One of the first questions Spagoshi owner and creative director Nick Nelson usually gets is where he came up with the name for his video-production company.
Nelson, who grew up in Shiprock on the Navajo reservation, says his father always called his cousin Osh, “Oshi.”
“The name really is 30 years of family history,” Nelson said. “The name changed when my cousin’s little brother called her Spagoshi.”
Nelson said the name was so unique that he and his cousins thought it would be a great name for a band or company when they grew up.
“I held onto the name, and when I had a chance to form my first business, I called it Spagoshi,” he said.
Nelson has been running Spagoshi out of the business incubator known as FatPipe Rio Rancho for the past year.
Work in the present
Now the name is synonymous with short videos that help companies showcase their products to potential clients.
“We do anything from demo videos to launch videos and bio videos, which are very popular right now,” he said.
Nelson said Spagoshi also does event videos and informative videos for property-management, real-estate and meeting-space companies.
“Since we are community-based, we do one video a year that is more of a donation to help spread awareness of an idea or an area,” he said.
Nelson said many of Spagoshi’s videos are on companies’ websites, where they are used to promote the businesses’ assets.
“Most companies realize that a video promo is much more sustainable on its website than as a traditional commercial,” he said.
Nelson said the cost for Spagoshi’s services can range from $2,000 to $17,000, depending on how much detail a client wants.
“The more time we have to plan for a project, the better the outcome,” he said. “We want to establish to everyone that we are storytellers first and foremost. Everything else is second, behind the story.”
For example, Nelson hired a professional hair and makeup artist for a recent shoot.
“We traveled to meet with this client that suffered from some traumatic brain injury, but she didn’t want to be interviewed,” he said. “The mother did the interview for her, but our makeup artist offered to do makeup for all the ladies in the house for free.”
Nelson said the mother became emotional near the end of the interview because her daughter began to smile and act like her old self behind the scenes.
“This is what I mean when I say we are storytellers,” he said. “Having that makeup artist present helped us get a better story and a genuine response to the testimony the mother was giving.”
Memory of the past
Part of the inspiration Nelson feels when he gets behind the camera or works on a project goes back to his past.
“I never really felt 100 percent from either world,” he said when thinking back to his time on the Navajo reservation.
Nelson said it is hard for him to fit into the mold of his ancestry when he goes back to the reservation because he has travelled so much since he was young.
“The school in Farmington I went to was very white upper-class,” he said. “Coming straight from Shiprock to there changed my personality. I started to lose my accent and tongue when I was there, which in turn didn’t let me fit in so well on the reservation.”
Nelson said he now considers himself an ambassador for his people because of the cultural struggles he endured at a young age.
“Like I said, at Spagoshi, we are storytellers and my story is no exception to the mix,” he said.
Another part of Nelson’s story that helped him define what he would do for a living happened in 2009, after the recession hit.
“I already had an architectural degree, but then I started acting in movies and TV shows that were being shot here in New Mexico,” he said.
Nelson said his first big break came in the form of playing an extra with a speaking role in a TV show about a man with terminal cancer who began cooking crystal meth.
“I was the guy holding up the gas mask in the first episode,” he said. “They also used me as a stand-in for some of the other big scenes for season one of ‘Breaking Bad.'”
Nelson said he was surprised to see the how big the show became.
“Whenever anybody would talk about the show, I remember thinking that was the best production I’ve ever worked on,” he said. “They treated everybody so well, like I worked 20-hour days on those shoots and they would walk around getting custom orders on the smoothies and burgers because we were still shooting at 2 a.m.”
Nelson said he began to walk around the sets of the movies and TV shows and ask questions about the camera setups and why certain pieces of equipment were being used.
“I was that guy creeping around the pros to see how everything was done,” he said. “I thought to myself that if I could pick up enough skills, one day I could do this on my own.”
Spagoshi is celebrating its second year in business, and according to Nelson, the company is now hyper-focused on producing a specific product for it clients.
“I use everything from being behind the camera to being in front of the camera; being on film sets, I try to utilize all the things that have been taught to me,” he said.
For more information on Spagoshi, go to spagoshi.com.