The Next Level
By Andre´ Joseph
No path is easy in the pursuit of a dream career. When it comes to the entertainment business; however, there are no guarantees of financial comfort. This era of YouTube, Vine, Facebook, and any other outlet for displaying motion picture work to the masses has opened up doors that seemed so hard to open a decade ago. More competitive now than it has ever been.
To be in such a spot where I’ve devoted my life and career to moviemaking, I have had my dark lows and my humble highs. It is still an ongoing rollercoaster of a ride. No successful project has been made without personal and professional conflicts, financial setbacks, or self-doubts. I’ve learned from the times when people tried to steal my vision or were not present when my projects needed the most help for exposure. Even as of today, it is hard to tackle such ambitious work when some people around me will not go the extra mile to help because “it’s not their problem.”
So why keep pursuing your dream career when the odds are stacked against your success? Why go after something impossible as opposed to settling for a quick paycheck job? In an interview that my mom once shared with me from Success Magazine, the Oscar winning actor Michael Douglas said, “When there’s a good wind behind you, sailing is a breeze. But how you conduct yourself during the difficult times is what’s really important. That’s what separates people.” I’m not afraid to admit my failures in the classroom as a kid, lack of success with women, the number of jobs where I was not hired, or the 70 plus times my movies were rejected by film festivals. Yet, it was the experience those failures and building a more firm backbone that defined who I am as a man once I achieved any level of success.
To be very honest, my first three relatively ambitious feature films did not go as far as I wanted because I relied too much on what other people thought. They did not spend those restless nights writing the script and worrying about actor schedules, how they were going to pay the crew, or how to release it properly. When I decided to do the short film Night Stream, I felt alone in the struggle to bring a technically simple but emotionally complicated story to life. Money was tight, crew members dropped out after three days, and even one actor chose to walk off set for no explanation. Part of me wanted to throw my hands up and cry off to bed. But I listened to my heart and I kept on going. The inner strength to stay focused led to two film festival acceptances, four award nominations, and one win for my co-star Reginald L. Barnes. His victory was a win for the entire film.
Night Stream set the gung-ho tone for my next two shorts, Tempted and The Dinner. Though both films were nowhere near as difficult to make, they still presented their individual challenges and eventually led to even bigger film festival acceptances to places like the Garden State Film Festival and the Hoboken International Film Festival. Again, they would not be possible had I not built up courage to make them because of their challenges.
Of course no success can be achieved through individual effort. Anyone can have the inner will to achieve success if they set a goal. But we all need the extra help and to find ways to give back. I have been blessed to have worked with many talented actors and crew in the 8 years I’ve been making movies professionally. At the same time, I’m proud of my ability to support other people’s dreams like shooting event videos for the website of Amelia Meloni’s Vintage NYC Magazine; working as a cinematographer for Jim Harkins’ first feature film Leo John Ain’t Dead No More; shooting youth crime prevention videos for Dr. Robert Goldman’s T.A.S.T.E. and Tikkun Long Island programs; directing a Casablanca-style music video for the incredibly talented singer Tina Siciliano; and the list goes on. I believe in what they do and I try my very best to bring the passion I have in my work to support their dreams and goals. Sometimes I wish the companies I would send my resume to would see that.
In the end, failures and successes come hand and hand. Without failure and rejection, there would be no motivation to go after success. I used to be that overlooked kid in the school who was sensitive about every challenge both academically and socially. Now I understand why I had to endure those hard times. Why I’ve been prepared for the challenges I currently face with creating my work, finding work, and finding true love. It was about becoming an effective leader. I’m not quite where I want to be. But I’m damn sure going to do everything in my power to get there. If you’re reading this wherever you are in life, I hope these words can inspire you to do the same for your dream.