More and more I find that "wisdom" is not necessarily an outcome of the aging process. There is an old saying that always makes me smile. It goes like this: "With age comes wisdom. But sometimes age comes alone...." At times I can be a shining example of that disconnection.
We were in the car yesterday heading home to Austin after a quick trip to San Antonio to check on my nearly nonagenarian parents and, curious to hear Ben's opinion, I asked him in what ways did he think I might get assigned more video projects from clients. His first thought was, "do more marketing." but he stopped and did his usual long consideration before delivering his core advice...
"You know, you've probably read every book out there about video production, directing, lighting and audio, and you've probably watched every video on Lynda.com about video but you still come to get me when you're sitting in the studio editing. And mostly when you ask my opinions it's about aesthetic stuff like where to cut or what clips to use. My advice is to stop learning from the books and the video and all the other stuff and start making fun, small videos."
"When I first started out Jack and Graham and Cade and I would sit around and come up with these zany little story lines and then we'd grab whatever video camera we could get our hands on and go out and act out our ideas. We'd make crappy props and try obvious special effects. And then we'd come back and edit the stuff together. When we did our edits we'd figure out that we needed a different angle or a whole different clip and we'd rush out the door and shoot some more and then come back and work it in. After a while it just becomes second nature to make sure you've got what you need while you are actually out shooting."
"I probably shot and edited 200 short, fun pieces before I was even out of high school. You learn best when you actually go out and apply all that stuff you think you know. You learn best when you screw up. But you really learn best when you are just having fun."
"If you did more hands-on stuff you'd end up with a lot more stuff you'd want to share and the fun stuff is probably what prospective clients really want to see. They want to know that you can have fun with their stuff. And that the edits and stuff are natural and practiced."
"There is such a thing as knowing too much....and doing too little."
We were just passing the outlets malls in San Marcos, about a half hour from home when he summed up: "Write and shoot a few hundred projects just for fun and then start the marketing. That should work."
When he finished his mother (the source of all his intelligence genes) smiled her typical Mona Lisa smile and added, "Sweetie....it's like you've always told people, it's all about time in the water."
I drove on in silence. Ben was in the back seat zoning out to his trying to fall asleep in the car playlist on his phone while his mom turned her attention back to the novel she'd been reading. As the giant pickup trucks roared by in the left lane I was busy thinking about some of the fun stories I needed to start telling. It took my mind off the search for my next ultimate lens.
You may not believe me but I've found Ben's quotient of common sense to far exceed whatever meager supply I was given. When I follow his advice I am usually successful. When I rebuff it I generally have no one but myself to blame for the outcomes.
He's heading back to school on Saturday. I'm comforted to know I can always text him when I hit the next roadblock.