What do you want to be when you grow up?

introspection 2 comments

So I had a birthday the other day. Kind of a big one. For pretty much all of the past year, people have been asking “what are you doing for your birthday?” Because apparently, when you mark the beginning of a new decade, you’re supposed to have a huge party so all of your friends can tease you about how old you are. I wasn’t super into that idea, so I told everyone that I didn’t want anything big, maybe a weekend trip with my wife (shameless plug-check out her blog yearofmonths.tumblr.com) or just a low-key dinner with a few friends. Well, my Dad came all the way from New Jersey to celebrate my birthday, so going away wasn’t going to happen, but I was very happy with the idea of just having some Mexican food with Dad and my wife Tracy. Unbeknownst to me, 2 old friends from Los Angeles had driven up to Seattle, and were hiding behind menus at the table when we got to the restaurant. It was totally unexpected, and a very cool surprise.

Not long after the shock had worn off and a cocktail or two had been imbibed, one of the friends asked “So do you have anything that you want to do, now that you’re 40?” He meant, was there something like skydiving, seeing the Maldives, or doing peyote with a Shaman in the desert that I’ve always wanted to do that I would make a point of doing now that society says my youth is over. But the first thing that sprang to my mind as an answer was “I want to make Causality.”

This particular friend who asked the question is a filmmaker himself, and is married to my high school girlfriend who could care less about the entertainment business. I’ve talked their ears off before about Causality, and how webseries will soon take their place as a legitimate form of commercial entertainment. Though they’ve always been polite and curious about what I’m up to, I’ve sensed that they see this project and the concept of viable independent online media as just another pipe dream from an overly optimistic and naive journeyman whose experiences in media serve as temporary distractions from mundane “real jobs.”

So the question got me thinking. Really, what do I want to do with the next 40 or so years of my life? The answer was actually quite simple. I want to be part of creating interesting, high-quality entertainment. In the last 20 years, I’ve been an actor, producer, writer, and director. I’ve loved each of these roles, and often wish nostalgically for one of them when I’m currently doing a different one. I’ve worked on projects of many genres and sizes, and learned from every single day on the set or in the production office. Many of those days were hard, frustrating, or downright maddening, but I still wouldn’t trade any of it. And I actively seek new chances to be in that world. Perhaps my polite but practical L.A. friends were thinking, none of these experiences have yet led to instant recognition, mortgage-paying residuals, or major awards consideration, so maybe I should just be happy to do a community theatre play now and then and forget the stress of creating a show that few people might ever see in a medium that currently isn’t making many people much money. Granted, 99% of the “thoughts” that I’m ascribing to my friends are coming out of my own head, and not from anything that they directly said, but allow me to make my point.

I’m pretty lucky right now – my “day job” is also creative. As the marketing director of a small, relatively progressive Environmental training center, I get to design marketing campaigns that include video promos, course teasers, instructor interviews, and attendee testimonials. I get to write, produce, direct and edit these small commercials and promotional pieces-I’m a total one man production band (with almost no budget, but what else is new?)  This is a MUCH more interesting job than any other non acting, directing or producing jobs I’ve had, but I still find myself thinking during the day about all of the things that have to happen before Causality is released.  While waiting for an editing project to render, I’ll fire off some emails to @glynismitchell, @wrldtrvlgrl and @montoure about our upcoming production meeting. Or maybe bug the editor, sound designer, or VFX artist about when their respective parts for the mini-sode will be done. I once took a long lunch so I could go outside and talk on my cellphone to the CEO of Koldcast.tv for about an hour about the future of online entertainment. My general work tasks keep me pretty busy, but I do find that in quieter moments my thoughts immediately turn to this ambitious endeavor of capturing the emotional depth, dry humor, and cinematic scope of a feature-film length science fiction story complete with multiple locations, time travel effects and a futuristic prop or 2 – with very little money. Have I mentioned the “little money” thing? Oh yeah, my last post was all about that. Still worrying about it. And I will be until we’re somehow bringing in outside funds.

But my point is, as much as I enjoy my day job, want to go skydiving, see the Maldives, do peyote with a Shaman (ok, that one maybe not so much), what I really want is to make Causality, and make it a success. Is success finishing it? Getting 1,000,000 views? Getting sponsors for season 2? Or simply enjoying the process? Yes.

So, that’s what I want. Thank you to everyone reading this for being a part of this goal.

Posted by   @   September 16, 2011 2 comments
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Sep 16, 2011
10:18 am
#1 Anna :

I was just thinking this morning about how this past year of being unemployed has been the best for me creatively. It’s helped me focus on what I want. Age milestones definitely help to focus all that. :)

Sep 16, 2011
10:58 am
#2 Riker :

Sounds like you are taking this decade of your life by storm Ralph! Loving/ tolerating what you do for a living is extremely conducive to positive creative energy. I feel strongly that Causality will be “successful” because of the all the love and thought and careful planning that is being put into it. How that success is defined- I’d say that it’s everything you said above. Success is finishing it, getting 1M views, getting sponsors for season 2, and enjoying the process; the latter, I think, is what enables it all to work in the end.

Having a job you hate is certainly a war with art… I know this from extensive and ongoing personal experience. I reflected not long ago that all my best most creative points the last several years were when I took a break from said job(s)… Times in which I would do anything but slack; I’d just work more on filmmaking.

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