Monroe HS grad, acclaimed filmmaker makes Forbes magazine’s rising star list

When he was growing up in Monroe — long before he knew of Forbes magazine’s list of America’s rising entrepreneurs — an ambitious teenager got an early start on making money to feed his passion for film making.

Monroe High School graduate Chase Crawford recalls hustling to become a young referee working soccer games in a neighborhood park to pay for his budding love of making movies.

It was the beginning of his teenage years of scrambling to find and pay for used equipment to make short, social media movies.

The now 25-year-old head of the independent film studio “Four By Three Productions,” who lives in Hamilton County, was recently working locally on filming a TV commercial for a Fortune 500 company.

While taking a break from the shooting schedule, he visited family in Monroe and was surprised to learn he was picked by Forbe’s judges as one of the youngest members of the magazine’s “Next 1000 List” and among its 250 standouts in 2021.

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Crawford, a 2014 Monroe graduate of Butler Tech’s media productions program, told the Journal-News he was stunned by the national spotlight shining on him and the film company he created.

“I was pretty surprised. It was crazy,” he said.

Growing up in Monroe “we never had money to buy cameras and I only got to play with that sort of (electronic) stuff if a friend had it.”

“I always knew I was going to be an entrepreneur. When I was 12 years old, I was refereeing soccer games in the park across the street from my house.”

Forbes wrote of Crawford: “Crawford was 20 years old in 2017 when he founded Four by Three, an independent film studio, using money from the severance package he was given after being laid off.”

“The studio has since produced or distributed more than a dozen projects including documentaries, dramas and television episodes that are streamed by about 2 million people per year on Apple TV, Amazon Prime, ABC and Comcast, according to Crawford. Four by Three earned $194,000 in revenue in 2020 and $263,000 from January through October 2021.”

Since 2017, Crawford has produced more than a dozen films including “River Road,” winner of 2 Leo Awards (British Columbian Academy Awards), “How We Lookin’?: The Immortal Words of Marty Brennaman,” IMDb TV’s “The Last Christmas Party” and “The Clearing,” winner of Best Sci-Fi Feature at London Independent Film Festival.

Looking back, a motto struck a chord with Crawford as teen and helped hone his work ethic.

“Someone once told me: ‘People can be born rich. And people can be born famous. But no one is born a hard worker.’”

“That’s a variable between all of us,” he said.

“Something about that hit me and I thought I can go out there and work every day and it’s like athletics – I try to just leave it all on the field.”

Crawford described Butler Tech’s media productions classes as “definitely a launching pad for my career.”

Up next for the father of three – who married his Monroe High School sweetheart – is a January trip to the annual Sundance Film Festival in Utah where his company won’t be showing a film but rather looking for a movie to buy.

“We’re hoping to purchase a film for distribution,” he said.

“I am so very, very lucky and I pinch myself every morning,” he said of his skyrocketing career. “It all worked out, somehow, some way.”

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