This is my take on some of the things that both Tim Miller and Jonas Åkerlund have advised me to do.
Back to basics
Find a project that is right for you. If you are making a comeback after a long break, do it.
If you are a new artist or going after new audiences, don’t be too worried about being commercial or mainstream.
Make something that matters to you and goes straight to your heart.
Yes, that means no products for sale. I recently shot a charity commercial for the JDRF.
I had a very small budget, but I wanted to give back to the foundation and I had learned about them from Jonas Åkerlund’s anti-tobacco group, H2O4.
I researched the foundation, talked to their development team, and then called John Hooper, the executive director.
He explained the goals of the foundation.
I talked about my filmmaking career and told him that although I have been in movies for more than twenty years, I have always been a film student.
He said to me that I should consider directing.
“It’s what I want to do,” I told him. “Tell me what you need me to do and I’ll make it happen.”
He gave me a six-day deadline and I delivered.
If you are going to make an advertisement, do it for the love of the work and for the chance to make a positive difference in the world.
Don’t think about yourself too much and just think about doing what you think is right
Be honest with your work and make sure that you are doing your best every time you are on set.
Be honest with your partner(s), whether it is a director, cinematographer, editor, or producer.
Here is a great tip I picked up from Jonas Åkerlund: “We always say that the film sets are like jails, but we are the jailers.
You need to act like it is not. It’s more of a playground for us and that’s how we treat it.”
When he is acting out his character, he is being totally honest with himself and the people he is working with. You need to do the same.
Be passionate about what you are doing
Being passionate about your work can be contagious. I have seen it happen.
When I was in an editing room with a young lady who was a huge fan of 50 Cent, and I was working on an album cover with 50 Cent in it, her jaw dropped when he walked in.
She had been wanting to meet him for years, and I gave her that moment.
You never know how many people you may be able to touch by helping someone with something, or by just expressing your genuine interest in their passions.
Always think about the people on your set. You are a member of a team, and you are one of them.
Always work with a sense of humility, and treat everyone on set as your equal.
The more respectful you are, the more people will respect you. If you treat everyone with respect, you won’t need to act tough to be taken seriously.
I recently shot a project for the Lighthouse For The Blind.
The people on the set treated me as though I was a talented actor, and they made sure that I was comfortable with what I was doing.
The same goes for directors. Trust your director.
If you are directing your own film, talk to your director of photography, your editor, and your actors about what you want from them.
We often have to listen to a director’s ideas or directions, but if you give your ideas first, it will help everyone be better.
Everyone needs a good producer
A producer’s job is to build a company. If the company is strong, it makes the movie stronger.
A producer has to put together financing, business plans, and a plan of action to make sure that all the ducks are in a row.
They have to go into the studio, get money, make a business plan, get permits and do all the legal things that need to happen.
Be open to new experiences.
I have worked on a TV show, a documentary, and an animated film, all within the last six months.
I didn’t do these things to be innovative, I did them because they were happening.
I was able to do these jobs because I wanted to grow and because I had the skills. There is nothing wrong with doing something different if that is what is going to bring you to the next level.
I spent the last five years learning the best and most efficient ways to get my work done.
I think that you should do the same.
It is important to take in a lot of information, but if you go into everything with a broad-minded understanding, it will help you grow and move forward.