Sometimes life takes us on an interesting trajectory without also fully realizing or understanding what is happening. Eli Acuna Reyes is one of these people. He grew up in a household with six other siblings and immigrated to the United States from Mexico with his family. Based on the way things were going for him, he did not expect where life would take him.
“I grew up in a family of 7 – me, my parents, my three sisters, and my older brother. My parents immigrated from Mexico, where we were all born, when I was about 2. We moved around California often, and as a result I never settled down. I left Cali and moved to Texas at age 17 to find more stability with extended family. I had my first daughter when I was only 22 and my second when I was 23, and in the process of capturing all their firsts, I realized how much I enjoyed the art of multimedia through photography, video, editing, and music,” Eli recounts.
Through this passion, a new chapter of Eli’s life was unlocked. He was able to begin following the hobby he always dreamed of and it turns out that he was more than just pretty good at it! Eli’s filmmaking quickly gained him notoriety in the industry.
“For the next 10 years I worked full-time but also freelanced as a videographer and photographer for music artists, corporate events, and nonprofits. My network grew, and it continued to grow, until one day I found myself shooting a video for a Grammy-award winning Christian music artist. I started off my adult life a little backwards: I got married at age 18, had two kids, experienced single fatherhood, met Yvonne my wife, found a stable full-time job, then I finally found my passion,” Eli remarks.
However, Eli’s filmmaking is more than just a passion for him; it is also a business! He and his wife own SR817 which does media and much more with a focus on corporations, organizations, and SMBs.
“My wife Yvonne and I run SR817, a full-production multimedia powerhouse geared towards music video production, corporations, organizations, and SMBs. We specialize in captivating storytelling that helps companies introduce their message to target audiences through video. Our content drives everything from brand awareness to more narrowed approaches (bottom-of-the-funnel marketing). We produce content ranging from a variety of themes such as testimonials, interviews, and case studies,” Eli says.
Using his hobby to build something bigger than himself and his family that will help them in more ways than one is a unique scenario to be in and not one that many people get to live, so Eli has some advice for those looking to follow in his footsteps.
“Surround yourself with like-minded people. You need to have others encouraging you because entrepreneurship can feel like a lonely road at times. It’s very easy to begin to doubt yourself, so being around others like you is a must. Yvonne and I always lifted each other up whenever doubt plagued one of us. We were so confident in each other, and we needed that reassurance to push through sometimes. Join networking groups and groups specific to your industry – there are so many to choose from on meetup.com or even Facebook groups. I’ve met so many people this way, and you never know what opportunities you’ll find,” Eli advises.