Wednesday, August 24, 2005


I am in the midst of a long and successful career as a filmmaker, both as a Director and as a Director of Photography. I can attribute that success to two things—tenacity and training.

The dictionary defines tenacity as "persistent in maintaining or adhering to something valued." I would define tenacity is taking "no" for encouragement and hearing "yes" with gratitude. What does "no" really mean? Does it mean "get lost?" Or does it mean "get back to me with something more reasonable [to me]." My feeling is that it's the latter. "No" only means that you have missed the mark with one particular person by just a few degrees. When I hear someone say no, I immediately look at the big picture and figure out if I'm either talking to the wrong person or saying the wrong thing, then I adjust one of both and try again. When people ask me for something and I decide to say no, I try to look at it the same way—am I the wrong person, or is it just the wrong moment.

Then there is the magic that happens when someone says "yes." Sometimes that is the culmination of years of work, sometime just a few hours, but in either case I think the most important reaction is gratitude. "Yes" is usually the payoff for tenacity.

Tenacity comes from within. It is a learned skill, developed by practice. Training, on the other hand, is purely skill by learning.

I've been teaching for what seems like forever—20 years running film workshops, many of them at the International Film and Television Workshops in Rockport, Maine, and 10 years as a flight instructor, mostly teaching competition aerobatic flying.

Here's what aerobatic competition is—alone in a single-seat airplane, flying precision maneuvers in a tiny, confined piece of airspace in front of five judges, often heading straight down toward the ground at speeds higher than the airplane's normal cruise speed. Does learning to do this take training or tenacity? I've always found that to be an interesting question.

To me, the answer is both, and it's about the results. In order to operate an airplane safely in this environment, it takes constant and focused training. But in order to win competitions, it takes tenacity—finding the best possible training, then doing it a lot.

The analogy is exactly the same with filmmaking. Making a movie, either short or long, is like a competition, first to get the money, which happens by being tenacious, then to tell the best story with the best production value possible, which happens through training.

I have set up One on One Film Training to help you with both of these elements. We're focused specifically on directors, writers getting ready to direct, and film craftspeople looking to broaden their overall knowledge of filmmaking. We've stripped away the fat and created a training method that is specific to the needs of someone standing on set directing actors and the camera for the first or second time. The information is easy to understand, technical when it needs to be, non-technical when it's appropriate. I have worked to create the best possible training environment that will give you the most information possible during the time you invest with us.

But you will also come out completely fired up, ready to take your new-found knowledge out into the world and do something with it—we train you in tenacity. We encourage you and empower you in your projects, whether that project is green-lit or just a germ of an idea. We bring life to filmmaking, because filmmaking is our life.

And it's not all altruistic. Remember that if you learn ten things, your instructor just learned one hundred things. We teach because we learn, we soak up your energy, repackage it, and then return it to you multi-fold. It's a wonderful, two-way relationship between instructor and student and it's those relationships that have kept me moving forward at mach speeds for over two decades, with no sign of slowing down.


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