The surprising thing is they have nothing to do with movies
It started with a speech seven years ago where one producer asked me for the right to turn the story she heard into a movie.
Several months later, she brought in a couple of her producer friends who agreed to propel the project forward. They brought in a screenwriter who delivered a brilliant screenplay. And a genius film director who agreed to lead the project.
Countless rejections followed from prospective investors who felt the timing was wrong, the risk too high, the likelihood of success too low. And yet, 47 financial investors stepped forward, determined that despite the odds, the story was simply too important to not tell right.
So, into St. Louis came more than 200 outstanding crew members working tirelessly to support the work of 52 principal actors and more than a thousand background actors, all to get to the point last Friday that Director Sean McNamara excitedly proclaimed, “And that’s a wrap!”
My friends, two decades into a professional speaking career, the past several months have by far been the hardest I’ve worked. Early mornings, long days, late nights, tons of stress, lots of risk, a few tears…and yet, it was by far the most fun I’ve ever had working in my entire life.
It was also a crash course in learning about an industry I knew nothing about before this journey began. Today, I want to share with you three things I learned about making movies that have nothing to do with movies … and explain what they mean for you:
- Being a beginner is scary AND fun. Key grip. Best boy. 2nd 2nd assistant to the director. Apple up. Dolly left. Roll sound. My first day on set, I didn’t understand what these job titles did or what these expressions meant. In fact, I didn’t know anything about what was taking place around me. I could have embraced a “fake-it-til-you-make-it” mindset- and was tempted- but instead, embraced being a beginner. Rather than feeling inferior that every single person on the set knew more about the work than I did, I strived to gain an appreciation for the craft and those who have committed their careers to perfecting it. It became a joy to learn from them. Being a beginner isn’t a liability or threat to our worthiness, but instead can ignite a growth mindset, develop new interests, and connect us with others as new friends.
- There are no dead ends, only pivots. I’ve had to roll with a few punches in my day as a professional speaker—flight delays, faulty mics, even occasionally unruly audiences. But never have I witnessed such ingenuity in the face of obstacles than during the On Fire movie shoot. Raining for an outdoor shoot? Key props held up in customs? Sick actors? Behind on schedule? Not a single obstacle—and there were many—was met with resignation or defeat, but rather they were embraced as an opportunity to try something else, different, better. Life rarely turns out how we imagine. Jobs end. Diagnoses descend. Relationships change. Resignation can represent the end of something or the beginning of something better—the choice is ours.
- Every job matters. Everyday our team was sent a call sheet that outlined the day’s shooting. And while that document (and the dizzying amount of details it contained) was a logistical feat, what was even more amazing was the work it represented. On any given day, more than 100 individuals, each with a specific role to play, were needed to make the magic of movie making happen. Actors transported safely. Crew needing meals. Microphones working. Artwork created. Lights wired perfectly. Props distributed. Tents quickly erected to protect cast and crew from the elements. All this before the actors ever walked on set. Literally thousands of tasks were required to be executed each day by an army of individual contributors to pull this thing off. Each one critical in contributing to the success of the overall effort. It can be easy to feel insignificant when we fail to see ourselves as part of something bigger than us. Often success, though, hinges on the tiniest detail and the individuals attending to those details with care.
My friends, months of post-production work is required for On Fire to move forward into theaters. Countless hours of selecting music and slicing film and adding visual effects and editing flow in order to create this film. And yet, the lessons learned on set are applicable to each of us long before the movie hits theaters.
Starting something new is scary, but a beginners mindset ensures it will also be a joy.
When dead ends appear in life, and they will, pivot and keep moving forward.
And know that everything you do matters. Let’s just make sure today, and each day, we act like it.
Today is your day. Live Inspired.