Where is the line between insanity and creativity?
Editing raw film footage for the first time.
I kid... Kind of. But insofar as we’re talking about the creative process? I’d say when you stop just talking about an idea and start doing something about it. For me that’s articulating it enough so I can run it by my best friend and producing partner, Cara Kidwell. She always tells me the brutal truth, so find your Cara Kidwell (or a good therapist/proxy).
What benefits does art provide society? Does art hurt society in any way?
Man, this is a looooooonnngggg list. But basically I think it provides comfort, inspiration, self reflection, and hope. I think of my favorite statue “Nadia,The Blind Flower Girl of Pompei” and what she did for me. I wanted to tell her story and was sad that world would never know it, until I realized how famous she was and that I could be the one who tells stories like hers. Thankfully audiences have agreed thus far, and I hope that means the art I do is of some small benefit so at least a few people out there.
I think the only art that hurts society is the kind that deliberately tries to mislead patrons and audiences with falsehoods, and do nothing but be provocative for provocative’s sake, particularly in the film medium. Nothing irritates me more in this business than when a group of filmmakers get together and basically make propaganda films and try to pass them off as “truth.” And don’t give me that “it’s for the greater good” argument. You have an agenda and you want to make money by stoking fear and hate through discourse. I honestly don’t know how they sleep at night or what they tell themselves during the arduos editorial process, where truth is laid the most bare. Be provocative, my first film “After Porn Ends,” was just that. But have a purpose other than just pushing human beings apart and lining your pockets while doing so.
Why are humans so susceptible to magical thinking?
Well, you’re asking a guy with a Lord of the Rings tattoo so I may not be the best to answer this...
But I believe that it’s a mix of folks working their tails off and being the perineal Sysiphus in life, with life substituting for the boulder. They’re just looking for a way to finally push it over the hill and thrive. Conversely, a lot people are just really freaking lazy and are always looking for the easy way out. Spoiler alert, this just leads to more unproductive behavior. Get off your duff and make your own magic happen!
What inspired you to make the Parrot Heads documentary?
My dad and one of my best friends, fellow producer of the film Vance Daniels. We both grew up fishing and traveling with Jimmy Buffett on the tape deck and CD player, going to concerts since we were teenagers, reading his books, and making margaritas in our hero’s honor. I’m a Parrot Head (Jimmy Buffett fan) and proud of it, and I just so happen to make movies. So after having a few margaritas during Taco Tuesday at Cabo Cantina these two truths melted together, which led to me calling Vance (and Cara), and six years later we had the #1 documentary on Amazon, with Jimmy Buffett himself acting as our distributor. Dreams really do come true!
What is the biggest challenge in creating the Parrot Heads documentary and what is the most rewarding part of the experience?
Financing was the #1 challenge. I had more people say “Isn’t he (Jimmy Buffett) dead?” than I could count.The people involved made it such a joy to make that the only creative challenge was having to choose what to cut out of the film.
It was rewarding on so many levels that it’s hard to say just one. But making my dad proud, the fans embracing the film, and being able to call my hero a business partner and friend would be at the top of that list.
What drives your creative outputs?
The absolute primal need to tell stories and entertain people. There’s nothing more I love other than discovering a new story and crafting it into a palpable product for an audience. Well, that and discovering that Bojangles Chicken and Biscuits has a pimento cheese biscuit on the menu now.
Would it be more frightening to discover that humans are the most advanced species in the universe or that we are far from being the most advanced species in the universe?
A bit of a loaded question, but I think Hemingway summed up my feelings best: “The world is a fine place and worth fighting for.” So I’m not frightened by who were are as a species and I relish the thought that there might be another out there that we can learn from and make us all better beings for it.
What causes the most harm in the world, but is completely avoidable?
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs stipulate that basic needs such as food, water, and shelter are the primary essentials to sustain life, how inhumane it is for people to still be deprived of these things in this modern age?
Well, I live in the homeless capital of America (Los Angeles) and can’t walk five minutes in any direction without seeing it. Unfortunately much of it is a mental health issue and people won’t seek help (donate to NAMI.org if you can, they’re a fantastic mental health charity/organization). But also, it chaps my ass that our leaders/politicians do NOTHING but help perpetuate this and can’t see the forest through the trees. It’s time to put partisanship aside, vote them out, and put Angelenos in place that have not only kind hearts, but bold solutions.
How do you achieve creative actualization?
First, I only tell stories that I’m passionate about. To paraphrase the great Kathryn Bigelow, “If you’re passionate enough about a project, it will get you through ANYTHING.” The rest almost always germinates from/through conversations with good friends and colleagues. I have a circle of those that I trust to kick things around with. Someone will say something really stimulating in response to one of my ideas and the switch just kind of flicks on. Then I bury myself in research and writing, run it by Cara, polish the hell out of it, run it by Cara again, do a final polish, and assemble the best team that I can to get those cameras rolling. The rest is up to fate, luck, fiscally generous producers, and God’s will.
Are there days when I’m down and creatively empty? Damn straight there are, more than I’d care to mention. But that “Eureka!” moment is the most powerful feeling I’ve ever experienced and like my grandmother’s fried chicken; I always want it and will do anything to obtain it’s crispy, juicy goodness!
Everyone’s process is different, and there’s no “right way” to do it other than not being afraid to put yourself out there. Be brave, tell the stories you want to tell, and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t at least f’ing TRY to do so.
Parrot Heads is available to stream for free with your Amazon Prime account and for rent or purchase on iTunes, Google Play, and Vudu.