Category: Creator Advice

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.