Chad Tingle joins Media For Change with plans to support up-and-coming filmmakers and more
by Isabella Vaccaro
Media for Change’s newest member and Director of Incubations Chad Tingle spent the onset of his career in film working various odd jobs that gave him a comprehensive understanding of the industry. Today, he owns his own production company, Crown Street Films, and joins Media for Change with a passion to help a younger generation of filmmakers find their way.
Tingle was born in Jamaica and grew up in Brooklyn, where he says his mother had dreams of him becoming a physical therapist because of its potential for employment opportunities. But even back then, Tingle knew that storytelling, rather than science, was going to be his ticket.
At the University of Miami, Tingle fell into the right group of friends—students majoring in screenwriting, film and broadcasting—and even met Media for Change founder Sanjeev Chatterjee, who was his professor and mentor. Tingle says it was through these connections that he was inspired to study and hone his film editing skills, chalking it up to ‘osmosis’ or the fact that he was always surrounded by creatives.
“He [Chatterjee] was the first professor who wasn’t afraid to throw me into some real-world situations and say, ‘hey, you know, go run with this and if you make a mistake, you make a mistake, but, you know, go do it,” Tingle said.
Chatterjee invited Tingle and a couple of other students to work on a documentary project during Tingle’s junior and senior year at UM called “Big Plans,” which followed a UM football player and rapper trying to launch his career. Tingle recalls using Chatterjee’s digital camera at the time—a Sony DX 1000—to shoot the film, reminiscing about a project that not only armed him with helpful skills but whose topic mirrored his own ‘big plans’ for his life.
“What really appealed to me, was telling stories about real people,” said Tingle. “I didn’t necessarily understand all the ins and outs, but I understood that I had this ability to tell stories about real people and to do a form of storytelling where you could still have emotion and drama and conflict but understand where those people were coming from based on a lived experience.”
After graduation, Tingle worked in the dub room at a post house in Miami, which he said was a ‘great learning experience,’ but he ultimately didn’t see a future for himself at the company. He then got a job in tech support at a company that built editing systems for churches, schools and municipalities. Tingle said he quickly became an asset because of his knowledge of nonlinear editing and, through the job, eventually learned how to build computers. Taking with him the knowledge he gained from these companies, Tingle again shifted gears and began working for Midtown Video Miami, where he made a slew of professional contacts in the distribution world.
Through it all, however, Tingle and his college friends managed to convene on their off days to work on their passion projects (documentaries, films, etc.) in hopes of one day leaving their day jobs.
“We kind of all convalesced in this one house in South Miami that my friend Jamie and Rob rented,” said Tingle. “We had two edit suites and they lived in the house. I lived by myself, but it was kind of like this place where I worked, but I also hung out there.” Tingle referred affectionately to the group as “this little unit trying to make stuff happen.”
In 2002, Tingle was working as a production assistant for “Too Fast, Too Furious,” which shot in Miami, when he totaled his car in an accident. In an instant, the trajectory of Tingle’s career changed again, and he began waiting tables to make some quick money. Though he admits the change felt humiliating at first, Tingle said it turned out to be one of his most important career moves. Not only was Tingle able to come out of his shy shell and form his own opinions, he realized some striking comparisons between the food and film industries.
Tingle said that in film, the grips, electricians and camera people “do the hard butt-busting work that makes the director and the director of photography look good, and they don’t really get much of the credit. Those are the people in the kitchen staff.” As a waiter, Tingle got a feel for what it was like to be in the ‘front of house,’ like a producer or director, as he would be the one to get tipped if guests enjoyed the meal.
At 28, Tingle took one last stab at a career in film and began working closely with a Scottish producer on service jobs, which set up international production companies with locations, casting and other logistics so they could shoot in America. Tingle eventually worked his way up from a production assistant to a production manager to becoming a full-time producer of commercials.
Tingle realized that he now had the time and resources to finally pick up where he and his friends had left off in starting their own production company. Thus, Tingle’s company, Crown Street Films, was born. Named after the street Tingle grew up on in Brooklyn, Crown Street Films produces a variety of commercials, branded content, documentaries and more.
“Crown Street Films is kind of like a mixture of using the commercial work to subsidize the work that I really want to do,” said Tingle. “So, the goal is to, every year, work on a documentary project.”
So, when Tingle got a call from Chatterjee asking him to be the Director of Incubations at Media for Change, he knew, like every other step in his career, that this one was divinely guided, too. As the Director of Incubations, Tingle is responsible for securing projects for Media for Change to adopt or helping other filmmakers secure funding for their projects. Additionally, Tingle hopes to bring on other storytellers and help young creatives get their footing in an industry he knows well.
“I also kind of felt that as I approached my 40s, now I was at a place where I should be giving back,” said Tingle. “I was always trying to figure out how I was going to do that. And so, yeah when he [Chatterjee] called me, it made sense.” Tingle also hopes to mentor young black filmmakers in South Florida, because he noted that “there’s a certain part of the business, like at the upper above the line portion, where there’s not a lot of people who look like me.”
There is no doubt Tingle’s unrelenting passion for filmmaking led him to a fulfilling career and now, as the newest member of Media for Change, a chance to give back to his community.