Following Your Heart
In my last post, I wrote that there is no best college for everyone, only a best college for you. And one class, one professor, one experience can provide the inspiration, motivation, direction or clarity that changes the course of your life.
For me, it was “Introduction to Short Form Video,” where I learned the basics of documentary filmmaking. I quickly realized that documentary was the perfect outlet for my curiosity. It allowed me to explore my interest in people and culture in a way that I never knew possible, but which seemed perfectly natural.
I was hooked on film so during my senior year I sat on the sideline while my classmates participated in on-campus recruiting with banks and consulting firms. It was strange for me to see so many liberal arts majors lining up for job interviews with Goldman Sachs. Hadn’t they, like I, used their time in college to find something they were passionate about?
For better or worse, I felt compelled to follow my heart and accepted an offer to work as an assistant to a Hollywood producer I had interned with in college. So I leased a car and spent five days driving cross-country with my father. I spent the next two years working primarily on Black Knight with Martin Lawrence and Summer Catch with Freddie Prinze Jr.
I learned a lot in Hollywood but was eager to work in documentary so I moved to Brooklyn and started my own production company, Oxbow Lake Films.
For the next 15 years, I produced and directed feature length documentaries that reached over a million people worldwide through festivals, theatrical release, television broadcast and streaming.
I also made dozens of short films for clients like Museum of Modern Art, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Planned Parenthood and other social justice organizations and schools. With each project, I dove into the company’s history and mission to craft a creative strategy. These marketing films communicated an organization’s value proposition to help them raise money, increase program participation and/or generate buy in from employees and supporters.
While they started off as a complement to my documentary work, they became increasingly important to both my business and personal interest. I absolutely loved working with these dynamic, innovative companies and collaborating with their talented and inspiring CEO’s and stakeholders. Many of them were at the front line of “making the world a better place.” Over time it made me want to be more than the storyteller, I wanted to be part of the story; to join their team and help shape their marketing strategy.
In my next post, I will discuss how I transformed this feeling into an action plan.