Each week I check in with Stu Kennedy and see how the music is coming. For the first few weeks he would deliver a song or two that he’d been working on it. We’d talk, over Skype, and I’d give him my notes, if I had any. Then, we’d go our separate ways, each doing the tasks before us. What I didn’t tell Stu, mostly because it didn’t really matter, was that time was running out, and as it does, I’m intermittently finding it very difficult to remain calm.
Two weeks ago, Stu let me know he had to pause work on ALGORITHM to attend to some other gigs that paid upfront, which I can’t do. I fully understand this, and I support Stu’s decision to do that because he’s got a family and the obligations that come with it.
But, it’s more than that too. Stu delivers incredible music. He’s doing it consistently, and he’s very good at it. Not only that, but he’s got a lot of education, which, in my mind, lends his ability to finish tasks a great deal of credence. That means, I can trust him to prioritize tasks on his own and still keep the deadlines we’ve set for ALGORITHM.
This morning, I sent my weekly check-in and he let me know he’d finished his other contract gigs and was continuing work on ALGORITHM. As our conversation continued, he mentioned that he’d recently rebuilt his website. I check it out. It’s pretty good. On the front page he mentioned his current project, which is ALGORITHM. So, we’ve got some cross-promotion, which is always nice.
While browsing his site, I found where he’d embedded his Soundcloud page, including his demo tracks. I found one called The Story, which is perfect for ALGORITHM’s final trailer. I asked him if I could download it and he sent it to me. It fit… perfectly. I was blown away.
I knew it needed some tweaks but I loved it.. I actually just dropped the track into the timeline and then cut the beginning so the end matched the end of the trailer.
The final trailer was originally cut by my friend Earl Newton. I emailed him the cut and he agreed that it needed some more edits. He started cutting to a different piece, which naturally gave the trailer a very different feel. I made another cut this afternoon. It’s better now. Not perfect, but better.
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The reason I called Earl was because he and I have been discussing how to build a sustainable creative community, where people’s needs are taken care of and their minds are free to pursue creativity without the distractions of having to take care of food, shelter, etc. I had an idea about that and I wanted to talk to him about it.
James, my younger brother, owns an ad agency. They specialize in placing ads for clients where the ads will best server the clients. What they don’t currently have is a creative team. They don’t actually produce content. They place it.
Paul, my older brother, works for James. He’s the sales department. Paul’s very good at that. He’s also very good at producing. He’s the guy who first hired me as an editor, and got me on set of commercials he was producing. He paid me to learn my craft.
Since he originally hired me, I’ve gotten much better at it. Now, I can make good work, not just P.A. on sets. He also first paid me to edit for him. I worked for way less than anyone else, so it was a good deal for both of us. Those jobs, and some others, helped pay for all my gear, including the computer, monitors, and stereo in my studio.
* * *
Anyway, last night I texted James. He was busy as usual, but said he might have time later this week. This morning, I texted Paul. He called me around noon and I told him that Schiefer Media needs a creative department and I could do it. He thought James would probably like that idea. James has seen one of the later cuts of ALGORITHM and he now knows how good I am at what I do.
I know that sounds arrogant. It’s not. ALGORITHM is amazing because I completely committed to it. I made something amazing, with amazing people. It took me a long time and I care deeply about it being as good as I can make it. I’d spent years getting good at all the parts that are required to make a good movie. Now, I can make good movies. Which, of course, means I can also make good commercials.
My motivation is two-fold motivation: I have a dream, the dream I mentioned to Earl. I want a creative community, where I get the smartest people in the world and we make the best stuff, things people are afraid. We make things without ulterior motivations. I want to make the world better. There are a lot of things I can’t do on my own. But, other people can. Together we can make something great. We can make a difference.
It starts with money. Once people don’t have to worry about paying for their daily needs, they can focus… I repeat myself. Part of getting money means advertising. At least, at the start. And, there’s also the desire to make advertising back to what it should be. It shouldn’t be variations of, “You suck. But, if you buy my widget, you’ll be awesome.” It should be, “Here’s our stuff. Here’s what it does.” If advertising is good, it becomes content, not a diversion from content. People will actually search for a good ad because it’s the entertainment their looking for. Think: Trunk Monkey, Old Spice, Bud Bowl, etc.
That’s my first motive.
My second motive is that when I said yes to making movies, I also said yes to being a filmmaker. Now, I have to say yes to getting better at being a filmmaker. Commercials are a great place to learn, to experiment, to see what works, on a small budget. It’s a great school that pays me. The fact that it could help my dreams, and help my brothers out at the same time? Well, it’s just all win there.
Besides, where I’m at with ALGORITHM? It’s pretty much going to handle itself, with some intermittent maintenance.