If I Could Write a Letter to Me???

Yesterday I meet with a young photographer and filmmaker who brought a film he is working on by to the get my feedback. This kid is 27 and could see sparks of brilliance in what he was trying to produce. We talked for several hours and I began to realize this kid was me 20+years back. I began to steer the conversation toward the advice I wish someone had given me when I was at that stage of my creative development. You see, it was always my dream to become a filmmaker. I have always had a fascination with cinema. Beginning as a projectionist for our small town theater inspired great ideas. In many ways I retreated from the real world and lived in the fantasy of the flickering celluloid on a giant screen. Being an oddball kid who knew he was different, those feelings of social awkward interaction leading to a painful youth filled with angst and confusion.

It somehow seems our dreams of our youth always seem possible and alive and ignite a passion. But so often that dream fades because we don’t know how to pursue them or the steps in finding our way. I think back to so many people I went to school with in the arts, who once they graduated, did take a step beyond the University. I think the biggest part of youth is the lack of self-confidence in ourselves. We are exploring a world we don’t always comprehend. I know for years, as I worked in silence alone, I was never quite sure I was good enough to succeed, so it become a dabble here and there. I know with this Naked Man Project I had not shown many of these images from a decades worth of work until last year. Now I am seeing and finding the value in a world that I may have let perish without anyone ever seeing. It begs the question how much really powerful art or artists are never seen because they live behind a mask of self-denial of where their passions truly lie. I have always known what I wanted to do, but it has taken me a lifetime to get to that point of self-acceptance. But the driving force that has kept me constant is that I have at least kept up with the work. I have constantly explored lots of avenues. I worked in theater and was swept away by the passion of live events. I have worked with musicians and know the world of entertainment well. I am a great lighting designer. I have dabbled in painting, with not too much success. I have been a landscape designer, which I totally fell in love with. I have designed my own studio space and love architecture. I have been a fairly successful photographer. And yes I have been a filmmaker. I have several short films that I drag out every once in a while and say, wow I did accomplish my dream. Looking back I don’t know if the diversity of my life is a curse or a blessing. I feel like I haven’t yet become really successful at any one thing that has dominated my life, that I can be recognized for, or that can sustain my future and perhaps I will end up a greeter at Wal-Mart. I was hoping this blog would generate customers for my photo business, but it has morphed into something I never imagined. Right now, all I know is that my passion is still vibrant and exudes with enthusiasm. Somehow I don’t think this will ever really change. Yesterday this kid’s excitement for film ignited my own passion for film making again and it became infectious. Now I want to make a film. This is becoming my lucky year. I have been revising all the things that have driven me to this point of my existence.

As we began to talk I started to feel the whole of my creative life force begin to pour out. My points of reference were well informed and articulate. I realized that this kid just needed that outside creative push or perhaps pat on the back that confirms he is heading in the right direction. The process of creativity does not happen over night. We are rarely instant successes. But we do know and recognize when those hallmark moments illuminate themselves in our process. I could see the light begin to emerge from this young filmmakers eyes as we talked and a smile began to curl from his lips. My advice to him was put it out there, stop judging what you are doing or supposed to do. Never stop the process because you don’t think it’s good enough. It won’t begin to evolve until you let it go. You are holding so much too tight. You are a very talented man, but talent needs to be shared with others, fearlessly. This is the lesson I needed to so desperately needed to hear at that age. But I guess it has all turned out in the end as I am now at the peak of discovering my true creative nature, as I will have to put off the doors of Wal-Mart a few more years.