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Flourishing Filmmaker

Alumni James Ural explores power of stories

A still from Ural’s short film depicting the Zummo Tribe performing at Lamar University. Courtesy photo.

A still from Ural’s short film depicting the Zummo Tribe performing at Lamar University. Courtesty photo.

When it comes to working in any industry, there are many obstacles one must work through to achieve their goals. Filmmaker James Ural, a recent graduate of Lamar University, is making his way through pride in his work and determination in all his creative fields.

His love for filmmaking started when his grandmother, Margret Moore, died in 2005. One of Ural’s relatives asked him to record the funeral with the camera they had set up.

“That was the moment when I discovered the power of storytelling,” he said. “I was fascinated by the idea of capturing people’s legacies and sharing their stories. Film was the perfect medium to do this, as it has the ability to breathe life into stories and make them resonate with audiences for generations to come.

“Margaret’s story needed to be told, so I started honing my skills as a teenager, even during the slow dial-up internet days. I learned the art of editing and began to perfect my craft, capturing footage and creating compelling stories that engaged audiences.”

35-year old Ural was born and raised in Madisonville, Texas. He grew up by the train tracks along with other low-income families. He was constantly surrounded by industrial workers, who were his role models.

“People that work in industries like ExxonMobil, Chevron Phillips and Dow Chemical (are what) run Southeast Texas,” he said. “Early in the morning, I would see them heading to work to provide for their families, and this inspired me to work hard and put myself in a position to secure a job that would help sustain my career, fund my education, and support my livelihood.”

Portrait shot of James Ural. Courtesy photo.
Portrait shot of James Ural. Courtesy photo.

After he graduated high school, he went to Lamar Institute of Technology from August 2006 to December 2007 on a two year scholarship for three semesters, majoring in precision machining . While attending LIT, he became a barber in his dorm room and filmed events for local business in the area.

Ural attended Lamar, graduating in 2023 with a Bachelor of Science through the University Studies program. He majored in Multidisciplinary Studies with concentrations in business, marketing, and mass communications. He graduated with high honors and takes pride in being a first-generation student.

“Previously, I earned two associates degrees from Lamar Institute of Technology,” he said. “Most of the credits were accepted at the university (which) allowed me to obtain my bachelors in a year. I worked with ExxonMobil in the safety department, overseeing railroad operations”

Ural founded his own media production company, LaRu Agency (a reverse of his name), specializing in weddings, documentaries and events.

“My degree (helped) me expand my digital content marketing abilities and qualify me for further bachelor-required jobs,” he said.

Ural chose Lamar because he wanted to pursue an education with practical value, he said.

“Southeast Texas is a melting pot of cultures, just like a gumbo,” he said. “(Lamar) offers professional programs that prepare students to enter the workforce. The faculty was committed to ensuring that students learned and excelled academically. Being a part of the institution’s community meant being part of a movement to create a new generation of trailblazers. Lamar University focused on While LU provided many opportunities for Ural, the process was not completely void of struggle.

“I had to maintain a work-life balance while pursuing my degree,” he said. “It was indeed a challenging journey and required many sacrifices to achieve my ultimate goal. My wife and I are blessed with a baby boy named Jett, which means ‘excellence and abundance’ in Hebrew. He was born prematurely, six weeks before his due date, due to my wife’s unexpected water break. At that time, I was completing my summer classes at Lamar University and enrolled in an eight-week course program. Everything was moving at a fast pace. Around the same time, I received the news that my mother was fighting cancer and going through treatments. She was able to ring the bell before my graduation, which was a moment of immense joy and relief for our family.”

Along with his filmmaking skills, Ural has written several children’s books, including ‘The Dream Racer,’ ‘Daddy’s Fishing Buddy,’ and ‘The Case of the Loose Tooth’ as part of ‘The Imagination Series.’ He also wrote ‘Baking with a Twist.’ They can all be found at any online book store.

Over the years, Ural has filmed content through Nike SPARQ Combine and has traveled around the world to places such as Africa, England, and Spain.

“It is through storytelling that we can inspire, educate, and connect with others,” he said. “I am proud to use film as a medium to create meaningful and memorable stories that will stand the test of time.”

Ural is the Media Director for Antioch Missionary Baptist Church and conducts training sessions every Thursday night for technical work such as operating cameras and creating live broadcasts for the services.

Ural has come a long way since his humble beginnings watching the industrial workers work hard every day.

“Don’t let fear of making mistakes hold you back,” he said. “It’s all a part of life, and we all know how it can end. Follow your dreams and take the first step towards achieving them.”

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Category: UPbeat