Wednesday, Dec. 18 marked something of a homecoming for Scotts Valley native Jared Cullen, as he found himself in his hometown shooting footage for an upcoming Hyundai commercial.

Cullen, a member of Scotts Valley High School's inaugural graduating class of 2003, has turned a lifelong affinity for film into a career that has allowed him to shoot commercials for some major companies.

“I essentially just got lucky,” he said. “Camera work — that's always been my passion.”

Cullen said that he'd been working with film since the time he was a boy, filming skateboarding stunts with his friends, but chose to study accounting at UC Santa Barbara.

Two years of accounting courses, however, turned him off enough to the point where he said he knew he needed a change.

“I knew I hated (accounting),” Cullen said. “My passion had always been film, but it just didn’t seem that lucrative.”

He said that he took a year off from college courses, working odd jobs and filming snowboarding videos.

Those snowboarding films, which Cullen said were made for his own entertainment, evolved into a portfolio of his talent with a camera that he used to gain admission to the film program at San Diego State University.

Since he graduated in 2009, he begin working for Video In My Back Yard (VIMBY), a film company that specialized in storytelling advertisement.

Cullen, who recently relocated from San Diego to the Los Angeles area, said that typically his job entails locating actual owners of his clients' products, and interviewing them for use in commercials.

The biggest client he works with is Walmart, which asks for some 67 commercials per week, mostly on the local level. He said he's also worked with New Era Cap Company, Puma, and Hyundai.

“It's a reality-based commercial — any sort of branded commercial work,” Cullen said. “It's pretty lucrative to say the least.”

For aspiring film students, he offered up some advice.

“Do everything, shoot everything — someone is always watching,” Cullen said. “As long as you work your hardest, someone will notice.”

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