Alumni Spotlight: Lucas Pruitt
by Eleazar Yisrael
Born and raised in the mountainous small town of West Jefferson, NC, Lucas Pruitt discovered something at eight-years-old that most take decades to learn.
“I just ended up finding my mom’s camera in her closet and I just took it outside and played with it and kept playing with it every single day,” said Pruitt.
Upon discovering his life-long passion for multimedia, Pruitt’s mom would soon purchase him editing software. His free time consisted of watching YouTube videos and learning how to become a better multimedia creator. At age 14, Pruitt began working for a production company in his hometown, further elevating his craft.
“I didn’t know it at the time, but I was learning to tell real documentary style stories. And so I found out that UNC had a really good program for that in the journalism school. And that’s what made me decide to go to UNC,” Pruitt said. He also highlighted that another big reason he came to UNC was the admiration for what current UNC’s students and alumni were doing.
The biggest reason however was his admiration of UNC’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media Professor, Patrick Davison.
College Freshman Year
As a pre-admit to UNC’s journalism school, Pruitt matriculated into classes with students who were at least two years older than him. One of those classes was taught by Davison.
Pruitt states, “I definitely would say I had been filming for, let’s see, well over ten years and at that point I had been using cameras and I was taking classes with a lot of people that had never used a camera before. And so technically I was a lot more polished than most of the other people in the program.” However, Pruitt admired the drive and inclination to learn that most of the journalism students had. This pushed Pruitt to become better and gain an appreciation for UNC’s journalism community, in addition to Davison’s teachings.
Pruitt’s first semester wouldn’t be the only time he and Davison took a class together. In fact, they would go on to have at least one class with each other, every semester for the rest of Pruitt’s college career.
“I was connected with him the entire time I was at UNC. And yeah, he was a mentor for my freshman year. He definitely taught me a lot and pushed me to do better work,” says Pruitt.
The Pandemic and After
Pruitt was a part of the last class to experience a freshman year of college without covid.
Pruitt’s sophomore year of college is when the pandemic hit, but that didn’t deter him from his craft. Pruitt states that he, “got to do some more work at home and, you know, kept trying to hone my skills there, learning as much as I could, trying to make the best of it.”
Those skills would become highly evident in his junior year of 2021, with the making of the documentary, “Get What You Give.”
In 2020, Carter Schutte, a six-year-old motocross racer, previously won third place in his MX league out of 42 riders. It was a country wide competition. In 2021, Lucas found out about the kid’s story by seeing an interview of Schutte’s parents expecting their son to do well. After reaching out to the family and expressing his desire in telling their story, Pruitt had confidence, but he still realized that it was a gamble.
Pruitt, who had to sleep in cars, drove 10 hours to competitions and balanced school work during the course of his year-long mission of making the documentary. He states, “I spent a ton of time and energy and money making that project.”
“It was all definitely worth it. And I was super proud of what they turned out to be in the end” Pruitt said. This documentary would go on to win him the National Hearst Award for Journalism in the Multimedia Category, which is one of the biggest and most competitive student journalism competitions in the world.
Senior Year and 1893 Brand Studio
With an immense background in documentary storytelling and the desire to work with clients in an agency setting, Lucas joined 1893 Brand Studio and its multimedia team his senior year. He became the Multimedia Team Lead his second semester.
Reflecting back on his time, Pruitt states that, “1893 was a good opportunity to shoot everything like I was shooting a documentary, but it would just have a logo on it at the end. And so that was why I wanted to stick with it. I really liked everyone I was working with there.”
Pruitt’s job now has a very similar structure of 1893 Brand Studio, on a much elevated scale of course.
He works for Press Record Media as a video producer, videographer, and video editor. Pruitt states, “their whole thing is doing branded documentaries for big businesses that want to do videos with us.” Press Record Media’s biggest client is Bobcat, a $5 Billion dollar company.
When asked if 1893 Brand Studio has helped him move around the space that he is in right now, Pruitt responded by saying, “it really helped with meeting clients and trying to learn what they want and what they’re going for. And then, you know, having someone above me communicate that with me and then trying to make what they want a reality. And that’s kind of what I do now, just with different clients.”
“I want to really keep leaning into this branded documentary type work that I’m doing now. I love where I’m working out now. I really think I could see myself staying there for a while. I want to keep working with clients and big brands making documentary style video because I think it’s something that we haven’t fully taken advantage of yet and how powerful it can be in the advertising world and to consumers telling like real stories about brands is like something that’s really appealing to, you know, your everyday consumer,” says Pruitt.