The thing I cherish the most about my friends/collaborators are the talks we have. We have candid no bullshit talks about everything where we can share what we're working on, our strategies, failures and anything else on our minds. And since this blog is about transparency while living the dream and getting this film made... I've included a recent talk Gary Kleiban and I had.
This talk is really an introduction to who I am, what's my angle... rectangle or triangle and what I'm after.... All of these things and more we touch on in the podcast... and this blog post just focuses on the who am I part but after I've had a chance to sit and think about it.. One of the things I'm learning as I go on this journey is just how much I am the movie. There's simply no separation. All of the interest for the film so far has happened because (1) I talked about the film one on one or (2) someone already knew something about me and then watched the trailer and thought it was hot. I am quickly realizing that the more I talk and put myself out there the more progress this project makes.... I hate that... but I would hate more not seeing this project be everything it could be... So in that spirit this post is about who I am... you can change the channel right now if you want.... Now I can bore you with the facts... where I grew up etc.. etc.. but I'd be boring myself too so here's a different approach... How about we get to who I am by what I believe. So here goes:
I believe that we're all here to create. So create already.... The technical barriers are in your head. You are connected to everyone so find the people you need to make it happen. We're all here to self actualize.... which is a fancy way to say that we strive to live up to our potential. I am a creator of many things and I get the most enjoyment out of creating things that impact emotions. I get off by creating many things but nothing as much as cinema. As a kid growing up in the 80s I was the official videographer for the family. My grandparents had a large over the shoulder VHS camcorder and at every family event I was operating it. That's really how it all started... home videos at Grandmas with the whole family. In High School there was no filmmaking class but I took photography and started writing poetry. Film was just a merger of two at first for me. Then in the early 2000s the computer revolution started and while in undergrad engineering school I started playing around editing in flash, final cut pro and adobe premiere. I made a bunch of films and almost failed engineering school one quarter because I was editing.... then I made like a million bad films...went to film festivals... had industry mentors.... then USC... etc. etc. It's been a long road to get here but the passion to create has driven me through it all.
2. giving back
I believe that we're here to impact and help others. We are social beings and people generally want to help others. We get caught up on our own hang ups and ego but most people feel good when they help others. I try to find a way to achieve this in everything I do and if I can't find a way I just don't do it. For example this film is about a kid from Compton who discovers aviation and it changes his life. The story in itself is uplifting, inspiring and aims to showcase aviation to a new audience. We could've stopped there but there's a couple of non profits we're teaming up with so that after the film is released we could use some of the proceeds to get kids flying. It's a small thing to do that will have a major impact on the community.
I believe in 100% ignorance. It sounds counter intuitive but being ignorant is actually smart. Admitting that you don't know allows for all kinds of opportunities to learn and for people to help you. In addition being ignorant allows you to make mistakes, retool and then try something else... in other words it allows for continuous improvement. This is exactly what scientists do and what democracy is supposed to be about... Assuming ignorance you try an idea and if it doesn't work you try something else. I don't know how everything will work out with this film and I'm ok with that. I'm ok with that because I know that if I try something that doesn't work then I just have to not do that again and try something else. Now that doesn't mean I don't prepare. I'm prepared like a mutha... but I'll admit when I don't know something or need help.
I believe in discipline. To have the courage to stick to it and not give up when things are hard. To have the discipline to do the hard work... the things you don't want to do... because you know there's a reward at the end. I learned this from sports. My parents had me in one sport or another from age 5... football, basketball, soccer etc. It seems silly now... being on the field and the coach yelling at you as if the game were life or death. Or struggling through a work out in order to run faster or jump higher. My track coach had the foresight to tell us that the discipline we were learning also applied in life. He was right. This one is obvious but tough in practice.
5. making mistakes (no one cares anyway)
I believe in making mistakes because I'm going to do it anyways. Trying to be perfect just leads to depression (no one's perfect) and procrastination. Allowing myself to make mistakes really just ties back into all of the other beliefs. This one is important because I am a perfectionist by default and this belief reinforces every other one because it allows me to take action. Action is the most important thing in the world. It is the practice of creation so nothing should get in its way. I married my high school sweetheart and we got divorced. I patronized over the failure of my marriage for years and literarily lost years of my life agonizing over what went wrong and blaming myself. Some of the blaming was well deserved but I was too hard on myself (perfectionism at work)... I was a different person when we were together... that dude was a selfish immature punk and I'm glad he's gone. But I had to go through that to get to this. A guy with healthy relationships because he knows his boundaries and knows what he wants. Therefore he can be at peace and happy with everyone else who's around. Now give him a hug... Failures are the part of life that shape us into who we are meant to be. Both of us are better, fuller and more mature adults because of it... though it was traumatic at the time.
So there it is. The five beliefs that shape who I am. What are yours? How do they shape who you are?