Nic Davis is a cool guy. Humble, jovial. He's honest, passionate, oh, and an Emmy-winning filmmaker. You can understand why I was nervous to interview him. Yet, upon meeting, his open presence is calming, even though the lens of Zoom. Come to find out, Nic shares my feelings on interviews.
"It’s always a little nerve wracking," Nic jokes when asked what it’s like to interview A-listers, like Jason Mraz and Dave Matthews. Before interviewing Jason, Nic and his team were given a strict, one-hour time limit from Jason’s managers. Turns out Jason, had different ideas and showed Nic and the team around his home.
Nic Davis is the founder and CEO of 4:08 Productions, a production company driven by storytelling. Their most recent and first feature-film-length production is Enormous: The Gorge Story. The Gorge is an outdoor amphitheater in George, Washington that’s hosted a number of well-known and well-love musicians since its inception. The venue is a sort of pilgrimage for artists and fans alike. Though difficult to get to, the journey proves worth it.
“This is not a puff piece,” Nic clarifies. The team strove to capture the Gorge from all angles, good and bad. Like when Steve Matthews used his interview to complain about the dust, chaos and no-rules attitude that comes with preforming there.
Passions for film and music fueled Nic to piece together his debut feature-film on the Gorge’s. He remembers classmates road tripping there over weekends and determined to bring those stories to the screen. Born in Denver, Nic attended University of Montana to study journalism. Finding that traditional journalism wasn’t his thing, his love for storytelling carried him through his degree. Nic had a taste for adventure, traveling, meeting new people and was willing to do what it took to make a career out of it.
“[Storytelling] gets you this window into so many people’s lives that not everyone gets,” the aspired filmmaker explains. While on his search for success, Nic took any and all unpaid and low-paying jobs to jam his foot in the door. Once the got ball rolling, it didn’t stop. 12-hour days wriggled into the norm. When Nic found time to sit down with me, he was working on five projects simultaneously.
When a packed calendar tempts shoddy work, Nic sticks to core storytelling principles: honesty and emotion. When he pitched the Gorge as a feature film documentary, producers thought he was crazy–there can’t be emotion in an open field. Turns out, after seven years of blood, sweat and tears (“Literally.”), it seems a place can portray emotion. Take the woman who spread her sister’s ashes over the Gorge to let her sister “dance on the cliffs forever.”
It can be easy to move on from a project once it’s completed, but Nic likes to watch the story live out its life. He likes to read online comments about Enormous: The Gorge Story and finds comfort knowing people enjoy what he’s created.
As for what’s next, Nic is looking to slow that speeding ball. After years of saying yes, he’s learning to say no. Nic wants 4:08 films to have purpose, both emotionally and financially. And although it takes a lot of dough to produce an independent documentary, Nic’s monetary focus is on donating proceeds to charities that mean something to him and to the topics his films depict.
Navigating his way into a slower lifestyle, Nic hopes other young filmmakers take a moment to slow down and soak in the moment. Breaking into the film industry spotlight necessitates a fast-paced lifestyle with little separation from home and work, but you have to find beauty in perusing your passion for creativity.
“It took me 20 years to become an overnight success,” Nic smiles.