Creator Stories: Featuring Carter Ellwood

Nov 9, 2022

From College Athletics to Freelance, Carter Ellwood has come a long way.

When I graduated from Michigan State I had a degree in Documentary Film and was lucky enough to land as a video editing intern at the Big Ten Network where I was eventually hired as a video editor.

Live TV is an amazing way to learn the ropes of the video production world because you always have to be ready for quick turnarounds and be detail oriented as your mistakes could end up in front of a lot of eyeballs.

I loved my coworkers and living in Chicago, but I felt somewhat stifled creatively so I took a risk, halved my paycheck, and became the video intern for Michigan State Football. It wasn’t really that exciting of a thought to be a 25-year-old intern, but it turned out to be the best decision in my career to that point. I could learn, experiment, and create at a level that allowed me to come into my own creatively. While there, I was given a platform and I feel like that is such an important piece of creativity.

When you can take pride in your work being displayed to millions of people, it changes your outlook on how much you want to improve and grow. I went from being an intern to a creative and eventually, a social media director by year three.

I saw a gap in the team’s social approaches as they didn’t have a ton of motion or animation, so I decided to make that my calling card. I love that I felt pushed in that area by the likes of creators like Sammy Silverman, Robbie Kujath and Justin Law. I have a competitive streak and seeing their content on my feed made me want to make my own content better because they always seemed to find a fresher and more engaging way to present the same story of football. Eventually, like so many other people in college athletics, I felt myself burning out with the 90-hour work weeks and demand of daily content. So after my third season, I once again decided to look out over the career ledge and take a plunge, but this time into freelancing.

That risk, both financially and personally, ended up again being a fantastic career move. In the three and half years, I have worked with almost any dream client I could have imagined in the sports world. When you freelance on your own the pressure to not only supply yourself with an income but also make things that clients love and will bring them back is a fantastic catalyst for creative growth. When it’s your name and reputation on the line I think it gives you that little push to make yourself that much more creative.

I hope creatives have the courage to bet on themselves creatively but I also hope that they value their mental health if they do it. It’s easy to get lost in the analytics and social rat race, but I hope people working in social or digital media can learn that balance, rest, and recovery are just as vital to the creative process as anything.

I still specialize in animation and motion but have moved into the illustration and graphic design worlds as well. From on-ice projections at Madison Square Garden to 30-foot billboards outside my Alma Mater’s Stadium, it’s been such an amazing ride and I hope I can continue living the dream of creating on my own for a living.

- Played and coached rugby through college
- Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI
- Minored in Brazilian Portuguese in college
- Loves baking/cooking

Check Out Carter’s Social Profiles: