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Now that I’m a seasoned blogger with two blog entries under my belt, this entry concludes my foray into this type of writing with my reflections on the Emerging Visions Program. Just as my first blog entry received positive feedback, a colleague praised my second entry. All this praise could go to my head, particularly since this last time he was so earnestly descriptive about the piece, calling it: “Wonderfully wonderful. Wonderful wonderful. Wonderfully.” He’s adorable – he’s European and is still mastering English adjectives. But his sentiment rings true. The entire experience was overwhelming, and I’m not sure I can summarize it in a single entry. But that’s quitter talk – I can do anything.

Being paired with Julia Loktev as a mentor was incredibly valuable not just for the future networking opportunities, but because of the insight she provided. She was a font of information, with clues and hints about how to navigate my chosen profession. And she supplied what I did not expect – validation in the type of movies I am drawn to – serious dramas. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t NEED validation – but when coming from a family whose favorite films include those that detail the trials and tribulations of a basketball playing Golden Retriever, let’s just say Julia’s company was like a breath of fresh air.

And I must revisit the master classes given by Joe Berlinger and Jon Kilik. They shared experiences and lessons learned. I hung on every one of their words. Especially Jon’s. One might observe that I have something of a man-crush on him, whatever…I’m secure enough. Who knows, it might even become a bro-mance if I’m lucky.

While at the program I got the opportunity to network, to pitch my film, to hobnob with giants in their fields and would be giants, we the attendees. I intend to be among one of the future giants. I was not surprised that I gained a lot from the established filmmakers – that’s pretty much a no-brainer. I was surprised by what I gained from my fellow attendees. I have learned that networking with them and forming lasting relationships is as significant as continuing contact with the mentors and moderators. We can all help each other in this challenging business. Of course, I’m hoping to be more on the helping side than the asking-for-help side, but I have the humility to ask when necessary. I rock at humility. Really, I’m the best.

The themes that surfaced repeatedly throughout the program were to ask for and give help when needed, pay it back… and forward if you will. But most of all, everyone stressed to never give up. On the one hand, that is advice everyone gives. On the other hand, everyone gives it because it’s true. Fortunately, I also rock at tenacity. It’s what got my first film August the First finished, it is what will get Highway to Nowhere complete. Look for it soon. And then watch it. Just like you watched August the First. Don’t make me tell you again.

And finally, to motivate our tenacity, they waved in front of emerging filmmakers the equivalent of raw steak in front of starving dogs – cash. They invited my fellow attendees and me to come up with a commercial idea that will eventually air at film festivals. The winning commercial idea will be awarded $20,000. Game on. I win at winning.

Right now I am aboard a plane to Rio de Janeiro with support from the IFP. I’m headed to the Rio Co-Production market with Highway to Nowhere in tow. Maybe here I can finally get work that darn Jedi mind trick. Now I just have to practice saying “you WANT to give me money to make this film” in Portuguese.


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