Registration for the 2024 Camp Is Now Open!.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Olympian Jamie Nieto Says Centre College Track Camp One of Best in Nation

Posted: Thursday, June 12, 2014 6:00 pm | Updated: 10:30 pm, Thu Jun 12, 2014.
Two-time Olympian Jamie Nieto is back in Danville for his third summer at Maximum Velocity Track and Field Academy, a track camp for high school students hosted by Centre College.
Nieto competed in the 2004 and 2012 Olympic games, and just missed a earning a medal both times. Now retired from high jumping, he is pursuing a career in acting and recently started his own production company. Nieto took time before the camp began Wednesday to talk about what he will try to teach the campers as well as his two new webseries, "Holla Atcha Boy" and "Blood Brothers."
Question: What brings you back to Maximum Velocity every year? What motivates you to come to any camp like this?

Nieto: "I think this is one of the best camps in the nation. I've been to a lot of camps all over the world, and nobody has this caliber of Olympic athletes helping the kids out. One of my big motivations is helping the kids and impute the knowledge upon them that I've learned over the years in track and field. They just do it really well. It's run really well, and it's a beautiful campus with wonderful people. And, the kids are always great."

Question: How do you think camps like this one prepare kids to become better athletes and people?

Nieto: "When I was a kid, I wished that I had an opportunity to train with an Olympic athlete and to learn about my respective sport from them. I remember when I was a kid and I did a basketball camp, and that was where my love for basketball grew. I'm hoping that something like this can help to inspire the athletes and that they can say, 'Hey, one summer I trained with a two-time Olympian, Jamie Nieto.' If it inspires them to become great athletes someday, that'd be a great thing."

Question: While you are at these camps, what do you try to teach the kids about sports and about life?

Nieto: "I try to use my own experiences. For sports, I try to teach them techniques and drills and things that they can take with them to become better athletes later. It's stuff that they can use at home when they're back in their respective places, wherever they live and come from. 

"Also, I try to teach them that winning is not always everything. I went to the Olympics twice and once got fourth place and another time, I got sixth place. The first time, I felt very torn between not getting a medal but also jumping a personal best. Through my years, I've realized that I went and I did the best I could do. Those are the things I try to impute upon the kids. All you have to do is go out there and do the best you can do. You can't control places and you can't control medals. If you go out there and jump the world record and someone jumps even farther, you can't do anything about it, but you still win because you did the best for yourself. That's what I like to teach the kids. Hopefully, one day they'll grow up and be good teachers as well. For me and my career, there's been a lot of down years, but it's those up years that make everything worth it. That's the other thing I try to tell them, to keep pushing forward and the more you are in the sport and the more you learn about it, the more opportunities you have to succeed."

Question: I want to switch gears and ask you about your webseries, "Holla Atcha Boy." What inspired you start filming these videos?

Nieto: "Holla Atcha Boy" came around because in 2010, I was doing these video blogs where I was chronicling my life and what I was doing in the sport. After a couple times of doing that, I decided to interview some other athletes. I know some pretty influential athletes that I could ask about nutrition and how they got to where they are. When I made the Olympics in 2012, I decided to do this blog again. By the end of the Olympic games, I had interviewed over 20 athletes and I was like, 'What am I going to do with all this footage? I can't just make this one blog, it'll be a documentary.' Because my blogs were usually under five minutes, I started thinking that maybe I could do a webseries.

"When I went to the Olympics and I cleared 7'6", I yelled out, 'Holla atcha boy!' It was just in the spur of the moment. That just stuck with me. It went viral, and they did a few articles and posts online about me screaming 'holla atcha boy' at the Olympics. I guess it was pretty loud, but I didn't realize it at the time. I thought that would be a good name for the show because 'holla atcha boy' is like 'come talk to me.' I came up with a concept and a structure, and I've been doing them ever since. It's been about a year now. I've had a lot of fun with it. It's a great way to give back to the sport now that I'm retired."

Question: Do you have a favorite episode or interview?

Nieto: "They're all my favorite episodes. The majority of the time, I shoot the interviews myself and I've probably edited 98 percent of them. A couple of them, one of my friends edited. I'm working on my editing skills and the thing that intrigues me sometimes is 'Oh, look what I did with the camera here or look how I edited that.' The last ten episodes or so, I've put music to it or done things with pictures or things like that.
"If I was to pick one, it would probably be the April Holmes episode. She's a Paralympic athlete. I thought that was a pretty good one because I think it was the first time as an editor that I stepped out of my box. She had a great story and I feel like I captured her story pretty well. Like I said, they're all my favorite. Most of the athletes are my friends and it's great to sit down and talk to them. I'm hoping to get interviews with some of the other athletes while I'm here. I got Kevin Young last year and it just now came out. The interesting thing is, you never know when these things are going to come out. I never really know. I try to mix them up. I want it to be pretty diverse."

Question: What inspired you to become an actor?

Nieto: "I wanted to be an actor all my life. I was afraid to tell people that I wanted to act, but I knew that at some point in my life, I was going to do it. In 2004 after I made my first Olympic team, I started thinking about it. The reason I didn't want to tell anybody was because I thought they would discourage me. In 2004, I thought, 'People tried to discourage me from becoming an Olympian and I did this. What makes them think I can't become an actor?' I started taking a serious look at it and in 2007, a friend of mine started a production company and we did a short film together. In 2008, I missed being on the Olympic team and thought, 'What am I going to do now? I'm closer to the end of my career and I need to figure this out.' I was in London and I took an acting class and thought, 'Yup, this is what I want to do.' I just fell in love with it and I thank God for that, because I feel like not everyone gets to find another passion like that. I've got three movies on Netflix now and I'm working on my own webseries that I've produced. It's winning many awards and I've taken this year to really push that into film festivals. We've gotten 13 nominations and three wins."

Question: Let's talk about "Blood Brothers," your other webseries. How has felt to be nominated for so many awards for your work on that?

Nieto: "It's been great. I wrote 'Blood Brothers' as well. When I first started getting into acting, my teacher told me, 'You know, you really need to just get into all aspects of the entertainment industry. Write, act, produce.' That's what I've started doing. I think I've always been a storyteller in my heart. Prior to writing screenplays, I used to write poetry and I used to rap. I used to do all of these other writing things. I think I just fell naturally into the writing.
"We only filmed the first three episodes of the series, and there are nineteen, because we wanted to push it into festivals. Once we get it out, we want to raise money to do more or maybe someone will say that they want to pick it up or give us more money to produce it. It's been amazing, and I've definitely learned a lot. I'd never really done the film festival circuit and it's a good other lane to figure out."

Question: What was the filming process like? How did you come up with the idea for the story?

Nieto: "The filming process took two years. I wrote it in 2010. The same friend who started the production company came to me one day and said, 'Hey Jamie, I have this dream of this scene where another guy, your brother, pulls a gun out on you because you owe him some money.' I thought it was an interesting concept. My friend had just gotten a new camera that shoots well at night, and he said, 'I want to shoot this.' I wrote it up and it came to about five pages. I really fell in love with the story, and I just ran with it. It ended running 130 pages. That was in 2010.
"In 2011, right before I was about to go overseas for some competitions, my friend said, 'My production company is really picking up and I don't think I'll be able to get back to "Blood Brothers".' I thought, 'I eventually want to produce stuff, so why not now?' I thought that once I had made a few movies and garnered some attention, I would start producing, but why not build it from the ground up? I started my own production company and started assembling a team and began producing. We weren't actually finished with it until Sept. of 2013.
"We filmed six principal days, and then we had two days of pick-up and B-roll. It's tough. You never realize that when you want to make a movie to the quality you see on TV, a lot goes into that. At one point on set, we had to manage 30 people. That includes the crew, the actors, and the PAs. It was cool, because it was like, 'I'm the head of this whole ensemble of people who are doing this thing.' The filming process is very 'let's go, we've got to film this now in a couple of takes.' When you don't have a big budget, you don't have the luxury of time. As time goes on, money just burns up. We had some highs and lows, but in the end, we have a pretty good product."

Question: Is it harder to be an actor or an athlete, schedule-wise?

Nieto: "I'm not so busy with acting right now that it's making my schedule tight. As an athlete, I was on a normal schedule. I would wake up in the morning and go train, come home and rest, and do the same thing the next day. During the season, I would go to competitions, which would get pretty hectic because of traveling all the time. Once my acting career really takes off, I think the acting schedule will be a lot harder than the track schedule.
"In terms of what is actually harder, I think that track and field is a lot harder than acting. But you have to realize that if you want to categorize acting as a sport, it would be track and field and gymnastics. Acting could be compared to gymnastics because it doesn't matter if you can do a flip, if one judge doesn't like it, you get a nine or an eight. It's the same with acting. You train, and I've trained for over six years now, and if I go into an audition and kill it but one person says, 'He was just okay,' I don't get the job. I think track and field really prepared me for acting because they have a lot of parallels: managers and agents, those types of things, and it takes time to become a great athlete like it does to become an actor."
Question: If there's one thing that you want the kids at Maximum Velocity to take away from this camp, what would it be?
Nieto: "Keep God first. Stick in there, because it takes a long time to be great. Keep working hard and keep learning. Jump high."