How Noah Keckler is pursuing his dreams
It was a hot summer day in Las Vegas. The sun was beating down and gusts of wind created a haze of desert sand. The camera equipment had been set up but the screens (for lighting) kept blowing over. Dreamer Isioma, the artist, stood dead center, ready to film a long-awaited music video. In the few seconds that the wind subsided, the director managed to shoot the scene.
Noah Keckler, a 21-year-old cinematographer, creates music videos for indie artists, including Dreamer Isioma, Ryan Woods, and Heartgaze. Two years ago, he founded his own production company called Mailbox.
The name “Mailbox” originated from a walk Keckler took with his dad in his hometown of Louisville. Keckler explained to his dad how production companies operate and his aspirations to one day create his own. As they continued their walk down the suburban streets, Keckler, almost jokingly, suggested the name “Mailbox,” and it stuck.
It was here, in Louisville, that Keckler first became acquainted with a camera. As a kid in elementary school, Keckler worked on a morning broadcast with the school librarian, Mrs. Owens.
“I’d wake up early and go to school early just to learn and to tinker with stuff,” said Keckler.
The camera followed him through his childhood and educational career. In high school, Keckler took a camcorder to football games. While he didn’t have a press pass to access the field, he’d film the game from the stands, capturing the athletes as well as the students cheering and shouting.
“I found that a lot of people really enjoyed that more than like the sports coverage because they could see themselves in a video,” said Kecker.
Keckler’s relationship to the audience is something that has stuck with him as his skills and artistic style shift. In 2020, Keckler moved to Chicago to attend DePaul University and, with new opportunities and resources, his filmmaking excelled.
One of the recent videos Keckler worked on was with an indie artist FIG. The video entitled “Cooking for One” is a compilation of FIG in a grocery store and in her kitchen, making dinner for herself. The camera flips between both settings, each transition in accordance with the rhythm of the song.
Much more goes into the creation of the video than the process of filming and editing. Keckler came across FIG’s music in 2020, reached out, and they’ve been friends ever since. A few years later, he filmed her music video. FIG’s lighthearted personality comes across clearly through the clips of her dancing and running through the empty aisles of the supermarket.
With his work, Keckler always maintains the authenticity of the artist while simultaneously adding his own artistic style and interpretation. In Ryan Woods’ “Walls,” a wallflower struggles with the complex emotions of missing someone and simultaneously resenting them. Keckler strongly juxtaposes Woods and the girl that he’s missing through lighting choices. He casts Woods in a darker, moodier light while the girl is kept in bright, warmer tones.
Lighting is the hallmark of Keckler’s videos, and it’s something that he’s spent a lot of time perfecting. Over the past few years, he’s refined his color grading process to create a more unique and distinctive tone.
“I try and approach everything to make it look like a movie, whether that’s like a photo or video. Just because that’s like how that’s what I enjoy, and what I enjoy looking at,” said Keckler.
Like any artist, Keckler runs into hiccups, from extreme weather conditions to creative burnout. Keckler is currently working on 11 projects, which can be stressful and creatively inhibiting, if not organized properly. To destress, Keckler will step away from his work to play basketball in his neighborhood or watch a horror movie with his roommate (a tradition that they’ve upheld for many years of their friendship).
“I think you’ve got to live life to be able to replicate it. So you know, I think a lot of times when I feel uncreative it’s because I haven’t allowed myself the opportunity to experience creativity,” said Keckler.
Keckler’s love for both cinematography and the people that he works with outweighs any stress of the job. It’s his perseverance, passion and poise that allow Keckler to quickly progress past any obstacles.
“If there is ever a hiccup, he never gets discouraged. He’s a very hard worker, so he always makes sure everything is locked down and efficient,” said Evan Showalter, Keckler’s roommate and close friend of seven years.
He’s skilled, but it’s Keckler’s likeability that allows him to excel in the field and develop meaningful relationships with people. He cares about each project and most especially, each person.
Header photo courtesy of Nathan Valencia