Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chapter Three - The Tao of Time Management

My time management was impeccable until I had children. Of course when I first had children I was working for “the man.” I had big dreams, but was small time. My life was as simple as it could be. I would wake up at 6:00am, walk my dog, get Payton out of the crib, feed her, wake my wife up, hand Payton to her and I would go to work. At lunch I would come home, walk my dog, cram a sandwich and go back to wok. At five I would rush home to get Payton so that my wife could go to work. Then I walked the Dog, carried her around in my arm and almost every night, it was my daughter and I and when she would use her rocker, I could hone my craft. When she didn’t there was nothing getting done. I remember getting so frustrated some weekends because Payton was not a big sleeper and had to be rocked, (which I said I wouldn’t do.) I could have her asleep and the minute I placed her in the crib, she would pop back up again. She didn’t leave Daddy’s arms very much which I believe is where our strong bond comes from.  


There were many nights spent staring at the computer screen, holding a pen in my hand looking at a blank piece of paper, while I threw a ball to Vinny and rocked Payton.


It was real rough on the schedule when I would occasionally get a “side job.” It was normally a wedding or an occasional small corporate job but still nevertheless would take all the time alloted to get done because there was never any time to begin with.


I suffer from O.C.D. I’m not just self diagnosing this to be funny. I am full fledged diagnosed and all. It cripples me every day and I refuse to be medicated for it. I choose to fight it with my mind. Some days I win. Some days I do not. In some of my idiosyncrasies it helps..... Others it kills.


Time management/Planning was one of the good traits of my illness. My schedule whether busy or slow was always planned down to the minute. If I kept the schedule I would be fine. If I couldn’t then my  O.C.D would send me into panics and confusion. Just as I began to get busier, “bumps” in the road or “distractions” in the schedule, made things very tough on me.


My wife was a conductor of that distraction and dysfunction. She never cared what or where I needed to be so communication on times and places was never utilized. As far as she was concerned, I would have to drop what I was doing no matter where I was just so long as it didn’t interrupt her schedule. By the time we had River, and I had decided to make this business work full time I was already turning down work , (not out of being busy,) and canceling them because I couldn’t get her on board and could not utilize enough time to put my name and ass on the line for a job.


After the split, my “Tao of Time Management,” went back into effect and it changed my life and my career forever and as business began to boom there became only so many minutes in the day even planned. 


I had always complained to everybody that it wasn’t that I was too busy, but it was the fact that I never was granted a full day of work. Where I worked “for the man,” at an office, I was allowed from 8am to 5:45 every day and somebody always helped if there was an issue and there was never a question of me being anywhere but work, because I “worked.”


Being that I worked from home, most people assumed that I was not doing anything therefore getting assistance was murder. So I was on my own and had accepted it over time.


More work came in and I began expanding hours after the kids went to bed which would keep me up and sleep deprived. I skipped meals, outings with friends, dates, just about anything that would allow me more time. Then I began outsourcing some of the work which posed another problem because nobody was doing the caliber of work I was accustomed to so I would find myself having to do it all or worse than that, do it over. 


Month after month, my work day would be stretched out a little more until I was averaging 3 hours a night which in turn would lead to more stimulants to keep me going.


My normal day schedule played out like this:



This schedule has not let up as far as workload even in the change of life. This was where a new plan would have to be made in order to utilize all of me and my responsibilities.


The new plan would have to allow more time for work AND to complicate things I would have to find 2 extra hours for the gym throughout the week. I would have to utilize day care a little more and subsidize my planning. 




The new schedule would be as follows:



This schedule would not allow for much “me time,” but it would be sufficient to start and would keep me fresh with rest and exercise.


Taking a pay cut to hire out extra help when the times were tough would be a must with the new program and training people to do what I do would have to be done. 


My workflow would have to be prioritized down to the second now.


My former way of living would be doing the Mr. Mom thing as I went while the kids were there which took a lot away from them and out of me. 

A good work out energizes you. You may leave the gym feeling wrecked but thirty minutes following the gym, you just get this burst of energy, (or at least I do.) That would be the time to be productive if I moved around so that was clean, laundry and yard time. One hour a day devoted to this I found a little more time for what was more important: The kids.


The schedule may not work for everybody. You may have to adjust and work out a plan that best suits you.


A time journal was utilized to keep me on track and keep all the little things in order such as school plays, doctors’ appointments, and other parenthood elements that can not be avoided and often just come out of thin air.


If I didn’t make it to the gym, the 9:30 - 11:30pm slot was devoted to it, The Nine Year Gym, (the garage for anybody that hasn’t been keeping up.)


With a schedule in place, it was time for the hardest transition of them all, The Diet.

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Chapter Two - Finding and Building Facilities For Growth - Nine Years To Live(Commentary)

I knew the home gym would never be a replacement for the real thing. The key was to put enough weights and resources in it to make it a close second to an actual facility because it was to only supplement days I would never make it to the gym due to parenthood or deadlines beyond my control.


I would sink a little bit of each paycheck into what I called, “The Nine Year Gym.” I was bad on spoiling the kids. In fact, horrible.... Movies, clothes, furniture-- what ever the kids wanted they got if there was money left after loans, bills and other expenses. This would have to stop for a little bit which would put them out, but hopefully, make them more grateful for what they have and if Daddy lived longer.... Well, then that would be great because there would be more years of me spoiling them than all at once like I was doing at that moment.


I wanted to build a little on a very worn body before touring back to a gym so the home gym was my first plan of action.


I would rely strictly on running the neighborhood for my cardio session, so the first things to be installed would be some overall strength enhancers. I found a used heavy bag, speed bag and reflex bag and immediately purchased it with some of my profits from the football season. Then with some of my Nike perks and “fundages” would get some work out clothes and a couple additional free weights. My arms needed extra stimulation to grow so a curl bar and forty five pounds of free weights were purchased to start the process. From there, benches, barbells, mirrors, and medicine balls but that would have to come after the holiday season and my father and my “private investor” were paid in full for the loans given to me throughout the year.


Here is a blueprint of what I planned with the garage:



The re-attending a real gym was going to be work in a sense too when dealing with my pysche. I needed a gym that mimicked the gym I worked out in when I lived in Los Angeles. It was the perfect gym. My OCD did not allow chaos and disorganization. My poor kids have seen many days of me having to walk out of a room during an attack so they would not have to see it, only to have to compose myself long enough to go back into the room and clean the disaster they made. If a place was disorganized or “cluttered,” it became very constrictive and overwhelming to me. It’s a neuro handicap that I have dealt with for about four years and seems to be getting worse which scares me.


Gyms like the YMCA were that kind of gym to me and were no good. This place was enormous, but the actual weight room was a closet packed in with old rusty cluttered machines and free weights with handles loose. On top of that, if I was working out after  work hours, I couldn’t so much as bend over without taking a twenty pound weight between the knees.


I chose a membership there because of the kids and the indoor pool and also because of the distance to the house, (under five minutes.) Then I realized after working out a week there and not being happy, that I had again broken my rule. I realized that I had compromised a  decision based on convenience and my children. Sure most of the the time, that should be considered but this part was for me and me only to an extent. This part of my life was mine and I should do what I feel makes me happy. 


Let’s be honest, it would be another year before I would take these kids to the indoor pool. My son was not at a reasoning point quite yet which made even small trips to the grocery store a workout in itself. I immediately pulled my membership at the YMCA and would be “gymless” again at the end of November. 


I began touring other gyms looking for a home, working out my final month at YMCA and supplementing at the ever growing Nine Year Gym in my garage. All my cardio was running the neighborhood or thirty minute blitzes on the heavy bag. 


Then one night, (right before realizing I would have to make a decision on a gym,) I went to eat with my mother at Panera Bread. Upon getting in my car a neon light behind me caught my attention. It was a new gym. I had not seen it before. Of course, I didn’t make it to Hickory all that much lately due to work and distance either.


I got back out of the car and walked into the gym. It was the four month old, Snap Fitness 24/7. I was in there for five minutes and knew this was it. It was a new, sleek, gym that was small but roomy. It was stocked with Cybex machines, medicine balls, and free weights. I had access to it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and it was not jumbled with meatheads and fat people who screamed too loudly or spent twenty minutes holding up a station out of exhaustion in between reps. It was my place and my new home. 


The only negative was that I would have to adjust the schedule being that I would have a forty minute round trip on top of the two hour regimen to squeeze into my busy day which would really make my work schedule tight during tough work weeks. 


I took a chance and signed up. I would figure out a way to make it work, somehow..... Because that’s what I did best.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Chapter One - Build From The Past -Nine Years To Live(Commentary)

Chapter One - Build from the Past


The plan was quite simple. Cut all the the crap that makes me feel bad. At this point, that was just about everything.


I had to figure out a way to utilize my busy schedule yet not kill myself trying to do everything in an efficient way. The first plan was to assure I got seven to eight hours of rest a day. My father who always had trouble sleeping was ironically the biggest advocate of “rest” being the most important part of a healthy body next to water. I was well aware that my life always ran better when I had slept at least seven hours on a regular basis.  In order to rest, I would have to remove caffeine and “fake energy,” out of my diet. I have always been a Coca Cola junkie. The amount of money I had invested in the “brown bubbly,” could probably feed a large village.


Have you ever really looked at what they put into a Coca Cola? I hadn’t either ‘til I decided to kick it.


Nutrition Facts


1 Can

Calories 140

Sodium 50mg 2% of daily value

Carbs 39g - 13% of daily value

Sugars 39g -


Ingredients- Carbonated Water, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, Caramel Color, Phosphoric Acid, “Natural Flavors” Caffeine 34mg/12 fl. oz.


Kicking caffeine was easy. I had one bad day where I felt lethargic and crappy and I was home free. My life with Caffeine and other stimulants was ridiculous.


For the past 2 years, I started the morning with a 20oz Coke and a little yellow over-the-counter pill called an 8 Hour Energy. This was daily. Another 8 hour pill would be consumed around 2pm.


I can only thank the government for outlawing Ephedrine because before they did, it was Mini Thins and Ripped Fuels that were a daily routine for me. (Both high in Ephedrine’s, ancient chinese stimulant, Ma Huang herb.) And this habit was an everyday thing from 1998 - 2007, How I’m not dead yet, I have no idea. I took them like a diabetic would do insulin.


Once they outlawed these “Heart Killers,” I went back to occasional prescription Ritalin, Stackers and other “Fat Burners” to give me that kick, my mind felt I needed to keep my edge. I was a speed junkie. There were times in my life where I was full of energy and most of my days were spent working on a goal. My life was full of productivity.  I rarely watched television, never napped, and felt if I was, “hanging with my friends,” I better be doing something while I did it. There were many moons growing up where I would hang out at some friend’s house, drink a couple of beers but would work on a script, drawing, shoot video or something while I did it. I don’t waste time. Life is short and I’m the poster boy for making sure every minute is utilized to doing something. Somewhere a long the way the non-chemically induced creative juices were substituted for the opposite. I cannot pinpoint the exact day but if I had to give it a time stamp, I would say it began when I decided to get “buff,” because I was tired of being a little scrawny, film nerd. I had been in Los Angeles for 4 years and was sick of being a little pencil necked geek.


I didn’t change any of my habits when I began working out. I just strictly wanted to get big. There was no diet with the exception of massive amounts of weight gainer, creatine, and protein shakes. I didn’t sleep much, partied in college and ate and drank whatever I wanted, writing it off as a theory that: “If I was working out, I could get away with doing anything.” 


Anybody that knows me, knows I don’t do anything half ass. If I say I’m going to do it, I do it and my will to achieve becomes almost an obsession even if unhealthy. 


My workouts were no different. They were 3 hour blitzes of my body. Heavy weights and thrashing the muscle fibers and joints of my body were the only way I knew how. What I didn’t realize was there was much more to body building than just “lifting weights.” Rest, good diet, cardio training and healthy practices went hand and hand. I blew up overnight it seems and went from a soft 160 pounds to 210 pounds of brick shit house. My arms looked like Popeye, but I was always exhausted and had hit a plateau in my training. A guy at the gym introduced me to the Ephedrine based pill, “Ripped Fuel,” and that was the beginning of the end. My workouts improved. My stamina on the weights expanded into another thirty minutes of vicious pounding and also curbed my huge appetite for eating. Those pills began to find their uses even outside of the gym. If I had to stay up all night for a test, I popped a couple of them. If I was tired from a shoot and the boys were going out, I took them to pep me up so I can withstand the late night of bar hopping on the Sunset Strip. 


Those pills had become a “take with me everywhere,” kind of thing. 


When I returned from Los Angeles to North Carolina, the pills came with me..... The working out.... Did not. And until a month ago, in some form or another the chemically induced pep whether it be prescription stimulants, Taurine, Ma Huang, Guana or whatever, my body got its fix every day of my life. AND I MEAN, EVERYDAY. If I didn’t take them by two in the afternoon, I didn’t function.


My heart only knows the amount of damage I have done to it through those pills..... I only hope I’m not too late to right the wrongs and put some life back into it.


Upon kicking the pills and caffeine it was on to Step Two. My plan had four steps in it.


1)Kick “Fake Energy”---- Check.

Begin Cardio Filled Workouts with emphasis on running and tone and core muscle workouts.

Adjusted Healthy Diet that would transform and develop over the first 60 days

Be gone with vices, (Occasion cigarettes, drinking beer, fast food, high sugar drinks and food, tobacco use.)


When these steps were made then adjust if needed to Get Well. Be Fit. Live Life.


My will never let me just “ween” myself off slowly on anything. Everything had to be done then and now so those steps were fulfilled within the second week of the plan.


The next step was Gym and Weight Utilization. 


There was a problem..... Being a single father and with the business blowing up bigger by the week, the 3 hour break each day to tour down to the gym may not be an allowance I could pay myself everyday especially during the “Red Zone Deadline,” times. I would have to invest in a gym, but I also felt I would have to invest some money and bring a gym to me.... About the time, the pre-planning for ‘The Nine Year Gym’ began, I signed a big contract with a small company called, Nike.... You heard of them?


It must have been fate.....

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Preface - Nine Years To Live (Commentary)

I woke up one day and realized I was never going to continue to live if I kept up what I was doing. My grandfather died of a heart attack when he was 45. That was nine years away for me and I was choosing that fate and welcoming it. I had out slept my kids for the first time since they entered the world and felt terrible about it. I had been pulling 20 hour work days and sometimes longer to keep my business momentum booming. I was counting solely on Carrie, my daycare/”nanny” to do the parenting of my children and was now relying on my prescription of Amphetamine Salts and massive amounts of “fake energy,” to push me through the grind of my responsibilities. On top of all that, it was much, much worse. I was overweight from years of consuming too much high sugar soft drinks, energy drinks and eating massive amounts of processed foods along with my children. If they were eating chicken nuggets, so was I. If they wanted McDonalds, that’s what I was eating.


The day before the “crash,” my son had begged me to hold him. And I couldn’t find the energy to do it. From five thirty to nine thirty I laid on a couch nearly unable to move. My life was over and my kids’ life was being compromised for my bad choices and all I could do was lay there letting the television babysit them for the first time in 4 years.


Sure, I was doing what not many fathers in the world are able to do and that is juggle being a single father and a business owner. In between jobs, edits, I was remembering to to buy gifts for birthday parties, go to the grocery store, clean their clothes, get them haircuts, coach their ball teams and do all the other little things that sometimes are missed when life is so chaotic. I was making enough money to pay the bills and give the kids whatever they needed without batting an eye, (even sometimes pay the ex-wife’s bills.) I was somehow managing it all which made me proud, but I had forgotten the big picture. The big picture of actually “being there,” mentally.


When my wife and I split, I broke the chains of negativity, constrain and a compromised life and my business blew up in front of my face and it never slowed down even as I did trying to keep up. My health was bad before success. My wife smoked. In fact, smoked through both pregnancies. I was a closet smoker. I hated it. Always did even before I realized how hard it was to kick. A heroin addict once said, “it was easier to kick heroin than it is to kick nicotine.” I have never done heroin but coming from a guy who has said, “addiction is not a sickness. It is mind game,” or a guy who practices, “there are no excuses only laziness,” I had become a hippocrite and had lost my battle with my fight on kicking cigarettes. I would lie to everybody. “No, I’m not smoking,” but I did. There were days I would buy a pack and smoke them all. There were days where I would just bum one on set here and there. My vice wasn’t consistent. It would just happen and if I didn’t smoke when my mind said smoke, I would sweat, crave and obsess about having one. The only times I never thought about it was when the kids were around. I would never, ever, smoke in front of my father or my kids. It was just something I didn’t do. Why? Because I was so ashamed that it was the only thing I couldn’t control or be strong enough to fix in my life. With every time, I vowed to quit would come another prescription to Adderall for a big edit, or a Red Bull buzz that would allow me to “postpone” quitting. I was a mess and as work got busier and busier, my habits worsened, and I was so wrapped up in the action and “awe” of what I had built, I never saw nor felt it until I decided to complicate my life even further.....


Life took a turn for the worse upon returning from New York from a 10 day stint. I had spent all 10 days sleep deprived but managed to stay away from fatty foods and energy drinks. I purposely left my prescription at home to keep me from relying on it and somehow managed to feel great the whole time. Maybe the aura of being in NYC was enough to make it work, I don’t know.


Upon returning, the hustle began. I got blitzed with work. Small jobs, but quanity over quality had suddenly entered my train of thought. Through all these, I decided to not only take on two big jobs, but become a boyfriend to a girl. The plan was to have all the jobs done by Football season and kick back. Well, that was hard to do when I continued to pick up every job that was put in front of my face. There were points where I didn’t eat because “I felt I didn’t have time.” When the kids weren’t there, I would eat one meal a day and it was Burger King, occasionally treating myself to my favorite Thai restaurant. In between it was 2 liters of Coca Cola, Adderall, Red Bulls, 8 Hour Energy pills, 5 hour Energy shooters, sunflower seeds, chewing tobacco and cigarettes. Some days when the kids weren’t there, I would down two 24 oz Bud Lights just to be able to sleep from all the stimulation I had served myself through out the day in order to sit in front of the computer and edit. 


My work was complicated. I acquired half of the cost upfront which normally would go to pay my people, buy the equipment we needed and then the other half would be paid to me upon completion. I paid myself out of the completion money. If I didn’t get the job done in a timely manner, I would go broke. And about a week before the football season started, I realized just how bad a hole I had dug myself in. I had seven open jobs that were not complete. I was out of money due to paying out my debts, extra child care, and honestly blown money from eating out, buying smokes, four dollar red bulls etc..... I was so tired that I just threw money at every problem I had. There was no way to stop it. When the kids were with their mother, I would work all day. Then take the work to the girlfriend’s and would just keep going. Then I would come home and do it some more and never realized that it was taking me twice as long to do everything because I was so mentally and physically exhausted. When the kids were there, it was “try to be Dad,” but there were days where I literally found myself, “just trying to get through the day.” As soon as I put them to bed, I was back at it until 2am and repeat the process. This would go on for weeks at a time and with every passing day, there would be more ingesting of stimulants, caffeine, crappy food. My body was shutting down. My muscles were quitting and the worst part of it, my brain had stopped working. I stopped answering the phone, stopped showering when the kids weren’t there. I would sleep in my edit chair some nights. Kids would come back a couple days later and I would try and go right back into Dad mode but it didn’t work. It would take me at least three days to recover from the work binge. I would have to do laundry and wear the “Dad Pants” and play catch up while the kids just wanted to play and hang out with their Dad. I remember one night being so tired, I put the kids in the car after dinner to go to the store for “ice cream,” but it was really so I could get a Red Bull and a pack of Goody powders. I didn’t have a headache, I just wanted the quick release of caffeine Goody’s gives you when you stick it on your tongue. I was up til 4am because of the stunt but to me, it got me through the night with the kids. There were nights I would hang with the girlfriend and it would be exhausting to crack a smile. A couple months earlier, our faces and stomachs would hurt from lauging and having a good time. Now, it was hard to strike up a conversation for me.


My wife had moved in with her sister and her two kids, which really “disrupted,” the routines and stability of the kids when they were not home with me and their behavior took a nose dive. My son had always been a problem. He was a boy. He wasn’t speaking like he should have been and we had some serious issues with communication. This move had made it worse on him and even worse than that, my perfect daughter had also acquired some bad habits, but I was too exhausted to even deal with it. I found myself the push over Dad who just tried to keep them happy to avoid  having to be consistent because I just couldn’t find energy to deal with anything. 


Anger set in and I found myself pissed at the world. Pissed I was broke. Pissed I couldn’t get any help. Pissed at my wife. Pissed at my girlfriend. Pissed at the kids. I was done. My gut overlapped my pants because I was on my way to upgrading yet another waist size for the second time in 3 years. I looked and felt terrible. I wanted to quit it all. 


The crash came fast. About two days before the girlfriend decided to get rid of me because well by this time I was a total wreck. I was home with the kids and we had the worst day we had ever had. It was a day that made me feel like I wanted to, drop them off at their mothers and be done with it. We were stuck at the house all day because I just couldn’t find the mental or physical fortitude to get these kids dressed and manage both of them outside of the house. They were awful to their Dad all day. So bad to the point that I put them both to bed without a story, and worse, without a kiss for the first time I could remember. I was furious. I retreated to my hole and turned the edit bay on and sat there for an hour just staring at the job in front of me. Couldn’t keep one thought in my head. My eyes burned. I opted to look at the other 3 jobs I had actually completed for the first time to run quality control and what I saw was sickening. The cuts were lazy. The effects were stock. The audio was not mastered. I had compromised it, just like I had compromised my kids the past 3 months. I had compromised it like I had my health for the past 10 years. I had officially become the guy I said I would never be. 


I walked to the bathroom and looked at myself. I had fallen apart. The circles under my eyes were horrible. The arms plump. The belly fat. I walked into the bedrooms of the kids and watched them sleep, remembering, how much they counted on me. I remembered how much of their life in their current parental ordeal was in my hands. Remembering, how much I wanted the life I made for myself. Remembering that I had fulfilled a promise to do exactly what I was doing with my career. I also remembered how my Grandfathers had had heart attacks young. One of them didn’t live through it. What would these kids do if I died? What would I do if I woke up in ten more years and their life was screwed because I had been too busy chugging Red Bulls and working to do my real job?


I stayed up all night. The kids got up the next morning smiling. I gave them both a real big hug and cooked them a big breakfast. I sighed in relief, I had not ruined their life in the past three months. I was still exhausted but knew what I had to do so my direction was back and when I have direction there has never been any limitations. The only thing left was to catch up on my rest and then conduct a plan. Payton saw I was tired and sad. I sat her down and gave her an abbrieviated version of my story. I told her that she would never have to worry about her Dad not being able to be who she wanted him to be again.


“So what’s wrong with your heart, Daddy?” She asked. I kinda’ laughed that the “heart attack” part of the story is all she got out of it. 


So I said, “well I don’t know but I want to keep it nice and healthy from now on for you guys.”


She walked out of the room and returned with a necklace I had given her. It was a hand woven necklace a friend in NY had made me to give to her. It had a beautiful pillow like heart on it that was woven into the string. 


“Then you wear this. It will keep your heart safe,” she said smiling. I laughed until I cried. I took it from her.




She ran into the the play room to hang with her brother. I looked at the necklace. Stared, at the heart and just like that, the plan came to me. I put the necklace in my pocket and beelined to the cabinet, grabbed the Adderall prescription- flushed it. Took the family sized box of Goody powders- tossed it in the trash. Emptied the Coca Colas into the sink.


Project ‘Nine Years to Live’ was on. From here on out Life wouldn’t run me, I would run my life......



To be continued.

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Saying Goodbye - The High School Football Story

In July 2009, I received a call from a woman who wanted me to film her son’s football season. Business was starting to pick up and I was concerned about taking a job so involved and relentless on schedules. We were talking every Friday from 6:00pm to 12 midnight, I would have to be at a football field somewhere in and around Lincoln County. Mandi, my wife, pushed me into the job and I agreed to take it on after days of deliberation. I am a huge football fan and loved being at high school football games even though it had been years since I attended one. 


The first night came and as I set up the camera a top of the North Lincoln High School Football Field’s press box. I checked my time, and still had about twenty minutes before the game started. It may had been the first 20 minutes I had, had to myself in sometime. It may had been the first time, I had slowed down in two years. And for one short moment, the world stopped. The sunset was beautiful. You could smell the hamburgers and popcorn cooking at the concession stand. The “Fat Boy Club,” or the announcers for the game were delivering their sponsor list. The breeze was relaxing and I realized, I had, (or Mandi had,) made the right choice. This was where I suppose to be....


And for two seasons that’s exactly where I was-- Shooting an Offensive/Defensive Lineman for his parents who had helmed his future in football and were not pulling any punches on getting him to college to play ball.  I, along with his personal trainer and several other people, were their investment. What they didn’t realize at the time, was they were my investment. The job they hired me to do, I had fallen in love with and during the off season I literally counted the days until the next season to be able and get that weekly escape to the press box to film the game. 


I also complicated the process by taking on not only him but two more of the standout players on the team. The pressure of keeping three camera men and their footage in order would suck the fun out of the process occasionally through out the week, but come Friday night I was always as giddy as a kid on Christmas Eve.


About midway through this past season, I realized that if I didn’t start advertising or finding a replacement player to shoot next year, this little addiction of getting out of the editing bay, or house, and escaping on Friday nights would end. 


Upon completion of the season, I was completely bummed but hopeful a family would find me and use my services next year. Clearly, the completed highlight reel speaks for itself and honestly, it will only be a matter of time before somebody finds me and uses me again. A friend at Fox Sports South said and I quote, “Those Highlight reels will change the way, recruiters look at players and that kind of coverage will allow the outstanding players on the smaller less competitive teams to be seen as well. It is a remarkable piece of marketing.” This quote and my theory didn’t settle things for me. My days, (for now,) at North Lincoln High School were over and over those two years, I had really grown attached the whole team. I had seen so many guys grow into better football players over those two years; Built relationships and friendships with coaches and parents and of course have grown accustomed to sporting my North Lincoln Gear around town with pride. Five days after the final game, I realized the only way I was going to be able to part with this school is make a “video piece,” chronicling the years I was there. A sort of Tribute piece that the players could take with them and I could too. Something I could look at down the road to remind me of my extraordinary, (and almost wasn’t,) time in Lincoln County. 


I will always remember the boys and their parents: Dillon and The Tuckers, Mitchell and The Gates and Mason and The Pirtles who trusted in me to get their boys to college and who I trusted in to keep me employed to come to the games Friday night. I will always remember putting on my NL hat and football shirt Friday Morning. Charging the batteries on Thursday night, looking over the great plays on Monday, the phone calls on Tuesday trying to acquire the game tapes and always, always remember the rattling of the blue cowbells and spirit that school had for the team even in the worst of situations. If it were up to me, I  would and will always rest easy to know my spot on that press box was reserved for years to come but I’m not counting on it. Will the next team capture the same excitement and peace I felt at North Lincoln? Who knows. For now, though I leave my post at North Lincoln with three kids going to college and a fifteen minute tribute film that I will always be proud of. 


Thank you to all who helped me along the way and allowed me to grow with the boys. I will always be in debt to Mandi, Renada, Kenneth, and Dillon who pushed me to pull the normal rates of my services and take a chance on something that seemed so trivial. My life because of it, will never be the same and with that, it’s back to business as usual until the next phone call in August, if one finds my ear.



North Lincoln High Football - A Tribute Film from ROADHOUSE PICTURES on Vimeo.

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

Back to the Fun of Filmmaking

With the grind of the corporate and television work coming to an end for the year, it gives us time to finish our "Labors of Love." Next week, will begin the Picture and Audio Mastering of our campy film, Bad A$$ Killers. With the end of the creative process near, the beginning of the marketing and packaging stage begins. We plan on doing a "graphic novel style," approach to the poster and DVD covers so the first thing is to beginning messing with layout. I photocopied all the promotional pictures from the film to give me angles to do a rough layout using all the characters.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Old Road Traveled. The New Ahead.

Two shots taken on the way home from Raleigh. I was in a sentimental mood. A picture of an old blurry life passing behind me and new clearer one ahead.

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Friday, November 5, 2010

The Dungeon - My Swan Song

After 2 years of North Lincoln Football Film, I step down my post as "highlight" guy. It's been a journey and I'm greatly saddened, but I'll have 2 years of memories, still pictures, and some of the greatest football highlight footage ever seen to take with me. Cheers to the 2010-2011 North Lincoln Knight Football Team. It's been a hell of a ride!!!!

This shot, is the last minute before cameras starting rolling tonight for the final game.


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Monday, October 4, 2010

A Mid Season Highlight Reel Example

The finished version to colleges will not have the music nor the credit to the music, but for pacing and entertainment purposes, I have included it on this video.

This is what are the hoopla is about. You will notice that some of the footage looks a little "stepped on." That is purposedly done to give the film texture, an amateur feel and also lets the eye differentiate from clip to clip so it does not all look like the same game.

Special Thanks to Band of Horses and Explosions In The Sky. Buy their music on iTunes or Amazon! It is amazing stuff and just goes so well with this sort of thing.


From here, 6 more games, replacing or adding key points to this already paced clip.


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Friday, October 1, 2010

Football Prep Headquarters

Somebody told me, "that must be an easy job," referring to Football Highlight Department I've built over the past couple of years. I nearly took his head off. On top of making myself free every Friday night and Saturday night for Capture and Review of the games, the daunting task of adding and removing highlights from game to game becomes a spreadsheet, lots of notes, lots of angles to recap and can be an absolute headache if the team plays good. (I know that sounds terrible.) It's a full time job on top of my full time job.I have to pay my guys, pay for equipment, get everybody to the games, depend on them to get the plays and do it with the cameras white balanced through out the game where the sun sets slowly and the buggered fluorescents begin to burn brighter as the game goes along. I have to capture the footage, sort, and review and we're talking about 5 hours of review for each game from 5 different camera angles. 

Here is the blueprint that was carefully constructed on my approach to filming my "innovative way of doing high school football."


Then as soon as the capture and review is performed. The clips are separated into the different players folders depending on their particular highlights. The editing begins. With 4 different camera ops with four different cameras, the colors and contrast have to be adjusted and due to the real time scenario some camera men may not get the play at the best angle so the other cameras have to be referenced for the best angle. Then a bloated highlight reel goes out to the parents. The parents and coaches decide on the clips to keep and this process usually goes through 5 sets of eyes which makes everything just a tad time consuming before a decision is made. 

The final cuts are recorded on a spreadsheet. Then the clips are joined together to make "game tapes" the following Friday for the players to look at and cataloged in case colleges want "full games." The highlight reels then are shaved down and then Friday comes again and it's time to do it all over again.

So to answer your question, no it's a terribly hard job as a matter of fact. If I didn't love football so much there is no way I would do it.

The Game Tape Reels to go out to parents, players, coaches.

The Camera Call Diagram, matched with spreadsheet of plays from camera angles, to list of "keepers" from outside sources, to the DVD Label for finished reels.

The DVD Label Before the Cut Out

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Raider Ravine - Olin, NC

North Lincoln vs. North Iredell on Friday Night. The rain layer sets in as the game starts.

8mm - ISO 320 f5.6 s1/160

Garrick Lane

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The Raider Ravine - Olin, NC

North Lincoln vs. North Iredell on Friday Night. The rain layer sets in as the game starts.

8mm - ISO 320 f5.6 s1/160

Garrick Lane

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Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday Nights

Shooting a sunset on Beale Street, watching the sun rise in Times Square, or any job in between I've been privileged to be a part of takes a back seat to September. Last year I was hired to shoot North Lincoln Knights players for their football season and lucky for me, it carried over to this year. There's nothing like going out on a late summer breeze, with my camera, getting paid to do what I do and watch some high school football and more importantly, be a part of these boys' HS football progress. I fear this will be my last year as the boys I shoot are graduating and I may not be needed next year. Who knows, as things are going, I probably won't have time to do the suttle things like this that make me happy. With that said, I will cherish every moment I have left in the next 9 games. It's funny because like the players who wake up Friday morning super stoked about the game later in the night, thinking nothing but about that game, I've adopted the same pattern, sporting my North Lincoln shirt from the moment I wake up til the moment I lay my head down. Thinking of the different angles and tricks I can use to make the footage look great while covering what I'm there to cover. It's Friday. 


I grab my gear and put it in the car. There's a game at 7. Let's go Knights!

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mattes without Photoshop Trickery

I had the pleasure to shoot the great NY hip hop artist, Pesu for a clothing company. The pay was good and to be able to spend two days next to this genius of an artist was honestly pay enough. 

For two days, 16 hours a day in an undisclosed warehouse with no air in the middle of August we documented a white wall transform into a beautiful canvas of Pesu's signature art. I broke out my whole arsenal for the event from a camera jib to my skateboard, to scaffolding, but after 20 hours, I was running out of angles and ideas.

I was changing lenses for the umpteenth time when I found an old UV Filter in the bottom of my bag. It was little scratched but seemed like the glass where the focal plane was was unscaved so I screwed it on. From there, I went to Pesu's array of paints and begin painting around the filter, creating a kind of raw, grunge looking matte. 

It worked rather nicely depending on where I set my zoom lens. I would shoot a little with red, then clean it off and shoot a little with green and yellow and so on and so forth.

This is another example of matting or vignetting without having to use Photoshop. 

*Add the paint very slowly so that you can judge where the matte will go on your frame. You don't want to do too much because you almost have to start over if it is too much.

Here are some examples of the different looks I got. I unfortunately don't have what the filter looked like because I realized after the fact that I had shot the various filters with a camera that wasn't mine. 

My Red Matte. Notice how close I had to get to get a wide lens to read the red corners.

Some actual stills from what I shot.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Afternoon Listening

Daniel Lanois' Sonho Dourado

Just a fantastic tune. 

Off to build a set. Later.

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My Morning Listen

Michael Nyman Orchestra

Diary of Hate and Love Doesn't End from the film, The End of the Affair.

One of the most powerful and influential scores I carried outta' my film school days. Nearly breathtaking if you listen to it loud. Tears everytime. It is simply amazing. 

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Love & Desperation

We’re down to our last meal... Chicken and Mac N Cheese. I would have to rely on Carrie to provide breakfast and lunch for the kids and a small family dinner at Mimi and Papaw’s would fulfill the days nutrition for the kids. I felt ashamed as ate. 

May had been a bad month-- Two business loans and three cancelled jobs due to a schedule that doesn’t work had put me in a spot I hadn’t been in since November of last year. I hadn’t worked since May 3rd and dished out more than 75% of my income on keeping the business afloat. This is my fault. My line of work would be best utilized if I lived somewhere “big,” but would live in a box before I left my kids and my responsibility to them. Sure the business is picking up but the location mixed with the economy makes consistency as unsure as the Mac N Cheese I just made.  When a good paying job that would give me an excuse to travel to The Big Apple for a couple days came up, I thought it fitting to pick up as many jobs as I could while I was there so I took on three others. There was only one problem. The original job was the only one that covered my food and lodging meaning the other 5 days, I would be on my own. I knew the risks. The pay was minimal so for me not to spend my entire day’s paycheck on expenses I would have to test my skills of survival. 

This had burdened me for a few days now. I was good at this sort of thing. I had never needed much and was always up for a challenge, but had really wondered if I had bitten off more than I could chew on this one. If the plan works, I will return with minimal money, but will be out of debt and have enough left over to buy groceries and pay the bills. If it doesn’t work, the job becomes an exercise and I return with little to nothing as I wait for the steady work that begins in August. It was my last option and for it to work, I would have to cut meals, lodging, and my normal “per diem,” from my budget. Worse, there was a chance as dramatic as it sounds that something could happen to me when cutting the little things like shelter and food out of the normality of my day. Furthermore, locking $10,000 worth of gear in the trunk of a car and sleeping in a subway wasn’t the smartest thing to do for a guy with two kids and a lot of responsibility.

I looked up from my Mickey Mouse plate to see my son smiling at me and remembered that the outcome didn’t matter, as long as I came home. They had not caught on to my mood the past couple of days. I had done a good job of hiding it. They still didn’t know their father was planning to drive to one of the biggest cities in the world, put $10,000 worth of camera equipment on his back, eat out of trash cans and sleep in subways for five of the next ten days to make sure their livelihood would not change and thank goodness, had not figured out that he had also sacrificed their annual beach trip to do so. 

Dinner was quiet. I just watched them. Being a parent there are only two emotions that are utilized daily: Love and Desperation. Love is the obvious, but it’s not the love you show your wife or husband. It’s the burning unconditional, relentless love that rushes over you every minute they touch your hand, smile at you or cry for you. It’s the love that not even Satan himself could falter. The Desperation is the constant thought process of what to do next, how to do it and the underlying worry that something could happen to them at any minute if you as a flawed human relent at your job. I struggle severely from OCD so I am in constant fear of their life. I worry about things that keep me up at night. This world is cruel and SOME of the people in it make matters worse. I trust little when it comes to the care of my children. Every time they leave my sight, I worry I’ll never see them again. It’s a terrible way to live but it’s my job to make sure they live a long and happy life and I fear my mental capacity for forgiveness or restrain if somebody were to take that job away from me. 

Dinner’s half way done and I fight with myself because for the first time, I’m making a selfish choice to inadvertently put myself in harm’s way to see that they have a roof over their head. My selfishness of my career and quest for gold leaves me abandoning my post for longer than I ever have before. I’m only alive because I was given the miracle of them and now I will tempt fate again trying to protect them. This trip could be an epic failure. The room for error is insurmountable and yet, I greet it despite it’s heavy uncertainty. 

I snap out of my mindless ramble as Payton looks at me and smiles, “Whatcha’ thinking about Dad?”

I break a tear. My mind unforgiving of the fear I have for this excursion. I look at them for a moment. River has cheese from his forehead to his chin. I can’t help but laugh remembering my promise to them that everything will be alright no matter what. I cherish every moment with my children. Even the bad ones. The worried ones. The Desperation of Parenting I invite in like a family member.

“Ol just stuff,” I reply. I eat another bite. It’s now cold and soggy, maybe a prequel to many dinners ahead of me on this trip. I relieve myself by remembering that this is what I chose. This was my desperation at the time I decided to take these jobs on. I knew what I was getting into. I knew it had to be done. I’ll put it all in God’s Hands and hopefully fulfill my commitment and come back with the income I said I had to. I was always good at that. I am not always smart about how I do it, but I always find a way and this trip was no different. Two weeks from today, I’ll be back at this table with these same two people with my vagabond style NYC trip and my debt behind me. If not, I will have to trust in others involved to protect my children. It may be my worst fear but it was my split second desperation filled decision that will lead me to the outcome that I will have to be OK with. For now, I’ll exodus the stress and enjoy the next 24 hours with them as if it were my last as I do everyday I’m with them. 

I flick a shell onto River’s face as a quiet dinner becomes a romper room. I nearly forget my worries, my desperation, letting love take over the moment as so many moments before. 

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Thursday, June 17, 2010


f 4.5 Shutter 60 ISO 200 (Custom Magenta Settings/ Slight Color Tone Adjust in camera) No Editing

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Cover Up Miss

f5.6 shutter 60 ISO 200 - (Custom Saturation Settings) No Editing

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Crest of Night

f 5.6 Shutter 60 ISO 1600

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Building Characters For a New Film

There are only THREE important aspects to writing a Good Film.

1- A Beginning
2- An Ending
3- And Most Importantly, GOOD CHARACTERS.

If one studies their characters and literally builds and molds them, the “in betweens” of the beginning and ending will come. I come from the Syd Field School of Scriptwriting. Even after taking his class years ago, I still didn’t believe in some of his methods. He taught you to literally write hours and hours of backstory for all of your characters even if one of them only showed up for one scene. When I say backstory, he would have us write if they were born from Natural Childbirth or not to what their favorite food was even if they never ate in the story. I had thought it to be very extraneous UNTIL I decided to practice the full discipline to write Meter. And just like he promised, the practice added so many more dimensions to my characters. I decided after Meter to take the time to do this practice even if I had a character who was deceased but talked about. I’ve only written two scripts since surrendering to Mr. Field’s disciplines and both scripts ended up basically writing themselves because of the heavy character development. In fact, the Plot Points kind of just fell into place without even having to think about them because, I knew the characters so much.

When I was approached about writing a “faith based film,” I thought, “well all those films are so one dimensional.” I being new to faith again, thought that this job would be an undertaking. BUT it would help me grow in my faith and help me really stretch my writing wings because if you have seen my films, then you know what kind of style I have. Of course the practice, will be tough because I will have to find a way to avoid “beating the film goers’ over the head with the theme” and writing characters that are so “thick” even the worst of actors could really make them believable. I also have to do this without a hint of grit, darkness, or vulnerability my main characters normally have. I have spent a month working on characters already and I can’t help but delve too deep. This is going to be a lot tougher than I think.

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