What I Would Teach 18 Year Old Filmmaker Me

Over the next few days, I will be writing a confession:

How I fucked up as an independent filmmaker.

Why I fucked up.

And how I'm building a solid foundation
from rock bottom.

Read on if you’d like to learn from two decades of street-level punk-rock experience.

I was an extremely idealistic artist when I was 18.

Looking back, I can see that I was trying to make movies & shape myself into a better person while struggling through the thickening quicksand of generational poverty.

Because of this complex soup of thoughts and emotions, I clung to certain beliefs which, in the long run, may have laid the groundwork for an exciting aesthetic, but in the immediate proved to be financially & spiritually disastrous.

If you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, honestly, congratulations.

We all deserve to be.

Wealth is the main reason for significant cultural works, no matter what the radical anarchists say.

But if you grew up among the lower classes, you will find yourself stuck with certain mental attitudes that will prevent you from flowering into a beautiful, important filmmaker.

J.J. Abrams and Joss Whedon were bred to succeed.

Abrams and Whedon have done little to maintain fame
because they're company men born into the company.

Do you really believe little Joss would've stood a chance
growing up in an impoverished lower class Miami household?

If Mommy Abrams reminded him every day what a piece of shit he was, think he'd be directing Star Wars?


Their success is entirely based on luck, folks.

You have the advantage because you're made of solid stuff.

Nobody owns you.

You own yourself.

You have grit, street smarts, your heart is in the right place, and you are cool...

Now... The trick is DEPROGRAMMING. 

How do we deprogram decades of shit parenting / education / self-talk?

I'm still figuring that one out, actually.

I grew up on the streets.

I made movies every day since I was 8 years old.

My immigrant family tried everything they could to stop me because they worried their first generation son wasn't going to pay their way into retirement - my public education tried to shut down my creativity & turn me into an obedient slave (but luckily one teacher saved me) - the media & advertising reinforced all of these messages - and then one day I found myself in my mid 20's, biting my nails, neurotic, my own enemy, wondering why am I still struggling?

People say don't blame anybody but yourself.

Lies, lies, lies.

The family we're born into,
our original socio-economic class,
the education we're given,
the times we live under,
the city we grow up in...

All of these over-determine the person you become.

It's okay to blame everybody except yourself...

...for a short while.


So at this point I really only have one thing to offer you:

Two decades of filmmaking experimentation
filled with thrills & spills.

Join me, will you?

As I go back in time & teach 18 year old me the things I wish I knew then about filmmaking...

Filmmaking Myth #1: “I’m just a kid making movies. Nobody’s going to take me seriously.”

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