The Power of Yes

I’ve just experienced one of the most extraordinary weekends of my life – all because I said yes.  Barely more than a week ago, I sent an email with a link to the trailer of my documentary to Rebecca Self,

Rebecca Self at the European Summit for Global Transformation

who I was introduced to by two of the subjects in my film, Letha Sandison and Maggie Doyne.

Letha Sandison and Maggie Doyne

Rebecca is an amazing woman – she’s a connector of change makers.  The day after Rebecca got my email, she replied “Would you consider coming to Amsterdam this weekend and showing your trailer at The European Summit for Global Transformation.  My first thought was “wow” – and with a title like that, it was bound to be a gathering of very interesting people.  My next thought was, “it’s not possible – there’s not enough time – the airfare will be high” etc. etc.  All very practical thoughts – right?

And then I flipped it and told myself all the reasons I should say yes. I ‘d have the opportunity to show a culturally diverse audience a sample of my film and talk about the idea behind it. I would get to see Letha and Maggie again because they were going to be speaking.  And most importantly, I would be spending the weekend with people that not only believed that anything is possible – but are making the impossible happen, together. So I replied to Rebecca and said YES.

For two days I listened, as all kinds of people told their stories – people who are actively doing things that are making our world a better place. They awed me with their courage, their commitment and their passion.  But the most empowering part of the conference was connecting with these people, who were not only there to talk about what they were doing, but also to network with others to help them make their commitments a reality.

As I write this, on my last night in Amsterdam. I’m ready to head out to have one final dinner with some of the most fascinating  people I have ever met.  It has been a powerful weekend, being part of this group of people, from all over the world that are making extraordinary things happen.  This is what my film is all about – the power of the individual, working together to make things happen – across the globe.

To be able to show my ten-minute trailer to these amazing change makers was an honor and reward in itself.  But to spend the weekend with such a unique group of people who believe that anything is possible, was extraordinary and fortified me as I go forward in editing over 150 hours of footage.

I have a friend who is always telling me that I need to say “no” more often – because I tend to spread myself too thin.  But this time, I was glad I said “yes”.

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The Power of Sharing and Networking

I’ve always been an independent creature, starting with a year long backpacking odyssey as a 19 year old traveling solo, following the “hippie trail” around the world.  That sojourn led me to pursue a career as a still photographer, using my camera as a tool to gain access to people, their cultures and their stories.

I’ve had a great ride these past 30 years shooting assignments for high profile magazines that have taken me to all parts of the globe.  For the most part, I was a solo act, spending hours, days and weeks observing people, then becoming more intimate as I proceeded to get to know and tell their stories and share them with others.

When I started shooting motion and in particular digital video, eleven years ago I embraced the notion of collaboration.  Video production has a lot more facets to it than just the shoot and I knew that even though I knew how to capture reasonably good sound and edit a respectable rough cut with Final Cut Pro, I also knew that working with professional sound people and editors would raise the bar on the quality of my projects.

This past weekend, the value of collaboration, networking and using social media to get my ideas out to the universe, really hit home.  I had been asked to speak at the Photocine News Expo in Hollywood, CA about my latest documentary that I was working on, Opening Our Eyes. I had gotten to know two of the organizers of the event, Michael Britt and Lou Lesko, through social media. They had taken notice of my blog and my project, which I had decided to shoot with the HDSLR cameras and had written about it in their blog,

I was honored and humbled to be speaking at the same event as some pretty heavy players like Vincent LaForet and Shane Hurlbut.  I was a bit intimidated at first, but I knew that I was there to share what I knew and that is how to get a passion project from just an idea – to a reality.  So, after returning from my 99-day journey, with just a couple of weeks to prepare a sample from some of the 145 hours of footage that were shot, I flew out to LA.

Here’s a rough cut of that 10-minute sample:  Opening Our Eyes – Tease

I suppose I can legitimately say that I have had a theatrical showing of my documentary in Hollywood.  True enough – but the real value for me this weekend was in sharing with my peers and making connections with people who I will work with in the future that will help me grow as a filmmaker and storyteller and more importantly who will bring their expertise to my film.

It’s an incredible time that we live in with a realm of possibility.  Literally anything is possible.  When you share and put things out to the universe – you just never know what you’ll get back.  I’ve learned that I share because it makes me feel good – not because I have expectations for an immediate or monetary return.  But each and every time I do share – I get back so much more in return.

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