By Mike Watkins//Correspondent | Thursday, May 11, 2017
Growing up, brothers Erikson and Soren Dickens loved making movies.
They started making films when Erikson was 10 and Soren was 8 in their hometown of Oakdale, Calif. They made elaborate productions involving costumes, a script, stunts and acting.
Their first movie, a Western titled “The Man with No Fear,” starred Erikson as the hero gunfighter and Soren as the sheriff and a friend as the outlaw.
Like any good clichéd Western, the good guy shot the bad guy in a duel at sundown.
With costumes and props bought from the local Halloween store and a set that included their barn as a jail cell, they went all out.
“I was always the director and screenwriter, and Soren was always the tech guy,” Erikson said. “We still carry these roles today 10 years later. On top of this, we also played Little League and swam on the Oakdale swim team together.
“We have always been pretty close; I suppose that’s what happens when you only have one brother. We played a lot as kids, always building forts and making movies.
Now 22 and 20 and both attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo University – Erikson for philosophy and Soren for business – the Dickens brothers are taking their love and burgeoning expertise for filmmaking to new entrepreneurial levels.
With the help and support of their mother, Mila, they started their own company, Platinum Peek Productions, and are currently involved with several projects.
Their first, completed last summer, is a video chronicling their hometown high school football team as a documentary.
Knowing they would be home for the summer, they figured it was a great way to hone their skills and engage the community at the same time.
“We figured what better way to improve our skills of the trade and get more experience than doing a documentary on the football team?” Erikson said. “In our town, football is life. It’s the stereotypical ‘Friday Night Lights’ town where the community looks at the kids like they're heroes.
“It’s a very tight knit community, so we knew there would be a market for the video, which is important.
Over the course of five weeks, they attended practices, morning workouts and games and took hours of footage of the team with their Sony A78 camera as well as a couple of drones, including interviews with coaches. The final product is called “O.K.G. – Oakdale Kinda Guy.”
The intent was for the viewers – members of the community – to really understand the small-town feel Oakdale embodies as well as the values the community shares as a whole.
“People fell in love with it,” Erikson said. “It gave people in our town something to take pride in and for that we feel a sense of accomplishment.”
In addition to being movie buffs for as long as they can remember, the two brothers also swam from a very early age.
Erikson swam from ages 7 to 11 but never really embraced the sport, largely because his mom, Mila, made him go to practice and meets often against his will. A breaststroker and backstroker, he eventually chose to play on a travel baseball team and gave up swimming altogether.
Soren, however, started when he was 5 and learned to love and excel in swimming. Also a breaststroker and freestyle sprinter, he swam on his high school team and also swam for Cal Poly before injuring his shoulder his freshman season.
Once he recovered, he realized he would rather swim and train on his own because it gave him time to pursue his entrepreneurial endeavors. Still a fan and participant, Soren and friend, Ian Kennedy, started their own club team, Octane Athletics, which is a registered ASI club on the Cal Poly campus.
While they have yet to embark upon a swim-themed film, future projects include a series called “e-quality,” which encompasses short documentaries about people who exhibit certain character traits they see as being essential to becoming a virtuous person. They are currently filming the first short on a Cal Poly golfer who shows the trait “passion.”
They are also putting together a video showcasing Octane Athletics; a documentary about former U.S. National team breaststroker and fellow entrepreneur Chuck Katis and his current projects; and a movie shot documentary-style that will ultimately take two years to complete.
“The documentary movie is called the Platinum Project, and it will document the entrepreneurial pursuits of myself, Soren and Ian Kennedy – also a swimmer – as we navigate our way through life,” Erikson said. “What we both love the most is telling stories – triggering people’s emotions.
“We've sought to better our skills by never failing to have a project of some sort going on. By constantly working, we are learning by doing; we are strong believers in going out and ‘doing it.’ We both read a lot and watch informational videos about leadership, business, psychology, philosophy, politics, entrepreneurship – whatever.”
Being and seeing themselves as entrepreneurs is something Erikson and Soren have always embraced, and with many personal and individually-fueled projects happening or coming up soon, they realize that being “outliers” is an advantage rather than a hindrance.
They know they don’t follow society’s norms in a lot of ways, and they are perfectly fine with that.
“We like to do things our own way; we both have a weird, wide variety of skills and together, those skills amplify tremendously,” Erikson said. “So we feel like limiting ourselves to just one profession, or one trade, might be detrimental to our overall success.
“For example, on top of movie making, Soren and Ian are highly into fitness and are developing a workout bar called the Woa Bar,” he said. “They actually just nailed down a manufacturer, so things are optimistic. I, apart from filmmaking, write novels, and we are planning on self-publishing my books as another source of income.”
Having lost their father to brain cancer in 2009 and watching their mom fight and beat cancer twice while running a 300-plus-employee company, the Dickson brothers both said they believe it’s important to follow dreams and pursue ambitions.
But it’s not for everyone. That desire to work for themselves and accept the risks and rewards that accompany self-employment and entrepreneurship make it unique and not for the faint-of-heart.
“She (mom) is very strong and inspiring to us,” Erikson said. “She certainly pushed us as kids to be the best that we can be. She is supportive and as a mentor, you can't ask for more than someone who has already been out there and done it. She also purchased a good amount of video production equipment for us to help get us started, contingent on us doing a few videos for her company.
“We definitely see film as our end goal. It’s our main passion, so we feel like doing something else would be cheating ourselves from having a fulfilled life. It’s certainly a grind in this game, and we know how competitive it is, but we're willing to give it our best shot so that later on in life we can't look back and say we never even tried.
We are looking for more stories about entrepreneurs. If you know of a swimmer or coach who is embracing his/her own entrepreneurial spirit, please contact Mike Watkins at email@example.com.