see me creative founder Sara McDowell is in Pursuit of Self Discovery in New York City
Sara McDowell, founder of see me creative, opens up about hard work, her love to create and her journey of self discovery by running her own creative agency in manhattan.
We teamed up with Quoted Magazine to tell the stories of 5 people throughout each borough of New York City who are doing things that make an impact creatively, charitably or socially.
Occupations, affiliations, and projects.
I’m a director—I’m a storyteller.
I’m a creative director and the founder of See Me Creative — a creative agency that’s dedicated to making creative content that feels honest, raw and real. We ultimately want to create creative that connects, which is what I think people are really yearning for right now, or at least I am.
My biggest ongoing project is that I’m a seeker (as lame as that is). My whole life I’ve always been in pursuit of some sort of self discovery that I believe contributes to everything that I do. It’s one of those constant work in progress projects...
People Who Do focuses on those who take action to pursue meaningful work and life passions. why is it important to you to “do”?
To me ‘doing’ is a lot about facing my own fears, facing myself—believing that I have the power to create the things I imagine. It’s about taking steps to make the seemingly impossible, possible.
I think on the practical level of doing, I’ve always been a hard worker. My father’s a contractor and I grew up in Ohio watching him do so many things, from his work, to taking care of me. It definitely impacted the way I think and as a result I really do believe that hard work pays off.
At the end of the day it’s always been really important to me, to do what I say I’m going to do.
To date, what accomplishments are you most proud of?
I would definitely have to say starting See Me was the hardest thing I’ve ever done and so it’s something I’m really proud of. I think what makes me the most proud of it though is that I could’ve walked away at any time and taken an easier path, and I didn’t.
I don’t know how it is for other founders, but starting a company has really made me face myself, to look in all the places where I know the fear and insecurity are hiding and confront them head on. So I’m really proud of that because it’s definitely not the most fun or easy thing to do, but very necessary to build a strong foundation for myself and my company.
When did you first realize that photography, video and art in general was something you wanted to pursue?
Honestly probably since birth. I remember watching the Disney cartoon Bambi and cried when the mother died, and I was fascinated by the fact that something that wasn’t real could make me feel real feelings. I must have been about four or five. I wasn’t able to articulate it properly then, but experiencing that gave me a feeling of connection, looking around the room and seeing the other kids at daycare experience the same emotion just by watching something was truly incredible to me. My whole life I’ve wanted to do that, make things that make people feel. I was just drawn to it, and I didn’t know what that would manifest into, but I knew I had to pursue it and so I always have.
#1 motivating mantra to get through tough moments.
“Play the long game.” It helps me to slow down and realize I’m not in a race and if I’m not enjoying the process, then truly what’s the point.
What’s the feeling that you get at the end of a long, successful day of production? Can you describe it?
Aww man, it’s done.
Filled with gratitude to work with the best crews and people ever.
Thinking through everything—did I miss capturing anything, even though I can’t go back.
Thinking about the edit.
Tired. Really tired.
Do I have a sheet mask at home.
Man, that was fun.
Onto the next.
Is there something about New York City specifically that inspires you to create and why?
People watching—getting lost in thought on long subway rides. I love thinking when I’m in motion. There’s something about watching the world go by that’s really calming to me and at the same time there’s a narrative quality to these moments that feels cinematic and inspiring.
What’s your favorite thing you’ve learned so far this year?
Look back to see how far you’ve come.
I think sometimes I’m so focused on what’s next that I don’t take the time to remember all the things I’ve achieved or accomplished to get me here. This year I learned to take a beat and sort of just savor it, and sometimes the only way to really remember how far you’ve come is to look back.
What’s your favorite lesson you’ve ever learned?
I think truly trusting that everything does happen for a reason—embracing what may seem like a detour and understanding that it’s a necessary part of your path. Within that understanding there are so many lessons to be continually learned.
What's one thing you would tell someone who's looking to pursue a creative passion they’ve always wanted to?
Start today. Don’t make excuses on why it’s not the right time, or fill in the blank for whatever you’re telling yourself that’s holding you back—instead just start now. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t have to be a huge effort, it just needs to be one step forward. It’s hard to start, but it’s even harder to continue, so pace yourself for the long game. Do a little everyday no matter how small and never believe your own lies when you tell yourself you can’t because YOU CAN.
What's your pro tip on set?
Have music playing at all times, especially during set-up, it sets the vibe for the day.
Introduce yourself to everyone, it can be intimidating not knowing others on set, but it’s easily fixed with an introduction and people always appreciate the effort.
Respect PAs/Interns and take them seriously, they’re your future.
Trust the work you’ve put in and don’t stress the small hiccups that will inevitably happen because there’s always a solution.
What’s the best piece of advice that you can give someone right now?
Always listen to that voice inside you, it’s always telling you the truth and steering you down the path that’s best for you. Trust yourself and be patient, time always brings what’s needed.
By “do-ing” you create your own unique legacy. How do you want your legacy to look?
I don’t know if I want to think about what my legacy would be because I don’t really ever want to put energy on how I’m perceived or what others think of me. Harder said than done, but definitely working on that since when I put my focus there it brings me a lot of anxiety and definitely blocks me creatively. So I guess I would say only what I’m trying to achieve for myself which is always striving to be an empathetic and generous person who is telling stories to help me understand my journey and in turn it helps others understand themselves and their own journey.
What’s the next goal?
My top goal has always been to write and direct a movie, so that’s something I’m always working towards. Every step and move I’ve made creatively has been in pursuit of that, even when it was a goal that I was too scared to tell others about. So what I’m really focused on now is working to finish writing a short that I can shoot in 2020. I’m actively trying to take my own advice and not be overly precious about the process and not create roadblocks for myself by feeling like it needs to be perfect when it will definitely be a learning experience.