Category: Creator Advice

The New Film School – Part 2

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Let’s continue on with the next step of what I think makes a filmmaker ready to take on the industry. After you have build the right mindset and have a healthy outlook on what the industry is like. We move onto part 2:


This is another step that, for most, will take a while to fine tune. But it’s essentially what kind of work you want to make. And more importantly:
Who is your work for?
A perfect example of this is Martin Scorcese. He was in his early 30s when he made Mean Streets. Because he didn’t see any examples in movies of the kind of people he grew up with in a mostly Italian neighborhood. So his work started out giving their stories and perspectives a chance to be seen in theaters. Same thing with Spike Lee, who wanted to showcase the people and stories in Black New York City neighborhoods.
Having a creative source is important because of a key component:
It takes your ego out of what you create.
Creating out of ego, on the surface, seems like it’s purely out of selfishness. But it’s actually creating out of fear.
  • Fear that we’re not good enough
  • Fear that we don’t matter
  • Fear of rejection
When we create out of fear, we end up creating whatever it takes to be noticed. We try to copy the roadmaps and successes of others. Forgetting that what made those people successful was creating what was true to them.
It’s also the fear that our work needs to be discovered quickly, or it will never happen. Almost every film student, including myself, has graduated with the idea that we need to be making large budget feature films within 4 years. Or else our careers are over.
Not keeping in mind that the people who have been discovered at a young age as filmmakers are the exception. And for those who are successful long term. There are just as many who peak too early and struggle to reach the heights they received at the beginning.
But how do we find our creative source?


In my guidebook The Mixed Creator, I give a simple exercise to finding your creative source. It’s in the form of asking yourself a few questions:
What have I overcome in life?
What experience or aspect of life can I give advice on?
Who else needs help with the same issue?
This can (and will) change over time. But asking yourself these questions are key to starting. Because they give you what every storyteller needs:


Attention is fractured these days. Up until the early 2000s, making a piece of media was expensive. And therefore, doing it was impressive. With the advent of streaming and social media. The cost has come way down. So making a film or piece of visual media is easier and less impressive just to do it.
You need to know who you are making your work for and go find them.
Online, networking mixers, maybe even friends and family. Find the people who are your ideal audience and connect with them. Your creative source is telling stories that help solve your problems that your ideal audience already has. While you learn and grow, you’ll be able to solve new problems and grow your audience.
Many filmmakers starting out worry about creating for a particular audience, including myself. We worry about being only known for a certain type of work and being trapped there. But the key is to remember:
You have to start somewhere. But it can’t be everywhere.
What I’m speaking to is often called Building Your Personal Brand. But I think it’s something deeper:


My personal story is that I didn’t want to be put in a box as a filmmaker. Because growing up biracial that was all I knew. So I created a lot of different kinds of work, all with the hope that someone else would discover me. But instead of breaking out of a box, I build myself a prison:
The prison of being known for nothing.
It wasn’t until after the Donald Trump election when my own consciousness essentially gave me a lecture:
The world is afraid of people who look like you. So what are you going to do about it?
So I built my creative source – talking about the mixed experience.
The reason for doing this is not simply for recognition. But knowing who I’m making it for keeps me focused and energized. I have a constant North Star that I am constantly headed for. Which helps me not only come up with new ideas. But know where I can focus my energy.
Whereas before I struggled to come up with the perfect idea. I now spend time sifting and prioritizing them. Which helps with another unfortunate, but rare, element of the industry:


There are countless stories of people whose ideas are either outright stolen, or altered by a larger celebrity or company. This, unfortunately, happens far too often. But if you have your creative source and you know who your audience is. This will bother you less and less:
Because you will just be able to go back to your source and create another one.
Here’s the reality:
If your career is based off of one idea getting made. It won’t last very long.
This industry is about being resilient and constantly coming up with new ideas. Every day, you are constantly coming up with something new, and compromising on your own expectations. If one idea doesn’t work out, use another.
Nothing is ever going to work out how you want it or planned it. But that’s ok.
Because that’s how we grow.


If you’re not doing it now, ask yourself the questions to build your creative source:
What have I overcome in life?
What experience or aspect of life can I give advice on?
Who else needs help with the same issue?
Write them down someplace that you can reference quickly. And when you’re feeling frustrated or at a loss – look at these answers. These are what should inspire you and keep you going.
Now we can build upon this for next week when we begin crafting our stories.
Hope to see you then.

The New Film School – Part 1

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This is the first of a multi-part series. There’s a course correction that needs to be had.

Speaking with filmmakers and creatives of several ages. I’ve noticed some bad ways of mental conditioning. I’ve spoken with filmmakers who have just graduated film school and ones who are in their mid-40s. And the approach their projects and careers come from two positions:



We enter the industry thinking that someone else is in control. That our ability to create is going to be determined by an unknown person or entity who allows us to keep going. This puts us in a state of anxiety, overwhelm and also confusion.

I’ve been thinking about a better way to approach surviving in the film industry and I think it’s similar to thinking like great athletes. There’s a difference between athletes who just make it to the big stage and ones who thrive in it. While talent is a noticeable separator, the other edge is mental.

Those who can handle the mental aspects of the industry will find the outcome they want. And if I was starting a film school. This is what I would work on first for all my students:

Building A Hall of Fame Mindset.

And this week, you will be my first batch of students that I will be teaching. Let’s dive in.


The worst thing you can do is to start modeling your career after someone else. The phrase “I am the next [fill in the blank]” should never come out of your mouth. The person you are modeling after has a completely different background and life experience. That’s something that can be learned from. But it’s impossible to replicate.

The first thing is to own who you are. You have a unique perspective and way of seeing the world that can’t be copied. Own it and explore it. Figure out what our strength is and play into it.

Let’s go back to athletes – they all have a unique skillset that they bring to the table. None of them try to go outside of it and become something different. LeBron James can drive and pass, Tom Brady sees everything faster, Michael Jordan could jump higher than everyone.

They knew what they already possessed and they leaned into it. That was their foundation. So in a creative sense:

What is are your natural talents?

This is a question that goes beyond the physical skills. What unique experiences have you had? What perspective can you share that no one else has thought of? Sit down and think about this for a few days, maybe even a week. Take your time and figure out what it is you think and what you want to say.

Learn who you are. Otherwise, someone else will mold you into what they want you to be.


Too many of us focus on what we want to get, before we focus on what we want to do. The thought goes something like this:

“I want to make this film so I can win some awards.”

The focus becomes the reward. What you receive is out of your control. That is up to how it’s received by someone else. But what you can control is your effort and passion, i.e. the process.

The other element of chasing awards is – what if you get it? There are countless stories of people who chase accolades from an early age. And when they get it – they are lost. They devoted so much time and effort to achieving one, singular goal. But never gave a thought to what comes next. And for many, it’s destroyed the rest of they life.

Focus on what you want to be doing. What do you want your ideal day to look like. Because the award ceremony or championship is one small moment in a long life. Focus on the greatness of the other moments.


Once you have your foundation and the right focus. We need to have a mindset of continuous learning. We need to be continuously seeking more knowledge to become better at our craft. The phrase is:

Get 1% better everyday.

I began film school focused on being a director. But I started taking classes to learn about more. I learned the basics of editing, cinematography, and lighting to name a few. The mistake I made after graduating was to stop learning for a bit. I focused so much on trying to be recognized as a director that I stopped learning – until I was forced to for my survival.

But all the skills I’ve added to my toolbox over the years have only made me a better filmmaker. Learning to edit has made me a better writer. Learning to direct has made me a better editor. Everything works together.

Not to mention, a willingness to learn makes you easier to collaborate with. Learn for the sake of making yourself better. Not to impress the crowd.


To be filmmakers, we have to embrace the role of being a leader. We have an unrealistic image of leadership. We think a leader is someone who’s loud and looks like infallible. This is not what leadership is.

A true leader does 2 things:

Communicates a vision

Leaders give direction. We have a goal and a vision that we give to people to follow. And then we get out of the way. People will follow if you have a direction to give them. And it’s a direction that takes them to a greater place than where they were before.

As filmmakers, we can mistake this as just making a great piece of work. But what’s more important is giving the people we collaborate with a direction. Let me know where you’re going. How this work will get you closer to that next step. And how they can be a part of it.

If people can see where you’re going and that they want to be a part of it. They will work just as hard as you do.

Inspires others to do their best work.

Beyond having a vision. Leaders have to be an example for others to follow. We have to know who we are and embrace our role. Hold ourselves to the highest standard through our actions. This inspires the people who are with us to do their best work. Because they have an example to follow.

Another part of this is putting others in a position to succeed. To use a sports example, don’t ask people to play out of position and expect greatness. We have to recognize what people’s strengths and weaknesses are. And put them in a position to utilize their strength. While giving them the opportunity to overcome their areas of weakness.

But always remember that everything ultimately falls upon you. If something isn’t working, it’s on the leader to change it. If something is, the leader has to amplify it. Embracing the role of leader means you get all the credit and all the blame.

Be comfortable with both.


To expand on this, the greats always have a vision of what comes next. I have a personal saying that is:

Your portfolio is your past.

Whatever you have just put out into the world is now an example of what you have done. And as filmmakers, we have to get people excited about what we are doing.

Film school and society at large makes us believe that being a filmmaker is about receiving – rewards, recognition, fame. But it’s really about building. All of the steps before are working in unison to create something bigger than ourselves. To answer the ultimate goal of:

I want to create work that helps (this person) achieve (this result) through (this process). For an example:

The Blended Future Project creates that helps mixed people achieve self-confidence through truthful storytelling.

That’s what I am building and all filmmakers need to think the same way. We are in a continuous state of forward motion. And we’re not waiting on anyone else to push us along.


With this forward momentum, we have to think long term. To keep with the sports analogy, Hall of Fame athletes think of where they want to be not at the end of their career of least a decade. But they also have a vision of where they want to do at the end of life.

Take a moment right now and write down how you want to be doing in your life in decades:

What do you want to have built?

Who do you want to have inspired?

What type of person do you want to connect with?

When you zoom out this far and start to look ahead. This helps to think of not only where you’re headed. But takes the pressure off of you.

Never underestimate what you can do in 10 years. Here’s what I was doing 10 years ago:

Cleaning houses for money

Wishing I could make films

Wondering what I was doing with my life

Fast forward to today, money comes in various ways. I’ve made several films and I know exactly what I’m building. And I’m thinking in terms of where I want to be in the next decade.

The mindset set we need to have is building for the long term. Creativity is a lifelong pursuit, it’s only over once we stop breathing. We don’t need permission to become filmmakers and artists. We just have to start doing it. And keep falling in love with it.


If you don’t love the act of filmmaking – STOP NOW. Find something else and focus on that. If you love it, find ways to keep doing it. Don’t focus on the results, don’t get discouraged with the outcome. Just focus on the love of what you are blessed to do.

An art form that children around the world would love to be doing.

The first step in having a long career in the filmmaking industry is to not racing to the top. But pursuing greatness over a lifetime. Expand your horizons, express your perspective, and keep learning. Use this to build up a network and a vision for the future.

This is how to think about creative success in a holistic way. And the guidance that I would give to the next generation of filmmakers.

Take it and run with it.

How to Run 3 Creative Businesses

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A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I have 3 inter-connected business that I run:

  • Consulting
  • Media Development
  • Post-Production

Without taking the right steps, managing this can easily lead to burnout. So this week, I want to give some insight my process. How I keep the operations on all 3 running smoothly, without becoming overwhelmed.

But first, we have to answer this question:


I broke this down in last week’s newsletter. Breaking apart all of the services that I provide into 3 different business was a necessary step for me. Trying to have one place that featured everything was only leading to confusion. Not to mention, de-valuing the work that I provide. So it was a must to split them all up in order to provide a better experience.

The way that I’ve done this is to have 3 separate websites: – for any consulting work – for creative development and content creation around the mixed experience. – my editing portfolio

The first website is the main way that people will find me. And they will be offered a choice of what they’re looking for. But I’ve also created a way on each website for people to go to the other, just in case.

And besides having the different website, I have different social profiles for my consulting (Maris Lidaka) and my development (Blended Future Project) businesses. Each of them posting completely different types of content. Because I know that the audiences are separate. There might some overlap (like my podcast for example). But I try and cater to the needs of each separate audiences.

Editing, because it’s a portfolio, lives on its own and doesn’t have its own social media profile. It serves to get me freelance work, which doesn’t need a completely separate social media. Anything I do for that, can simply be under my personal social media profiles.

So how do I keep all this together?

Let’s take this in sections:


One of my father’s favorite movies was Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade. His favorite line in that movie is when Sean Connery says:

“I wrote it down so I wouldn’t have to remember!”

It made him laugh out every single time.

It took me years to learn the value of this lesson. But I know write everything down…so that I don’t have to remember. I use ClickUp in order to organize every aspect of what needs to happen in each business. So that I’m not relying on memory.

Another aspect of this is to:


Everything needs a system. I have a way of collecting information on who my clients are. What they need. And what I’m providing to them. These systems are improved upon and iterated whenever necessary. But I have a system so that way the journey for each customer is as smooth as possible.

To give you an example:

When a new potential client books a meeting on my website for consulting work. I send them HERE. Before they can book the meeting, they have to answer a series of questions. This is not only so I can prepare. But I can make sure that they are serious about wanting to work with me. Not to mention, if they are a great fit. After the meeting, there’s a system to follow up. And also a system for what we will work on every week. 

The importance here is to create automation where it needs to be. I want to be able to concentrate on the aspects of my work that are creative and not the ones that are administrative. So if I can automate it, I do so. This is not only beneficial for me. But it helps me focus on what really matters:


Another way I keep my head above water is by:


No man is an island” is how I think the saying goes. The same goes for running any kind of company. While I am capable of doing a lot of things. It doesn’t mean I should be doing all of them.

A month ago, I made a list of the things that I do and organized them into 2 categories:



Anything that was a drainer, I’ve been looking for a way to have someone else take on the responsibility. Anything that gives me energy, like writing this newsletter, I will keep on going. Because I realize the most valuable part of life is one thing:


Time is a finite resource that we can never get more of. We never know when it runs out. So if there’s something that I don’t like spending my time doing (like writing social media captions). Then it’s best if I look into how to bring someone else on to take over. 

But more than just taking over parts that I don’t like. I also have to allocate my time wisely. Like my podcast episodes, I can edit them on my own. But that takes away from the time I have to get more guests and meet new people. Which also takes away from the time I can spend writing my feature film.

Make sure that you are using your time so that is has the greatest impact. Which means, sometimes, it might come out of your pocketbook.

But keep in mind – money is something you can replace. Time is not.


This one is hard, especially coming from the world of freelancing. We have to say Yes a lot to keep the lights on. Every project that I take on means I’m spending (here we go again) time working on it. So I have to discern which projects and clients are worth the time. And which ones aren’t.

I want to see each and every person succeed.  And I know that I have the ability to help every person I come across. But that doesn’t mean I always should. The way that I decide is by looking at what kind of impact I can have with it.

  • Is it something that will enhance my company’s mission?
  • Will it be a valuable connection?
  • Is it up to, or can it get to, my standard of quality?

All of these are what I look at when I decide to say yes to a project, that is optional. Sometimes we work in order to keep our bills paid. But as you gain experience and influence.

Look to how you can be more selective with what you take on.


I’m a storyteller. That involves meeting and learning about people. Creativity is nothing without an audience. And we get nowhere on our own. I make it a priority to try and either meet new people. Or reach out to people I haven’t talked to in a while.

Because life is about relationships.

Those relationships might not lead to an immediate income. But they will lead to a future opportunity. 

Not just for money. But also for learning.

And I make sure to have time to decompress. Self-care is about keeping your mind and body in top-shape. So I find time to exercise, meditate, think and (shockingly) goof off.

Some of the most celebrated artists of our time spent much of their time NOT working. To them, as it should be, it was just as important as the work itself.

Hard work and long hours can’t be avoided at all times. But we also can’t be putting on long hours and hard work all of the time. The body and mind need to rest.

But also, it’s in these times that we actually become inspired.


The most important part of running these 3 business is taking deliberate steps. None of these have to be running at full speed in short order. They each have their own method and focus that I devote time to.

My editing portfolio essentially runs itself. So I’m able to reach out to companies who might need that for a combined few hours a week.

I’m focusing a lot of time and effort on building my consultancy. So The Blended Future Project might not see a lot of updates until my personal website and workflow is in a good place. So take on what you can handle at one time.

Don’t try to boil the ocean. 

Think in terms of years for where you’re heading, not just quarters. Having ideas doesn’t mean you always have to accomplish them immediately. Part of time management is being comfortable with delayed gratification.


The last thing I will leave you with is to: 

Create a schedule.

Knowing what you have to accomplish each day and having a plan will help you get your day started off right. It incorporates all of the steps above and it’s how you can get a lot done in a little amount of time.

In fact, having a schedule enabled me to write this newsletter and all the social media for multiple platforms done in just 4 hours!

So if you’re working on a lot of different business. Remember to follow my steps:

  • Have a Second Brain
  • Build Systems
  • Build A Team
  • Manage Your Time
  • Say No
  • Connect and DeCompress
  • Schedule

This will help you get a better handle on where you’re at now. And guide you on the road ahead.

Become A Developer

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In the coming months and years, we’re going to need to know more about computers and AI to survive. I’m convinced that art is going away and only the way to survive is embrace change. So I’m here to announce my transition from filmmaker to AI prompt trainer and tech entrepreneur.


This week I’m going to talk about development in the filmmaking world. And why we should aspire to be people who develop, rather than simply produce.


We all got involved in this world to tell stories. It’s why we create what we do. In film, we hear about all the different production companies that everyone has. So it’s drilled into our psyche’s that this is what we need to aspire to create. That the ultimate version of success is having a company that produces media for a living.

I have a business coach who helped me come up with the initial concept for The Blended Future Project. And his mantra has always been:

You want a development company. Not a production company.

What is the difference?

  • A development company has an original idea that they are taking out into the market. They create ideas and work in-house that they try to sell. Ideas that they have ownership of. And that is one of the key distinctions. 
  • A production company has system in place to execute the idea of someone else. Their main function is to act as a service provider to someone else. But they have no ownership (and often no input) on the idea. 

Let’s use Apple as an example. They are the development company. They come up with the ideas for the hardware and software. Foxconn is the production company. They produce the hardware for set fee. They have no ownership of the product or any input. Their job is to take it from a concept to a creation that is sold on the market. But Apple gets the credit and the biggest reward.

Production companies also compete on price. Usually, the way a production company survives is not only on quality of work. But how much they can save the development company on their own costs. Which, in a capitalistic society like ours, makes them easily replaceable.

This isn’t to say production companies don’t have value. It’s a great starting point for getting clients and building relationships. It can keep the lights on and your bills paid while you figure out who your key audience is. But I urge all filmmakers and content creators to strive towards being in the development space.


I’ve worked for many a production company in a variety of roles. They are all striving to become development companies. They have original ideas that they want to see in front of an audience. But while they’re doing that, they are hustling to just keep the lights on. 

Production companies have staff that need to get paid. Whether full-time or freelance, these are people who get paid by the day or hour. And nothing gets out the door without meeting those costs. Just like the manufacturing plant. Your product can’t get out the door without the equipment and people to run it. Even though with technology you might be able to shrink your costs of manpower. You still have a high level of expenses to pay every month.

And the only way you can grow is by getting clients with bigger budgets. But the game is the same:

Keep your expenses low. So you can make a great living.

Some of this is part of development companies. Many of them have in-house production teams that can create the ideas that they come up with. But many of them also don’t. There are a lot of development companies that just come in with an idea and that’s where their income comes from. The value of their idea, not the ability to create it. An idea that they have ownership over.

That is the goal we should aspire to.

The way we create an impact is by telling our own stories. By having the opportunity to put our perspectives out there. And I’ve worked long enough in the entertainment industry to know this:

Waiting for permission is a fool’s game.

I see it over and over, especially one social media. Everyone is waiting for “their shot” at the big time. But that shot is never going to come if you don’t make it first. It’s one of the key mistakes that directors make in their careers. If you’re aiming to just be on set. You will essentially be auditioning to be an employee (although a high-paid one). You will get to put your twist on someone else’s product.

But in the end – they own it, not you.


At my previous job, the CEO would have monthly meetings where he would give updates on the business. In these all-hands meetings, I got to see how everything worked. One thing he said has always stuck with me:

This is why it’s important to own your own IP.

We think of IP in terms of fantasy and superheroes – Marvel and DC. But at the core, those are just recognizable brands, characters and stories. All from the imagination and perspective of the creator – Stan Lee. Like a development company, he might not have drawn all the comic books. But he created many of the ideas. That he (and how his estate) owns.

The Blended Future Project is my Intellectual Property. It’s my unique perspective and stories that I will put out into the world. And the stories of others who I collaborate with. All with the mission of giving representation for the Mixed Experience. Where everything I do, I own. And it also has the potential to grow.

So for all of you who are in the storytelling business – think big. Think of how you can create your own. What can you develop and retain ownership of? How can you use that to connect with other partners and collaborators. Remember that you are here to create an impact. Not just provide a service. 

When the acts of creation and service work hand-in-hand. That’s what makes you unstoppable.

Become someone who develops. And you’ll be that unstoppable force faster than you think.

Streamlining Your Creative Identity

Being a mixed man, I am more than just one thing. I’m Black and Latvian. I’m also American and European. This traversing of multiple worlds has also found it’s way into my creative skills and work. I have a lot of skills in a lot of different areas. A lot of other creatives I know are in the same predicament:

The world doesn’t know how to take in all that we are.

Many a creator who struggles with this issue, including myself. Recently, I realized that I was putting too much onto one of my websites.  And got some key input on how to fix it.

So this week, I’m going to share the same secret with you.


My area of expertise is the entertainment industry. If I was to list out all the skills I have, it would be something like this:

I am a storyteller, writer, creative producer, film director, video editor, website builder, entrepreneur, motion designer , colorist, coach and consultant.

Lost yet?

Now, if I tried to put this all in one place. This would elicit a few reactions:

1 – Overwhelm at the amount of options

2 – Seeing all the options, expecting to pay less for them.

And creators do work that is of a high value.

Now, I just can’t declare myself a high-end option without these 2 things:

1 – Expertise and Examples

We all have to pass the competency test. This comes through everything that we present. From our web design to social media posts to work samples. Everything we put out there should present expectations we can live up to. It all has to work as a cohesive unit.

There was a filmmaker I worked with on several projects. He had made some great work and gotten some accolades. And he was very frustrated that his career hadn’t taken off like he thought it should. He didn’t understand what was holding him back.

As we dived in, I realized he didn’t present himself as what he wanted. His website was a mess. He hadn’t bought his own domain name (a killer mistake).  The template looked like it was 20 years old. He didn’t think it was important since it was just to house his work. He thought people would see his work and just be impressed by it.

But everything we do is part of our work. Ignoring one gives off the impression of a lack of attention to details. That we work hard on certain things. But others might slip through the cracks.

2 – Specificity

After the competency test, we need to fill a specific need. Content creation is something that used to be inaccessible. When I graduated film school, just being able to make a film or video was impressive. Because the barrier to entry was high. Now it’s not, so just making great work isn’t enough. We need to present it to a specific group, i.e. an audience.

There was a production company I worked for a while back that did incredible work on all size budgets. But getting clients was always a struggle. One day I asked the owner what the company’s area of expertise was. It was defined as making beautiful work. Now, I kept my mouth shut. But I knew this wouldn’t be enough. Again – the barrier to entry is lower now. This company is no longer in business.

Now, I am not perfect in my approaches. I have been dangerously close to making both of these mistakes in my own business. And I was able to avoid it by making a phone call to receive this:


I used to think coaching was bullshit. I saw hundreds of people popping up online saying they were coaches for weird things. A gardening coach, really?

It looked like a very saturated market where anyone could give themselves the title. But I also know I can’t rely on my own perspective. I called a friend who is a producer and also a coach to get some invaluable advice.

For a while now, I’ve felt my points of entry have gone from clear to confused. When I was a freelancer, I had specific websites that pointed to specific needs. Those were:

Filmmaking (a personal website)

Editing (an editing portfolio)

After starting The Blended Future Project, I now had a blog about the mixed experience. Something I had shied away from, but now felt comfortable talking about. I wanted to tell stories and help other mixed creators. It’s what gets me excited to work on every day. But in my approach I made a key mistake:

I was adding too much into one place.

I have a lot of big goals for the company (and myself). But I was trying to cram them all into one. Which led to some confusion:

Is it a blog? A consultancy? A production company?

I had done so many things since it started.  I had added too many items to the menu. And I had gotten away from the key mission from outset:

An online media company dedicated to showcasing the mixed experience.

Through coaching, I unlocked that while I have a lot of skills. They can’t all be inside of one business. So what I really have is 3. Which, ironically, are almost identical to the 3 phases of filmmaking (pre-production, production and post-production):

  • Consulting
  • Content creation
  • Post-production

So instead of one business, I have 3. The key element here is that the businesses are all linked. Because they are all a part of me. And if you go to my website, you can see how I’ve broken this down. You can see what you’re looking for and choose how we can work together.

There might be multiple websites and businesses. But I have one creative identity.

And the lesson for everyone here is to think of yourself and your career the same way. You don’t have to be just one thing to everyone. But you have to present one part of yourself at a time, to someone.


Now, having 3 businesses might be great. But also, from the outside, sounds like an INSANE amount of work. But these aren’t jobs that I have all hours of the day. These are just systems that I’m building. And there are some key ways I manage my time.

Task Ranking

Time Blocking

Team Building

Which I’ll dive into in later writings.

As creators, we have stories that we want to tell. But we also have to communicate our own story first – simply and efficiently. We need our audiences to understand who we are and what we bring to the table. That’s the way we build connections and get to create what really matters.

Build Your Own Table


The creative industries are currently experiencing a significant upheaval. For decades, we have fought tirelessly for greater representation in storytelling, advocating for narratives that reflect the true diversity of our changing world. However, the rise of AI and the dominance of large companies are gradually diminishing our opportunities to showcase our stories. As these big companies regress, they are ignoring the demands of the wider audience.

But there is an opportunity for individual creators like us to forge a new path. In this week’s newsletter, I will demonstrate how we can seize this opportunity and build our own platforms. We don’t necessarily need a seat at the big table.

We have the power to create our own.


We have been conditioned to believe that success in the creative field is akin to winning a beauty pageant. We must create a remarkable piece of work and hope to be selected. Someone with the resources and means to present our work to the greater public. Which means we finally get the chance to tell the stories we desire.

This model harks back to an era that excluded the voices of diverse creators. Being “picked” now often means creating stories that cater to someone else’s preferences. While using the limited time and resources we have to make work that truly matters to us. As someone who has worked in the film industry for years, I understand this struggle firsthand. My multitude of short films let to work that paid the bills, Work that  did little to nourish my soul.

However, I have come to realize that there is another way—a way that allows us to create our own resources, networks, and meaningful work.

All it takes is building a community.


Like the myth of getting discovered. There’s also another that we need to have thousands of followers and fans to have an impact. The truth is the opposite,

Less is more.

While having a large audience is important. What is more important is having people who are passionate about you and the work you make. The biggest joy I get from the work I do, whether the films I make or writing this newsletter is the interactions. When I get to meet new people and hear their stories.

It’s by making those connections that you really start to have an impact. It’s how you build a supportive network that is mutually beneficial. What’s lost in how we use social media is by being social. We have the ability to talk to whoever we think is like us, or will understand who we are. And we can begin a conversation in a matter of seconds. If you repeat this then your audience and reach will grow.

And this is how you begin to create an income.


Let’s face facts – everyone needs money. A starving artist isn’t an impactful one.

Money is an exchange of value for something that helps someone save time or enhance their life. For the longest time, I was focused on how the films I made could make money. But what I realized was the work is not how I built an income – I was.

Here’s a dirty little secret about influencers and YouTube stars, they make very little money for their videos themselves. Brand deals and the ads you see are constantly in flux, and are ultimately out of their control. They are not dependable sources of income. But what is dependable is something you can produce.

If you can use the skills you’ve learned through your work, you can make money. Or if you can teach someone how to gain those skills. That’s even better. As you are helping someone along the way. Someone you may end up collaborating with in the future. Which helps create that bigger change we all want to see.

I know that every person who can express themselves creatively can build an income. It just takes some reprogramming:

Embrace different formats. Show the process of how you made it. Share the lessons you learned from it. All of these are valuable ways to not only make money. But also give people the knowledge we’re all seeking. Art is a manual for life. So create as much of it as possible. And use is to be a guide for someone.

They’ll reward you with the ability to just create more

The Right Way to Build a Creative Portfolio

As creators, we are deeply passionate about our craft. However, it’s easy to fall into misconceptions when it comes to our portfolios. Having gone through numerous revisions of my own portfolio, I’ve learned a few key steps that everyone should consider.

So let’s take a closer look at how to approach your portfolio effectively:

Quality Over Quantity

In the beginning, it’s important to focus on quantity as you start building your body of work. However, as you progress, the emphasis should shift to quality. It’s easy to believe that a large portfolio with numerous projects is more important, but it’s crucial to remember that showcasing a few exceptional pieces is more effective. Prioritize quality over quantity to make a stronger impact.


Once you have a body of quality work, it’s time to hone in on what you want to be known for. While versatility is valuable, a focused portfolio can make you more attractive to potential clients or employers. Instead of including projects from various genres or styles, curate a portfolio that reflects a clear artistic vision or specific niche. This showcases your expertise and helps attract the right opportunities.

Curate Your Audience

It’s easy to overlook the intended audience for our portfolios. However, each project should be tailored to resonate with the people you want to impress. For example, including romantic comedies in a portfolio aimed at the horror genre might dilute your message and confuse potential collaborators. Understanding your target audience helps present relevant and compelling work, giving you an edge in the market.


Your portfolio should be more than just a collection of work; it should tell a compelling story about who you are and the kind of work you do. Consider what you want people to know about you and how your portfolio can take them on a journey to learn more. While technical skills are essential, striking a balance and highlighting your storytelling abilities are fundamental aspects of being a creator.

Update and Adapt

Regularly review your portfolio to ensure it aligns with the kind of work you want to pursue. Remove anything that doesn’t showcase your desired direction and use it as an opportunity to assess if you’re heading in the right direction. Revising and refreshing your portfolio is vital to showcase your growth and keep it relevant to your current abilities.


A great portfolio is a true reflection of your skills, vision, and artistic voice. By approaching it with the right mindset and following these steps, you can greatly enhance its impact and secure future opportunities. Remember to prioritize quality, focus on your desired direction, curate for your intended audience, emphasize storytelling, and regularly update your portfolio. With these considerations in mind, your portfolio will become a powerful tool for showcasing your talent and attracting the opportunities you seek.

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Forced Into Filmmaking

From cleaning houses to making films: hitting rock bottom pushed me to realize my dream.

Life can be unpredictable. One moment, you might be doing just fine, and the next, everything can turn upside down. That’s what happened to me. After I got married, I found myself struggling to find work. Even with years of experience in the entertainment industry in Chicago. There wasn’t a job I could find in Los Angeles. So sadly, I landed one cleaning houses. It wasn’t the most glamorous job, but it put food on the table and a roof over my head.

One aftertoon while I was cleaning a bathtub, I sprayed cleaner against the wall. I took a breath and accidentally inhaled some fumes. So I rushed home to recover. As I sat on my bed struggling to breathe, I realized that I needed to make a change. Especially considering that I was fired from that job a week later.

Photo by Ashwini Chaudhary(Monty) on Unsplash

A Lifelong Dream

For as long as I can remember, narrative and storytelling had held a special place in my heart. I was fascinated by the power of crafting a story, building characters, and taking audiences on a journey. So, I decided to take a leap of faith and actual begin filmmaking.

The last film I had made was in film school. At that point, almost a decade prior. But I needed to start creating. Just a couple of months later, I made part of my first big short film. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a start, and it opened up new opportunities for me. 

My first attempt was both a failure and a success. I never completed the film. Because the budget was too big. But I found new collaborators to work with. I made more films with them that found their way into festivals big and small. I learned how to direct, edit, and produce films, which helped me generate freelance income.

Finding Opportunity

Over time, I continued to develop new skills, create new work, and network with other filmmakers. It wasn’t easy, but it led me to a place of greater confidence and stability in my life. I realized that I was capable of achieving my dreams if I was willing to put in the work and stay dedicated to my craft.

Looking back, I realize that hitting rock bottom was a blessing in disguise. It forced me to reevaluate my life and pursue what truly mattered to me. I had to face my fears and doubts, but in doing so, I found my true calling.

My advice to anyone who is struggling is this: Just start doing it. Take the leap, show up, be humble, and keep learning. You’ll be amazed at how far you can go when you pursue your passion with dedication and perseverance. It won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it. So don’t give up, keep pushing forward, and never lose sight of your dreams.

The Lottery Myth

There is a myth every filmmaker was told to believe at the start of our career:

That is we just make the right film. Then Hollywood would come find it. And they would give us the resources in order to make whatever we imagined. Now for some, this might be true. There are people who do indeed make a great film and the door is swung wide open for them. However, that is almost like winning the lottery.

And you can’t build a career on buying bingo tickets.

There is a version of success for every filmmaker who commits themselves to building a body of work. Once you realize that the cavalry isn’t coming. You start to find ways to create your own version of success. For some of us, that might lead to working on big budget films on studio lots and flying all over the world. For others, it might mean having a small but sustainable following that allows us to make the work we find impactful.

The insidious part about the myth is that it makes us waste our most valuable resource – our time. It makes us create with the goal of wishing and waiting. Instead of the goal of creating and connecting. It takes the power away from us. And gives it to someone else who’s in charge of making our dreams come true.

While making a film is an expensive and time-consuming endeavor. It doesn’t have to be a soul-burning one. And I’ve found the best way to make films for the right reasons – to tell great stories and create an impact for your audience.