Matt Sagen, owner, producer and cinematographer of Cascadia Films, left, directs Laurie Szczepczynski of Sound Community Bank in Port Angeles and her clients Mark Ray and Haley Ray for a community video he is filming for United Way of Clallam County.

Behind the scenes with Cascadia Films and a Sequim cinematographer’s journey

By Erin Hawkins

Olympic Peninsula News Group

SEQUIM — Matt Sagen exudes passion for his work as a Sequim-based cinematographer.

The 33-year-old said chasing his dreams means doing exactly what he’s doing now: owning his own film company and creating a variety of promotional, marketing and community videos for local businesses in and around Sequim and Port Angeles.

“You get to see people’s passions come to life,” Sagen said. “I’m just lucky enough I get to capture it on film.”

Sagen’s company, Cascadia Films, already has made video content for 33 businesses in Clallam County, including eight businesses in Sequim, such as Maggie May’s Espresso &Outfitter, Sequim Animal Hospital and Anytime Fitness.

Cascadia Films has been in the works for more than two years now, Sagen said. His documentary-style cinematography also covers events and weddings in and around Clallam County on top of the promotional and marketing content he produces for local businesses.

While Sagen has always had an interest in photography and watching movies with his father as a child — quoting several of his favorite movie lines during his interview — he never thought he would become a cinematographer.

“I had no anticipation it was going to be as popular as it was,” he said. “Everyone said I was nuts.”

When Sagen first started filming, he said he had only one $1,500 camera, a microphone and a recording device. Now, he has three Panasonic GH5 cameras, four microphones, a motorized slider, gimbals and more film tools to make his one-man business possible.

Sagen said to put his film business into perspective, the cameras and gadgets he has are just tools and the people in the community serve as his source of inspiration.

“I wouldn’t be able to do my job if [local businesses] weren’t doing theirs,” Sagen said.

“You get to hear who they are, and at the end of the day, I think people want to feel passionate about what they do.”

Sagen’s career path before cinematography includes a variety of skill sets, from serving in the Navy and an eight-month deployment to Iraq to working at Sequim Chiropractic to getting his real estate license.

He said after his return from the war in Iraq in 2008, he wanted to do something that showed the beauty of the Olympic Peninsula.

“I told myself when I got back I wanted to do a job where I can show people the beauty of where we’re at — showcasing the beauty of this area and the people that represent it,” he said.

Three weeks after he got his real estate license, he said he knew the job wasn’t for him, and that’s when he ventured out into cinematography.

“Everything I learned was by failing and succeeding,” Sagen said.

Sagen said his “a-ha” moment for pursuing cinematography came to him when he filmed for Bada NW Coffee Bar in Port Angeles. It also was the turning point of Sagen’s film business.

“Being able to capture the magic, and the passion, and the dreams of every person all the way down to the staff, it’s fulfilling,” Sagen said. “And that’s when I realized that’s true with every job.”

Sagen said he is working now on nine projects in the area. One of his larger projects is filming a community video for United Way of Clallam County, a nonprofit that donates funds to various organizations throughout the county in the areas of health and human services.

He recently hired two interns to help cover events and said he may reach out to Sequim High School or Peninsula College students for future interns.

To learn more about Cascadia Films, visit www.hello cascadia.com.

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Erin Hawkins is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach her at [email protected].

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