Elon Innovators: Cameron Cirillo ‘20 explores his creativity as founder and CEO of Global Extreme Films

Combining his passions for filmmaking, traveling and entrepreneurship, Cirillo established the venturesome LLC in 2017.

Man on stage with microphone
Photo courtesy of Global Extreme Films LLC

Cameron Cirillo ’20 founded Global Extreme Films LLC in 2017 with the mission, “Go where others don’t go.” In the three years since the company was started, Cirillo and his team have produced content for a variety of clients, from real estate franchise Coldwell Banker, to hip hop trio Migos.

Cirillo drew inspiration for his company from his creative and hardworking family members. He watched his mother and grandfather pioneer their own business ventures and learned the value of creating an entity of his own. He applied his passions for filmmaking, traveling and cinematography to his entrepreneurship goals and created Global Extreme Films.

In the three years since the company’s establishment, Cirillo and his fellow founding members have learned that adaptability is key when it comes to surviving uncertainty.

Cirillo, an international business major and German minor from Darien, Connecticut, is the fourth person to be featured in a series of Today at Elon profiles highlighting student innovation and entrepreneurship.

He recently answered questions from the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business about his company, experiences and visions.

How did you become interested in entrepreneurship and what inspired you to develop Global Extreme Films?

Entrepreneurship is like no other field out there. It lets you be free and open-ended with your ideas, with no rhyme or reason. It allows you to dive into the unknown. Entrepreneurship is a spitball idea you tell your friends and family on how you plan to do something completely different than the rest. The ideas that push the envelope, and in such a way you never thought would work. Everyone has the potential to be an entrepreneur, as we Elon students are all inventors, innovators, problem solvers, and global citizens.

My interest in entrepreneurship was heightened when I discovered my passion for filmmaking, editing captured footage, and through traveling around the world with my mother’s father. My grandfather, Ernst Matthiensen, has been one of my biggest inspirations when it has come to experimenting with all aspects of business. Ernst was a chief executive officer of one of the first IFSC European Banks, The Dresdner Bank Germany, for many years. His responsibilities as an executive required him to think creatively. I’d like to say that I’ve always wanted to craft something I could call my own, something that allowed me to express my creativity. He championed the idea that people should “go where others don’t go.” Whether it be traveling the unknown or doing something original, Ernst has continued to be my inspiration and the leading figure in crafting my company, Global Extreme Films LLC. Founding father, chief executive officer, president and videographer are some of the titles that would best reflect my position in the company.

In addition to the influences from my grandfather, my artistic mother, Sophie Cirillo, has inspired me to think creatively, as she too began her own graphic design LLC called SBC Design. My mother has assisted me with logo design, brand image and marketing technique.

Palm tree on beach
Photo courtesy of Global Extreme Films LLC

My love for cinematography, drones and music videos inspired me to start my own path as an entrepreneur. I often tell people I’ve combined my passion for film and my interest in business to create this startup brand.

Global Extreme Films has been tremendously successful since the beginning. Founding fathers and two best friends from Darien, Connecticut, Kevin Klarer and Leonard Murao, have been essential members to establish the brand with me. Kevin Klarer has taken a lead role as head videographer and has traveled to New Zealand, Australia, Iceland and other exotic areas around the globe. Leonard Murao, has taken the initiative to travel, too, and better his editing skill set with various Adobe programs.

What do you hope to accomplish in the future?

Global Extreme Films is devoted to capturing your aesthetic for your online representation and promotion. We are a media company that excels at providing the highest quality visual service. Our company looks to strengthen our relations with the companies, musicians, athletes and other business entities we are currently working with, and to establish new business collaborations. I look forward to growing our clientele, portfolio, and brand image.

Once you came up with the idea for your company, how did you go about creating your project and launching your brand?

The first official Global Extreme Films journey to Hawaii in 2017 launched the brand and inaugural projects. Our month-long journey exploring the Hawaiian islands, and attending a music video convention on the island of Oahu assisted in the development of our video style and aesthetics. Speaking and networking at this convention allowed us to learn more about film technique and gave us the opportunity to listen to famous videographers. The trip to Hawaii pointed us in the right direction and was pivotal for the company’s advancement.

What has been the greatest challenge you’ve encountered as an entrepreneur? How did you go about overcoming that obstacle? What has this taught you and how can you capitalize on this lesson going forward?

Feelings of uncertainty have been my greatest entrepreneurial challenge in the development of Global Extreme Films. Nine times out of 10, many aspects of our execution do not go according to plan. Whether our team is on set, at a festival or event, or working on captured visuals in the post-production process, there is always a shift our team must be prepared to take. Adaptability is the key to overriding these unexpected happenings.

Bringing one’s confidence to the table is also necessary when speaking to top-level executives and famous clients. Time management skills, packing extra equipment, and communication, are some of the few ways we have been able to overcome uncertainty.

What has been a key factor in Global Extreme Films’ success so far?

Our company members have tenaciousness. Our work ethic, chemistry, turnover rate and attention to detail in the post-production process have been key to our success. We couldn’t do it without our Globetrotters, our loyal fanbase, who align with our visuals and entertainment.

How have your experiences at Elon prepared you for the work you’ve done? Have any classes been particularly helpful in guiding your business strategies?

Elon University has been essential for the progression of Global Extreme Films. I have taken up a degree in international business, and a minor in German studies. There have been many courses that have given me the opportunity to learn more about entrepreneurship and business strategy. International Business, Principles of Marketing, Business Law & Ethics, Strategic Management, and Business Communications are courses that have prepared me tremendously.

Do you have any advice for fellow students looking to start their own business?

Go where others don’t go! The world needs innovation and creativity. Don’t be afraid to start something you are passionate about. If you would like to start your own business, start with a rough draft plan highlighting what it is you would like to sell, how it will be crafted, and how it will be displayed. Take one step at a time, and you will get closer to achieving your goals.

Brooklyn Bridge
Photo courtesy of Global Extreme Films LLC

What is next for you and your company?

Global Extreme Films has worked with many prestigious businesses, musicians, and athletes: Coldwell Banker, Desert Rose Inn & Cabins, Mishka Music, Wheeland Brothers, The Elovators, Slightly Stoopid, Migos, Busta Rhymes, Tribal Seeds, The Movement, The Late Ones, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Douglas Costa, Diego Freestyle, Falcao and many more.

Our company members will be working at many festivals, events, and on various sets in the coming year. After receiving sponsorship to film at Greenwich Wine & Food Festival, Tortuga Music Festival, Wonderfront Music Festival, Levitate Music Festival and One Love Music Festival, we are hoping to finalize our financials for Coachella in the fall of 2020.

How has the outbreak of COVID-19 impacted your business?

COVID-19 has impacted our business significantly. Our company was in the process of preparing for film shoots at California Roots Festival, Tortuga Music Festival and Coachella with various artists. These large public events were canceled due to the pandemic. Our company is now preparing for these festivals far in advance for their postponed openings in the fall season.

We have been able to keep revenue consistent through post-production collaborations by editing content remotely for companies, musicians, and athletes. This outbreak has allowed our company to set aside funds for investing in the stock market, as stock prices are significantly low and will climb back up to speed in the coming year.

Although our company has experienced a decline in revenue due to the cancellation of events and clients not wanting to travel due to the importance of social distance practices, we have adapted to this unexpected global issue. Internal development of the company has been productive. Global Extreme Films has kept relationships strong during this time of uncertainty and has continued to reach out to new potential clients interested in our visual representation. As an international brand, our travel plans have been canceled due to this outbreak. However, we will be back on the road again shortly.

Na Pali Coast with sailboat
Photo courtesy of Global Extreme Films LLC

I cannot thank the doctors, medical personnel and all individuals assisting the world and its people enough for their devotion to save lives. I hope to find a way for our company to utilize our visuals and strengths to help out with this pandemic. Let’s work together to aid the people of our country and those around the world.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

A special thanks to Elon students Cameron McCool and Jack Dudek for their hard work and devotion, and my father, Frank Cirillo, who has assisted the advancement of the business and has always believed in us. Noah Henkell at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, has also contributed tremendously to the company. Thank you, Elon University faculty and students, for supporting Global Extreme Films LLC and my endeavors as a young CEO. Go where others don’t go!