Dane Hodgson launched his career as a videographer after graduating from UC Santa Barbara in 2011 with a degree in film and media. For the next several years he traveled the country and the world making promotional videos for a wide variety of customers, with a particular interest in working with bands, an extension of his love for music.
But in 2019, with fond memories of growing up in San Luis Obispo, Dane could not resist returning when a “planets aligning” opportunity, as he calls it, arose: access to a 4000 square foot building that might help him accomplish one of his dreams: creating a space dedicated to the arts in his hometown.
Dane was born in San Luis Obispo and grew up in the Arbors. His parents, Paul and Denise, met while attending Cal Poly, where Paul played football. Paul has owned and operated California Cooperage since 1981. “The friends I made in that neighborhood are still my lifelong friends,” Dane said. He attended Los Ranchos Elementary School and started playing sports at an early age.
“I started with soccer and baseball. My dad wouldn’t let me play football until fifth grade because I was too skinny,” Dane said. “I remember every elementary school teacher, especially Mrs. Will, my third-grade teacher, and Mrs. Ortiz, my sixth-grade teacher. Mrs. Will treated everyone so well. Mrs. Ortiz encouraged me to run for class president. I was so blessed to grow up here.”
After attending Laguna Middle School, Dane started 9th grade at San Luis Obispo High School in 2000. By then he and his father had developed an approach to high school sports. “He said that you either play two sports or get a job. I got over baseball after my freshman year, so I added track as my second sport. I was already dedicated to football. He said that I didn’t have to play if my heart wasn’t in it, but that I would have to learn the value of work. My parents taught me good values and how to be a good person.”
Dane’s sister, Jessica, was a senior when he was a freshman. Knowing many of the older students made it an easier transition for him. On the football team he started out as a safety, but soon became the starting quarterback. In his sophomore year the junior varsity team went un- defeated, the same year the varsity won a Southern Section CIF championship. Dane was promoted to varsity and was on the sidelines for that game. “My dad was one of the coaches, but he never coached me directly. Rick Kraemer coached me and Vic Ecklund was the offensive coordinator when I played varsity. They taught us the value of team and believing in ourselves.”
Dane attributes some of his success in football to running track. “In my sophomore year, as a member of the junior varsity team, I beat all the varsity runners in the one hundred, so I was moved up to varsity where I ran the hundred and two hundred. I never lost a race.” As a junior, Dane shifted his attention to the four hundred meter race. It helped improve his conditioning for football, he went to state finals, and he still holds the school record, 48.3 seconds.
Success as a quarterback in his junior and senior year, including reaching the third round in CIF, led to college opportunities. “I received offers from Arizona State, Cal, Washington, West Point, Cal Poly and Oregon. I chose Oregon because they were my team. My uncle brought me up watching them.”
Knowing that he wasn’t going to be a superstar, Dane committed to working as hard as he could for a year and then evaluating the results. “I worked my butt off but realized my heart wasn’t there. I wanted to pursue other things.” He completed a year at Oregon, returned to San Luis Obispo, then enrolled at Santa Barbara City College with a goal of transferring to UC Santa Barbara.
At SBCC Dane took a film class, decided he really liked it, took more film classes, and transferred to UCSB as a film and media major. “I was attracted to film because it is a reflection of life. It’s a way to capture emotion, to let people explore emotions they haven’t experienced before. At UCSB studying film was highly contextual: a lot of reading, writing, studying theory and film-philosophy, more academic than hands-on film making. At the end, I got to spend more time filming, editing, coloring, doing the entire process.”
When he was 21 Dane studied film at the University of East Anglia in England. “It was one of the best experiences of my life. I stepped out of my comfort zone, immersed myself in a different culture. I learned to shoot and process 16mm film. I was able to travel, have that ‘finding yourself’ journey. It’s fascinating to find out how other people approach their everyday lives.”
Dane tended bar to help pay the bills during and after college. While working at the Santa Barbara Brewing Company, he met a former Bill Gates partner, Bill Wesemann. “A lot of my professional career started through contacts I made while bartending. I worked on music videos with Wesemann. He started a tech company in Los Altos and hired me and my wife, Courtney, to provide media content. We worked for him for a year, commuting back and forth to Santa Barbara once every other week.”
With the foundation he established, Dane travels the world making promotional videos. “I help companies tell their story. A company in Japan hired me because they wanted me to convey the lifestyle connected to the pottery they make. I’ve been to Mexico, Amsterdam, and all over the United States.” His business is named The Backlots.
Through a friend, Dane connected with a Santa Barbara-based reggae band, Iration. “Working with them helped me develop the skills I use with bands, like making recap videos of their shows that they can post on their social media, producing and directing full feature music videos. I’ve been on two national tours with them.” He has shot over thirty videos for Iration. “I’m working with three additional bands right now, very talented, on their way up.”
Dane’s work with bands led to the development of a concept, 805 Acoustic, a platform for area code 805 musicians to play recorded and edited music to promote their work, but also to raise money for specific causes that they support. “It’s especially important right now because there are no live shows. We make videos as if it were a live show that they can give to their fans.”
Two years ago Dane’s father approached him and said that a building he owned adjacent to California Cooperage was empty. “He said it do something with this space. I checked it out and it was a no-brainer. I could have this beautiful facility with room for multiple functions. We have offices upstairs to rent and a downstairs space for photo and video shoots, art exhibits, music, private events. I can expand my creative side.”
That’s why I decided to move back to San Luis Obispo, to provide creative space in an environment away from Los Angeles or San Francis- co. It’s a space San Luis Obispo doesn’t have. I believe in collaboration. When you see people get together to create something, that’s the home run for me.”
I was inspired by Dane’s excitement about the possibilities that his new endeavor presents, and impressed with his love for his hometown. “If I can do what I’m passionate about, what makes me happy, if I can keep my head down and keep grinding if I keep my values and core beliefs tight with who I am, the rest will fall into place. I want to leave a legacy of giving back to this community.”
To see an example of Dane’s work with Iration, CLICK HERE.