3 women and 1 man standing indoors together smiling for a photo

Real-Life Productions CEO Shares his Journey to Self-Employment

Jarrod Arencibia has had a passion for videography since the first time he used his grandfather’s camera at the age of 14. Now, nearly 25 years later, his passion has flourished into a self-owned business, Real Life Productions, with successes including being published on the National Weather Channel and at a national conference.

Though Jarrod’s journey is paved with ups and downs, his own resiliency and network of support have helped him achieve the success he enjoys today.

Jarrod’s passion for the camera began in 1998, when he started using his grandfather’s camera. “I loved how I could create a story through the lens and share what I captured with the viewers,” Jarrod said. Around that time, Jarrod watched an action documentary series on The Learning Channel that catapulted his love for the “moving camera.”

“I learned that I liked the constant movement of capturing something on camera, then I met Bill Ross and Keith Banner through Visionaries and Voices while I was working in fast food and they allowed me to use their equipment to film Art Walks and interview people,” Jarrod said. Visionaries and Voices is an inclusive arts organization that provides creative, professional, and educational opportunities for adults with disabilities. Jarrod said that without the help of Visionaries and Voices he would have not been able to gain the experience he had interviewing people and working with high-quality cameras.

Jarrod continued to grow his network of support and ultimately, that growing network led to the idea of building his own media business.

“I met Christian Applebee who did a documentary about Visionaries and Voices in 2007 and I told Christian that I would love to do what he does and film behind the scenes,” Jarrod said. “Christian took that to heart and became a mentor and then in 2009 we completed a documentary showcasing people with special needs across the state called Film Outside the Lines.”

Jarrod felt as though he was finally achieving his dreams of being a videographer. More importantly, Jarrod got the opportunity to work with commercial camera equipment for the first time.

“While filming the documentary I got to work with the HVX 200 and DVX 100,” Jarrod said. “Keeping up with the latest equipment is really important to me because I always want to challenge myself and learn new things.”

In 2010, Jarrod met Carol Buckner, the owner of Buckner’s Employment and Training (BEST).

A woman and a man indoors against a beige wall standing side by side smiling
Jarrod and Carol Buckner

“I started working with Jarrod as part of a grant through the State of Ohio, Griffin and Hamis,” Carol said. “The objective was to take individuals who were struggling to find a clear career direction. Jarrod selected me to be his provider, and from there Jarrod then asked me to work with him on his contract with Media Bridges.”

Media Bridges, was a non-profit community media center that provided the education, equipment and environment for people to communicate effectively through media. The media center also offered classes in media production and literacy, access to a library media tools and equipment, and more.

When Jarrod obtained his first paid employment opportunity with Media Bridges, he became hyper focused on what it took to be self-employed. Unfortunately, in 2011, Jarrod was hit with an obstacle.

“When the budget was cut for Media Bridges, Jarrod was laid off,” Carol said. “I knew it was going to hit him hard, so I helped him with a video project where we filmed others who were self-employed across the state. The focus of the film was on their achievements and struggles and as a result of the film, Jarrod was featured at the National Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation Conference!”

“It was hard to overcome being laid off, but I picked myself back up and found employment opportunities,” Jarrod said. “Carol and I completed a documentary where we went around the state of Ohio and interviewed business owners with disabilities. I also got a chance to film a Christmas Parade. I will admit I struggled and lost motivation, but I knew I had to pick himself back up again. When one door closed for me, me and my team always found a way to open another door.”

As Jarrod gained more videography experience, he started to take on more “action film” projects. Jarrod became highly invested in storm chasing and to his surprise one of his videos and photos was featured on the National Weather Channel! With that national recognition, Jarrod’s confidence with the camera skyrocketed. He began filming interviews with people at community festivals and eventually one of his videos was purchased by the City of Blue Ash.

“I found that I really enjoyed going out in the community and talking to people,” Jarrod said. “I like that my videos help educate people. For example, I did a video on Yellow Springs, Ohio and after people watched it, they said they wanted to live there! I also did a feature video about Northern Kentucky University and one guy that watched my video said he wanted to attend NKU just after seeing my video! Seeing proof of people learning inspired me to create more videos.”

A man outdoors by trees holding a camera

One project that was particularly important to Jarrod was filming interviews of people from Cuba about life in a communist society. “Jarrod’s father is from Cuba so interviewing and sharing the stories was an important milestone for him,” Carol said.

Carol shared that an important distinction for Jarrod is that videoing is a business, not a hobby. “What Jarrod does is paid work,” she said. “Working with Jarrod is fun, and always changing. His video career has really taken off! He was even scheduled to do a video in Vegas! He is a professional. He has achieved so much and done amazing things over the time we have known each other.”

Today, Jarrod has his own YouTube Channel called “Real Life Action TV” where he features all his company’s, Real-Life Productions, video projects. Jarrod’s YouTube Channel has 947 subscribers and 544 videos.

“I hope to continue to create content on YouTube and maintain a relationship with the Network Society so that I can educate the next generation about videography,” Jarrod said. “Right now, I’m working with a group of children in Mason called ‘The Hang Out Group’ where I teach them how to use video equipment and the ins and outs of videography. What I achieved just proves if you work hard opportunities will flourish. Things don’t just come to you; you have to work for them!”

1 man teaching another man indoors in a classroom how to use a camera
Jarrod teaching a class on videography at “The Hangout Group” in Mason, Ohio
A man and a woman standing indoors against a beige wall side by side smiling
Jarrod and Individual Employment Support Coach, Barbara Danielson – “Jarrod has always been a glass half full kind of guy!”
A man and a woman standing indoors against a beige wall side by side smiling
Jarrod and BCBDD Employment Services Coordinator, Beth Risner “The role that everyone plays does matter and it takes a village for everyone, not one person can be successful alone, we all need support. Jarrod is an inspiration to others to never give up even if something seems impossible, never give up on your dreams.”
Watch Jarrod’s Video About Yellow Springs, Ohio
Watch Jarrod’s Video About Blue Ash, Ohio
Watch Jarrod’s Video About Miami University

To watch more Real-Life Productions videos visit Real Life Action TV on YouTube or visit Real Life Action TV on Facebook. If you are interested in hiring Jarrod to create a video email him at Jarrodfilm@gmail.com.