What I Learned in 2014: Mike Jacobs, Strike Anywhere

By Egotist / /

First a quick recap: 21 projects completed, 3 international shoots, 3 trips to Pennsylvania for 3 different projects, 3 trips to Texas but only 1 to Austin. We damaged 1 camera package, 2 grip trucks, and got 6 parking tickets. We made product launches for tech companies and absurdist comedy for a beer brand. We made spots for a bank and a wireless printer. We created branded content for a hospital, a multinational conglomerate, and some hiking boots. We premiered a short Þlm on cable, got invited to 5 film festivals, spoke at 1 conference, and did 1 interview for Marketplace. We rode our bikes less but surfed more. We also bought some new office furniture.

It was an awesome year, our busiest since forming Strike Anywhere in 2010 and the lessons keep on coming. Being a business owner and an artists has proven to be a very challenging career path but its also an incredibly exciting time to be an artist and a business owner. The need for content keeps growing and the quality of the work is going up. The lines between advertising and entertainment continue to blur while shooting formats and web video players distort production value.

But even in this era of ever-cheaper digital tools,filmmaking remains an extremely expensive, at times messy form of storytelling. It requires a lot of different specialists working independently yet simultaneously towards a shared goal. You have artists and egos, technical complications, and the unpredictability of actors or documentary subjects expected to communicate on-brand, be concise, and perform with nuance. Then mix in the delicate balance of collaborations between agency creatives, the brands (who are ultimately paying us to make these films!) their product, and the results can be at times unpredictable. But that’s what we love about it and often that’s where our best work is made, amongst the maelstrom, taking on a life of its own, dictating the direction to go in.

(that is, until the client sees the first cut and we begin to deconstruct…)

I learned that I have more limitations than I would care to admit. I learned that I get distracted too easily. I learned it’s all still pretty damn thrilling. I learned I still struggle with patience. I learned that money does matter. I learned that casting can lead to difficult conversations around race. I learned to communicate better and still come up short. I learned that the accounts team can be my best friend. And my worst enemy. I learned that even when I know we made something strong, there can still be disappointment. I learned to let go when I know we are making something not so great but the client is happy. I learned once again (and again) that the right music always makes a difference. And I learned that I really have no shot at pitching in the majors but at least I jinxed the Dodgers while trying.