WM20s – the Media House Putting On For Long Island

By: Miya Jones
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WM20s - the Media House Putting On For Long Island

It was unlikely that young Long Islanders Anthony “Ant” Guardado, 24, and Fradin Louis, 25 knew that they were going to co-found a serious media house and production company when they met at the age of seven. But, the Roosevelt natives are doing just that.

The former film Nassau Community College students started their media group in 2017 during their college years.

Going by Bohemian Opera at first, which was an homage to Louis’ favorite band Queen, they created skits and scripted content. They then switched gears. One day, Louis’ grabbed his father’s old VHS camera and began documenting their nights out.

Due to the pandemic, schedules opened up and allowed for the two to restructure and revamp their business. June 2020 was a “renaissance” for the group as they tightened up their production and began creating content such as their “BTB” series and their Wasting Studios artist sessions.

So Wasting My 20s, how did you come up with the name?

Guardado: We started under a different name.

Louis: We started under Bohemian Opera. That was the original name.

Ok, I was going to ask about that.

Louis: We kind of started out doing skits and more written and directed content. I guess our organizational skills weren’t where they are today. We started struggling with that and there was like a little dry period. Then we started going out and just recording. My dad had this old camera and I was just like, “It might be kind of cool to just document.” I was just like you know we’re wasting out twenties, having fun with our friends and stuff and then I guess it just took a life of its own.

Who’s all involved? Is it just you two? Is there more people involved in the foundation of this?

Louis: There’s more people involved, but I guess you could say we were the original two. We co-founded it together and then came along a few other friends of ours, Alejandro Jomar Ramirez and a few other people as well.

What drove you? What pushed you to kind of jump into it?

Guardado: When we stared it we were in college still and so that’s why back then it was kind of on and off. Sometimes schedules wouldn’t align that well, so during the time we were active it wasn’t as consistent. That went on for about two or three years. And we started with the scripted content because that’s what we really started with, filmmaking.

Louis: Yeah, we were both film students. He actually graduated, I didn’t. He’s a college grad, so shoutout to my guy (laughs). Film was the thing that was a common interest between the two of us.

Guardado: What really got us to the stage we’re at now, was quarantine. It freed up schedules for a lot of people. Even during quarantine we kind of unconsciously restructured. We went through a big planning stage idea-wise of what we could get back to doing and new ideas.

Louis: Yeah, around June of 2020, we kind of had this renaissance if you will. Just between then and now, our audience has doubled. We have been around for a couple years and we were taking mainly photos. On YouTube we would do other types of content, video content. We just decided to start making content outside of the typical scripted things we were doing. We started doing the “Better than Buzzfeed.” It’s not “Better than Buzzfeed” no more because we don’t want no type of legal issue, so we call it “BTB.”

Guardado: Didn’t want no Biggie problems (laughs).

Louis: Yeah, he went from Biggie Smalls to Notorious B.I.G., so we just did that. The “BTB” came out of that, the wasted studios performance series that we’ve been doing with artists from Long Island as well as the boroughs, even places outside that, like Maryland. Content started to pick up around that time.

I saw from the Instagram that there were more so pictures and not as much video. I also noticed there was a lot content coming out of the city and the boroughs. But now when I see recent stuff I see you in Roosevelt. Was that because of the pandemic that you’re now doing content more on Long Island?

Guardado: Of course before the pandemic we would travel a lot to the boroughs just because that’s where the creative scene was at essentially, you know. Nobody thinks of Long Island as that, and to be honest, that was my mindset. But it’s not like that, it shouldn’t be like that because there’s a lot of talented and creative people on Long Island. I feel like the pandemic not only made us realize that, but also made us connected. A lot of our series are aimed towards putting that message out there. You don’t need to jack Long Island. A lot of people when they say New York, all they think about is the boroughs.

So kind of going back a little bit, did you guys see yourself doing this kind of thing when you were like 10 lets say? Did you always want to make videos and content?

Louis: For me it wasn’t like content at the time, I just wanted to act. I thought acting was the coolest thing ever. Then I got to the point where I kinda didn’t think I was a good actor, so I was just like, “I can just be a director.” That was around high school, but I guess for me I had an idea that I’d be within the realm of media.

Guardado: Consciously, I didn’t really think about it as a kid. I was always fascinated with cameras in general. But in my eyes, I thought, “Anybody could have fun with a camera as a kid.” But even through high school that wasn’t something I had in mind. I always thought about something like architecture because I was always into drawing. So there’s was always some sort of art. I was in the artistic realm, but didn’t really hone in on this until around college.

Why did you call it Bohemian Opera earlier on?

Louis: Because of Queen, I really like the band.

Guardado: We were just brainstorming one night in the car just going through random combinations and he thought of “A Night at the Opera” by Queen and then I was like “Oh, that’s cool,” because Bohemian to me is cool.

When was the switch made to Wasting my Twenties?

Louis: That’s a good question.

Guardado: When he started recording those VHS videos it was around 2017 and that series he titled “Wasting my Twenties Vol. One through Nine” I think. It’s still on YouTube go check it out. I feel like even after those we were still going by Bohemian Opera because we wanted to keep the production side separate because at that time those videos were more like gritty on the street. We wanted to make sure that we had a professional side too. I think probably around 2019 is when we stopped using Bohemian Opera.

So I did see some of the videos. I saw the “How do you like to be Courted” one and that kinda hit home, so I appreciated that.

Guardado & Louis: (laughs)

So what would you say is the hardest thing about doing what you guys are doing?

Guardado: If you wanna work and you have a project in mind you need certain people or a certain amount of people. That could be tricky, because you know we’re not at that I guess scale where people will show up just because. You’re still kind of growing and building that type of foundation. I don’t wanna say workload, because we handle what we do between two people, but it would be easiest to have more where it’s not just a two-man powerhouse.

Louis: I was gonna say editing. Granted, let’s just say if it’s in the realm of something like a short film, I’d get like a real kick out of editing that or something with like a narrative to it. Or even I guess to a certain degree like certain music videos if it’s done in a way that’s not completely basic. It’s like a little more artistic or has more of a direction to it. That I really get a kick out of, but then there’s other parts that I don’t like because you know when you’re producing content there’s just, you know what I mean, you have somewhat of a formula and if you do anything enough times it starts to become sort of monotonous.

What would you say is the best part about doing what you’re doing? What do you love about this?

Guardado: I love being able to come up with a concept that we talk about and then actually make it happen and seeing the end product. It’s cool to see the progression, and meet the people too.

Louis: Yeah, I think that’s a big part. We meet different people that had I just kept my job at CVS I probably wouldn’t have met them. I like when people tell us they enjoy what we do. But, people have a way of being like, “Oh yeah I like this,” and I’m like, “What did you like about it?” [and they say] “Oh I just like it,” but you know when people really come up to you and are like, “Yo, I really thought this was dope because of this.” When you have something in your mind there’s something like a translation barrier from getting whatever’s in your head on camera. So it’s really dope when it comes across exactly the way you want it.

In terms of the artists that you get to come in and create content, I saw you had Aaron Knight in there, who has pretty good following. How do you get your clients or these artists to trust and go to you for the work that you do? How do you build that reputation?

Guardado: I think it’s just putting the most in every project that you do whether they have 500k or 1,000, you know. That’s how you get people to stand by what you do. Put the same amount of effort into whoever comes. You always gotta put your best foot forward.

Louis: Yeah, I agreed. Whether or not everybody’s looking, people are looking. That’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. Even though everybody may not really say it, people are always watching, especially if you’re making progress. So you just make sure that you’re doing the best work that you can with whoever it is, it doesn’t matter if you have a million followers or 2,000.

Is there any kind of hurdle that you’ve come across or overcome like a certain project that was a headache or en edit that just got at your nerves? Have there been moments like that and if there were can you share some?

Louis: Yeah, we’ve had a few. Granted I didn’t edit this one, but I just kind of put it together. We do something called screen tests, the short film stuff that we make. We put together this one. Back in 2018, we made this one skit on YouTube called “Juan, John & Quan.” It was suppose to be a parody of sitcoms from the 90s with a bad laugh track and stupid stuff being said. We decided to try and do another one of them and it kind of just evolved into something different. That’s the thing I’m really proud of, it started out with the characters from that sketch and certain people recognized it and were like, “Oh, you need to do another one.”

Guardado: I definitely had to edit it little by little because you know we both know when you edit something for too long, you start to go crazy. So definitely dividing it through is always helpful as an editing tip for everyone.

Good advice. In terms of that, what other advice would you give to maybe younger people who want do something similar and want to try and get into video production and be a creative?

Guardado: I would say just start. Whatever you’re interesting in filming just start doing it, even if you’re not sure where you wanna start. Just do something. Get familiar with all the pieces and figure out what exactly you like about it and then slowly you’ll start to scope out what you like.

Louis: For me I would say, kinda like what I said before, do the work. Just getting it out and doing what you’re suppose to do is a huge part. As time progresses you’ll see, “Oh, I could’ve done this better.” So do the work and do it with intention. Don’t just do aimlessly.

Guardado: Also, don’t dwell on stuff too much because I know in the beginning there were certain things where we would shoot and I would be like either, “This is not good,” or “This is not good at all.” Then of course over time what you thought is good now you might think isn’t good. So you just gotta keep in mind that everything evolves and that’s just the way things are. As long as you see some type of progression that’s always good.

What should we look out for from you guys in the future? What can we expect and where do you guys see yourself let’s say five years from now?

Louis: We have a series gonna be dropping, a scripted series. I’m super excited about that. We’re finally going back to our roots but then doing it with the skill and knowledge that we’ve accumulated over the last few years since we’ve done that consistently. And we’re always looking for new content, but I’ll say for me that’s the thing I’m most excited about. That should be coming out relatively soon.

Guardado: Yeah, that one is probably number one in terms of a new series. Shooting for that is already done but you know there’s only so much two people can edit (laughs). But, there’s also a few other new series we have aside from the staple series we have like “BTB,” the “Intros 2” and “Wasted Studios.” We just started doing profiles that are geared towards showcasing Long Island or just New York-based businesses or creatives alike aside from just music artists. Also, we’re looking to get the ball rolling on a photography-based podcast or not even just photography, but media based.

Louis: And then, five years from now, I’ll be 30 so that’ll be cool. I always had an idea of what that’s gonna be like but I don’t know. I just felt that we would produce some type of feature film for sure. If I’m lying’ I’m dyin’.

Guardado: (laughs)

Louis: Maybe have a film festival of our own, so we’ll have an opportunity to showcase others and curate. That part is fun too because I think that we have good taste. Maybe traveling more for work. That’s a goal for sure.

Guardado: Yeah, being able to see the world while you do what you like to do and live off of it.

Louis: Yup, definitely that, just being able to comfortably live off of doing what I love as opposed to settling for something that I know would give me a guaranteed check after two weeks, but would it make me happy?

Guardado: Definitely all of that, and just make a good lasting impact and what’s important is what’s around you or what you come in contact with day-to-day. And hopefully just bring more awareness to Long Island and who knows where Wasting my Twenties will be as an entity. Hopefully it’s something larger and we can help those around us.

Awesome that’s excited, we have a scripted series. Now is it gonna be funny?

Louis: We’ll see.

Ant: (laughs)

Louis: We don’t wanna label it because when you label something you kind of put it in a box in a sense. I think we should just leave it up to the people. If you laugh, you laugh. If you cry, you cry. But we’re letting the people decide how to feel about it.

Miya Jones

Miya Jones

Miya Jones is a Long Island native and the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Shades of Long Island. She's been a journalist since the age of 17 and is a diversity advocate. Follow Miya on Instagram and Twitter: @miyajones1996 and on Facebook as Miya Jones.

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