Venice, CA • Established 2012 • Handmade & Created By Matthew Schildkret

California State Fire Fighter / Filmmaker

We've known Ari since he walked into our shop and asked for a job 4 years ago. He was one of our earliest employees and brought a special energy to his shifts at the shop. He's since moved on to focus on his film making and recently became a firefighter. He's been spending the summer of 2020 battling fires all across the western US. We recently caught up with him and his dog Rocko for a photoshoot in Venice.

Why firefighting?

When the big fires first bit California a couple of years ago, I learned about wildland firefighters and what they do. Until then I didn't know much about the profession nor did I care much, but one of my close friends decided to enlist and during his time we talked frequently. After hearing about what he was doing and what the job entailed a seed was suddenly planted. My videography business was doing decently and I had a girlfriend and a cool Hollywood apartment so I should've felt content, but I didn't. Even though on paper I was doing well I didn't feel good inside, I knew I had a ways to go until I had saved enough money to make my next film but I wasn't satisfied doing the jobs I was doing, only working for my own personal gain. Living like that in the city started to make me feel very disconnected from the people i loved and like i had to only look out for myself which isn't a good place to be mentally. I started to become aware of this dissatisfaction inside me right around the time my buddy returned from his first fire season, we got to talking more and his experience had given him what I was looking for: responsibility and community. Both of which I was lacking. Being outdoors, working for our hometowns and national parks all while learning a trade and leadership skills? Sign me up. So right before COVID hit, that's exactly what I did .

Why filmmaking?

Filmmaking to me always felt like the most effective creative outlet for me. Since a young age I was always very expressive and hyper sensitive, I felt all the feelings and I wanted other people to feel them too. So when my mother exposed me to classic films i was deeply moved by the artistry and collaboration as a whole. From then I felt the urge to contribute with my own films, so my focus laid primarily on that for many years. During that time I acted in anything that came my way, worked as a production assistant until leveling up to camera assistant, then to assistant director to cinematographer and finally writer/producer/director. Freelancing allowed me to discover what my strengths and weaknesses are and what to do/not do when making your own movie. It was long grueling years of taking crap and questioning my worth and abilities the whole way. But in 2018 I finally made my first film! It was an epic beautiful failure that drained me both mentally and financially but I learned so much during that experience and it really made way for me to understand what kind of person I wanted to be, as well as what kind of foundation and life experiences i needed to have in order to make it as a professional actor and filmmaker. This is where firefighting comes into play....

What are your biggest struggles?

My biggest struggles have been with myself. I'm an overthinker and a dreamer which can be a toxic mix. But luckily I've attracted a lot of love into my life which has helped me feel more grounded and able to heal. I think most struggles stem from internal issues that affect our decision making, making it hard to trust ourselves and our instincts thus resulting in a negative outcome. I'm really focused now on being more self aware and being open to change, changing.

What are your favorite accomplishments?

I think my favorite accomplishments are all personal battles that I've overcome. Fears, insecurities, and ego that were all getting the best of me for quite some time. I finally am starting to feel freed from all that and I have to say it has a lot to do with becoming a firefighter. This job has given me a backbone I didn't know I was lacking and made me feel more useful and connected to society. I'm still in the beginning stages of this journey but so far everything is aligning and I'm excited to see where all this hard work leads me.

What part of your personality are you most thankful for?

I'd have to say my Sensitivity. Its best (and worst) quality. a blessing and a curse if you will. Its allowed me to be open to others and feel their pains but also left me open to be hurt as well. But regardless, I'd choose love and empathy over any other feeling any day of the week. Its allowed for deeper connections as well as allowed me to really be there and help others which is what makes me feel most content.

What does your favorite or ideal Late Sunday Afternoon look like?

An ideal Late Sunday Afternoon for me consists of being outside in the upstate east coast with my future wife and child, playing in the fall leaves with our pups, while a fire and hot chocolate await for us inside our stone-built home.

What gives you hope for the future?

Art gives me hope for the future. It breaks barriers and brings people together. It shares stories and spreads information. It allows for truths to be told and fantasies felt and imagined. Art is love and love transcends all. I think more people are realizing that and are choosing love over fear. I'm excited for what's to come and I can't wait to play a part in it all!

What would you like to bless the world with? Pick one word.

What excites you about being an LSA ambassador?

Being part of a community that stands for mystery and playfulness. We need more of that now than ever before. It's important to stoke that childlike sense of wonderment and to remember how to still get excited for what's to come, I think LSA is that reminder.

What are you doing next? How can people get involved?

Creatively, I'm always open to collaborations or offering my services with anything film related, ie. music videos, short films, features, fashion lookbooks, conceptual art. But my next film won't be until at least another year from now, I need time to build a team and gather funds. Until then I'm focused on leveling up my career in fire, I'll be attending a state academy in 2021 as well as obtaining my EMT and moving into a more permanent position.

Where are all the places people can learn more about you?

I am on IG uner @ari.sav as well as youtube under Meta Vision Studios. Follow my journey!

Hurry to the shop to get the limited edition SCARVES and ASCOTS Ari is wearing in this story.