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Meet the Bay Area Filmmaker Who Makes Short Films for Nonprofits

Graton-based Jake Viramontez created an initiative that offers to make films for free for nonprofits in need, such as Sebastopol's Ceres Community Project.

When Jake Viramontez was a kid growing up in San Jose, he loved watching international spy thrillers, remote adventure films — “anything where people would explore and navigate the globe with confidence.”

“I guess I’m still trying to live out that reality,” he says, only days before flying to Germany for a film shoot. At 34, he’s already been to 54 countries, making both advertising films and short promotions for nonprofits. In 2021, after working in Los Angeles for over a decade, he moved to Graton.

On a whim, Viramontez created Free Exposure, an initiative that offered to make films for nonprofits in need at no cost. He started with a short for Our Own, a Los Angeles nonprofit that helps underserved kids with college prep and business internships.

Changing the name of the initiative to “Sown,” he focused his second film on the Ceres Community Project, a life-altering Sebastopol group that works with teen volunteers to grow and make organic meals for those facing serious illness. The work was screened at this year’s Sonoma International Film Festival and can be seen at ceresproject.org.

Videographer Jake Viramontez
Videographer Jake Viramontez, of Graton, started a nonprofit to make fundraising videos for other nonprofit groups. His video on Sebastopol’s Ceres Project inspired Sony to gift him their latest FX3 camera and then hired him to direct up to 10 short films for other nonprofits in their Create Action campaign. (Photo by John Burgess/The Press Democrat)
Nonprofit storytelling

“As a filmmaker you’re always telling the story of the potential of the human spirit; of our ability to overcome obstacles and to emerge on the other side stronger. That’s the hero’s journey. That’s ‘Star Wars.’ That’s ‘The Odyssey.’ And I think nonprofits live that every single day.”

Biggest challenge

“Asking for money for this initiative. I have no problem raising for other people, and I actually really enjoy it. But I’m really bad at asking for money for Sown.”

The takeaway

“It feels like purpose. It’s why I like the name ‘Sown’ so much, because it feels the way that you would look at a giant oak tree – and go, ‘Wow, that started somewhere.’ And it started as an acorn.”

See and learn more about Jake Viramontez’s work at sownforgood.com.

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