My Story as a Filmmaker and Cinematographer

Welcome to my site! I’m a cinematographer/videographer and filmmaker. I wear many hats but I’m a filmmaker by trade. After an unfortunate car accident, I’ve been confined to stay at home so I’ve used this time to build up this site and share my knowledge about filmmaking and being a professional videographer. I hope this wisdom will be useful to any and all aspiring cinematographers out there!

If you have made the decision to pursue a career in filmmaking and have attempted to figure out how to make movies for a living, then this article is for you. The steps you take on this perilous journey must be taken with care. You must be prepared and preparation begins with good planning. The first and most important thing to do is to make sure you get started with a strong foundation. Try building something on sand and see how far it gets when a storm comes. Think about the three little pigs and just ask the wolf which one of these three little guys was wise: the one who built his house of straw, sticks, or brick?

Learning this truth will keep you from sure disaster in the future. In layman filmmaker’s terms this means you must make sure you have your priorities of life in order. If you don’t have that foundation, then chaos will eventually come upon you. It’s not just starting the journey with contacts, talent, and skills. It’s about something that holds all those things and everything else together. I know this because I speak from the experience of someone who has been there.

I had made the decision 40 years ago that I wanted to be a filmmaker after seeing the movie Star Wars. I was 7 years old when Star Wars made its premiere in the movie theaters. This is a good time to mention this because this year Star Wars is celebrating its 40 Year Anniversary. Wow! 40 years ago seems like a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Star Wars to this day is still one of my favorite movies of all time.

Now I am not going to go around promoting the New Age philosophy of Star Wars about a universal “Force” or anything like that. But I will say that this movie is a powerful story about hope, destiny, and adventure, and seeing this film really did something to me as a young man with no direction. When the large space ships, the explosions, the creatures, the droids, the sound effects, and the compelling orchestra all unfolded before me it sucked me in.

I became a Star Wars geek like many of my friends playing with Star Wars figures and playing games like Tan Tans and Wampas (a silly game that one of us made up that was like Chicken Fights). At this time in my life, I had a broken home and it provided for me an escape in my imagination that God has used to inspire me to be a storyteller in this present generation.

But here was the problem – I had a dream, but I was getting started with a broken foundation. In turn, much grief followed me into manhood. The cornerstone of that dream and vision was ME – it was all centered and focused on the wrong place. And this leads me to sharing with you the first step to laying a good foundation – laying the right cornerstone.

The cornerstone is the first stone laid down in building a stone building, and all other stones are set in connection to that stone, which then sets the standard for the rest of the building. If you have this wrong, you will be wasting your time with the rest of the building. Remember we are talking about your career and your life here.

You get started with the wrong cornerstone then you will end up playing a game of Jenga with your life that is destined to collapse at some point. Sure you may still hold onto some of your wealth or your power and yeah, you may have some Academy Awards on your mantle… but in your heart of hearts, you will be in despair. You will be longing for something more and I wonder what your personal life will be like. You know what I’m talking about – your marriage, your kids, your family, your friendships – the things you may have sacrificed to obtain what only satisfies for a season. Then the important things – the true things that matter seem so far away – so hard to grasp.

For 40 long and painful years now I have pursued this career to make movies. I decided I wanted to get started as a filmmaker but at first it was all for the wrong reasons. I had this void in my life. I had emptiness in my life. I had not forgiven some people who had hurt me in my life. I had loneliness and a longing for love. I had guilt that overtook me which stemmed from my broken childhood. And sadly, I was religious but had no personal relationship with God through His Son Yeshua (Jesus). I had pride because I figured “I must have a greater purpose since the world has to revolve around me” -perhaps I felt this way because my life was so messed up and I did see some of my talents and abilities coming forth.

I had a desire to express a larger than life world on a big screen through the escape from my pain, my grief, and my suffering; but I really didn’t know why. Filmmaking became my dream, but beyond that it became my god – the one thing that I thought would fill my void and heal my wounds and I wanted to use it to make an impact on others (when I was just making it up as I went along). Then I must have thought everyone would someday look to me for answers, so they would ultimately love me and pay attention to that lost child. How foolish indeed.

And so, it wasn’t until I realized that God is the center of everything, that I began laying that solid foundation. And it was a painful realization. I had to start all over. It was like playing a game and going through many levels and then losing the chip that saves the level you’re at and you have to start all over. I realized everything else was on quicksand until that point. If only I’d read my Bible and looked there for answers, I would have been on my way a lot sooner. You see, there is a big difference between chasing after a self-centered dream and chasing after your destiny..

Yes, everything begins as a dream. But is this dream really your calling? Most of the time, I have found that people would smile when I told them I want to make films – it was like watching a baby trying to build something with blocks – “How cute,” they’d say. But they didn’t take it serious. How could they? They saw it as a dream that could only happen to select people; but not people like you and me. It was entertainment to them and that is like playing videogames to them and they didn’t take it very seriously.

They’d be thinking, “How can you truly provide for your family? If you were only smart and just put aside ‘your dream’ and did something like becoming a manager of a grocery store or being a dentist or something that is sure to make some money. (Naturally these other careers are all decent jobs and many hard-working folks do well in them – I’m just saying these things were taken more seriously than the choice of filmmaking as a career).”

If you know that your desire to be a filmmaker is more than a dream, not a chasing after the wind, and that it is God’s “calling” on your life – you will not have to worry about the scoffers and those who doubt. You can walk with assurance and confidence.

This one thing is imperative to know – because if He “calls” you to something, nobody can stop you from achieving it. Only our own faithlessness gets in the way. That is because now the cornerstone is established that the center of everything is the Messiah and when we are striving to something that is His will – then we can trust Him to lead us in that journey. We are no longer the blind leading the blind and with faith we can see beyond our circumstances.

But if you are laying a foundation on something other than God…but are still longing for this career – be careful what you wish for. If you work hard at anything, most times you can achieve it – but if it is not your calling it can become the shackles and prison cell of your future and you will find yourself desperate to break free from it some day (which will be tiresome and trying, to say the least).

So if this is truly your calling and you realize this early enough – here is an opportunity to see your life bloom in all the beauty and expression that God ordained before the foundations of the earth. But it all begins with letting it all go and coming to terms with our sinful and self-centered aspirations. When we realize that God made us for His purposes, we can then go on, turning from our selves and doing what He created us for. If we think we are the center of it, we become worthless.

If we realize He is the center of it -we are setting our sails toward our destinies and our dreams will become realities of fulfillment, purpose, meaning… not just dusty trophies on our mantles. And the greatest thing of all is that our personal lives will also be just as meaningful. And that is because a life devoted to Yeshua, the Messiah, is a life of fulfillment that spills out into everything we do, including our careers. No, I’m not talking about some sort of phony religion where you give your life to God and all your problems go away and you become wealthy and successful overnight.

Although sometimes God can bring success overnight. Just look at the life of Joseph in the Book of Genesis. But many times when we turn our lives over to God it will get more difficult – but the difference is that He will walk with you and you will not be alone when you face hardships. A time of testing and trials will come – to make you stronger and much of the garbage that we carry must be removed. That can be very painful.

So you can start by exploring how God can help you get straight mind (because you’ll need it) and be prepared for this tough business:

http://www.stjohnwc.org/

Now, I’m not a religious nut, but I just felt compelled to share that (especially on my very first post on my personal site). What makes America great is you get to choose who you believe in, what to believe in and how you approach life. So I’ll respect that.

Let’s get on with what you came here for – awesome tips on videography!