Many of us wait our entire lives to discover our purpose in the world. A lucky few, though, see it in their earliest childhood memories. Spencer Folmar’s lifelong passion for filmmaking is one of the most prominent characteristics about him. When he discusses his profession, it is not with the typical everyday office story – it is with a joy and expertise that is evident within seconds.
“What I knew from a very early age, almost my entire life, was that I wanted to be a director,” Folmar recalled. Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, one of the things he always looked forward to most was going to the movies. Folmar’s roots have instilled an authenticity in his films that is visible and easily appreciated from the very first scene.
As a student at Grove City College, Folmar majored in Communication Studies and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in only two years, then went on to attend seminary school and, later, earn an MFA in Film Production. “Grove City made me realize that every film and story was told from a particular worldview and that I needed to firmly establish and identify my own.” Folmar mentioned, looking back at the lasting effect his time at the College has had on him.
This worldview has become the cornerstone of Folmar’s production company, Veritas Arts, of which he has been President and Founder since 2011. “Veritas Arts’ mission is to tell stories that liberate.” Folmar remarked, “We want to inspire the despairing with stories of hope. We tell stories about the marginalized and forgotten people that God cares so much about.” At time of writing, Veritas Arts is home to five previously released films, seven in development or pre-production, and one coming out in April of 2020, Shooting Heroin, which Folmar wrote and directed.
The film industry in and of itself is known for often cut-throat competition, but add to that the challenges of starting any business, and Folmar’s achievements thus far are not hard to admire. Film production is no scene for the faint of heart – there are many ins and outs to the industry that go unnoticed to most outsiders. For Folmar, this included figuring out how to get his movies to audiences while still getting his actors and crew the full compensation they’d earned.
“A lot of what I’ve done with my career [has been] just looking at what is in the marketplace and what is missing.” Folmar explained. “The big thing for filmmakers is distribution… there are very few distribution options these days.”
While most students won’t find themselves frequenting the studio lots of Hollywood, the challenges Folmar faced in getting Veritas Arts off the ground apply to nearly every type of business one could consider founding. Entrepreneurship and Marketing majors will be no strangers to questions like, “what is my market?”, “what is popular right now?”, or “how do I get my product to the right consumers?”. These questions are important considerations when crafting the production plan for a new film, but they are core to successfully launching any commercial venture. Folmar offered some advice for budding business owners, though, saying,
“You will never be ready. Jump off the ledge and as you are falling into the next project you will figure out how to land on your feet. You’ll never regret on your deathbed that you tried and failed, but you will forever regret that you never tried.”
Although Folmar is based in Los Angeles, Veritas Arts is closer to home here at the College than many might realize – Folmar’s organization bought and reopened the Guthrie Theatre on Broad Street in 2019. Thanks in part to Folmar, the Guthrie and Grove City will be hosting the second annual Veritas Film Festival in April. Grove City College is the official sponsor of the event, and interested students can purchase day passes for as little as $10 on Veritas Arts’ webpage here.