Summer 2018

When posting about my life on the internet, my comfort zone usually lies in the range of an Instagram picture with a crazy rap lyric, usually Drake, for the caption. That’s the safest bet. I’ll also always share the latest video project. Occasionally, there’s something that doesn’t fall into those two categories, but it’s rare. I’ve never been a vlogger, I’ll leave that to the pros. And I most definitely have never been a writer.

With that being said, I feel like I found myself in my head more than ever this past summer, and really the last six months. I would without a doubt consider this period of my life to be the one with the most personal growth, both in film and in my faith. While I’m only 22 and still have so much to experience, I thought I would share a few things that I’ve learned and am still learning along the way.

Life is crazy, and life is beautiful. I think one of the most important things to remember is that it’s both the ups and downs of life that make it that way. Wherever you find yourself in life right now, I hope that some of these lessons can meet you in the right place.

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This is what film has taught me…

 

BE A GOOD PERSON

I saw a tweet a while ago by someone named Adam Grant that really stuck with me. It read, “If you think you have to be an asshole to be successful, you might be an asshole. There’s a big difference between being demanding and being demeaning. Great leaders don’t undermine people ­– they elevate them­.”

Being a good person is so underrated these days, especially in the film business. I feel that the common misconception is that people think you should be able to work your way up the ladder to the point where you can rightfully be an asshole.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from these past few film experiences, it’s that it pays to be a genuinely good person. Nobody wants to work for/with someone that they don't respect.  That means caring about each person on set, the people who are sacrificing their time and talent to help you create something special. When you’re working with people that you already care about, it makes it that much easier, and that’s something I’ve been so thankful for.

Remember where you came from and where you started. As things progress and start to pick up, there will always be more people watching with more of a careful eye than you think. Don’t allow them to say that you changed or sacrificed your morals to put yourself in a better position. If you started as a good person, then finish as a better one.

 

THE TRUE GRIND

You hear people talk about the grind all the time, which I feel like can mean a lot of different things to different people. For some the grind is working two part-time jobs while trying to take college classes at the same time. Respect. For others it’s a gym selfie with a few too many “100” and flame emojis. To each his own I guess.

I feel that I got a very small taste of what the grind means this past summer, which taught me that you have to truly love film and the creative process in order to try and get where you want to be.

You have to work when you don’t want to work. While I always prioritize a few days break after a shoot to clear some headspace before editing, even then it can be tough to dive in a few days later. I’ve never once regretted doing it though. There’s nothing worse than having projects that need to get done loom over your head, and there’s nothing better than seeing that export bar hit 100%.

You have to take a thousand “No’s” on the chin in order to get the one “Yes” that you need. Whether it’s location scouting, trying to find actors/actresses, or scrapping a shot for a music video because an artist isn’t feeling it, you’re going to hear “No’ so many times it'll make your head spin. Take it, move on to the next solution, and make it work. Looming over all those “No’s” will only put you in a negative mindset.

You have to make sacrifices. There’s plenty of times I wish I could’ve been with friends or family instead of figuring out a location for a shoot or staring at the dance floor of a wedding for 2 hours to catch the sparkler send off. That’s the side of business that’s not for everyone, but making those sacrifices will pay dividends in the end.  

You have to troubleshoot. Don’t sit around and twiddle your thumbs while someone else figures out an issue. There’s nothing to kill morale on set like a director who shies away at the first sign of trouble. Dig in, go to plan Z if necessary, and find a solution.

Most importantly, you have to want it. You have to want it really bad. With that being said, I firmly believe that you can still enjoy life and have fun while pursuing your goal. It’s crucial to find that healthy balance of work and other things or you’ll drive yourself crazy. But at the end of the day, never lose sight of that end goal.

 

PUT YOUR PRIDE ASIDE

Having the opportunity to work with someone like Jake Vriezelaar (check out his work) has really taught me the value in this. It’s also something I’ve really appreciated getting to talk with him about. Jake is a guy that brings so many things to the table that I feel I lack in. Instead of struggling through those things by myself and not allowing them to be as good as they could be with our combined talents, it’s been such a blessing to work beside him and have peace in those situations. Same goes for my buddy Jared Davenport (also check out his work) on the glide cam. Jake and I both realize Jared brings that skill to the table when we don’t, and that’s where a special system has formed. Beyond any of that, the friendships we’ve developed are what this whole thing is about anyways. I would do anything for those guys at a moment’s notice, and I know they would do the exact same for me.

Find those people that compliment your strengths and aid in your weaknesses. While I think it pays to be skilled in several different positions, my high school telecommunications teacher, Mr. Clawson, taught me the important lesson of utilizing your strengths instead of focusing all of your energy on developing your weaknesses.

 

KNOW YOUR WORTH, BUT MAKE SURE YOU REALLY KNOW IT

Back in the day when I first started this business, I would do just about any project I could get my hands on. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to start turning projects away, I’m so thankful that I started out the way I did, because I know I wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t that way before.

If you’re just starting in the video business and you’re serious about it, you should be reaching out to people to shoot, not expecting them to reach out to you. You should be doing it for dirt cheap, if not free, and you definitely shouldn’t be very selective, with keeping your morals in check obviously. If you’re stuck wanting more money or holding out for certain projects, your portfolio will go nowhere.

Once you start building that portfolio, then eventually one thing will lead to the next. But you have to trust that process. Don’t let your pride get in the way especially if you have nothing to show for it.

When you start building that portfolio and creating a brand for your work, that’s when you start being a bit more selective. You should always stay hungry and willing to work, but make sure to weigh the pros and cons of every opportunity. Understand the work that you’re putting in to each project and if it’s worth the time and effort for the money.

Even now, turning down projects is something I really struggle with. There will always be the Aunt Suzy project who somehow needs all of her VHS tapes put on a DVD, and those are always tough. While time is money, there’s always going to be those type of projects that you find a way to squeeze in for someone that you care about, because you know they would do anything for you.

On the flip side of that, there will always be people who will have no problem taking advantage of you. That’s where you need to be careful. Make sure you know the difference between an opportunity that could pay big dividends in the future and another that is going to leave you in the hole after three days of hard work with no leads to something else. And if you find yourself in situation #2, learn from it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

You should be hungry when you start a business, and you should only want it more as things advance and your business grows. Know your worth and make sure that people respect it, but never stop working behind the scenes. Complacency is a dangerous place to be.

 

This is what God has taught me…

 

KEEP HIM AT THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING

If there’s one thing I’ve concentrated the most on this summer, it’s this. And at times it can be so hard, but it’s completely changed my mindset about a lot of things.

Any time I find myself getting out of my own head, I immediately try to reel myself back in and understand the reason that any of this stuff has happened, and it’s certainly not because of me. I’ve felt so incredibly blessed this summer to see lots of hard work pay off in several different ways. I’m doing what I love to do on almost a daily basis, working for people that I admire, and working with people that I love. There’s still so much progress to be made and so much more work to be done, but I think for the first time in a while, I’ve really started to grasp the idea that none of this is because of me.

It starts first and foremost with God, who is the sole reason for anything that has happened in life. He blessed me with two Godly parents who I admire and respect more than anyone on this earth, and who raised me with the right principles to have any chance of success. They’ve been right by my side to celebrate the highs, and they’ve stuck with me through some really tough lows. I don’t know where I would be without them.

God brought me to Taylor University, which was the only college I applied to. Not because I really wanted to go there, it just kind of happened. Looking back at it now, after the people I’ve met and the experiences that have come along with it, I feel fully confident knowing it was the next step of His plan.

It’s not about me, and it never has been. This is still something I want to keep improving on, but I’m thankful for what God has revealed up to this point.

 

FINDING PEACE IN STILLNESS

I’ve always struggled in the in-between times of projects. It almost becomes like a drug when a project ends and I’m waiting for the next one to start, just not knowing how to handle myself when something isn’t going on.

Finding peace in those in-between times is something I’ve really tried to work on. Being content with being still and knowing that God has the next step ready when the time is right.

And not only that, but finding joy in the down times. Really listening to others, listening for God, and being patient and trusting in His plan.

 

FINDING PEACE IN MYSELF

Before some big changes in the past few months, I found myself really questioning where my mind was at and if I was really acting on the person I wanted to be. Having that honest conversation with God and with myself wasn’t easy or comfortable, but I’m glad that I did.

You can wake up every morning and choose to have a good or bad day. It’s amazing how much our mindset plays in to how we live our lives, whether that’s positive or negative. There will be great things that happen and there will be bumps in the road, but how you to react to either of those situations is the true test of who you are as a person.

Choose to wake up and have a good day.

 

BE THANKFUL

God is so good. This past summer I found myself on several occasions during runs or in the car by myself just being overwhelmed with how good God really is. There’s a lot of bad in the world, but there’s also so much good. To have a reason to wake up every day is a blessing. To have true passions in life is a blessing. To have people that truly care about you and people you care about in your life is a blessing. To experience the ups and downs of life is a blessing.

God is just so good. Don’t forget that.

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