
I look forward to sharing it with you.