This blog chronicles my experience making my first short film, Path of Dreams. My hope is that by reading about my journey and witnessing my challenges and successes that you are able to find insight and inspiration into how one can create with limited resources, and that you too are able to find your way along your path of dreams.
The film that my mentor was working on was at the end of shooting when I got involved. My mentor said that I could come onboard as a PA (Production Assistant) and work my way up. “What I Meant to Tell You: An American Poet’s State of the Union” is a documentary about political poet Peter Kane Dufault.
There was a celebrity attached to the film, “Mr. B”, who had studied with Peter Kane Dufault as a youth and had fallen in love with poetry. Mr. B produced and participated in the film because he knew that it would celebrate poetry and the voice of Peter Kane Dufault.
In the fall of 2009, I drove up to the Berkshires in Massachusetts for a weekend of shooting the last conversation for the film between Peter Kane Dufault and Mr. B, poet to poet. Since I was in charge of getting Mr. B to set on Sunday, my mentor invited me to dinner so I could meet everyone. I arrived at the restaurant, asked for the Mr. B party, and was seated in between Mr. B and my mentor. Also seated at the table was the head of the Berkshire International Film Festival and the director of the film. Ignoring the stares from the other restaurant patrons, I sat down and introduced myself. I felt very welcomed at the table that night and knew that it was only the beginning.
The next morning I found Mr. B finishing his breakfast near his hotel at a quaint small-town café. When he had finished and paid, I led him in his car to set in the set in the mountains. There, amongst the trees and birds, we shot Mr. B and Peter Kane Dufault as they reminisced about the old days, politics, and their love of poetry. I knew that I would never forget this experience and tried to savor every moment.
After the shoot, I offered to help with the postproduction in any way that I could. My mentor asked me to help with various tasks including finding public domain photos, checking on the rights of specific bird footage, and obtaining other pictures of the poet’s earlier days. Once all was said and done, I had graduated to Research Assistant and finally Production Coordinator.
The documentary premiered at the Berkshire International Film Festival in 2010.
Even though there is no “one path” to becoming a director, it’s good to know that there are many paths. While I will create my own path, it still helps to learn how others have achieved success. You never know where knowledge will lead!
When I was about to graduate with my MFA in Directing, I knew that my professional niche might be in film. Where to begin? Start networking of course!
I asked my friends and family if they had any contacts for me. My mother worked at a school in Massachusetts at the time, and through her work knew a man who worked as a producer. My mother told this producer about me and arranged for me to have coffee with him.
We met one Saturday in May up in the Berkshires. I told him about living in Japan, backpacking in China and Tibet, falling in love with the work of Velina Hasu Houston, and wanting to share Houston’s universal stories with the world through film. This producer, now my mentor, appreciated that I had traveled so much and agreed that I had found my niche. He suggested that I work towards being a producer on a film, starting at the bottom of course, and add that skill to directing.
My mentor had a film planned and invited me onboard. I was thrilled with the chance to prove myself.