I used to think drug addiction was limited to low-life individuals who had no willpower and didn’t care for others. That is, until I met one. His name was Jeremy and he became one of my best friends – if not the best friend I’ve ever had. He would’ve been 28 on Sunday but on June 8th of this year, he lost his battle with addiction. He was truly one of the best guys I’ve ever met in my life. He had hopes and dreams: plans for a career, a wife, and kids. Every single day, there are addicts struggling, family and friends feeling the rippling effects of addiction, and first responders being put at risk because of this epidemic.
If you’d have told me last July that my latest project, No Limits No Boundaries, would’ve turned out the way it did, I wouldn’t have believed you for a second. I never imagined that I would’ve had the opportunity to show three different perspectives of those affected by the drug epidemic. This was by far the most challenging, most stressful, yet most enjoyable film I’ve ever made. I’d without a doubt do it again in a heartbeat.
Two of the biggest thing I’ve learned throughout the process of making this film:
One of my absolute things about photography is the fact that your subject doesn’t always have to be perfectly posed and prepared for a shot. In fact, I’ve found that the best shots are the ones where my subjects aren’t quite “picture ready”. Catching someone in the middle of a genuine smile or a moment of pure laughter makes for the best photographs. More than anything though, there’s almost always a good story behind the images taken. They say “a picture is worth a thousand words” and I believe that’s absolutely true because it often time holds so much value to the person behind the camera and the people/imagery in the actual picture.
These last two months, I’ve had more opportunities to film and photograph events than I’ve ever had before and I’m beyond grateful for the ability to be being able to do what I love, meet new people, and maintain my “normal” job while working on these side projects without completely losing my sanity. However, it requires a lot of time management – sometimes getting up early and staying up late – to keep up with everyday life and these awesome side projects. So, needless to say, it gets a little exhausting at times.
This month I was given the opportunity to film for the Lycoming County Camp Cadet program held at the Little League World Series International Grove in South Williamsport. I took the job mainly because I needed a little extra cash, I figured it would look good on a resume, and we’d get to film all week. That sounded like an all around win to me.
However, that week ended up being so much more than I had originally expected. Through this experience, I gained new perspectives, acquired new knowledge, and created new memories. In the midst of this project, there were three major things that stood out to me.
Any of my friends can attest to the annoying things I do as an aspiring filmmaker when watching a film, whether it be at the local movie theater or simply watching a Netflix series at home. It’s virtually impossible for me to simply watch a film and turn off all the training and skills that have been embedded in me for the last several years. I’m sure my fellow filmmakers can relate to some of the many annoying things filmmakers do when watching films.
Here’s a preview of some shots I got of the beautiful Assateague Island National Seashore just outside of Ocean City, Maryland.
As any filmmaker knows, sometimes it’s incredibly difficult to make a film that is compelling enough for the viewer to want to pay the $9+ for a movie ticket to go see it and/or to invest their time to watch your film. In addition to this, it’s even more difficult to choose a topic that does just that and is interesting and motivating to you, the filmmaker. Here are two major internal indicators I believe are evident when you choose to cover the wrong documentary topic as a filmmaker.
“Why do you want to make movies anyway?”
Let’s just break this down. How much of your free time (or maybe even time you should’ve been spending being productive) have you spent binge-watching your favorite show? How many nights have you insisted on staying in because watching Grey’s Anatomy recorded just isn’t the same as watching it live? How many movies have you paid to go see throughout your lifetime? My point stands. I don’t just want to make movies, I want to be a part of the industry that consumes so much of our time and thoughts. I want to impact people’s lives through film. It’s one of the only industries out there that has such a substantial amount of power over us — I want to be a part of that.