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Hi Avery,

Today’s lesson is for the both of us, and together were going to learn from Steven Spielberg and his 1975 classic thriller, “Jaws”.

Before you get out of the water and close this blog for the summer, I must remind you that this is only a lesson, not some misguided encouragement to spoil the holy grail of the summer blockbuster. So get aboard this ship because:

“I have a bigger boat”

Jaws is considered one of the greatest cinematic thrillers ever made, and is regarded with a love from multiple generations and cultures of movie-goers. But there is a story about the making of this film that has resonated with my philosophical ideals of parenthood.

Avery, I day-dream about the many ways I will achieve the status “worlds greatest Dad”, and I don’t mean some $5 coffee mug people buy as a cute father’s day gift. This is an actual award to be presented in my honor & likeness and commemorate the greatest Father of the year. As genuine and naive as this goal may be, it has also left me conflicted. I have began to wonder if being the best is actually for the best?

Spielberg arrived on location with his screenplay, storyboards and actors ready to craft Hollywood magic. Also in tow was three different pneumatic Sharks controlled by a dozen special effect experts. Spielberg was ready to make audiences around the world be afraid to swim in open-water. I’ll never forget being at the beach and telling my younger sister, “Yes, a shark just like jaws lives in Lake Michigan”.

Avery, I wonder what your grand-parents would think if they could re-wind time and raise me again? Who would I be today if they were to reboot the process of my creation and right all their wrongs? Whatever their thought or reaction to this question may be, I want to take a moment and expunge them of their failures. Because in hindsight I turned out … alright. I have a steady job, a great life-partner and a strong passion for art & adventure; this was not magic or luck that I have learned to thrive in my environment. This leaves us with the key question of the lesson still unanswered, “is much of my current day success attributed to failure as well as successes?”.

Steven Spielberg has answered this question for us. The mechanical shark failed, and Spielberg had to shoot a movie about a shark, without a shark. Nearly every scene in the first half of the film had to be gutted and re-written on location. Everybody involved had to wonder if they were witnessing one of the greatest Hollywood train-wrecks ever. Let’s just assume Spielberg shared their doubts; but the money had already been spent and there was no way out. The wheels of life had been set in motion and a movie would be made for better or worse. Spielberg did his best to adapt on the fly, and judge for yourself, here is a scene that had no Shark.





Avery, live your life like the artist that accepts failure as a companion for success and not the threat. Spielberg did this, my parents did it, and Avery I promise to do the same for you. We only have one life to live, regret is a fantasy for the living, and a Jaws remake would suck.





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Hi Avery,

I’m at a pivotal time of my life right now, and in fact, I may be having a crisis of faith. I call myself an artist, and for me, art is like a church. It is my personal respite from all the ambiguity that haunts my future. The crisis of faith that I need to speak of, is how much the arrogance of hate and judgement, threatens my ambitions.

It bothers me, and I’m sick and tired of being ashamed of this fact. How could it not bother me, when I care about something so deeply, and all I want to do is share it with the world. That is the arrogant part, when we assume that one persons contributions are more valuable than others.

I know this so well, because I too have been a contributor of hate and judgement. Its the disease of the consumer, if you paid for it, you have the right to hate it, but now I pay for these acts with my own pride, and it haunts my every action and this payment makes it easier to just give up on being an artist. With every act of procrastination, I carve out my eventual escape plan from my own ambitions. I need to eradicate this fear, because it stands for everything that poisons a genuine act of creation.

Easier said, than done.

The reason this is important to you Avery, is that creating, caring, and protecting you, is art. I’m the co-director of your future, and the decisions I make with the canvas and craft of parenting, will be scrutinized, dismissed and judged as much, if not more than anything else I will love in my lifetime.

For instance, my favorite film of 2011 was created by a man who avoids the public at all cost. His film is nominated for picture of the year, best directing, and best cinematography, yet he will not even show up to the award ceremony, nor will you find a single interview with him about the nominations or any of his work. His film “The Tree of Life”, is a very personal, bold, and original attempt to create art from life, and no matter what you think about this film, you simply, can’t take that away from the creator. At this very moment, somebody, somewhere, is calling this movie “The biggest piece of garbage ever made”. I don’t really care why someone does or does not like something, I wonder what did this artist do wrong besides honor his own vision? If that is why he is being hated, than nobody should be surprised that he hides from pop-culture. If you feel the need to publicly hate this movie, ask yourself, “What does Terrence Malick owe you?”. The answer to that question is nothing, you paid to see an artist be creative, honest and ambitious, whether or not it works for you, shouldn’t be a reason to detest such a genuine effort of love.
As a creator, you have the responsibility to be honest with yourself, work hard, and find your own path. I’m still not there Avery, I’m still afraid to do this, and I still feel trapped in a cycle of insecurity and self-pity.

It is time I face this fear head on, and find my own way. I owe that to you, because nobody in the world should have the power to make me question your beauty.

So far, this has been all talk, so I want to prove that I’m not afraid to fail. Tonight, I’m going to shoot a short film, and I will release it for the world to see. I will try to not care about what people think about it, because it is not for them, it is for us.

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