20 years ago, I co-produced this mini-travel series, and nearly died.
4 guys in an RV for 2 weeks, driving across the country, capturing the heart of America with spontaneous stories and craziness. It was gonna be like Road Rules and the Magical Mystery Tour, only better.
I just remember, first day of our travels, sitting in a hot dog stand, being honest about my ego: “Guys, it’s so hard to trust you with my vision.”
This was my first producing job. Technically I wasn’t even a producer, I was a researcher, but I got lucky. And it wasn’t even my solo vision, my friend and co-producer Pete had a lot to do with getting on the road.
No wonder the camera guys tried to lock me in the RV bathroom for most of the trip.
The journey became a war: we’d command the videographers what to do, never mind that they are a bit pissed off. We shot too much, we ate too much, with not enough sleep: I nearly drove the RV into a KFC at midnight one night. I had no clue how to present to camera, and mumbled a lot.
It’s only after this trip that I sat in my cubicle looking over all the stuff we shot, two weeks travelling across America, exhausted, failing to get my vision, way out of my depth.
I invited the camera operator to look at all the stories we had. I asked, a bit desperately, “Dude what would you do differently? How would you have told the story?”
And guess what i heard? Brilliant ideas, really creative edit choices, concepts that would have taken the project further. One of the people I couldn’t trust to deliver my genius ideas had greater ideas than I had.
This was the most powerful lesson, to learn to collaborate.
As a Producer/Director, its been the most valuable of lessons. Collaboration has become my most important super-power. It has made the projects and films I’ve worked on so much more enjoyable, so much fuller.
Everybody on a project, when you’ve got a good crew, a good team, it’s the best feeling in the world to participate in an atmosphere where there’s an equilibrium, a balance.