Sunday, March 29, 2009

From Blog to Sermon

Erik Samuelson is a friend of mine from PLU and I've managed to keep in touch with him since graduation. Recently he informed me that he's been reading my blogs, and asked if he could use my latest one in his next sermon. You see, Erik went on to become a Lutheran Pastor when I could not, and that's a fair trade in my opinion. Not that THAT was part of the equation... "Erik... *cough* *cough*, you go on! I'm... not... gonna make it... *cough*"

Anyway I wanted to share with you what Erik preached today in his congregation in Spokane, WA.


And you can find others of Erik's sermons from Bethlehem Lutheran Church by click on his picture above, or going to the following link:

Erik's Sermon Blog

Thank you my friend. This means a lot, and I'm glad you found what I'm going through as fitting material for what was speaking to you for your homily.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

"Crisis on Infinite Dons" or "Why I love BIG LOVE"

I'm going to start this blog with a big damn apology to all the Mormons I've pissed off, hurt, or otherwise during high school. Well, unless they were just jerks plain and simple, but that has nothing to do with them belonging to the Latter-Day Saints. If there's one thing I've learned over the years about differences in faith, is that I have enough differences in my own religion, let alone someone else's. And why am I bringing this up? Well I've fallen in love with the show Big Love.

For those of you who are ignorant, Big Love is not a representation of what life is like in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The show centers on an offshoot of what is commonly understood to be the Mormon faith. And this offshoot still endorses polygamy. The show's main characters are polygamists, struggling to live a normal life in faith, but neither fitting in with the Latter-Day Saints faith, nor their on polygamist compound. The family is under attack on both sides.

What I love about the show is how universal it is, how relatable (apparently "relatable" is not a word) it is. That despite being polygamists, the issues and values of family, and the strengthened spiritual concept of the family unit as a spiritual unit united for eternity. It's powerful. And you don't even have to belive in the Book of Mormon to identify with that. And what the show has done is made me realize even more how judgmental I was to my LDS peers. I was a dick. A pompous, prudish cock. Don't get me wrong, I'm not racing to the nearest LDS Church to join up. I still got my differences. But my faith has come to a point to a place of enormous inclusion and acceptance, despite differences and concerns. Sometimes I feel like I have more problems and issues with Evangelical Christians than I do with the Latter-Day Saints.

The show also is reminds me of elements of home and growing up in a town, an elementary school, a junior high, and a high school that was majority members of the LDS Church. So it's a sense of familiarity.

Oddly enough, I find that I really don't have a problem with polygamy, so long as it doesn't allow marriage to minors. Frankly I think most people who marry at 18 are seriously making a mistake. But whatever. The only thing I don't like about the idea of polygamy is dirty old men preying on young girls. If that was eradicated, and if people want to marry more than one spouse, then I think I'm okay with that. Morally I mean. Aside from the predatory and misogynist nature of polygamy, one guy marrying several women, or rather as portrayed in the show, a married couple deciding to add another wife to the family... the other problem I have is the financial burden of polygamy.

I mean, if you're going to be a polygamist, you'd better be wealthy, right? I mean, it's one thing being a married couple, and often times in LDS or even Catholic families, the family unit also comes furnished with 4 or more children. Imagine multiplying that by two or three times! or more!

You know what would ensure that to happen, if it was one woman marrying several guys. Right? But when the hell would that ever happen? That's a show I'd like to see. Call it "Three Men and a Lady". One guy's an unemployed artist. The other is a successful businessman. The other is a construction worker downtown. What does SHE do? Can you imagine trying to schedule who's night it is? (I'm laughing my ass off here. This is funny shit. I'm glad I'm writing it down. You're NOT allowed to copy my idea. I get 50% of revenues if you do).

Anyway. If you can financially swing it, everyone's agreeable, and you have the power of faith and family supporting you, and no one is preying on minors or sucking up welfare, then who the hell cares? I think I have more issues with the concept of some woman on welfare who already has 6 children, shelling out 8 babies at once... ON PURPOSE!

But that's a bit of a tangeant from what I was talking about in the first place. To my friends and peers who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, please forgive me.

Now, onto other matters that are on my brain. Like, my professional identity crisis.
I'm struggling with staying strong and collected, and being motivated to kick ass at what I do. I'm struggling with my professional identity. That struggle is mostly centered around me as a film professional, or whether I'm at a turning point to leave all that behind.

So I think about what I love. I love directing. I LOVE the work I did on the Demon Hunters RPG and the Orientation video. I LOVE the work I did on Y Tu Nana Tambien. I felt totally rewarded producing Dorkness Rising. Not at all that I did it alone, or that with DH I did it alone. It's the process, the collaboration, how we (DG) all work together. But if I'm not going to be a film professional, I don't know what to do with my life. I'm back at that place I was at after college graduation when I found out I wouldn't be going to seminary and fully understood that the path I'd been on since my junior year in high school is no longer what I'm going to do with my life. I've been working to eventually be a film professional for nearly 10 years now. I do feel like I'm at a crossroads again. My experience in sales was very rewarding. But I didn't get that feeling that I got when I was behind the camera. Or when I was in front of it trusting Ben or Matt or Nathan behind it.

Cindy says she doesn't relate to the feeling of doing what you love as your profession. She doesn't understand why anyone would want to do their passion as their career, for fear that it would take divide a marriage/family. Or that the passion of the work would fizzle and become just a job. She posed me the question, "Why would it be inferior if you were to get a full time career like you had with Revchem, where you were rewarded and paid well, and then on the side you bought a camera and a mic and some lights and directed your own shorts and posted them up on your website?" It's a good question. For me, i think it's like saying why don't I marry someone I'm not in love with because it will bring stability and you could be happy with it, and maybe on the weekends you could go out with the the person you're really in love with, except you can't touch her.

We men really do define ourselves by our profession, and our self esteem is directly tied to it.

Another way of thinking about the scenario/question Cindy posed is... I think that's not what I want because it takes away the collaboration and working with the people I love to work with. That's part of the joy of it. It's not just the creative expression, it's not just the recognition and appreciate that comes from it, or even if I was getting paid to do it as a career.

I've always struggled with what I wanted to do with my life as a career. Although my childhood is filled with memories with me and my grandmother's camcorder, I never really thought about being a filmmaker as what I wanted to do when I grew up. In grade school, I thought about being a helicopter pilot. In Jr High, I didn't have a clue. Everyone kept telling me "do something with computers. You're good at that." Tells you something about the generation, doesn't it? Then when I came to faith in high school, a path became clear and I latched onto it. Finally something I could do with my life. People saw in me my way with people, and my potential to inspire others, and said I could do that professionally. I got to college on that "I will not be defeated in this" determination, acquiring over $60,000 in student loans to do it. I met you guys. We made a couple movies together. We gamed. My faith grew even stronger as I tore off the garbage of my evangelical faith and got to the meat of Lutheran teaching. I chose a major that I liked, because why would I need to study something that would prepare me for career/professional life? I was going to be a pastor, or maybe even eventually a theologian. I applied for seminary, and got that letter stating, "sorry we can't let you come in. Come back when you have less debt."

As I write this I'm still stunned by it. What had I spent all that money for? The hell am I supposed to do with my life now? So I went back to what I knew. Heating and Cooling. And from there the rest is history. My professional resume is strengthened by my background in the full sales process, which strengthened my human relations skills, and suddenly prepared me for a wide open field of careers. My skill set applies to so damn much it makes my head spin. I'm no longer with Revchem. The hell am I going to do with myself now?

Cindy and I had a talk last night about her feeling threatened by a filmmaking career. That it would take me away from her. That our finances would never be stable again. So a hard serious look at the past 10 years, of enduring bullshit work, bad jobs, a rewarding and strengthening career in sales, company loyalty for 5 years in a industry I could never have predicted I'd be working in: fiberglass and chemicals. But on the side I'm running DG. I came in and saved GDR. (again, not single handedly, but I did what I do, I build a team of amazing people to get it done), I got Paizo to distribute our products. I got GDR on Netflix. I simplified DG's structure and operations so that 1 person could run it fairly easily. I networked with all the major SFX houses in LA. I've begun building relationships with filmmakers that I admire and appreciate. All this so that it would lead to filmmaking being my primary career. And if THAT'S not what I'm going to do...

The hell am I going to do with my life? The sky is the limit, and I am inclined in no other direction. If not this, what then?

I'm not saying I must be a film professional, but right now it seems to be where the feelings are settling. I'm still going to attempt to find employment, and while I'm doing that, I might as well see if I can find a sales career or something that will directly influence my career as a film professional, and vice versa. If I was selling something that the entertainment people needed, which then networks me with professionals that could help me get my entertainment career goals and overall form lasting friendships/relationships. That's ideal. That's going to be tough. But there must be something. Be it selling cameras, editing equipment, entertainment insurance, (although the thought of selling insurance makes my skin crawl).

Or maybe I sell Mini's for a living. How awful would that be? Oh darn, I'm selling something that I'm in love with.

I just thought I'd share these with you who read this. I'd love your feedback. Thanks.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

One-Man Douchebag

Here's a video I made today when I was supposed to be doing something responsible, like writing my awesome resume.

My buddy Rian wanted to see me rock out with the mullet wig he sent me as a gag gift. NEVER do that. Here goes:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

It's all about me

Writing and talking about yourself is one of the hardest things to do. We don't like to do it. This is something we really learn when learning how to do sales. Because you HAVE to sell yourself first. And it is difficult to talk about yourself. To think about your own strengths. To know yourself well enough to answer difficult questions people might ask about you.
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • What are you good at?
  • What's your best accomplishment?
  • What are your top 5 personal qualities? What are examples when you displayed those qualities?
  • What are your top 5 professional qualities? What are examples when you displayed those?
  • What do you want out of life?
  • If you could do anything, what would it be?

First I want to thank Cindi Rice, Paige, Camille, and Christina for helping me and supplying me with tools to start this job hunt seriously.

I think when I'm done with this process, there will be another light bulb moment. I had one of those when I went through the Sales Advantage course. As I put those skills towards finding a new job, and searching myself for what I know about my product (me), I realize how valuable this is to everything I do.

For instance, I also need to write a bio for myself for pitch packages. I'm starting to put together several projects for DG, or just me personally, and I'm finding I have to (or will have to) do a lot of writing about myself, and/or my company.

I NEED to master this process.


Haven't written in a while because I got the crud everyone's been getting. Started with a dry throat, then slight sinus pressure on the ears. Immediately started taking Sudafed which helped a ton. But then for about a day I fevered like crazy. You know, the kind you're all freezing, and then moments later you're roasting. Then everything moved into my lungs and it's been there ever since. Chest congestion and a serious chesty cough. That's been the toughest. Probably have had about 4 days of that so far. Today is much better than yesterday. I'm definitely on the upswing. I can take a full breath now without hacking. Robitussin is my friend.

Having all the down time gave me a few moments to really reflect on what I want to do. Haven't really come to any conclusions, but I have focused down to a few things:
  • I do really want to start directing again.
  • I do love doing sales
  • I am waffling between part time and full time because I'm entertaining the thought of using this opportunity to pursue a career as an independent entertainment professional.
The main question I'm struggling with is: If I don't pursue my entertainment career with any more effort that I'm already doing, what do I want to do?

I was pretty happy working in sales with my last company. I had even resolved that the whole filmmaking thing was perfectly fine being a hobby, and that I was getting enough career satisfaction doing what I was doing. I've recently been in contact with friends I haven't spoken too in a long time, through Facebook. One of the things that keeps coming up is, what happened to me being a pastor? After answering the obvious stuff about the BS of the church not letting me go due to how much debt I had, along with everything else, the truth is I've found other ways of using those gifts people saw in me.

I am great with people. I care and I listen. People say I have a lot of wisdom, particularly for someone my age. Heard that a lot over the years. So it's natural that ministry was the direction to go. Interestingly enough, I think I've been able to affect and influence more people, spirtually or otherwise, by NOT being ordained. Just by living my life. Putting myself in a position to help people become better. Whether it's through a new product or changing their processes so things are more efficient, or putting a scene together, shaping actors' performances, influencing the director's decisions to make a better product, making sure everyone on set is having a great time in the midst of miserable conditions; or even just listening to a guy tell me what a horrible day he's had, asking him questions about it, and just spending the time to form a meaningful connection, and then the next week he places a huge order from me, even if my competition was a lower price.

So unfortunately that doesn't really narrow down what to look for in terms of employment. It seems half of building a resume is doing the work of knowing yourself. The other half is tailoring that to the needs of your prospective employer... which means you need to know who that is. In the sales process, we call that the "Preapproach". Which brings me back to the connundrum of: where to look.

Took a few career surveys, but they weren't much help. I think I need some serious tools that help me evaluate what I want to look for in a job or career.

Wow, I just realized this is only half the work I'll need to do. The other half is the dreaded Cover Letter. But I definitely can't write one of those until I know who or what I am applying for.

You know, it seems like a Cover Letter is awfully similar to a Credibility Statement. I'll be interested to get Christina's take on that.