Photo by Connor
Behind the Camera: Twixx Williams
Twixx Williams, known for his iconic pink beanie, is a Portland born-and-raised video-based creative. Twixx's combination of intuition, passion, skill, and individuality has led to his success in the production world. As well as continuing to produce high-quality videos for his clients, Twixx is utilizing his experience to help others like himself learn the craft of video through an event-based mentoring non-profit that he's created with a fellow creative.
While being only a short time into his career as a video-based creative, Twixx's interest in video production was sparked much, much earlier. “My mom, she's a pastor. With her being a pastor, she has a TV show that she's had here in Portland over at Open Signal for the past 16 years. So I grew up just as a very young child, being on set,” explains Twixx about his introduction to professional video production. “At an early age, I just always seen that,” he continues, “and if you're around something so much, you're going to either learn it and hate it, or you know, learn it and love it. So I learned it and loved it, so that's kind of how I really got introduced to film.”
But the influence of Twixx’s mom’s cable access show wasn’t his only influence. “My dad was doing weddings and just always had a camera,” says Twixx, “Even if it was just like a handy cam, it was always a video camera. He'd have his Sony still camera. So he did a little bit of both, but it was mainly video. He was always the family go-to for like, could you edit this? Could you edit that? So I was always around it one way or another, you know.” Twixx continues, “Honestly, he still does do it. He's still getting down, you know? We just saw the recent fight, and he brought over a CD that he made for the family. So it was just cool to see him still doing that all these years later. Just bringing over edited family files, it was dope.”
With all the familial influence, it’s no wonder that Twixx got an early start on a career in professional image-making. “I would say the breaking point was at the entry of high school,” Twixx reminisces. “Right before my freshman year of high school, I kind of decided to just go all the way in on doing videos, you know. Along with doing videos, I'm a musician, I play the drums. Been playing the drums since I was like three. There had been many opportunities video-wise, but fewer opportunities as far as music. So I had a talk with my mentor and I made that decision,” Twixx explains further.
“You know, you're progressing and doing it a lot, and everyone needs a video. There's just so many opportunities,” he continues. “That first project I did, the first paid video, that was literally right before high school. I did a real estate video for a local real estate company. I had an iPhone 5C, a DJ Osmo Gimbal, and Lavalier mics from Amazon. They believed in me and were just like, ‘Yeah, let's do it.’ I basically recorded this video for the company. And yeah, honestly, it was like $300 I got from it. At that very moment, I was like, ‘Wow, I made $300.’ But it wasn't necessarily the money, it was more just, ‘Wow, I just did an actual project for a company. And they chose to go with me with an iPhone versus whomever with a camera.’ So it spoke volumes that you don't really need equipment, you just gotta have the passion and drive and be willing to go for it,” says Twixx. “But there’s just so many stories to be told, to capture. I just felt why not? You know?”
“I went into my freshman year with a camera, and I didn't really know what I was doing with it or how to use it,” admits Twixx about his early years. “One day, I just had a moment. I just remembered, ‘Oh, it's shutter, aperture, and then ISO. It's just those three. That's it. This is easy. But up until then, I was just shooting stuff on a plus mode or just at random settings. I didn't know what settings I was using. I was just shooting videos and stuff,” he continues.
“I was going to football games and my friends and I would just make these videos,” Twixx remembers, “we would put roles at the credits, like director, DP, and executive producer. I didn't know what none of that stuff meant back then, I was just putting it in the credits, you know what I'm saying? But now it's dope, it's like a full-circle moment. A lot of 'em, they are still in the picture. I have my friends on set and they're actually doing the roles in real life now. We got Varsity Vlogs, we got Gearicen, we got Brycen, we got Tanisha. It's been really cool seeing everyone's progress and their passions. Even if it's not fully video, they still are connected, you know? I'm very appreciative of everyone that has been supporting me.”
Pink Beanie Production Reel
“I'm blessed by the people who believe in me and support me today,” says Twixx with an abundance of gratitude. “I have a lot of equipment that I've accumulated. A lot of it is people just really believe in me and have donated equipment. Like DNA PDX, they were using a BlackMagic and then they donated that. A Sony A7SII, they donated that. An old mentor, Self Enhancement Inc., they donated one of my first cameras. I shouldn't say old, mentors are never really a one-time thing, they're always with you, right? Mr. Mack, and Aaron Dixon, all helped me at a certain point in my life. I've always been able to be blessed to have people that believe in me.”
“PV(Peripheral Vision) PDX took me under their wing,” Twixx declares. “ Fun fact, but a lot of my work in high school was in slow motion because my computer wouldn't render nothing. I was stuck doing everything on 45% in Final Cut. I remember when I first got outta high school I met with Sebastian, founder of PV PDX, and that same day he gave me keys to his office and let me use his computer,” continues Twixx thinking back. “So my production definitely changed ‘cause I started editing in real time now. I learned a lot of stuff from them!”
So what does Twixx use these days to film his commercial work and music videos? “To all my Sony people, you know, I was with all from 2019 to 2023, the Low Light Kings, you know what I'm saying,” he says thinking about his current gear list. “I do miss them days [Twixx’s Sony Era], but I'm Team BlackMagic, ” Twixx continues, ”First of all, BlackMagic has its own unique look in my personal opinion. I just love the look it gives when it hits! But you know, that nighttime, It ain't necessarily as good at the lowlight in Sony’s. I mainly use BlackMagic but my second shooter cam is a Sony A7SII.”
A seasoned video maker might think using two different brands of cameras would create some issues when trying to match the footage. “I mean, at the end of the day, it's definitely different. It is definitely like a real filmic look with the BlackMagic and then a real digital look with the Sony,” Twixx expresses. “However, if I'm doing any music videos, I don't want everything to look the same. So in a certain sense, they're different, they're better in certain scenarios, and it definitely is helpful to have different cameras. But then when filming the interviews, when matching there's definitely a slight difference. I try not to think too much about it though, 'cause gear is important, but gear is not important at the same time. If you have an expensive camera and you shoot a really, really dope storyline, and the video's meh, then the gear doesn't even matter. Versus like you have maybe even a Canon 5D, and you’re just trying to barely make it work, but the storyline, you kill it, you know? So in a way gear matters, but it doesn't.”
No Style - featuring Kadren
“I can't tell you the brand 'cause I don't even remember the brand, but it's a shotgun mic kit,” declares Twixx about his shotgun microphone. “I searched shotgun mic on the internet and I think it was like 200 or 300 bucks, and honestly, it's done the job for me. But I have HollyLand wireless mics. I have another brand of wireless mics and I have a Zoom recorder. That's pretty much my standard kit, that and my iPhone,” he continues. “I recently, not this summer, but the summer before, went on tour with Death Cab and we did some content,” tells Twixx, “I was shooting some content for them in the green room and I had the camera on the Ronin and the shotgun mic on my camera, but I was like, ‘lemme put my iPhone between the couch and the cushion to record the audio of them playing the acoustic version of this song. Fun fact actually, if you look in the video, you probably won't see it, but there's an iPhone in the couch sticking up. But yeah, I was able to get that audio. And the thing I'll say is, I could have had a Zoom recorder, but when you're in the moment, you gotta use what you got. I've learned to do that, heavily.”
His audio and visual gear aren’t the only pieces of kit that Twixx attributes to helping him create his signature style. “I've accumulated a lot of other different types of gadgets,” tells Twixx, “like a 12-foot crane. And I just built like a spinning chair. You sit in it, you set the camera on it and you spin it and the camera moves with you. Kind of like that infamous Denzel Washington or Spike Lee shot where he's tracking. So I built that with my dad and so we're putting together another one right now. I'm gonna probably rent that one out.”
As well as his longtime list of collaborators and mentors, Twixx has had another constant since the beginning of his image-making journey, the infamous pink beanie that has become associated with him and his work. “I was doing a thing before I knew it was doing a thing, you know,” Twixx states with enthusiasm. “To go forward we gotta go back kind of, back to the original brand,” explains Twixx. “The original brand had a different name, but it still had the basis of pink. The original production hat was pink, and that kind of transitioned to a pink beanie. I mean, basically, I had a pink beanie from the original production that fizzled out. I just kept wearing the pink beanie and I just wore a regular fit with it,” he continues. “Then, I was like, ‘Okay, it's time. I think I need to create a production company, something that I can slap on my videos.’ People already knew me from the beanie, and so I was like, ‘You know what, lemme just put a beanie on a beanie.’ And that's how the Pink Beanie was born. I think that was my junior year of high school. I dropped an Instagram video introducing the brand Pink Beanie and that's kind of really where it started.”
The Pink Beanie brand is well-known now, but when it started, it might have seemed like a bold choice. “You know, we originally just had pink and that's kind of really what it was. I mean, pink, it stands out. So you don't really see a lot of things that are pink or yellow, but out of all the colors, the very loud colors, you know, they stand out,” tells Twixx. “Honestly, the pink beanie was a great pivoting point to be more like a symbol. And why not? It's two things. It stands out. And two, not a lot of people that are men wear it, right? I remember the first week I wore a pink beanie to school, and it was just like, ‘You wanna tell us something? Like, what you trying to say?’ Because it's seen as like, ‘Okay, you got a girl so pink, you got a boy so blue.’ Essentially my beanie stands out because it's pink and it's just like to let others know that, you know, it's just another color, you know, just kind of changing the narrative of how those colors play into today's society. And so it's just like I was going at it like why not pink all the time? It felt like I was going against the grain, but then I was just like, I had a moment where I was like, ‘Wait a minute, this is dope!’ I'm sitting here wearing a pink beanie and I got people tight about it, I'm doing something right. You know what I'm saying? It was different, a black young male wearing a pink beanie. It's not abstract, there’s nothing wrong with it, but you just didn't see it much. At that very moment, I just knew to keep going and push through. And now it’s a full circle moment when those people that questioned and didn't necessarily get the vision reach out now like, ‘Can I get a pink beanie?’ You know, it's all love, always. But in a way, it was inspirational and encouragement from them, even though it wasn't necessarily positive. 'cause if they would've just agreed with it, then who knows where the brand would've gone.”
TWIXX x MUSE x EXCOTIC
“I mean the fashion and the music, that's the main two,” explains Twixx about his influences. “And people, I'm a people person. I love people. Fashion definitely has been a big, big compliment to what I do. But it’s just fashion. I don't really want to think too much about it and just do it. And so I found myself like, ‘Okay, I wanna wear one single piece of clothing every single day.’ So I decided to wear overalls. I made one pair and I was like, ‘Man, it's Portland. It rains a lot, it's cold. Let's not do overalls, let's do jumpsuits.’ So that's how the jumpsuits came about. The main two things that inspired the jumpsuits were there wasn't a lot of pink in the men's section and there wasn't a lot of pink that was my size. It was just like the beanie. So I had a black jumpsuit. I had white, orange, brown, all the colors. I had like eight of them. It had pink accents, but just all of 'em had a pink stripe inside. All had pink strip stripe and had my name on 'em. And I was wearing that every single day and just kind of expressing myself with fashion. And that kind of complimented the brand.”
One thing I will say to other creators is, do something that’s simple. You know what I'm saying? Don't, don't do anything that is gonna break your back as far as trying to force a brand. I got really fortunate to find a brand with just a beanie, a physical fabric beanie,” advises Twixx. “The thing I love about the beanie is, I can wear it, sure. And people will recognize the brand. But at any given moment, if I just want some more privacy I can just take it off and go about my day. And I just think that's so powerful.”
Behind The Scenes of STREET LIFE
“Sometimes I don't even know what to say, you know. I'm blessed with the opportunities. I'm blessed by the people that believe in me. From doing a video with an iPhone for $300 to filming a whole documentary by myself in Ghana in 2023,” Twixx reflects. “I had never been out of the country. I've been across the country. I've been all over, but I've never been out of the country. I'll let that breathe for a second,” he continues, “I got a really dope opportunity with a youth non-profit program called Word Is Bond to document some ambassador students from Portland, Oregon. So we went to Ghana, and it was a really dope trip. For two weeks I basically documented their whole experience in Ghana. No crew, just me. All the gear. Five bags. They met with the Prime Minister of Education and many other ministers.”
“The first thing I felt was the heat. The thing that amazes me is we all share the same sun, but it feels different. The heat from Ghana, it's not like Portland. It's its own type of heat, you know what I'm saying,” Twixx says about his experience when he landed in Ghana. “But the first thing I seen was just the culture. You felt so welcomed and it was overwhelming in a good way. I told myself, ‘We got these days, we got the hours of what to shoot. And at the end of the day, you just turn off the camera and enjoy the trip.’ But then I got there. I don't even remember when I set the camera down 'cause I wanted to capture everything, you know?
There are people walking with like two stacks of water on their heads. There are people walking with baskets, there are people walking with tires. It's just anything you can imagine, just in the streets of wherever. In their culture, they have different mediums of how they express themselves, and fashion is really big in Ghana. I kind of knew about the fashion and how dope it was down there. So I came across these kaftans and got 'em custom-made. I got seven of them. So these are not jumpsuits, but they're their own cultural connection. I did my homework on some possible dope stuff to bring back. I brought back some fabric to incorporate into a new jumpsuit that, as of right now, I'm in the process of making. I have these that are custom-made, literally handmade. But I'm gonna spice it up a little bit. I'm not gonna do too much 'cause I wanna respect the fashion designer. That's art in itself, so I want to be very mindful of that. But there is a jumpsuit I have here in Portland that I'm going to enhance with fabric from Ghana. So I'm really excited about working on that one. You'll probably see that in the fall. But yeah, it was all around a really dope trip that has definitely impacted me as a person and also on the brand as well, ‘cause fashion has been a very big compliment to my brand, you know? ”
“It was so dope to capture that trip and just learn about the culture and get more informed about my culture,” says Twixx on the impact that the Ghana trip has left on him. “It was just all around a really impactful trip, not only to capture other students from Portland experiencing that but just me personally, my perspective of it. It's their doc, what we captured when I captured it. But in a sense, it’s my perspective of the whole thing. I feel like that's really important and impactful.” He expands on that thought, “Being a filmmaker, you know how to shoot the angles, how tight to crop the scene, why I'm choosing to shoot in slow-mo right now, and all that. When you hear a storyline and you get to put your own perspective on it, I think that's amazing. As a filmmaker, the picture that you take, even if it's for a client, you decided to shoot at this angle, in this light. That's the biggest ‘Wow’ for me, I get to do it from my perspective. Any video that I've done or any photos that I've taken, I can capture this from my perspective. And that's so unique and powerful.”
Tour Recap for Deathcab For Cutie - by Twixx Williams
“I did some work for Death Cab for Cutie,” says Twixx about another recent project. “Shout out to Lance Bangs who connected the dots for that. I shot the behind-the-scenes video for Roman Candles, a track on their newest album, and then they asked me to go on tour. I was honored that they even considered me, 'cause it could have been anyone. But they trusted in what I do as a filmmaker with my style and my perspective. I'll say my perspective, not my vision, 'cause at the end of the day, I shot something and I delivered it,” Twixx states about working with other artists.
“With other artists, they have different brands and different looks. There may be artists that do all-black-and-white videos, so you have to incorporate that as a filmmaker. I can still do my style, but it still needs to be in black and white. Incorporating and staying true to yourself, but still being able to deliver and be collaborative with other people, that's the biggest part. If you're not being collaborative, then that's a whole other story, you know? So many things can go wrong because you're not listening to other ideas. And one thing I'll say is a lot of the inspiration that I've had has just been from me listening to other people's ideas. So adapting is another thing you learn as well. I wouldn't be anywhere as close to here if I didn't consider that,” proclaims Twixx.
“One thing I realized is you can't do everything yourself,” states Twixx about learning to collaborate with other artists. “When you realize, ‘Okay, let me step away from the camera and get a DP in here that's gonna do all the camera stuff. Let me stop trying to shoot this video by myself and get a gaffer.’ You get much more done versus trying to do everything yourself. So I understood the importance of collaborating and that's another reason why I just love having my friends on set, I just let them do what they want. And it's cool to me, that aspect of everyone bringing something to the table to create art, you know?”
“In certain scenarios when you are more run and gun with a smaller crew, maybe you're the DP and a director and the gaffer and the grip, but you get the job done because you're the one essentially doing it,” Twixx expands on his preference for having bigger production crews. “But you kind of lack certain things that you may have missed just being in the moment. Some people may get burnt out easily. That's just one thing that I've definitely learned 'cause I'm on these sets where I'm just by myself. I'm just like, ‘Okay, let's move this shot, move that shot.’ But setting up a huge light for one scene and then striking it down and then going to a different location, it's three hours. And it's just the first shot.”
“The more help the better,” says Twixx about his ideal crew scenario. “When you work with a bigger crew, it runs and operates a lot slower. Because when you work with a bigger set, like 10 plus, it's hard. So the person directing has to really know the vision to communicate to everyone so that it all connects. So it's pros and cons definitely to bigger budgets and bigger sets. It's just like the more people you have on set it can just come with, it takes longer or it’s quicker. Just depends on how much knowledge people have and how much passion they have into it, you know?”
“Shout out to Lance Bangs again. I got an opportunity to shoot behind the scenes of a movie here in Portland that is about to come out sometime this year or next year. It was a sci-fi movie, Greg Jardin was the director of it,” Twixx tells of another recent project. “It all kind of took place at night at a huge mansion here in Portland. It was like a 50-plus crew at least, all doing different things. And so I got to really see that level of intensity of everyone doing a single job to keep the gears going. It was amazing, seeing how he was able to keep everyone to the vision of what he wanted.” Circling back to the notion of collaboration, Twixx adds, “He [Greg Gordon] wrote it on that level of production and still let all those people somewhat encourage and if not influence how it could go. You got 50 different people putting their stamp on it, right? Even if it's like a lighting decision, like turning it a little bit brighter because if you turn it a little bit lower then it's just like real dramatic. Everyone essentially has their own 2 cents on the whole production. Seeing him direct on such a high-scale production and still being open to other people's collaborations of opinions was really dope to see.”
“One of the things that I realized when I was making these films and just being in the production world, or just in the community is I understood that I was in my own lane,” Twixx says about another benefit of working on the larger crewed sets that he has. “I understood that I had my own lane because I wasn't really trying to look at what anyone else was doing or worried about what they were doing. I knew there was going to be a result that came from it if I just stayed locked in on that avenue,” he continues, “I would say believing in yourself is one of the main things that has definitely impacted me. You can have support from 10 million people, but before there's support from anyone else, you have to do it. Believing in yourself and doing it is like my main thing, that's as simple as it is. Understanding that your race may be two miles and this may take two years, this may take three years or a lifetime,” Twixx imparts some more advice. “There are some people that are 60 that are just not doing what they wanna do in life. Just now starting their first movie or shooting their first music video. There are so many different paths, but just believing in myself and just staying true to your lane, and understanding that your race can have the same distance but it may take different times for everybody. Adapting, evolving. I've been very blessed in my upbringing. Understanding that at a younger age definitely has complimented how I approach things now.”
Cutting his teeth on a variety of sets along with his strong sense of self helped Twixx get to where he is today. And now, at the age of 22, along with continuing a rigorous commercial production workload, Twixx is teaching others how to do the same. “I found myself having my friends on set and other people on the set that are interested in film, I felt like it was really dope to create opportunities but I also found myself slowing down my production 'cause I’d have to explain to other creatives what’s the C stand and how to set it up. And we gotta go with time. So I created another medium for people to just come together and create,” says Twixx.
“I got a little taste of it when I first started, but I didn't really get on an actual set until a few years ago. If I had done that sooner, actually being on set, I would’ve known the proper etiquette of things sooner. I've created this non-profit with another creator and it's called Behind the Scenes PDX. It's been something that I've been working on with Ibeth Hernandez, she's amazing. She's the person that started this with me and we've done two events so far. Basically, it's where other filmmakers, aspiring filmmakers, photographers, and people in the media come to one studio here in Portland, which could be any studio 'cause they're at different locations, and learn from each other.”
TWIXX and IBETH's Learning Event - BEHIND THE SCENES PDX
“I don't wanna necessarily charge someone to learn something, you know,” elaborates Twixx, “'cause if I had approached videography with trying to pay to learn it, I feel like it would be a money-driven inspiration versus just naturally going into it. When you pay for something, you kind of expect results. But if it's something that's just like on your own time and you can fail as many times as you want, then it's more impactful. So yeah, this nonprofit that we've started is something that I'm definitely transitioning to with music videos. At some point this upcoming year, I wanna do one free music video a month. I've talked to a lot of other creators here in Portland and they're down, but that'll all be probably channeled by the non-profit BTS PDX and powered by Pink Beanie, or whomever production that wants to be a part of it. But at this point in time, it's important for me to give back, you know? It's important for me to help other people who are like me to learn what it's like on set as quickly and as easily as possible and create with each other. So I'm gonna do more events around here locally, but essentially it's just like another community for creators to create.”
Stuck In Time
“I'm young, you know what I'm saying,” admits Twixx, “It's important for me to help other people who are, if not in the same position, in another position that is younger than me. I was in a position where I only had a handful of mentors and it was just so limiting ‘cause there were age gaps. Mentors, traditionally, they're like super older. And they're like, ‘Young grasshopper, let me teach you about this. I've done it for years and years and years’ Not to disregard that, that's very true, people that have done it for very long, know what they're doing. But, ultimately there was nobody I could relate to directly like, ‘Oh yeah, school, I got school too.’ In my recent experiences, it has been more impactful to other people when they can connect to it more in an agely, real-time manner. So it's just important for me to connect the dots with people that are the same age as me or younger, 'cause you're going to listen to someone who can relate to you versus someone who has the knowledge and wants to explain it to you. Nowadays with the gear changing so quickly, if you're both experiencing those gear changes at the same time, you can just help them as best as you can and kind of shave a couple of years of my trial and error off for them."