I’ve always been an independent creature, starting with a year long backpacking odyssey as a 19 year old traveling solo, following the “hippie trail” around the world. That sojourn led me to pursue a career as a still photographer, using my camera as a tool to gain access to people, their cultures and their stories.
I’ve had a great ride these past 30 years shooting assignments for high profile magazines that have taken me to all parts of the globe. For the most part, I was a solo act, spending hours, days and weeks observing people, then becoming more intimate as I proceeded to get to know and tell their stories and share them with others.
When I started shooting motion and in particular digital video, eleven years ago I embraced the notion of collaboration. Video production has a lot more facets to it than just the shoot and I knew that even though I knew how to capture reasonably good sound and edit a respectable rough cut with Final Cut Pro, I also knew that working with professional sound people and editors would raise the bar on the quality of my projects.
This past weekend, the value of collaboration, networking and using social media to get my ideas out to the universe, really hit home. I had been asked to speak at the Photocine News Expo in Hollywood, CA about my latest documentary that I was working on, Opening Our Eyes. I had gotten to know two of the organizers of the event, Michael Britt and Lou Lesko, through social media. They had taken notice of my blog and my project, which I had decided to shoot with the HDSLR cameras and had written about it in their blog, PhotoCineNews.com.
I was honored and humbled to be speaking at the same event as some pretty heavy players like Vincent LaForet and Shane Hurlbut. I was a bit intimidated at first, but I knew that I was there to share what I knew and that is how to get a passion project from just an idea – to a reality. So, after returning from my 99-day journey, with just a couple of weeks to prepare a sample from some of the 145 hours of footage that were shot, I flew out to LA.
Here’s a rough cut of that 10-minute sample: Opening Our Eyes – Tease
I suppose I can legitimately say that I have had a theatrical showing of my documentary in Hollywood. True enough – but the real value for me this weekend was in sharing with my peers and making connections with people who I will work with in the future that will help me grow as a filmmaker and storyteller and more importantly who will bring their expertise to my film.
It’s an incredible time that we live in with a realm of possibility. Literally anything is possible. When you share and put things out to the universe – you just never know what you’ll get back. I’ve learned that I share because it makes me feel good – not because I have expectations for an immediate or monetary return. But each and every time I do share – I get back so much more in return.