After winning the money, I had some problems with my partner on the video. Another lesson: put your name on everything you do. Contracts and clearances are a necessary evil in this business. Neglecting these will bring serious problems later. I still felt good about what we had done, but some of the joy was definitely stolen as a result. For the next six months I floundered a bit. It seems like winning pointed out the obvious: I was not supposed to be working at the post office. I became more depressed with the current situation. In August 2002, a friend came to me and said “If you want to leave, I can loan you $10,000.” I could hardly believe my ears, but it was all I needed to hear. I gave the post office a terse, one-sentence retirement, and began my own company.
Park Bench Productions, Inc. was launched in September 2002. I had been reading several books and listening to tapes on business over the past year. Now it was time for action. My friend became the first shareholder, I became the president, and off we went. I still had a lot to learn, so for the next 2 years I struggled with direction. I knew what I wanted to do, but didn’t quite know how to get there. I got distracted with ‘jobs’, doing legal video, a first holy communion. We did a video for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which I felt good about, but overall I wasn’t doing what I wanted. I worked seasonally doing taxes, continued to bring investors, and bought office equipment. Still, no movies.
Looking back, I should have taken the $10,000 and immediately made a film. It would have been enough for a camera, computer, editing equipment, etc. But that simply wasn’t my journey. It seems I had to go through that frustration to really commit, without distraction. I consider it on-the-job training. It all came to a head in September, 2004 when I had lunch with a friend who would go on to be my first producer, Dino Campitelli. I had been speaking to Dino about what I was doing, rather passionately as I remember. He smiled at me. “I only have one question”, he said. I looked at him. “Why didn’t you come to me?” I had no answer.
We met for lunch the following week, and Dino’s participation became a cornerstone of my career ever since. I realize now it was a real God experience, as so many are. Had I not had the passion, I’m sure Dino would have wished me well. But that would have been it. Thankfully, that’s not what happened. And within six months of our meeting, we begin shooting our first film. stay tuned, jsf