Money doesn't matter to Ellen Kotzin. The 36-year-old Clay woman is reinventing herself by hooking into the soaring popularity of online video.
"It's more important to be happy," Kotzin said. "It's all mostly for fun."
With a master's degree in foreign language education from Plymouth State College in New Hampshire and a minor in theater, Kotzin began her career as a foreign language teacher at various Central New York junior high schools and high schools alike. West Genessee, East Syracuse and Mexico are just some of the schools at which Kotzin taught. She is the mother of two children and, up until November, a teacher.
When she decided to change career paths, Kotzin looked to her love of theater and comedy to find a new vocation. Previously, she had performed in several Syracuse community theater productions. To date, Kotzin has worked with Salt-City Playhouse, Apple-Seed Productions and played a role in the movie "Up-State" as Eileen's friend. Discovering iystv.com, It's Your Show TV, Kotzen began sending in video submissions for contests.
Armed with her digital video camera, a few cheap lights and her iMac computer, she started writing scripts and filming family, friends and her two dogs. Ultimately the comedic videos she produced were under her new company, PugDog Productions. Kotzin submitted more than a dozen entries to the web site that initially sparked her interest in films. The web site held weekly competitions that allowed users to vote for their favorite short, with a $1,000 prize per challenge.
One of Kotzin's videos, "True Confessions: Tale of an IYS Addict," was a finalist for the site's weekly challenge No. 69 (TV show parody). Although Kotzin did not win the challenge, the interest motivated her to continue filming.
"The whole thing was a really positive experience," Kotzin said. "It inspired me to do more creative things, I did some video work in high-school and got away from it, this has re-inforced my drive."