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She’s a faculty assistant by day, and a filmmaker by night

By day, staff members at Life Chiropractic College West assist students and faculty while creating an ideal environment for a chiropractic education. By night, though, there’s time for labors of love. Life West staff member Nina Martinez’s labor of love is on YouTube, where her quirky episodic videos live.

Nina Martinez

Martinez, a Faculty Administrative Assistant at Life West, will celebrate 20 years at the college in November. But initially she wanted to be an artist, and that has led to a passion for audio-visual production.

In those earlier days, Martinez was invited to help with theater, and she wanted to keep working with brushes. “I did makeup for plays and occasionally played a part,” she said. “One of the productions I worked on was ‘Into the Woods.’ I did some lifecasting on the actors so they could sculpt masks for them. That eventually led to other people asking me for help with short films.”

She also met and married Ed Martinez, who spent many years in the film industry. In addition to assisting Ed with his work, she also began taking photos and writing captions for them. That hobby evolved into constructing potential stories, which did not go unnoticed by her husband.

“He got me helping him as his assistant,” she said. “I remember when he said to me, ‘Oh, you’ve got the bug now,’ because I started putting together narratives I had in my head.”

In addition to serving on production crews for shorts such as “Project Arbiter” and “The Limousines: Internet Killed the Video Star,” Martinez has produced her own series on YouTube. She cited Saturday morning cartoons as a primary inspiration, and many of the videos feature her own dolls, action figures and props.

Martinez said that each one can take anywhere from two weeks to two months from start to finish, depending on production and editing requirements. She added that ideas for videos can come from a variety of different sources.

In one of Martinez’s short films, Dracula tells a fat bunny to get into the hat.

“Some of the ideas will come just from a punchline or a joke,” Martinez said. “I did one about a magic trick, and I got the idea because I was a terrible magician who couldn’t do sleight of hand. I had a fat bunny who doesn’t fit in a hat, but I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if her friend told her to get in the hat?’”

Making short films requires the balance of many different aspects of production, and it can sometimes require long hours. However, Martinez says she enjoys parts of the process others may see as tedious.

“I know it probably sounds boring, but I love editing,” she explained. “I can be up at 2 in the morning with my eyes drying out, and my husband will go, ‘Why are you still sitting there?’ Taking the photographs is also a lot of fun. I’d never experimented with lighting before, so this is my first foray into playing with lighting on purpose.”

Twenty years at Life West

Martinez was hired by Life West in November of 1999 and has seen the school evolve over the years. At that time, the school operated in a far different fashion, with multiple sites that housed classrooms and offices.

“We had three campuses, and it was hard for the students,” she said. “They had to drive from one place to another to go to class and then drive to see their patients. It wasn’t like it is now, where students can just throw their backpacks in the car, change clothes and come to clinic.”

Martinez said her favorite part of the job is seeing students graduate. She admits it can be an emotional time, but one of her favorite Life West memories came a few years after the school moved to its current site.

Martinez decorates the front desk at Life West for Halloween.

“The first graduation I went to was three years after we moved here, into one building,” she said. “I really got to know the freshmen. I still remember that because I got to see them go from start to finish. It was bittersweet.”

There have been times where Martinez’s duties at Life West and her passion for production have intersected. Martinez recalls writing a script for a short video centering around administrative procedures in the clinic.

“It was called, ‘Pinks are Watching You,’” she said. “We folded up stacks of pink slips and put googly eyes on them, like in the old Geico commercials. I know Dr. Whalen is in it, but she doesn’t remember. I’m 100% sure it was her, when she was a student.”

Martinez says she’s incredibly grateful to be in a position where she can apply her outside passions to her daily routine.

“Sometimes you can get pigeonholed into one role and not be able to use your outside talents,” she said. “At Life West, you can find room for them.”

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