Reputation takes a lifetime to build, and a second to be destroyed.

My reputation is something I’ll defend with passionate ferocity. It’s more valuable than any camera, lens, or lighting kit I could ever own. It is why I choose wisely both the clients and productions or people I team up with. I built a reputation for myself in tactical combatives and martial arts and made a living for 20 years training both enthusiasts and fighters. I built a reputation working with Tigers, Lions, and Leopards at Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue. I’ve now built a reputation for myself as a filmmaker and visual storyteller. Reputation is everything. It is how we define ourselves.

It’s a sad reality, we’ve all worked on productions we wish we never did, and have trusted the wrong people at times. It takes a strong backbone and tough skin to withstand all of the backstabbing and negativity in this industry. Even worse is when those individuals blame you for their own problems and can’t accept the painful and brutal reality of their own crimes against you. In my earlier years, I had the misfortune to team up with “less than professional and even less trusthworthy” individuals. The nightmares that came about still haunt me occasionally to this day. I take them all as a learning experiences now, and use them to empower and protect me, rather than weigh me down.

If only someone could have rescued me from the nightmare experience I would unknowingly encounter after agreeing to collaborate with a few of these backstabbing traitors and thieves. I can only chalk them up to learning experiences, and I’m now much wiser about who I team up with and which productions I become a part of. So in some weird twisted way, I’m glad they all happened.

Build Your Reputation and Protect It

I’ve built my reputation on my desire to create Cinematic Visuals. There are few things as satisfying as having an audience of several hundred people enjoy work you created on the screen. These days it isn’t easy. It takes constant work to build and audience and just as much work to keep them. The type of work we do, and the quality of what we do will determine our audience, and how they perceive us.

My reputation earns me the high level of clientele I have for luxury weddings, million dollar estates, photography clients, film productions, commercial and corporate videos, and more. It’s taken years to establish this, and in the beginning I did plenty of free work just to prove myself and build my portfolio. Finally, I’m at the point where I can pick and choose my clients, battles, and projects. I decide where I want my business to evolve and how it will grow. But the battle isn’t over yet… now I have to maintain it.

Protecting my reputation is just as important and equally challenging as building it. I must constantly challenge myself to expand my skill sets, knowledge, and creativity. I must experiment with new techniques and keep up with trends and technology. I have to consider how my actions in public, and even more so not eh set reflect myself and my company “I Am Cinema”.

Those who’ve worked with me know I’m very passionate about what I do, and I’m incredibly persistent on how something should be done. I know the end result I want to achieve, so that requires a certain level of intensity and extra effort on the set.

I have zero tolerance for laziness and arrogance. If someone on set presents valid, creative, and insightful advice or a better way to doing something, I’m all for it and willing to learn or give it a try. Respect is something I give to those who’ve earned and deserve it. When I have a crew member who busts their ass and shows passion and dedication, I reward it.

One of the best examples I can give concerning how passion and dedication pay off, and how someone builds a reputation, is by a young filmmaker I’ve worked with from See~Worthy Films. Her name is Syndey Bowers. She’s a young and wildly creative filmmaker. She with me on the 2nd season of TWEET, and let me just say, she amazed the hell out of me. When I gave advice, she listens. When I asked her for something, she hustled. When I gave her a task, she finished it. When I taught her, she learned with appreciation. Never once did she complain or take on a lazy attitude. She came to the set everyday and worked non-stop. She’d ask for advice, she’d watch how we worked on set, she developed technical and creative skills. Now working with me again on In Sanity, Florida, she’s earned the right to be a camera operator and is my 2nd in command. I know I can rely on her and trust her to not only work hard, but to be creative and do what we’re supposed to, which is tell a story.

The reputation I’ve built for myself has earned me the right to return as Director of Photography and Editor for See~Worthy’s new series “In Sanity, Florida”. My reputation has brought to work with real professionals with creative minds and a passion for storytelling similar to myself. When you work long enough and hard enough, you’ll eventually find others like you. I’m very fortunate to have the clients I have, and to work with the productions, casts, and crews that share these passions.

I’m not lucky. I’ve worked for this. I’ve suffered for this. I’ve sacrificed for this. I’ve been knocked on my ass time and time again, but I stood back up and kicked off the dust every time. With every negative experience I had, I learned from those challenges. I’m smart enough now to know who I can trust and who is for real. I recognize snakes in disguise. I recognize those who fight for quality reputation and have earned it by facing life head on and rising to success.

For those born into it… they’ll never know the value and reward of what a lifetime of hard work and determination feels like. When you finally break through and achieve success despite the odds against you… nothing beats that feeling. I’m very proud of the reputation I have. Yes, there are some individuals in this world as I’ve mentioned, who would say otherwise about me, but I recognize them no longer. They are dead to me and forgotten. Their opinions are void and full of bitterness or jealousy. What matters to me are the opinions of those I respect, and those who are worthy of it and deserve it.