The Story of My Life
A chance to celebrate and understand what has made me, me.
Note: This is a biographical journal entry written in early 2016. The text remains largely unaltered from it’s original form. This work was created shortly after my re-acceptance to NYU.
For the past six years I have dedicated my life to the art and science of filmmaking at both the student and professional level. Having worked on more than 85 short films, many award-winning projects, and having attended the premiere boarding arts high school in the world, Interlochen Arts Academy continuing on to study film at NYU, I value my education and experience as innately responsible for the nature of my present being. Art established my fundamental pursuit of knowledge; philosophy, science, and technology continue to nurture my will to grow.
At Interlochen, I was lucky to engage in an education firmly rooted in art and film studies. I took classes in film history, aesthetics, genres, production, directing, lighting, analysis, cinematography, editing, and experimental storytelling, completing more than 5,000 hours of deliberate practice with a school day lasting from 8am to 6pm. At the time, I was only the second student ever to complete their rigorous, four-year intensive film program with a major in Motion Picture Arts. I became exposed to a world of culture, ideas and collaboration. I regularly attended, dance, music, theatre and creative writing performances, exposing me to a rich global perspective. My closest friends were from China, Thailand and Korea with students representing nearly every state as well as more than 30 countries.
The realization came within my first three days at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts cementing a maxim I had been contemplating long before. Simply stated: There is so much more to do in life than just one thing. I was developing a script about human connection, human emotion, human understanding and human potential and since sharing my ideas had garnered immense support and appreciation from positive psychologist and NYU faculty member turned mentor, Daniel Lerner.
Understanding that it would take much more than a knowledge of art to realize my dream of creating work one day capable of changing the world, I decided to pursue a two-year personal and financial leave of absence to develop my ideas and the entirety of my being.
Focusing solely on my personal, artistic and intellectual growth, I have made this time one of tremendous transformation.
In the last 24 months, I have read more than 100 of the most influential texts in the western canon, completing more than 1200 hours of education in philosophy, psychology, physics, history and neuroscience, managing an additional 200+ hours of education in music provided by MOOC’s online. I have produced more than 1500 pages of detailed notes, multiple synopses for developing social, philosophical and scientific doctrines, a lifelong intellectual roadmap and a handful of initial ideas I believe can change the world.
Deciding that my physical fitness would never be a limit to my creation, I have also successfully lost more than 75lbs. I began taking piano lessons as well as learning Chinese. I watched and reviewed over 100 films, often creating detailed critiques and analysis, effectively rewriting my own education in art. I was fortunate enough to travel the country with my family and helped cofound the first specifically curated digital distribution platform for short form content called Movee, which led me to work in LA.
Having left school for very different reasons, Movee eventually shut down and I returned home. Embodying the ideals of interdisciplinary and independent study I reapplied to the only program I knew fit, the NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study.
Being raised in a town of 350 people, Gallatin puts me on a global stage to succeed. With autonomy to develop and direct my own educational experience, (Gallatin Students declare their own major) I will be able to continue my current model of study through the same rigorous inquiry into subjects and ideas that resonate directly with the content, purpose and outcome, which I desire. Because of my vast interdisciplinary interest, I find the ability to apply my understanding, creativity and skill to various disciplines at the university level mesmerizing, just as I have demonstrated personally during my time away.
With over 86 trillion cells and 250,000 active neuronal connections occurring per second, expressing the potential of the human brain remains the single most important challenge of our time.
I was accepted on the premise that my major will combine areas of philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, history, physics, and art to explore the potential of our species and the power of the human mind.
Today my philosophy and interests lie within the history of ideas, the reification of philosophy through art, metaphysics, ethics, phenomenology and the nature of consciousness, governance and the social contract, post-capitalist economics, Utopia, Greek, Roman and medieval literature, theoretical physics, and human potential. I am primarily concerned with the nature of education as a path toward enlightenment, the philosophy of pedagogy and perennial erudition.
At NYU I was exposed to the very same books, films, and ideas already deeply embedded in my arts education. Beyond the classroom, I immersed myself in expanding my technical knowledge of filmmaking, gaining personal and professional experience, learning industry standard practices of on set work. Freshmen are required only 12 hours of on set experience. I gladly finished my academic year with an admirable 724. I crewed as a camera assistant on my first multi-million dollar feature film, directed commercials for 2XU and Chevrolet, and worked in both senior level and professional settings, including a commercial for Gatorade and over 20 student sets.
With a life flourished through art, I have always shared a fundamental connection to creation. As a Filmmaker: Tarkovsky Bergman, Fellini, Kobayashi, Ozu, Bresson. In Music: Mahler, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Verdi, Chopin, Liszt, Bach and Brahms. In Philosophy: Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Confucius, Boethius, Cicero and Seneca.
Growing up, I had many friends, played every sport, and considered myself an exemplar of common experience. I was raised in a town of 350 people, the first in my family to pursue a career in art, let alone define interest in philosophy, history, science or potential. I was never granted exposure to such facets of academic introspection; contrarily I was simply raised in a family where love, respect and reinforcement nurtured my capability to grow in the realization of my wildest dreams. I have a brother, two dogs, and a middle-class upbringing. I have worked every summer since I was 10 for our family business (A motel in our small town.)
Reluctant to consider an existence less truly lived, I am always looking beyond what is thought to be even possible to cultivate the power of my mind. Understanding that education and a will to learn ad infinitum remains central to my position on meaningful experience has left me contemplating the future and this next very important step.
Dedicating my life to wisdom, virtue and an understanding of truth in happiness is only the beginning of what I perceive truly valuable. Ultimately it is my sense of creation that separates the importance of learning, establishing a tangible basis of understanding to always seek and do more. To create something meaningful and to contribute to this world is still what I desire most. For that reason I continue to pursue the reification of philosophy through art so that I may remain connected to my deepest gift within.
I currently write for Gary Vaynerchuk.
I produce an article in collaboration with Gary most days (M-F) distributing that content to Garyvaynerhuk.com, Medium, Facebook, LinkedIn and Apple News. I also run Gary’s written content strategy on Reddit & Quora along with his Monday newsletter “The Hustler’s Digest” as well as traditional PR/Biz Dev helping us get published in outlets like Entrepreneur, Business Insider, INC, Foundr, and many others.
The content I have produced since joining has more than 90M views taking Gary from #10 to #1 on Medium during my first 7 weeks.
I am currently in the midst of launching a new publication on Medium coinciding with Gary’s new book called “Crushing It” centered around sharing stories of personal and professional success inspired by GV.