Meet Ishell Vaughan, the Filmmaker who Turned a Photography Hobby Into a Six-Figure Career

Meet Ishell Vaughan, the Filmmaker who Turned a Photography Hobby Into a Six-Figure Career

Director and filmmaker Ishell Vaughan knew that success wouldn’t come easy. Burdened by college debt and struggling to keep his 9-5, Ishell used to break out his camera only to shoot short videos for friends and family. It wasn’t until his good friend offered to pay him to shoot a baby shower, however, that Ishell realized he just might be able to eke out a living through his passion for filmmaking. Now with over 1 million views and counting on YouTube, Ishell sat down to share the secrets to success and ability to overcome the crippling mindset of fear that plagued him early on.

“Fear is a natural and normal response to the challenges we face in life; it’s how you use fear that matters the most. I use fear as an internal compass that challenges me to push the needle of my potential. Whenever I confront something that I fear, I try to get to the root of that emotional response. I aim to learn everything about my fears, facing them and making a conscious effort to remove their power over me bit by bit. Reframing fear allows me to transform those emotions into stepping stones that will allow me to climb to the peak of my purpose.” 

One look at Ishell’s YouTube channel shows just how powerfully he has managed to transform that fear to his benefit. From early Army recruitment videos, to popular music videos with 180K+ views, Ishell has embraced his own style and transformed early fears into a speedy succession of successes. His director’s reel demonstrates clearly his ability to handle everything from commercial shoots to chase scenes with a poise and clarity par-none. 

“The biggest challenge when starting a business is finding who your true audience is,” shares Ishell. “When starting a business, it’s easy to believe that you can cater to the needs of everyone. However, that is not scalable, and it compromises your worth as the aim to build. By focusing on your intended audience, you not only narrow your scope, but also sharpen the quality of your work to fit that audience’s specific needs.”

Only through hard work and a focused vision has Ishell so successfully carved out his own niche in the overcrowded entertainment space, gaining the praise and respect of critics. As a director and filmmaker, Ishell recognizes the diverse array of talents required to tackle big projects in the industry, especially when working with creative clients like rapper Lil Durk and internationally renowned singer Akon. Now he hopes to mentor a new generation of creatives, passing down his accrued wisdom and street smarts from working in the entertainment industry.

Speaking to new filmmakers, Ishell shares that, “Mindset is probably more important than the business. There is nothing new under the sun. What separates a successful business owner from everyone else is their internal dialogue. You have to be able to have tenacity and persevere to all of the challenges that come when being a business owner. If you don’t have that grit, I don’t think you’ll get far.”

Moving forward, Ishell is looking forward to the release of “My First Film,” written and directed by his mentor, Rock Davis. Ishell served as Director of Photography for the piece, cutting his teeth for the first time on larger projects. Ishell also plans to release digital assets for filmmakers, along with his own line of merchandise. Through all of this, however, Ishell confides that he’ll keep those hard-won lessons on fear close to heart, remembering that every new challenge is also a chance to adapt and improve his craft.

You can follow Ishell’s journey on Instagram (@ishell.raw) and view his work on YouTube

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