Dan Carpenter is a local videographer who lives near Hampstead. “I have always enjoyed artistic type things,” he said.
When he and his friends attended Mt. Hebron High School in Ellicott City, he had a Spanish assignment. He chose to produce a video ad in Spanish. “It was fun and I really enjoyed the entire process. I was uncomfortable being on camera and found that I liked being behind the camera,” Carpenter said.
“I always like creating scenarios of my daydreams that I could recreate with my video camera. I would script it out and make them happen,” Carpenter said. “A few friends and I made videos for fun including a Star Trek spoof. We also made a horror movie and stop motion movies with toys.”
Carpenter started college at Montana State University and majored in history. He realized that was not what he wanted to do so he came back to Maryland and earned an Associate of Arts degree at Catonsville Community College. Carpenter transferred to University of Maryland, Baltimore County because they had a video and film department. He enjoyed his classes and got a lot of technical know-how as well as a background of film theory and general fine arts. Carpenter also got practical experience because he could check out different film cameras for experimenting.
“The most demanding part was using a traditional film camera because you never knew what you got until the film was processed. Transitioning to videotape was easier because you could see your product right away. This was of course before digital cameras,” Carpenter said.
After graduation, Carpenter landed a job as a production assistant for a company in Baltimore. Through them, he found a position at Johns Hopkins University in the instructional television department. He was there for two years until they closed the department.
Then life happened. Carpenter got married, bought a house and he and his wife had a baby. After JHU, he freelanced for the original production company and with a few other video production companies. In the course of doing so, he acquired his own equipment. In 2003, because of new digital technology, he was able to work at home with his own editing production system. It was his wife that said he should start his own company because he knows how to do anything.
In 2004, Carpenter started his own company, 4 Square Productions, Inc. “When we were trying to think of a name for the company, the kids were playing a game called ‘4 square.’ We liked the name so it stuck.”
Carpenter does everything including photo shoots for websites, head shots, real estate videos and photographs. He also subcontracts for other companies. Carpenter conducts interviews for companies that are too far away to interview prospective companies in this area. For small companies with limited budgets, Carpenter has to do it all. He comes up with a concept, films it, edits and launches it on the web. For bigger projects, he hires a production assistant.
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Carpenter has done work for Under Armour, Ray Lewis and the CyberWire. He also films seminars and posts them online. He can livestream them or archive them for later viewing.
Carpenter produces an annual video for The Children’s Cancer Foundation gala. “I really enjoy this work. I get to know the kids and their families, see their struggles and triumphs.” Carpenter also does video work for Meals on Wheels for Central Maryland and the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce.
His wife, Meghan, whose background is in graphic arts, does web design for 4 Square. She is the director for Sure Foundation Homeschool Tutorial located in Hampstead, where Dan teaches U.S. History, U.S. Constitution and Government, as well as photography.
“There are new ways and exciting opportunities for promotion. With Facebook and Instagram, there are lots of opportunities for small businesses and nonprofits to get their message out. Promotion does not have to be an ad. It can be a quality video of someone enjoying a pizza. “People know good video versus bad. It should be done right or it will harm your message.” Carpenter said.
Carpenter has won two awards from the Baltimore Videographer Association including one for commercial production.
Lyndi McNulty is the owner of Gizmo’s Art in Westminster. Her column, An Eye for Art, appears regularly in Life & Times.