Thursday, October 20, 2016
I have two offices.
That's the 'blackboard wall' in my second one. Why do I have a 'blackboard wall'? So I can keep the most important ideas that are currently driving my work right in front of my face (and in front of EVERYONE who sets foot inside my office).
It's like my 'propaganda wall'.
I need it 'cause I forget. I need it 'cause I get busy. I need it because I stop doing the 'first things' and get caught up in the tyranny of the urgent.
Unless I stop myself by reminding myself what's really important.
Maybe click on the picture above (it'll expand larger) and see if any of the core ideas up there are transferrable to YOUR context.
If they are, write 'em down somewhere VISIBLE so you can keep 'em...
Top of mind.
Thursday, October 13, 2016
They tell you that, at some point, you're gonna' "Make it..." like you'll wake up and have 'arrived' or something.
So far, from my journey, it looks like that's absolutely NOT the case.
See, here I am, in my edit suite working on VFX shots that are being built at two Effects Firms (one in Toronto, one in the Philippines) and looking at comps built on plate shots we did months ago with a 24 foot crane and the best (give or take) digital cinema imaging systems you can get in a place almost no-one ever gets to shoot; and--all that said, and though I'm working on a 'dream project' to be sure--the hard truth is; I'm no-where near 'there' yet.
Add to that the call I get a couple times each week from my biz partner (and exec producer on this project) reporting to me on another meeting he's had with another top-level decision-maker at one of the largest Bible-interested organizations in the World and they're TOTALLY into this project; we haven't had a lukewarm reply yet, and you'd think we were really onto something.
I'm sure I don't have to tell you what a rare experience that is.
His top-level meeting this week told him, "Look we get, literally, thousands of proposals each year, and THIS one is directly, exactly, aligned with our mission, values and current strategy..."
That's music to your ears.
And I've never heard it before.
That's right. In 20 years of trying THIS is the first time we've produced something that is potentially VERY interesting to a VERY large segment of the viewing public. THIS is the FIRST time we've had players of that caliber coming to the table wanting 'in'.
In 20 years of trying.
So, have I arrived? Don't think so. I mean, in some ways 'sure', maybe. Would I have given anything ten years ago to be doing what I'm doing today? Yes. So in that sense, I've moved from 'there' to 'here' from 'then' to 'now'. But, in another (and very real sense) where I sit today is nowhere NEAR where I want to be five to ten years from now.
And what's MOST daunting about all of this is that the path from 'here' to 'there' is paved with unrelenting toil. I'm talking small detailed step after small detailed step running uphill the whole way against resistance and conflict and time management issues and personality issues and resource shortages and lack of inspiration.
And the craziest thing is there's NO guarantee that if you keep putting one foot in front of the other you'll end up where you WANT to be or where you THOUGHT you'd be.
One thing you CAN be sure of though...
If you stop walking you're guaranteed to STAY where you ARE.
So, lace 'em up and get moving.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Sometimes you just gotta' take a risk.
Those are my two 'littles'. Yes, we call their older sister and brother the 'bigs'. Anyway, those are my two 'littles' perched atop a 350ft sand cliff overlooking Lake Erie.
We were climbing (my wife and older two a ways behind us on the ridge), I looked up, the sun was setting, the light was perfect so I told 'em to hop right up on the ledge (yes, I tested it first) so I could grab this shot.
Was it risky? Slightly.
Was it worth it? Certainly.
After I took the shot, my 'littles' walked ten feet further (away from the actual ledge) and began their jumping, hopping descent; kind of like slalom skiing, but on sand with no skis.
I did the same, except I walked up to the ledge they'd been standing on, took a good look, took a moment to hope that my 42 year old body could do what it did when I visited the same ledge a decade ago and...
Slalomed MY way down, like on sand but without skis.
Yes I'm sore today. Yes I was stressed about it at the time, thinking concurrently how awesome the moment was and how quickly it could turn from awesome to horrible.
But, as I look at life I don't see any way around it. Risk and reward are intrinsically linked. If you want that moment of reward, sometimes you just gotta' jump.
So, next time you're contemplating a risk, consider the many facets at hand, then...
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Went to watch some of 'my' boys play and some of 'my' coaches, coach the other night.
Why do I call them 'mine'?
Because they're part of 'my' coaching tree.
"...if a coach worked as an assistant on a particular head coach's staff for at least a season then that coach can be counted as being a branch on the head coach's coaching tree. Coaching trees can also show philosophical influence from one head coach to an assistant."
I have 'coaching trees' in football and also in my dual career of ministry and production; these are (in my case) generally 'guys' who have grown up to do things in a way/style that reflects the way/style I tended to employ when they were part of my sphere of influence (as a coach/pastor/producer) at some point in the past.
Sometimes I see this echoed in actual words they say, or in how they carry themselves, or what they emphasize as important. Sometimes they do things differently but with a similar 'spirit', sometimes they do things with a 1:1 approach.
Regardless, it's humbling.
Also makes me feel old. I remember when much of what I did was rooted in the 'coaching trees' that I descended from. It took many years to see 'my' own distinctives added to things that I'd adopted from my mentors. Now that I'm resolutely middle-aged, it's cool and also strange to see some of the things my wife and I have been working on for some time, beginning to show up in the ethics and approaches of some of our peers.
What I really take from this is the power of 'long obedience in the same direction...' (Peterson) There hasn't really been anything spectacular about what we've been doing and, to be honest, I've sometimes felt like that's a problem to be overcome. But, now that we've got some water under the keel, I can see the early signs of some very real impact and influence.
So, if you are out there today, putting one foot in front of the other feeling like you're getting nowhere and making no difference; keeping going.
Before you know it you'll be in the stands watching a game you're not physically a part of but over which you have influence nonetheless and that's a very satisfying sort of impact.
Keep at it!
Friday, September 30, 2016
Ok, so you're trying to follow your dreams. You're trying to do the impossible. You've set a goal that seems unattainable. You've found the situation where faith is possible.
Bust your ass, that's what.
Did you see my moment of glory on IG the other day? Looked cool, right? Looked like a writer/director savouring a moment of victory, of relief, of catharsis. Right?
Well, it was.
But you know what? That moment was one moment after a thousand moments of toil, uncertainty, conflict, and drudgery. No joke. Honestly, that one 'good moment' came after more than a thousand moments of trial. I spent, for sure, several hundred moments of trial writing the episode I'd just watched that made me cry in that photo. Then I spent several hundred more while prepping to shoot and shooting the thing. We haven't even talked about sitting for, literally, WEEKS watching every single shot in nearly 25 TB of footage.
Try that one on for size.
That's all before I had to sit down and watch all the 'story content' (as opposed to the visual stuff) and try to find a way to make ten different perspectives work together to tell, not just a coherent story, but an inspiring one that will make people cry with joy.
What a task.
How does this apply to you?
Well, you might not be a husband/father/filmmaker/pastor/preacher/coach/sailor but there's a very good chance you're right in the middle of trying to do something VERY hard and you're feeling like the task is all but impossible.
My word of encouragement to you today?
Busting your tail to try and make the thing happen that you're seeing in your mind's eye.
You can do it. You just have to hang on, log the hours, do the work.
Even if you're facing a 1000:1 ratio.
Have at it kids.
Monday, September 26, 2016
Been a while.
I've been thinking that I'll try to get a little more reliable in this here space.
There have been a few things on the go that have kept me rather chained to my desk (or to the steering wheel of my car or to the seat of a trans-oceanic jet or to the couch of an edit suite) principally, shooting and beginning to cut THE BOOK: fact or fairytale, the biggest filmmaking endeavour of my and my business partners career, working to lock, locking and starting in the Lead Pastor role at a new church, getting the kids back to school while launching my seventh season as a football coach and re-building our backyard shed, just for fun.
It's been crazy.
Shooting THE BOOK was one of the most immersive, difficult and challenging things I've ever done as a director but, once I got into the edit suite, it became quickly apparent that it's--by far--the best thing I've ever been a part of. This is due, in large part, to a very compelling subject, very excellent collaborators, and enough resources to (for the FIRST time in my ENTIRE life) capture, in real life, what I initially saw in my imagination. Seriously, the first time in 20 years of doing this. I'm either a really 'late bloomer' or it's REALLY hard to 'make it' on your own terms in this crazy show-business world.
Anyway, it makes me emotional every time I get to work with the material; that's how thankful I am to have this kind of stuff to work with.
That's also an apt description of how I feel to be back in the pulpit/pastorate again. It's funny, maybe I've mellowed significantly over the years, or maybe--after a fairly long layoff and some cataclysmic years on a personal level--I'm just 'broken' enough to be thankful enough that things that used to really 'bug' me about this side of my career, don't seem to get under my skin like they used to. I'm just happy to be there doing what I can to partner with God in His ongoing work of seeing hope brought to people who need it.
My wife thinks it's much simpler than all that...
She thinks I'm having a mid-life crisis.
My line to that is equally simple; "Well, at least I'm not buying convertibles and going after strange flesh; I'm making movies and taking churches..."
To which, she just shrugs her shoulders and smiles that knowing smile which suggests to me she might be hedging her bets.
(I'll show you girl, with houses and happiness and holidays)
Bottom line, it's a crazy time, a good time and I'm doing everything I can to simply 'do the work' required to try and achieve greatness.
Which usually means waking up at 3:15AM 'cause I can't stop my mind from racing...
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Show business is equal parts inspiration, drudgery and magic.
You work for months and months gestating an idea and, most of the time, it goes nowhere. I was telling someone today that, if I had ten bucks for every treatment I've written that went nowhere, I'd be able to finance one of 'em.
Then, a couple of times every ten years or so, something gets off the ground and then you gird yourself for the soul-killing drudgery of it; where you walk, lift, lug, trouble shoot, travel, lift, lug, eat at crappy buffets, lift, lug, sleep on hard beds, travel, lift, lug, climb, trouble shoot, sit in traffic, travel, lift, lug, argue, fight, try to sleep, get lost, skip some meals, get sunburned...
You get the idea.
Several times on 'first unit' we laughed about how 'manual labour' filmmaking is.
Then, once is a while, you get a couple of hours of downtime and you go snorkelling.
Naturally, your wife (and friends) rib you a bit, about how 'hard' you've got it ('cause all everyone sees with social media is your highlight reel) but you know the truth.
You're underwater with all this work you've got to get done.
T-minus 18 days 'till I board a plane to go shoot 'second unit'.
And we start editing tomorrow.
Here we go...