I’ve spent the last 30 odd years living in, around, and near the illusion that is known as Hollywood. I have more stories that I can’t tell, about people I shouldn’t know or, never even wanted to know, than I care to reflect on. Whatever you imagine about the insanity of Tinseltown, multiply it by the square root of psychosis added to the area of a sector of surrealism and you’ll have a really good understanding of why they call this town “Hollyweird.”
Oops… I apologize. I’ve digressed.
To the world, it is known as “The Entertainment Industry.” Locals and insiders refer to it simply as “The Industry.” Why am I telling you all of this? I’ve been comfortably ensconced in my small but rewarding world of holistic storytelling. I’ve been in/out of “The Industry” working in various capacities, but my love of storytelling was what helped me maintain balance. I love the relationships I’ve been able to build over the decades from simply sitting with others and sharing music, stories and conversations of depth.
A couple of months ago I received a phone call from someone in “The Industry” whom I respect. A man who feels more like a brother to me than a friend. I’ve known him for years and have followed his successes in “The Industry” with pride. He is a master at what he does, making music. I’ve watched him navigate a recording studio with fascination and awe. He is a storyteller in his own right, of his own craft.
The call went something like this:
Friend: “Hey Baba how you been man!”
Me: “I’ve been doing really well. I love my work and life. What more could a man ask for?
Friend: “Well listen I’m calling you about business.”
Now in Hollywood, when someone calls you about “business” it is appropriate to pause, hold your breath for a few minutes and ponder the fate of humanity, or your own immortality (just joking). Seriously, talking business in Hollywood could mean anything from “my pet orangutan just died” to “I’ve been given 30 million dollars to make a low budget film.”
So you see why a bit of trepidation is in order?
Me: “You got my attention… I’m listening.”
Friend: “I just finished a song that I’m really proud of. I want you to direct the music video for it.”
Me (dumbfounded): “What?”
Friend (hyped): “Yeah man! You know storytelling in a way that most of these people out here only claim to know! I want your skill set and signature all over this project!”
Now what you’ve got to understand is that this offer came to me completely out of left field. Yes, I’ve done a lot of work in front of and behind the camera, in the editing room, research, etc. but the thought of “directing” a music video never entered my mind. The problem with being familiar with, and knowing, “The Industry” is being acutely aware of what things cost and what it takes to complete projects of this magnitude. You could call this awareness “a curse of consciousness.” Knowing will keep you from doing many things whereas ignorance has no filter.
After talking with my friend for a few minutes longer I let him know that I’d have to think about it.
When we hung up. I began thinking about the impossibility of the project that he laid it out to me. I pondered the insanity in attempting to create something with limited, well… almost zero resources. I knew that only a crazy person would take on such a task. It would be absolute stupidity for me to risk a reputation of professionalism and dedication to craft that I’ve built up over the years.
Yep… you guessed it. I called him right back and said I’d do it.
I’ve been heavily steeped in the craft of storytelling more than 20 years. I’ve been touring professionally since 1994. There is something uncomfortable to me about becoming too comfortable in one’s art form. Call me crazy but I thrive on the awkwardness of mastering something unfamiliar or new.
I consented because of the challenge of applying my knowledge of storytelling to a different medium.
I plan on journaling a little more about this experience in the coming weeks.
This is one of those leaps of faith that will either lead to greater appreciation and understanding of my craft as a storyteller, or epic failure the likes of which I haven’t experienced since the clumsiness of my youth. I’m a bit prone to hyperbole but I think you understand what I’m trying to communicate.