DERRICK Interview with Blind Filmmaker Michael Schwartz

November 11, 2016

michaelschwartzEncouragement Speaker Derrick Hayes gives a DERRICK Interview by asking 7 questions through each letter of his first name to give you an insightful perspective from other experts, entrepreneurs, celebrities and up and coming super stars.

Today’s DERRICK Interview is with Michael Schwartz who is a legally blind filmmaker and owner of Trailhead Productions brings fifteen years of experience in television news and production to the table, and you’ll see what that means all along the way. An award winning reporter, Michael knows television and works for you with the same dedication and ideals valued by the best in the business.   “We’re the storytellers, not the story.”  That means that at Trailhead, we never forget that you and your dreams are the stars of the show.

D is for Dream. What is your dream, goals or what have you achieved?

I’m a big believer in breaking through boundaries. Although I’ve been gradually losing my eyesight since I was thirteen years old, my dream was to pursue a career in visual storytelling, and I’ve never taken “no” for an answer. Through a career as a broadcast reporter and photographer, and now as a documentary filmmaker, I’ve seen firsthand that it’s possible to merge the worlds of visual storytelling and visual impairment. From my first job all the way through my current film. Following my own passions, though, cannot and should not be the end of the story. My dream is to change perceptions, raise expectations and make a difference in the world of inclusion for people with disabilities.

E is for Education. What is your educational background and how do you use it daily?

I went to the University of Missouri School of Journalism. What I loved so much about my education there is that no matter what your specific goals were, you had to learn everything about the business. It wasn’t good enough to want to be just an anchor, or a reporter, or a photographer, or any of the other jobs in journalism. You had to learn it all, and I had so many opportunities to learn skills that have benefited me throughout my career as a storyteller. Understanding what makes up a good picture, learning how to tell a concise story, understanding how to combine dozens of stories to build a newscast that makes sense… it’s all about crafting stories that make a difference.

R is for Resource. What resources do you bring to the table that makes you unique or stand out?

The first resource actually doesn’t have anything to do with tools of the trade. It has to do with drive and resilience. The fact of the matter is that if you’re going to be a visual storyteller who’s visually impaired, there has to be an inner belief in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, nothing else matters.

I also rely on the twin pillars of of communication and partnership. While it’s easy to talk about the mechanics of how I do my job – working with the spatial and acoustic dynamics of an environment or a set to frame a shot, or shooting on a 4K camera to edit in a 1080 timeline, or not thinking of color itself as much as color profiles to use waveforms and vectorscopes to craft the mood and design of a shot, these are all just that” mechanics. They explain how do my job, but not why I do my job. I do my job because I get to work with a team of creative professions who share a creative vision. It’s what gets me up every morning in search of great stories to tell.

R is for Ready. When did you realize you were ready for what you are doing now?

I think the key to realizing your dreams is that you shouldn’t wait until you feel you’re 100% ready. The truth is that day may never come. There will always be at least one unanswered question, one skill you could hone a little more, one step you may feel you’re not ready to take yet. Life is about leaps of faith. When I set out to start my own business, one based on a risky proposition and an uncertain outcome – staring a video production company even though I’m visually impaired – the one thing I had was a belief that I could succeed. Yes, you start a venture with as many resources as you can muster and your prepare as much as you can, but success is based on action, and action requires at least a certain amount of faith in yourself. Really, I knew I was ready because I believed in myself.

I is for Individual. Name at least one individual in your network that others should learn more about and why?

I can’t speak highly enough of my colleague and friend Maxwell Ivey. Max calls himself the Blind Blogger, but his life is about so much more than his blindness. It’s about always seeking self-improvement, expanding horizons and making a difference. Max knows how to start with a dream, use the resources he’s developed over the course of a lifetime of finding unique solutions to difficult challenges, learning new skills to help him achieve his goals and always looking to the future.

C is for Challenges. What challenges have you had to overcome?

I believe that the challenge anyone with a dream has to overcome is facing down low expectations. What I’ve found is that people tend to rise to the expectations we set for them. As a creative artist – a filmmaker – who is visually impaired, I work every day not only to coordinate a creative vision with my team, but also to lead others to a world where there is no barrier to achievement. I direct and even shoot documentaries, and will continue to do this throughout and beyond the process of losing my eyesight. This is because there is a certain truism that we all have to come to accept, that pursuing one’s passion is the best starting point, because there are no barriers to accomplishment.

K is for Key. What keys to success can you leave for upcoming entrepreneurs and leaders?

There is really one key to success. Set the bar high for yourself and for those who share your passions. This doesn’t mean you’ll never make a mistake. As they say, that’s why pencils have erasers. High expectations push you to challenge yourself, and it motivates you to constantly question your own assumptions… even the ones you don’t know you have. Expecting the highest level of performance from everyone you work with encourages you to pursue nothing short of excellence.

Michael is a friend of mine, and I want to encourage you to support his new documentary series, “The Palette Project: Losing Sight, Maintaining A Vision.” He’s made it really easy to pledge with a micropayment of just $1 for the videos he’s posting on his Patreon feed. This is a great way to show your support, and you can make a difference by helping him make a difference. Plus, you get to see some pretty amazing videos of some pretty amazing people, and learn what it’s like to be a visually impaired filmmaker. – Maxwell Ivey

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DERRICK Interview with Heroes Haven Creator Mario Simone

May 15, 2016

MarioEncouragement Speaker Derrick Hayes gives a DERRICK Interview by asking 7 questions through each letter of his first name to give you an insightful perspective from other experts, entrepreneurs, celebrities and up and coming super stars.

Today’s DERRICK Interview is with Mario Simone who founded Gotham City Films in 2009, where he has written and directed films with A-list talent such as Jessica Biel, Slash, Tony Hawk and Hilary Duff. Simone’s original comic book, Heroes Haven, was published by Gotham City Films and is now available for purchase.

D is for Dream: What is your dream, goals or what have you achieved? 

I have vast dreams and big vision which include running a full service entertainment company, and building a publishing division that can help other independent artists achieve their unique voice. I hope for Heroes Haven to reach audiences worldwide and inspire them with the poetry and passion of its character’s journey.

E is for Education: What is your educational background and how do you use it daily?

I studied intensely at Jesuit schools, Fordham Prep and Fairfield University, where I ventured deep into philosophy and art/film making. And in my world travels, I studied many cultures and intriguing philosophy’s that pushed my artistic voice to great depths.

I was able to pull from these experiences, and it helped me create Heroes Haven, and in my daily life I’m able to continue my philosophical quest through my writing and other art forms.

R is for Resources: What resources do you bring to the table that makes you unique or stand out?

My resolve and willingness to bring my vision to fruition; my courage to take the risks to overcome fears and rejection. The fact that I have built my own entertainment/production company and have the ability and knowledge to now expand that into a full “small-press” publishing company as well.

R is for Ready: When did you realize you were ready for what you are doing now?

Ever since I was a kid, I realized that I loved the arts and storytelling. I saw the world as paintings and wanted to experience life so I would have a better story to tell. I don’t know if we are ever really ready for what we are doing in any moment, but there are moments in life where we take the courage to jump into the abyss and face your fate.

I is for Individual: Name at least one individual in your network that others should learn more about and why?

I always enjoyed the stylistic flair of Frank Miller’s interpretation of Batman; or director, Christopher Nolen and his translocation of the story to the film, “The Dark Night”; or even the late actor, Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker, where he pushed so far outside the normal constants of acting to create such a profound character.

C is for Challenges: What challenges have you had to overcome?

I arrived in LA with a backpack and $200 in my pocket and built a name for myself in the entertainment business as an author, producer, actor and director. Challenges were many along the way, and rejection and stumbles were a daily ritual. Perseverance and courage pushed me to achieve my vision.

K is for Keys: What keys to success can you leave for upcoming entrepreneurs and leaders?

Never give up – but even more importantly, be true to yourself, be honest with your work and your art.

Is there anything that we did not touch on that you would like to inspire others with?

Use your fears as a guide to see the path that will challenge you the most, and help you to live the life of your dreams.

Connect with Mario Simone on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.

Heroes Haven is now available on the official website and for pre-order on Amazon.


DERRICK Interview with Daddy Everyday Author Delonso Barnes

September 30, 2013

DaddyEverydayEncouragement Speaker Derrick Hayes gives a DERRICK Interview by asking 7 questions through each letter of his first name to give you an insightful perspective from other experts, entrepreneurs, celebrities and up and coming super stars.

Today’s DERRICK Interview is with Delonso Barnes, who is an author, filmmaker and marketing consultant based out of McDonough, Georgia, a city outside of Atlanta, Georgia. He is a graduate of The Art Institute of Atlanta and Thomas Edison State College in the fields of Music Entertainment Management and Marketing respectively. Barnes’ is a husband and father of two sons.

D is for Dream:  What is your dream, goals or what have you achieved?

My ultimate dream has always been to make a living (at least equal to what I am making now) in entertainment, music in specifically. However, when I became a father in 2005, the focus moved to assisting others in realizing their dreams. I guess being a father figure to my son shifted my professional aspirations. Now, using my creativity and marketing know -how is how I want to make my living and make my dream a reality

E is for Education:  What is your educational background and how do you use it daily?

My educational background consists of an AA in Music Entertainment Management from The Art Institute of Atlanta and a BSBA in Marketing from Thomas Edison State College. Life itself have educated me rather assisting bands in their marketing and promotional efforts or brainstorming with small business owners on strategizing their businesses.

R is for Resource: What resources do you bring to the table that makes you unique or stand out?

My resources are truly at their highest when I’m passionate about the project. When I’m passionate, my creativity, dedication, previous experiences and business sense really shine. I can develop simple marketing plans for projects but when my heart is in it, my strategizing is on another level.

R is for Ready: When did you realize you were ready for what you are doing now?

Currently, I’m in the middle of marketing and promoting my first book entitled, Daddy Everyday. To be honest I wasn’t ready for this or even wanted to write it. The concept of writing a book about changing the negative perception of black fathers was placed on my heart from the Almighty and intensified by raising my two sons. In addition to Daddy Everyday, I’m in production of a documentary entitled, The East Atlanta Project, about the struggles and life of black hip-hop, punk and rock musicians performing in and out of Atlanta. Music is my roots and I have always been ready for this, just didn’t know my place. I actually had to stop production of the documentary because writing Daddy Everyday was my purpose and I couldn’t do anything else until it was written.

I is for Individual: Name at least one individual in your network that others should learn more about and why?

One individual in my network others should learn more about is Roy Cummings. His thirst for knowledge and then ability to turn that knowledge into know-how e.g. like photography, graphic design and communication , makes him a valuable asset to a network.

C is for Challenges: What challenges have you had to overcome?

The challenges I have experienced throughout my pursuit of happiness, happiness being working for myself, have been self-inflicted. Procrastination and fear have crippled my progress and focus. Only way to combat procrastination and fear is quite simple in theory, but can be complicated in execution. The solution is, take action. I simply started writing for the book and filming for the documentary. Then I reached out for a little assistance, which also forced accountability on my part. Once I got things rolling, my procrastination reduced, still around though. My fears have subsided and I’m courageous in my business dealings.

K is for Key: What keys to success can you leave for upcoming entrepreneurs and leaders?

Research, plan and do it. Regardless of what people say, do it. If you fail, pivot your plan and try again. If you are passionate about your business, don’t let anything derail your focus and dedication.

Is there anything that we did not touch on that you would like to inspire others with?

If you are looking for motivation or inspiration, you don’t have to look no farther than the person in the mirror. Envision yourself living your dream and let that be your inspiration.

Visit Delonso for more information.


DERRICK Interview with Filmmaker and 11 Time Author Travis Hunter

December 12, 2012

TravisHunter

Encouragement Speaker Derrick Hayes gives a DERRICK Interview by asking 7 questions through each letter of his first name to give you an insightful perspective from other experts, entrepreneurs, celebrities and up and coming super stars.

Today’s DERRICK Interview is with Travis Hunter who is an author, mentor and father.  His first novel, The Hearts of Men, was originally published in 2000 by Hunter’s own company, Jimrose Publishing House. During the 2000 Book Expo America in Chicago, Hunter handed out copies of his self-published debut and one week later received an offer from Random House’s imprint, Striver’s Row/Villard, for the re-release of The Hearts of Men.

Hunter lives in a suburb of Atlanta with his son Rashaad. He is the founder of The Hearts of Men Foundation, Inc., through which he mentors and provides meaningful opportunities for underprivileged and at risk teens.

D is for Dream. What is your dream, goals or what have you achieved? I’ve written eleven novels, One off Broadway Stage Play and I wrote, directed and produced a short film based on my novel, Dark Child so I have achieved a lot in terms of the goals I set for myself. But I’m always pushing to take it to the next level.

E is for Encourage. What encourages you? I’m encouraged by many things. One is my family. I want to lead a life where a real legacy is involved. Another is in the past I had a huge fear of failure which kept me from trying things that I believe would’ve given me lots of fulfillment.

R is for Resource. What resources do you bring to the table that makes you unique or stand out? I’m very creative so that’s my gift. I’m also a very happy person by nature, so I try to bring joy to every occasion.

R is for Ready. When did you realize you were ready for what you are doing now? I gained confidence in my writing as my readers provided feedback on my first novel. It (The Hearts of Men) became required reading at Florida State when I didn’t even have a degree.

I is for Individual. Name at least one person that you know that you feel others should learn about and why? Wow. That’s a good question and I don’t I have a solid answer. I think people should learn more about our history and not the tidbits they give you in your school text. African Americans are a very resilient group and I think if the kids today learned more about our history, they might not take life for granted as many of them do.

C is for Continue. When you fail, things look bleak or are not optimistic what makes you want to continue? I’m in the business of writing books for black people so I go through my feast or famine moments. My son keeps me motivated and once again that fear of failure.

K is for Key. What keys to success can you leave for upcoming entrepreneurs and leaders? You have to stick to your goals, write out a business plan and tweak it as needed. Trust yourself. There is no such thing as job security anymore, so you have to believe and invest in your own vision. After all you wouldn’t fire yourself.

Is there anything that we did not touch on that you would like to inspire others with? Life is what you make it. Things may be tough, but so are you. If you think you can or if you think you can’t you are absolutely right. I think Henry Ford said that. Also my dad used to tell me; nothing comes to a sleeper but a dream. Wake up and start living.

Visit Travis Hunter for more information.


DERRICK Interview with Running Wild Films Co-Founder Travis Mills

November 28, 2012

Encouragement Speaker Derrick Hayes gives a DERRICK Interview by asking 7 questions through each letter of his first name to give you an insightful perspective from other experts, entrepreneurs, celebrities and up and coming super stars.

Today’s DERRICK Interview is with Travis Mills. After growing up in Ecuador and the Comoro Islands near Africa, he settled in Phoenix, AZ. His youthful interest in film turned into a lifelong passion and he has pursued directing through school and outside of it in his adult years. Travis has made more than 30 short films in Arizona and two full length movies.  Travis is a storyteller. Travis Mills is the Director/Co-Founder of Running Wild Films.

D is for Dream. What is your dream?

My dream is to develop a local cinema here in Arizona that is supported by the community and also has an international audience online. These would be self-sustaining films, produced and released outside of Hollywood, and featuring local actors/crews, highlighting local businesses, and telling local stories. In the last two years, I believe that with Running Wild Films, my team and I have started to lay the foundation for a true local cinema in Arizona.

R is for Resource. What resource do you have that makes you stand out or unique?

Our resource to this community is that we are committed to staying here. In film, most everyone wants to leave for L.A. at some point. We are not interested in that; we are committed to this place. So we are a consistent and dedicated business for the community to rely on and support, and we offer experience to all ages and skill levels interested in working on movies.

R is for Ready. When did you know you were ready for what you are doing now?

After seeing the direction most filmmakers took out of film school and being somewhat disillusioned with the limitations of being a filmmaker, my partner Gus and I realized the potential for a different kind of movie-making and that we had the freedom to create something new and vital here. That was a little more than two years ago and our passion has grown more and more.

I is for Individual. Can you name at least one person that we should learn more about and why?

Gus Edwards is a person anyone would be lucky and honored to know. He is an incredible source of knowledge about film, but also a great voice of liberation. He sees what film could be and encourages his peers/students to break new ground.

C is for Continue. When things look bleak what makes you want to continue?

When we fail, and we value our failures as much as our successes, it is our passion for storytelling that keeps us going. I am not doing this because it is “fun”. I am making films because I have to, it’s an undeniable part of me that I am not willing to ignore. When things get tough, I remember that I have no choice, I must continue.

K is for Key. What keys to success can you leave for others?

Dive in without any hesitation. My favorite filmmaker Werner Herzog said that making a movie is like jumping off a skyscraper. You must take the leap and then embrace the fall. It’s a disturbing image on the surface, but an inspiring one beneath it. I think you must fully embrace your vision in any creative effort and not look back.

Is there anything that we did not touch on that you would like to inspire others with?

To anyone, I encourage you to stay where you are. Look at the place around you, value its people, its places, its stories. As the world gets bigger with the internet, I believe that we can and should focus more on the places, people and things around us more.

Visit Travis Mills for more information.