A Deathbed Perspective on the Business of Art


linds-reddingLinds Redding died of inoperable espohageal cancer. He was an art director who worked at BBDO and Saatchi & Saatchi. Linds kept a blog and one of the last pieces he wrote before he died, “A Short Lesson in Perspective,” explores his final frame of mind on the ad business and how many of us choose to live our lives and approach our art. It is a devastating and scathing piece. And desperately worth the read, I think.

With over 20 years under my belt in the commercial casting business, I’ve worked a lot with the folks from BBDO and Saatchi & Saatchi. May have even worked with Linds. I think what he discovered at the end of his life is considerable and noteworthy. Particularly while living in any Capitalist society. Not that Capitalism is all bad, but it does promote a state of mind that can be –how shall I say this — a tad misleading. Our goals and definitions of success are oftentimes out of sync with the greater elements and offerings of the human experience. It’s one of the main reasons I have such a hard time with the Hollywood mindset surrounding film and filmmaking. I think it almost entirely misses the point. At the same time, it has its own alluring gravitational pull that is hard to break free of. Lord knows I’m still struggling with it.

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A Deathbed Perspective on the Business of Art

Fearing Atheism


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Ironically, hearing Stephen Fry publicly articulate my very thoughts in his response to Irish TV presenter Gay Byrne’s question: “What would you say if you came face-to-face with God?” on Byrne’s show THE MEANING OF LIFE, gave me immense hope for the future. It’s
folks like Rev Ian McNie who accused Fry of “spiritual blindness” that persuade me to feel any sense of pessimism about the future of mankind.

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Fearing Atheism

Favorite Quotes: Chasing Success & The Wisdom of Viktor Frankl


Viktor-Frankl-shows-us-why-we-should-believe-in-othersI have finally begun reading Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search For Meaning. It has been recommended to me for years and I’m just now catching up to those recommendations (my therapist was the most recent and final impetus). Good thing I did, too. I hadn’t even gotten through the Preface when I was presented with a quote I will remember and attempt to incorporate into my life:

“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it”   ― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Favorite Quotes: Chasing Success & The Wisdom of Viktor Frankl

Favorite Quotes: Martin Scorsese On The Uncomfortable Landscape Of Great Films


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In a recent review of John Ford’s classic film The Searchers for The Hollywood Reporter, Martin Scorsese discusses why he believes (as so many do) that The Searchers is not just a great western, but a great film. Quite possibly one of cinema’s greatest films. Throughout his review of this classic, as well as Glenn Frankel’s new book The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend, Scorsese explores what makes a film like stand out from so many others. And part of that story takes into account the film’s backstory and the many characters –Ford, Wayne, Hunter, Archuletta, Steiner– that came together both personally and professionally to create this moment in time.

What resonated most with me from Scorsese’s article, however, was his description of the film:

“Like all great works of art, it’s uncomfortable.”

As someone who is rabid about exploring –both as a filmmaker and a film-viewer– those areas that worm their way under my skin and stir those places oft left in darkness or unspoken, this description resonated in a way that helped articulate and validate many of the feelings and experiences I’ve been having on my own creative journey. I yearn to embrace those parts of my psyche that thrive more in my subconscious than on the surface. That is, until I either face them in my writing and filmmaking or in the taking-in of someone else’s exploratory work.

Later in the same article, Scorsese elaborates on his perception and interpretation of what constitutes a great film. And I wholeheartedly concur:

“In truly great films — the ones that people need to make, the ones that start speaking through them, the ones that keep moving into territory that is more and more unfathomable and uncomfortable — nothing’s ever simple or neatly resolved. You’re left with a mystery.” 

This describes most of my favorite films, as well as what I strive to achieve –in some small, personal way– in my writing and filmmaking. Ironically enough, these are also the very same qualities that many others have focused on in their negative criticisms of both my favorite films and my own attempts at self-reflection and self-expression via my writing.

But the exploration of these uncomfortable places and the mysteries they leave behind have always been, and will remain, what drives me.

Favorite Quotes: Martin Scorsese On The Uncomfortable Landscape Of Great Films

Favorite Quotes: Martha Graham & The Quickening Of Unique Expression


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“There is a vitality,  a life force,  an energy,  a quickening that is translated through you into action,  and because there is only one of you in all time,  this expression is unique. And if you block it,  it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” ― Martha Graham

I found this quote on Allison Iris’s web site showcasing her incredible abstract paintings. The quote resonated for me. Enough so that I wanted to repost it here. Martha Graham’s observation embodies my approach to filmmaking, one that has taken me many years and many trials and tribulations to begin to understand. It is why I am now wholly committed to making “my” films, the way I want to make them, and not playing by anybody else’s rules. This is not to be stubborn or to be a rebel, but to honor myself and what it is I want to say and what the experience is I want to impart. Accepted or rejected, it will be the truest sense of who I am. This has always been the goal for me. However, I am only now coming to understand its great importance to me and the sacrifices that attaining such a goal entails.

Unique expression –and the undisguised vulnerability that inevitably comes with it– is one of the main things I focus on in my Acting Workshops. Each actor –each artist– has the ability to create and express something wholly personal, something no one else ever could in quite the same way. It is what separates us from all others in the audition room. This form of expression is our most personal gift and –though it sometimes requires as much un-learning as it does learning– our greatest strengths rise to the surface when we embrace it.

“…if you block it,  it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.”

Favorite Quotes: Martha Graham & The Quickening Of Unique Expression