GRAD SCHOOL (AKA World Travels)
After graduating from the film program at LMU, I continued as a freelance videographer full time. I remember telling myself at the onset of everything, “Get a freelance gig. Travel. Learn. Have fun and make enough money to pay for the next round.”
I quickly racked up an impressive roster of clients in the action sports industry, videoing surfers I idolized growing up and had since become friends with. The invitation alone was enough to get me to accept the work, even if the pay was below the poverty line (if at all). Ignorance is bliss, they say, and I was flying around the world without a plan or a place to stay just to see how it all worked.
I was able to see the world. Most of my friends from college were sitting at desks all day and I was out living. The list of countries I experienced were incredible and halfway through my 3 year tour I remember thinking to myself that this was the equivalent to Grad School for me. Where else could I get an education like this, something that was so different from my formal education, yet just as valuable.
I learned a lot of life, the pursuit of happiness and myself. I grew so much as a person during this time and my limits were tested time and time again.
It wasn’t always easy. I made mistakes, damaged camera equipment, slept on sidewalks, went broke more than once, got denied access to countries, and approached by men with machine guns but I never got down on myself. I always took these as learning experiences. Looking back on it, some of the situations I got myself into were pretty bad and could have easily been worse. But I was able to travel, see parts of the world I would have never seen otherwise, met beautiful people, and made close friends I’ll have for the rest of my life.
When I shot the Quiksilver campaign I was asked to pack my bags less than 12 hours before my flight- that’s less time than it takes to fly to Thailand from California. I could have never done this with a conventional mindset. Not having a plan can be scary at times, but believing in yourself will trump any doubts in front of you. I didn’t make any money doing this, but I gained a completely different education than what I was taught in school.
Luckily I was in my 20s at the time and lived a pretty carefree life. I was a sponge, soaking up every opportunity I could. I tried to learn something from everyone – even the accounting department.
This meant not knowing where I was going to sleep at times, not knowing where my next job was coming from, but none of that mattered to me. What mattered was the opportunity I had and was chasing.
I actually slept on the sidewalk in Paris, France with all my gear a couple of nights because I couldn’t find a hotel or anywhere else to stay. On the second morning a baker dropped off a bag of baguettes and day old bread for me. He thought I was homeless and felt bad, I guess.
During this time I walked into big media companies and convinced people to hire me. I was put in charge of productions with budgets up to $250,000. Had I been shy I would have never had the guts to do this. Looking back I’m actually surprised it worked, but had I not been a combination of hungry and ignorant I wouldn’t have done any of it.
With my combination of education, experience, and drive, I always over delivered. Everything happens for a reason, and none of my hard work went unnoticed. I knew it would all pay off one day, in some way, shape or form, but you never know how until you put yourself out there.
The culmination of this 3 year graduate program on life arrived with the ultimate opportunity. I was invited to join two friends on the trip of my dreams: make a surfing documentary as we travel across Europe by train.