A Guam native specializing in media production work has succeeded in Los Angeles — the tough, highly competitive media center of the west coast where media production companies duke it out to get the business of some of the biggest media companies in the world.
Cotch Diaz, who counts several blue-chip companies as his clients (including Fox Sports, NBC Sports, Ferrari, Maserati, and Lamborghini) didn’t really start out as a media production powerhouse.
But through hard work and perseverance, this Guamanian from the village of Santa Rita is now one of the most in-demand professionals in his field.
Diaz actually has roots from both Guam and Saipan.
“My mother is from Saipan and my father is from Guam, so that alone always made me the odd kid. To make things even more awkward, I was born in Huntsville, Alabama while my pops was stationed there for the military,” Diaz said.
Cotch has been living in San Diego, California since 2001 but he was not given his success on a silver plate and he had to start out at the very bottom and work his way out.
He started working in the service industry, serving tables while working and establishing himself as a professional graphic designer, photographer, and videographer.
Now, Cotch operates his own media production company and freelances for other media teams. But what is remarkable about his rise is that he achieved his success solely through self-study and experience.
“I would buy lots of books written by well-established creatives in my industry and teach myself using these resources. I applied for all the digital media classes that I was interested in. I would take a photo of the required book, drop the class, and order the exact book online to read myself. Before I knew it, I learned how to do graphic design, illustration, audio mixing/manipulation, motion FX, 3D building & animation, and video editing. There wasn’t any client that I couldn’t figure out how to help,” Diaz said.
Using all the experience he gained, Diaz now films for three major media companies, a media production company based in Los Angeles, and he helps multiple companies with their branding and marketing.
One trait that Cotch said contributed hugely to his success is his ability to get along with any type of person. His resourcefulness in quickly solving problems also assured his clients that he can be depended upon for any kind of media production work.
Moreover, Cotch’s genuine passion for photography, videography, and media production work enables him to still have the urge to go shooting even after an eight-hour workday. “The saying is true. If you love what you do for a living, you’ll never work a day in your life. It doesn’t feel like I’ve worked for the past 14 years because I truly love what I do for a living,” Diaz said.
Some of the biggest achievements that Cotch has accomplished in his career include helping document the 100th Centennial Anniversary of ARRI at the National Association of Broadcasting (NAB) conference in Las Vegas and at the CineGear Show in Paramount Pictures Los Angeles for two years in a row. He also shot for Fox Sports San Diego for two of their TV shows on cable, as well as a season with the San Diego Padres.
In addition, Cotch also shot video documenting the Centennial Anniversary Run event for Maserati, Ferrari’s unveiling of the 488 GTB, & Lamborghini’s Open Track day at the NASCAR track all in Southern California.
But perhaps Cotch’s greatest achievements was winning the Digital Marketing Award from Beneteau in France for a promotional commercial that he helped storyboard, film, and edit for South Coast Yachts.
“My client history has exceeded my dreams and expectations and I can’t imagine what could top them,” Diaz said.
Despite finding success off-island, Cotch still has lots of ties with Guam and visits the island whenever possible. Most of his family still lives on Guam as well as on Saipan, where his mom is from. Cotch has a family chat as well as different chat groups with friends from the islands where he keeps updated on Marianas happenings.
“Every two to three years, I try to make my way home to reset my mind and refresh my cultural roots. In 2016, I traveled back home to represent the island for photography and videography at FestPac as part of the Chamorro diaspora from the mainland. I try to stay updated with positive news from back home,” Diaz said.
Mostly, Cotch misses his family, especially all the gatherings with Chamorro food and live music everywhere. “My eyes miss the low-lying clouds that would create the most epic sunsets that I used to stare at till the darkness took the beauty away. We barely get any rain out here in Southern California, which leaves our skies plain blue and cloudless.”
According to Cotch, it took him many years to hone his craft and be where he is right now in his profession. His dedication was such that he would practice and be working while all his friends would be enjoying themselves during the weekend.
“I’ve also trained myself to try to keep a high standard while comparing my work to the best in the world. I try to rate my skills and compare them to the best in the world. If I can’t rank myself in the Top 100, then I need to try harder,” Cotch said.
To compete in the big leagues, especially in California, Diaz said one has to guarantee clients that you’ll provide them with services that are up to par with the rest of the industry.
“So, I’m constantly practicing to figure out fresh and new techniques. Another important element in succeeding as a small fish in a big pond is to know your worth and to translate the value of your service into words while negotiating with clients. And I’ve always kept my reputation clean and maintained a good relationship with all my friends and clients,” Diaz said.
For young people on Guam who want to follow Cotch’s success, he has this to say: “The best advice that I could give people on Guam is that a strong mind and passion is all you really need to survive out here. Money or education did not help me get to where I am today. School is definitely something you need to establish your basics in life, but you’ll only be as good as everyone else in your classes. My passion alone made me want to buy books from real masters in my industry to get educated and surpass my fellow peers. Anyone can change their stars out here no matter where you come from. It’s actually harder to be successful on a small island than it is out here on the mainland. Lastly, try to do something that you are afraid to do and analyze how bad it really was after. The leap of faith will be the most exciting thing you’ll ever experience in your life!”