Pereyo, Haley

Amateur Filmmaker Wins Award at International Competition

When Ronnie Amato picks up the camera that is placed down on the table in front of him, it becomes a part of him. It is not a tool but an extension of his body protruding into the world with force. A man and his camera – unstoppable by nature and beautiful by design.

As Ronnie sat down his face lit up. His eyes grew wider as he gazed at the computer screen in awe. Amato was reading that he had won a Telly Award in the category of Video: Sports in recognition of his Molloy College Men’s Rugby video released on the Molloy Life YouTube channel. The Telly awards honor the finest film and video productions as well as web commercials in an international competition, which over 50 countries have had contestants participate in. Ronnie’s eyes locked onto the word “winner” and his heart dropped.

Ronnie never saw himself becoming a director, videographer, or editor – all three of which he is. As a child, he was the one who always made sure he sat near the window so he could look out and daydream for hours on end. In high school, Ronnie wanted to be a joke writer for movies.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I did know what I didn’t want to do and that was sit behind a desk for nine hours a day,” he admitted when discussing what he saw himself doing as an adult when he was younger.

Ronnie felt misunderstood throughout high school saying, “Teachers never understood how I could ever make money with what I was doing.” But once Amato got to Molloy College he met his professor and mentor Jamie Cohen. “He is the first professor who just gets me.”

Cohen was one of the main influences in Amato’s life that pushed him to be who he really is. Which in turn eventually led to Ronnie’s mentor sharing the idea of submitting the Molloy College Men’s Rugby video to The Telly Awards.

When Ronnie looks into a camera, it becomes his eyes. Not only literally but figuratively. Amato shares that his view of the world has expanded and he now sees the beauty of the simple things. He sees the leaves blowing in the wind and his eyes become the lens and zooms in.

“When you are walking, you tend to just look straight, you don’t look up or down you just look where you are going. But ever since I started filming, I see the surroundings,” said Amato when explaining how his worldview has opened up.

The key thing Ronnie has learned since opening his worldview is to not be afraid. To not to be afraid just in general and to not be afraid of failing. Although people in his past may have not supported him, he is not going to give up or quit.

Ronnie’s definition of the word “director” is “a leader who is not above anyone, everyone is equal.” Critics are everywhere but Ronnie is willing to ignore those comments to be the leader he wants to be whether that is on set or just in life. “A director is a role model” and Ronnie is working to be that man.

Many things have attributed to Amato’s success but he prefers to focus on the lessons he has learned from it all. He does not like to think about his accomplishments, he was ecstatic when he won the award but claims “Five minutes later, I was already done and working on the next project.”

What’s next for the amateur filmmaker who won an award at an international competition? Well, Ronnie is now planning on sending out his resume and highlight reel to BuzzFeed and the Television Academy to hopefully continue his career in content production. Ronnie’s posture got straighter and you could see the pride written across his face. Pride in himself in a moment of realization of how far he has come since being that little hyper kid.

At the end of Ronnie’s life, he will appreciate the awards and the recognition but really just wants everyone to have a different classic story of him that they tell. Amato wants to be remembered as that “crazy kid that was extremely hyper and worked really hard. I want to be someone that everyone has a different story of.” Ronnie explained with a grin on his face, smiling as big as can be. Amato seemed as if to have grown taller by the end of the interview.

Ronnie Amato is the director of his own life and with the help of his trusty extra limb, his camera, he will continue working diligently to be the guy everyone has a story about. A man and his camera are forever connected and Ronnie’s side kick is not leaving him anytime soon. With a grin and a new light in his eye, Ronnie stood up, gently, and walked away ready to take on the world he would be zooming in to for the rest of his life.