Steve Martin wanted to be a magician and became the most famous comedian in the world. Arnold Schwarzenegger wanted to be the greatest bodybuilder who ever lived and became a movie star and governor. If you read enough biographies on successful people you will see a common thread that connects them all; they knew when to change their path.
I bought my first guitar in the sixth grade and by the time I was twelve I was playing Green Day and Weezer songs in front of my entire Junior High school. I was sure I had found my calling and it was to become a rock star. Fifteen years later I sounded and played better than ever but could no longer find the creative energy to pick the guitar up. This instrument that once brought me so much joy now sat in its case for months at a time until inspiration would find me… but eventually, inspiration stopped coming back.
I silently gave up on this dream in 2010 but didn’t realize it until two years later. There was no more enjoyment, there were no more songs in me, and although this may sound sad, it was a big sigh of relief. To fill the creative void I did something I’d always wanted to do and decided to create a stop-motion short film in my spare time. Wormholes became my new obsession. I spent every week for one-year building models, puppets, and learning how to animate in what used to be my home music studio. I mostly kept this to myself because I didn’t know how to explain it to my friends but it was incredibly fun. As I worked, memories started flooding back of my childhood and the hours I spent making films with my parent’s camcorder and my action figures. It felt like I had come home.
I decided to release Wormholes online and the feedback I received was far greater than anything I’d done in music. I think it was because I created it for the right reasons. It was simply made for fun and made for me. Over the next few years as I transitioned into becoming a filmmaker and animator, I saw many parallels with my experiences in music. It became evident that my failure at my first dream wasn’t a failure at all, but instead training and education.
With music I learned how to create flyers for my bands and spent years testing out different ways of promoting our shows. I learned how to create websites, logos, and CD covers, and work with printing presses. I figured out how to create buttons, and vinyl banners for our merch tables, and how to get interviews from the local papers and radio stations. My pursuits in music gave me the courage to approach venues about playing shows, and send my albums out to be reviewed.
I learned about the not so fun stuff like contracts and lawyers, copyright laws, and the disgusting habit of namedropping. I learned that every time I chased a trend, I would fail but when I created music or art that made me happy there was no downside. I learned that I’m not special and everyone in this world is capable of being great at something so I should not compare myself to others.
I learned that collaboration is extremely important and giving credit to those who contribute will lead to better work then doing everything on my own. I studied and observed everything with the music industry from the way a chord progression brought out emotions to how a band advertised their latest album. I learned to dissect why something worked and why it didn’t. When I decided to become a filmmaker, all of these lessons transferred over.
The title of this post is misleading because I didn’t give up on my dreams at all. I simply altered them based on my experiences and interests. I’m not the same as that twelve year old who first sang in front of an audience and I’m glad. I’ve evolved into someone else. Music is still a big part of my life and I enjoy composing for my movies, playing the guitar and piano in my spare time, and listening to what others are putting out into the world but I’m so thankful I gave up my dream because it made way for the new one and that’s just starting.