The moody music video for Jarrod Gipson’s Clockwise is bathed in stark, contrasting colors, alternating between a saturation of red and blue imagery that unfolds the intercut scenes of some surreal drama. The visuals are the work of Gabe Jacobson, founder of local Storyteller Creative production company, who has translated the sounds of multiple Colorado artists into music videos. And while they’re just one representation of the narrative-driven cinematographer’s work, they may just give a glimpse behind the lens into the essence of Jacobson — as a creative and as a person.
Jacobson is warm, humble and soft-spoken. However, if you ask the right question, a quick conversation can reveal depth and meditation on the human condition: meaning, doubt, pain and providence. There’s always a deeper story behind the images, and Jacobson’s creative and professional journey has followed an underdog’s arc. Partnership and collaboration have carried him upward and fueled his creativity, no matter the challenges.
Jacobson has lived in Colorado since he was 7. After high school, he attended Pikes Peak Community College studying radio and television. “That was my first foray into creative writing. Those lessons, I continue to lean on,” he says.
Enrollment didn’t last long, though. “I’m a proud community college dropout,” he adds with a smile. “I started doing media work for a church, and the rest is history.”
Jacobson’s videography has a clear, confident vision, but he confesses to the contrary personally. “I’ve faced disillusionment, discouragement … plateauing, with momentum seemingly grinding to a halt,” he confesses. “In those times, it appeared my work had decreased in value … and thought my luck had run out.”
However, audiences and clients have continued to recognize his talent, skill and careful attention to detail. In addition to Gipson’s Clockwise, Jacobson has engineered music videos for Colorado-based bands The Still Tide, Wildermiss, and Nina and The Hold Tight. The latter was a submission for NPR’s Tiny Desk, and ultimately featured on NPR’s All Songs Considered. As momentum built, Nate Meese, a music manager, reached out to Jacobson about collaborating with Anna Morsett of The Still Tide. “I pitched an idea, but after a few shots I knew it wasn’t translating,” Jacobson admits. “We changed direction, improvising … utilizing natural light and less contrasting elements. It felt natural, and aligned with the song.”
“Gabe has always found a way to be a part of this world creatively, and support other artists around him,” says Emma Cole of Wildermiss. “He created a video for my band’s song, Pieces… and later went on tour with us, filming our adventures. He’s since worked with other artists in Denver by ripple effect, which has been so cool to see.”
Jacobson prefers to work with cinematic cameras produced by RED, the pioneering digital brand notably used by the likes of Steven Soderbergh, Peter Jackson and Martin Scorcese, a Jacobson favorite.
Jacobson’s work has also included industry work, such as a short for the engineering and technology company Bosch. That project was a collaboration with photographer Aaron Anderson, who splits time between Colorado Springs and Los Angeles. Anderson was approached to create advertising for Bosch’s SoundSee, an acoustic sensor that operates in a vacuum, and he asked Jacobson to join him.
Together, their images and video feature former International Space Station Commander Michael Foale, who helped develop SoundSee. “Having Gabe on set is always a great experience,” Anderson says. “He has a calm vibe and a level of professionalism that’s awesome to be around — and he produces incredible content.”
Jacobson also recently produced an advertisement for Indie Ridge, a producer of motorcycle apparel. A rider himself, Jacobson purchased a pair of their gloves. A card included in the packaging read: To activate your lifetime warranty, e-mail us with your favorite guitarist. “I submitted Tim McTague of Underoath and received a reply within two hours, saying: ‘No one has said Tim from Underoath! I love Underoath!’” That personal touch prompted Jacobson to share his portfolio. He hoped to work with them, but didn’t expect a yes. Indie Ridge replied with a budget.
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Jacobson has had to adapt, learning to create under the constraints of quarantine. “A video I shot for [Colorado Springs-based artist] Jeremy Facknitz was recently released, and his album is incredible,” Jacobson says. “We also made a quarantine music video to celebrate. He and his band shot phone footage in their homes and sent me the files.”
In addition, Jacobson is working remotely with other creatives, developing digital asset packages for filmmakers. “We wanted to not only learn while quarantined, but give creatives fresh tools to work with, and hopefully inspire creativity in others. Those will hopefully start releasing in the next month.”
Looking ahead, pursuing his passion to create, Jacobson has this to say: “I am still trying to figure it out. For a few years, I was fumbling my way through it without stopping to think deeply about who I want to be and what I want to offer. Today, I feel much more in touch with myself and where I want to go, more than ever.”