Updated: Dec 29, 2022
If you’re 14 years old with $8,000 dollars in your pocket, what would you do?
We’re proud to say that one such lad, Titus Ruemler, chose to spend some of that money on our Intro to Filmmaking course! The rest went toward a deluxe camera package with lights, audio gear and screenwriting software. Titus is a teen with a tenacious desire to be a filmmaker.
So how does a teen like Titus get $8,000 to chase his dreams? Enter Chip and Joanna Gaines from “Fixer Upper” and the ChipStarter program they sponsor. Basically, people of all ages send in a video sharing their dreams and if they are well deserving (and lucky) they get funded by Chip.
Titus lives in Phoenix with his parents, Brad and Jessica Ruemler and sister, Bailey. When they aren’t busy with homeschool, the family enjoys hiking and watching movies together. It’s the latter activity that sparked Titus’ interest in exploring his deep desire to tell stories his way. With very little knowledge or experience, he tackled his first project with Bailey’s assistance; an 8-minute film with a Christmas theme. This was his first taste of taking an idea from seed to screen, and he liked it.
Titus’ next inspiration came when his mother brought home an inflatable globe she picked up at the homeschool convention. She didn’t think much of it at the time, but this small item became the centerpiece for Titus’ next film. He says, “Think of holding a globe and whatever you do to it really happens.” Within a few short months, he won second place at the Arizona Student Film Festival-Junior High Division at the Phoenix Film Festival.
Titus had plenty of reason to be encouraged as a budding filmmaker, but he realized he needed better equipment to do bigger projects. But where would he get the money to do that?
Titus heard about The ChipStarter contest, and though he knew it was a long shot, he had nothing to lose. He just needed a 2-minute video stating why his dream should be funded over all the other dreamers. Titus says, “I’m not good in front of the camera … my place is behind the camera.” So he came up with an idea to tape a “white board” presentation that showed a hand writing a message and drawing pictures along with his voice over. But because Titus’ handwriting isn’t the best, he used his mom’s hand as the on-screen talent. (More on that in a moment)
3,500 contestants submitted applications. Only 12 were selected as finalists. Titus found himself in this elite group. And when Chip introduced all the finalists to a crowd of people at their headquarters in Waco, TX, he praised Titus for his handwriting. When Jessica announced it was really her hand in the video, Chip laughed and said “You Turkey! I’ve been telling my 14 year old son how good your handwriting is and asking him why can’t he do as well!” Despite this confusion, Titus was stunned when Chip announced all 12 were winners! He says he was initially dazed and couldn’t quite believe it.
We’re thrilled for Titus and also thrilled that Chip and Joanna Gaines are interested in investing in young artists like Titus. While most of the dreams that get funded by ChipStarter are social causes of some kind, investing in storytellers is vital to the future of our culture. Media is the greatest influencer of culture and if we don’t invest in the next generation of storytellers, the world you know will not survive.