On Friday May 18 2012, my alma mater, Chapman University Dodge College Of Film And Media Arts, awarded me with Alum of the Year aka the Ron Thronson Distinguished Alumni Award. It’s a pretty rad token of acknowledgment to receive and I’m honored and stoked to have been recognized. The night didn’t go off as smoothly as it should have. Technical difficulties led to a delay in start time and then when Dean Bob Bassett introduced me and gave the cue to play my reel, only a small portion of it played. Funny enough… it was the last :10 of the reel; basically immediately greeting the crowd with Britney Spears exclaiming “F**k you, f**k you, f**k you… you’re cool… f**k you… I’m out.” Ha… amazing.
Maybe I should just plan on it being routine that something will always go wrong for me at events like this. In 2010, a technical error in programming led to MTV leaving off the announcement of The Black Keys Tighten Up video winning Breakthrough Video from the VMA ceremony (I found out we won via an announcement online afterward). Every category winner had been announced at the show except for ours… ha… good times. If another award comes my way, I look forward to a light falling on me, or the electricity cutting out, or a honey badger randomly jumping on stage and eating me.
So yeah… I suck at ‘thank you’ speeches. That’s for damn sure. Sweet lord it’s so awkward up there. I can’t even explain it — because it really shouldn’t be that nerve-racking — but it is. Ya know how the moment someone calls Marty McMfly a ‘chicken’ his brain loses all sense of logical thinking and he just reacts mindlessly… Well that’s kinda like how I get when I walk up on the stage and turn to the crowd. Those damn bright lights were taunting me and my brain immediately turned into sloppy joes — extra sloppy — but sadly, Elisabeth Shue wasn’t waiting for me on my front porch when I got home.
That being said… it’s nice to be able to turn to the web after an event of this sort to flesh out my thoughts and properly express my gratitude.
So right out the gate let me say thank you to Bob Bassett and the rest of the faculty at Dodge who had any part in giving me this award. When I attended the school I wasn’t one of the elite of my class and I doubt Bob even knew who I was. To shake his hand back stage before the event and hear his genuine pride in my work was actually pretty damn cool and very rewarding in itself. I really respect the man and his vision and everything he’s accomplished with his desires to make his film school be one of the best.
Huge thanks to Mom and Dad for putting me through the school and all of their support and to my brothers Mikey and Don who have worked with me on several of my projects. There would be nothing notable from me to receive this award without all of the awesome peeps of my crews that worked their asses off over the years to help turn my stupid ideas into reality… so huge high five to all of them. And gotta always give props to the fans who dig the work and help spread it all around. Means a lot. Thanks to all of you. Heck yeah.
A handful of my regular crew guys are also Chapman Alumni, which is a really cool thing. And I’ve also seized some opportunities to have current students work on set for some projects. Who woulda guessed that the dude who got kicked off the air and his radio show banned from the campus radio would have so much school pride?
My years at Chapman/Dodge were some of the best. It was a much smaller school back then, but they were still able to give us the tools to immediately get out there and start creating right from day 1 and that was really important to me. Hands-on experience is one of the most crucial aspects of crafting your skills as a filmmaker and it’s awesome that Dodge has devoted such a commitment to that philosophy.
Attending the school for the ceremony gave me the chance to tour the current facilities for the first time. Holy crap… it’s really impressive what the school has grown to become… really really impressive. Dodge is basically a mini-studio now. It’s pretty damn insane. There are multiple legit sound stages, a foley room, adr room, motion-capture room, a coloring bay, multiple editing bays, and tons of professional gear and equipment including RED cameras and an ALEXA.
I’m definitely proud to be an alum of a school that strives to be awesome and add awesomeness to the industry. This year they are even kicking off a new side venture as an actual movie studio, getting outside investors to fund $1million films directed by an alum. So rad. I’m pretty sure there’s no other school in existence that is giving their alumni such an amazing opportunity. If you’re in the process of looking for an awesome school to attend to learn film that just so happens to have an extremely long title, then I can’t recommend Chapman University Dodge College of Film And Media Arts more.
Ok then… I guess it’s only proper to attempt to give some form of advice to the future alumni, so this is what I have for ya…
Put as much energy into the business side of your work as you do into the creativity. Budget your life accordingly and avoid falling into a desperate position that pressures you to sacrifice the integrity of your work. There’s so much shit out there as a result of people taking on a job just for the paycheck. It’s a fucking disappointment. You should strive to always be proud of what you’re creating. Remember, you have chosen this industry because it is something you love… allowing financial situations to overshadow that love is a disservice to yourself and your craft.
And thus concludes my brief moment of wisdomality.
Have an über swell day.