In the summer of 2008 I had just graduated from a prestigious (that’s a fancy word for expensive) private college with a degree in Theatre Arts and I had a job! I was a ride operator at an amusement park. A carny. During every break I could get I ran to the nearby bookstore and read two books to remind me what I was supposed to be doing: Making Movies by Sidney Lumet and The 4 Hour Workweek: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join The New Rich by Tim Ferriss. I recommend both.
The latter of the two is essentially about doing things you love doing more often than doing things you hate. Spending more time making movies and less time saying, “Keep your arms and legs inside the ride at all times,” is just one example that comes to mind. By the time I was finished with both books I was pumped to make my first movie!
A documentary called, “Audition Secrets” which currently has a Kickstarter campaign. If you are any good at math you will realize that I got the idea for this documentary in 2008 and it is now 2013. That’s five years! Bonus points if you got that answer without my help.
So, what took so long? What stopped me? One word. Fear.
Who would be interested in this subject and who was I to give people advice about successful auditions in Minneapolis? I wasn’t a successful actor. I wasn’t a successful anything! I was spending my days explaining to parents why their crying, fat, stupid child couldn’t ride the bumper cars!
I had a lot of experience in the theatre, but no clout. I needed to interview people who were experts on the subject of theatre auditions.
So, I quit my job! Not a good idea. Financial crisis, yada, yada, yada. I ended up at a plethora of other jobs “to make ends meet” that, if listed here, would bore the crap out of you. Finally, in 2011, after one of Minnesota’s notorious winters, I left the country to teach English in Korea and finally got a paycheck that I did not find insulting.
That’s me on the boarder of North and South Korea, bungee-jumping while trying not to get shot. As you can see, Kickstarter is not the first time I’ve taken a risk.
In Korea, I was still preparing for the documentary, and when I returned to the US, I had enough money to shoot the movie while not having to worry about bills at the same time! This is what we in the biz refer to as “a rarity.”
Everything was in place… except I was still afraid. Even though I had bungee-jumped, I was still afraid making a movie! What gives? These dark thoughts kept running through my head. What if I ask the interview subjects and they say, “Who the hell are you? Why would I talk to YOU?” Maybe they wouldn’t like the idea. Maybe NOBODY would think it was a good idea! Maybe… I was the only one.
With this paralyzing mindset, I was wide awake one night and who should come on TV, but Tony Robbins…Mr. Motivation, himself. I decided to forget all my preconceived notions of Robbins and I watched and listened to him as if for the first time.
It was exactly what I needed at that moment. Robbins truly is a wealth of motivation, but one simple thing really resonated with me. He talked a lot about risk and reward. When most people take a risk, their first thought is, “But what if it doesn’t work?” When their first thought could be, “What if it does?”
You can think about the downside. But you shouldn’t think dwell on it; you should dwell on the upside. The whole time I had been hesitating, I had been thinking about the nightmare situation. What if this doesn’t work? What if nobody likes it? What if nobody wants it? On and on… until December 2012. I decided to make a resolution and just went for it! What if it goes right?
So, I used an e-mail template written by Ramit Sethi to pitch my documentary to all the interview subjects. I started with people with whom I had the closest relationship and branched out to the Tony-award-winning complete strangers. Here’s the coolest part:
THEY ALL SAID YES!
Most of them were more excited about the documentary than I was. So, now I had interview subjects, but no documentary experience. I picked up an invaluable book called How To Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck by Steve Stockman because, well, I didn’t want my video to suck. Then, I asked friends for equipment and help…and they all said yes. Going from having no interview subjects to having all the interviews shot took less than 3 months.
Let’s recap. How did I get to this point?
I got an idea.
I told people about the idea.
I asked people to help and they did.
I shot the movie and now it’s on Kickstarter.
So, if I can leave with one thing it would be this: What if it does?
Maybe my film won’t get funded on Kickstarter… What if it does?
Maybe you won’t go to my Kickstarter page and donate to my documentary… What if you do?
Maybe no one will like that script you’re working on… What if they do?
Maybe Brad Pitt won’t agree to be in your movie. What if he does?
Maybe your career won’t sky rocket into the stratosphere…
What if it does?
Cole Walsh is an actor, writer, director, composer and musician whose work has been seen all over the world. He now lives in Los Angeles and persists mainly on grit and ramen noodles.