While I was flying to Vegas, I wrote an email to my camera team telling them what an amazing job they have done with individual shout outs to each player. When I landed in Vegas, I checked my Instagram account and Derek Edwards, my 1st AC, had posted the email. He included wonderful comments about me being a mentor, a leader and how it makes his job so enjoyable to be apart of this crew and how it motivates him to deliver his very best.
Here’s the email:
Hello Kick Ass Camera Team,
I wanted to thank you for an incredible 3 weeks. I think we are firing on all 12 cylinders. You are making me shine bright every day and I am having so much fun Trailblazing this new platform. I feel we are making a very special film and I thank you for all of your hard work, passion and excellence in making this all possible.
Some shout outs:
1st ACs: Eric Swanek and Derek Edwards, your focus and leadership has been exceptional. Keep on bringing it. You are delivering our vision to life with no DOF. Yeah baby!!!!!!
2nd ACs: Deb Peterson and Amanda Rotzler, you two keep us together, organized and on point. Love you both. Keep pushing and trailblazing.
Movi tech: Chris Herr you have stepped up to the plate and hit a grand slam, my friend. I am so proud of you and what you have been doing. I am not easily impressed and I expect the very best. Keep it up!!! Wonder Boy number 2.
Digital Utility: Derek “Cupertino” Johnson this goes without saying being the original Wonder Boy, so much has been put on you. I demand excellence from you and you have been delivering in spades. Continue to live up to your walking manual status. Keep learning and dialing in your etiquette with all of our footage.
A Cam Op: John “Buzz” Moyer what can I say. I have worked with many operators in my career but you WOW me and I love your passion and your energy to just go for it. I also love the commentary on the comms. Never ever change. We are about to embark on an amazing journey together.
B Cam Op: Rich Schutte you have been my second set of eyes. I appreciate your willingness to try new things, getting your spleen and forearms beat to crap delivering Gabriele’s and my vision on the Movi. Your smile and positive attitude goes so far with me. Keep crushing it!!!!
Peace and have a wonderful 3 days off.
In the last few weeks of shooting Fathers and Daughters, I wanted to talk a little about leadership and motivating your team to do their very best. I was interviewed by Kessler University on Sunday before NAB. The questions were so well crafted and it pulled much emotion out of me, to the point of me breaking down on camera. Yes, it is true. The guy who blows up cameras, has 40 mike missiles fly right past him, jumps out of C-130s, is ruthless in battle and doesn’t ever accept good enough, has a soft side. A good storyteller is emotional. He or she reads it, sees it and wants to do everything possible to deliver this experience to the audience.
So vulnerability is required!!
All of you have been so gracious with your comments throughout the blog, social media and in person about how much I help all of you and make a difference, or changed your life in some way. This is a huge responsibility that I take very seriously. I need to set a great example. I need to do my very best, and I need to illustrate for all of you what it means to be a good leader.
Never talk down to people. Treat everyone as a collaborator, not as one of your minions. That is a bad habit that many people exude. This demoralizes your crew. You want their loyalty and their best effort. You get this by teamwork.
Give your crew huge praise when they are doing well. Show them that by doing these things, it makes you shine bright.
Do not be afraid to admit that you made a mistake, that you failed your team and that you will make it up to them. Apologize for your actions. Look into their eyes and be sincere, not condescending.
Be humble. No matter how much praise you get, no matter how many people tell you how brilliant you are, ground yourself. Always know that in one second all that can be stripped from you. e a man or woman of the people, not a Dictator.
Always help out your peers. Never feel that your help will hurt you by educating the competition. Good Karma goes the distance; build up your stock pile!!!
Believe in yourself and deliver a passion that is infectious; all will follow.
Know yourself. Surround yourself with a team whose strengths fill in where you may be weak.
Never be ashamed of your team. Try to support them and always look at the glass half full instead of half empty.
Push your crew to be excellent. Show them that second best is not acceptable.
These are my nine lessons on becoming a good leader. I try my very best to do this every day. Some days are better than others and sometimes, I fall off the wagon. My patience can very short at times, especially when the mistake has been made more than twice. Picking your team members up and dusting them off to live another day is what you have to do.
I push my crew to be their very best. I also push myself in the same manner. I live by a quote that is not from some famous director but an incredible visionary and leader Theodore Roosevelt:
“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”
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