I’ll never forget my first time in Hollywood. When I was younger, my father met a screenwriter through a business meeting. When the meeting ended, instead of letting an opportunity pass by, my dad asked him a question. “My youngest son wants to be a filmmaker. Would you be willing to meet up with him sometime?” To my dad’s surprise, he said yes! So when I was 13 years old, that was my Christmas present that year.
I would soon meet a man named Jeffrey Jurgensen, who I later found out wrote the screenplay for one of my favorite movies at the time, “Agent Cody Banks”. He was kind enough to let me hang with him for a day in Hollywood, showing me around his world. Jeffrey shared his story and tips from his career, which were not only inspiring but also insightful.
Before we left California, my dad and I decided to walk down the famous Hollywood Boulevard. To my amusement, they were shooting a tv show. To most kids my age “heaven” was defined as Disneyland. For me, it was right here! We decided to stand by and watch the filming for hours on end. So long that we were actually asked to be extras in the show! Before we knew it, it was approaching midnight and actors and crew had a short food break. A few “important looking” crew members remained on the set and were standing around. We decided to walk up and introduce ourselves, because hey, why not?
One of the men ended up really opening up to us and sharing his life story. Years back he wanted to get into film. The only problem was he had no connections and no experience in that field, only a desire. So what did he do? He walked up to a set one day and made himself available. He offered to help with whatever was needed, even if that meant being the coffee guy. By simply volunteering and being servant minded, he climbed the ladders and arrived at being an assistant director the day I was there. That was years ago. There’s no saying what kinds of opportunities a man with that kind of mindset has landed today!
Years later looking back, I realized something. There is great value in going out of your way - and even your comfort zone to personally meet those who inspire you! For me, Devin Graham has always been someone on my list of inspirational people. Devin has been a pioneer in the YouTube community known for producing some of the most extreme adventure videos out there. Just recently he reached over half a billion views on his channel; which currently has nearly 3 million subscribers. I have been drawn towards not only his thirst for adventure but also his outlook on life, which is evident through everything he creates. Sometimes the individuals that end up on our lists of inspirational people are comprised of those who appear larger than life and out of reach. I am here today to tell you that you are limiting yourself when you accept you will never be able to connect on some level. You need to see the value in at least trying, and it's this kind of thinking that will get you where you need to go.
Because Devin earns a living off of filming while traveling, he is often on the other side of the world typically in exotic locations (sadly this is not where I live). When I was notified by a friend late one night that the next day Devin was going to be filming 7 hours away, I decided I was going to get to that shoot at all costs. This involved a total of 14 hours of driving to be on the set for 4 hours. Upon arriving, we were able to able to participate in the event, sponsored by Mountain Dew. Through the duration of the shoot I was able to spend time with Parker and Creighton, who are members of Team Supertramp. Devin was also kind enough to let me shoot behind the scenes footage and extra angles on the glidecam that I brought with me. By simply making myself available and offering value, I was able to shoot alongside one of my biggest role models in life - not something I woke up that morning expecting to do.
Months later, I again found myself on one of their shoots, this time with Ubisoft, in the city of Chicago. It was great to further connect with Devin's right hand man, Parker. I respect Parker for the humility he walked in while encouraging Kody and I to follow our passions, while opening up about the sacrifices he has made to be where he is now. Another person we had the chance to speak with, named Chris, played the main character and shared his inspiring story of overcoming fears and obstacles while becoming a full time stuntman in movies and videos. Someone we weren't expecting to meet was the founder of Glidecam. This connection in turn led to sponsorship by Glidecam, whom we have trusted for multiple years. This just goes to show the importance of looking for a new connection everywhere you go, and representing yourself in a respectful way.
It's one thing to be inspired by people, but it's a whole new level of inspiration to have the chance to talk with them in person. Many people don't take the effort to do this because it seems unrealistic or unobtainable. Whether it looks like showing up to a film set, a speaking event, or even just writing an email, you never know until you try.
Moral of the story: Know who inspires you, then find a way to meet them.
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