Real-Life Lessons from Behind the Camera

  • Categories:

    Inspiration, Television and Video

  • Date:

    October 17, 2017

Real-Life Lessons from Behind the Camera

Inspiration Television and Video

This fall, I became creative director of motion at Wray Ward, inheriting an award-winning video production team. I spent some time with this group as a consultant in 2015, and I couldn’t be happier to call the agency home for good.

It’s been a real journey to get here. In fact, ‘here’ isn’t really a single place or event — it’s the culmination of every experience I’ve lived since high school. Along the way, I’ve worked as an actor, sold real estate, founded a production company, interviewed presidents and governors, and made and sold feature-length films.

Here’s a little more about me, from lessons I’ve learned to values I bring to the motion team at Wray Ward.

I love what I do.

I’ve believed it’s important for people to embrace their dreams ever since I was a teenager living in Columbia, South Carolina.

When I was 17, a friend and I decided to make movies … even though we were young, inexperienced and living in the wrong part of the country. Luckily for us, this was the 1990s, before the film boom, meaning it was still really easy to win awards. Winning awards gave us the confidence to keep going, and I never looked back.

Early on, I didn’t just look up to filmmakers — I surrounded myself with them. I knew that if I wanted my crazy dream to succeed, I had to learn from the wins and losses of the best in the business.

I also had to be willing to work behind the scenes to build credibility. For a long time, I was still the South Carolina kid clinging to the bottom of the industry ladder. I had to be comfortable working far from the spotlight. I had to accept that I might not always get the credit for work I produced. But I quietly built a reputation for knowing what I was doing.

Later, I did the same thing when I broke into advertising. Sometimes, I worked for 24 or more consecutive hours; such is the life of a freelance commercial director. But it paid off: I blinked, and suddenly I was working with really important people. Some days, there were jobs I’d do just for the plane ticket. The sheer joy of creation fueled me. I felt lucky to get paid (sometimes) doing what I loved, and I still do.

Today, I still look at my work with the perspective that I get to do something magical for a living — and at the end of the day, I end up with a pretty cool commercial or spec spot or film.

I put the team first.

My philosophy today is pretty simple: head, heart and hands. I live by it. It influences every decision I make for my clients and my team.

I’ve always known that if I want to achieve my own goals, I need a great team. Even if that means surrounding myself with people who are more talented than me. And whether I have an eye for talent or a knack for being in the right place at the right time, I’ve consistently been lucky to work with people who are really skilled at their craft.

But I also understand that if I really want to succeed, I have to know how to harness great creative talent. Nobody cares how talented I am; they want me to be the kind of person they want to lead them. I see myself as an outgoing, fun kind of guy who places a high value on the unique qualities his teammates bring to the table. People rally around an attitude like that, and it’s helped me bring out the best in some of the most gifted people in this industry.

I couldn’t be more excited about the next chapter.

Great creative talent is exactly why I’m so excited to be an official member of the Motion team at Wray Ward. It’s not just an agency department, it’s a roster of world-class artists changing the way we tell stories onscreen.

In advertising, we experience filmmaking on a micro level. Filmmakers might spend a whole year on a single project. That translates to about 40 stories in a 40-year career. But in advertising, we can do that in a month. Wray Ward might shoot one story on Tuesday and a different story in a completely different genre on Thursday. It’s an effective model in a world where the rules of content — what’s produced, who produces it and how it reaches its audience — are changing.

At Wray Ward, our unique model results in work that’s both beautiful and effective in a consistent, cost-conscious way. The creative product is deeply rooted in the insights and data coming out of our other agency departments. We also hire talented filmmakers who can tackle multiple genres. This eliminates the extra work and expense of searching for individuals who specialize in one thing — and repeating that process for every project. It ensures clients will always be supported by a team of experts that is used to working together. And as an artist, I believe flipping from comedy to action to drama to beautiful product silhouettes in a given week is a unique, exciting challenge that only makes success more fulfilling.

Moving forward, I hope my own creative and management experience will help take work that is already really solid to a whole new level. I’m humbled and honored to lead the team at Wray Ward, and I can’t wait to see what kind of magic we make next.

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