Film was always something I loved, but I never knew what the future looked like with it. For me I was just 15 with a camera and a skateboard, having fun with friends.
Looking back there were two prominent people who shaped me into a creative and critical thinker, Spike Jonze and my mom. Seeing what Spike did with fully flared when I was a 15 years old changed my entire outlook on film and what was possible. Seeing my mom go from a child with nothing to living her dream, that also changed how I approached business and relationships. These two findings in my life were pivotal in how I would shape my life and community of friends. I didn’t know at 15 how having a great character and persistent drive could help propel you into a great businessman and a leader.
What’s The Secret?
I remember spending the last year of high school and first year of college trying to figure out how filmmakers got to the top of the food chain. I couldn’t figure it out. I just assumed they knew a secret and that is what prompted their success. I would sit in my dorm room in Chicago staring outside my window trying to figure how I was going to make it
The stepping stones to building my career in film were lonely. I knew very little people and no one really discussed how they got to where they were. It was if they just magically appeared there. It was almost like a free for all, for info. I didn’t really understand that. I thought it was going to be clear how I would make an impact.
So… I started emailing people I admired (Mainly filmmakers). Either I didn’t get a response or they would just thank me for emailing them and tell me to “keep going”. This didn’t really get me far as I’d hoped. As time progressed I went from cold emailing to just straight up asking my mom what she thought I should do to progress in this world. Her sole advice was “Be honest” and “Work with people who care and you enjoy being around”. At the time this was something that didn’t click with me. This was obvious stuff, but it took some time for me to learn that.
I needed to know what these other “successful” people weren’t telling me. I thought I wasn’t going to figure it out until I started meeting other creatives and filmmakers who were working on projects that I could only dream of. It was quickly found out that this “secret” doesn’t exist. It was just something I made up in my head.
Mom, Is Always Right
After 2 years of being freelance in 2017, my mom would share business books with me and I would listen to interviews or podcasts with these authors and see how they started and what steps were pivotal in their success. After meeting with other creatives and hearing the accounts of these successful businessmen and women, one thing was clear. Hard work and integrity were the building blocks to being someone successful. From that point on I tried to adjust to someone who could be a leader but also be willing to learn from others.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is surround yourself with great people. Some of my closest friends are my main collaborators and I don’t think that is a coincidence. From this lesson my mom shared with me I started hosting workshops in 2017-2018. These workshops would be used to bring indie filmmakers together in the LA community and help connect others who might have never of met. This was something that really affected me emotionally. To see how great it was to bring people together and see partnerships created because of something I did, was incredible.
Set The Example
I think sometimes we think someone isn’t looking to us for advice, why would they? We are still figuring it out so what could they learn? The irony is we are always learning and always growing no matter how skilled or adjusted we are to the climate of our work environment. Think about when you first started in your field. I’m sure it was hard to even figure out where to start or even who you could turn too and ask for advice. Be aware that there are people below you who look up to you and are inspired by you. Be that light for them and share what guidance and advice you have learned along the way. The mindset that we know “everything” is so far from the truth. I’m learning everyday, just like the kid who just got a camera today and wants to make movies. The best thing I can do is help guide them and let them avoid mistakes that I made on my journey
Be the role model, you wish you had :)