Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What I Learned From Damon Dash

There was a period of a few months (some millions of years ago), when I had to spend every single day around Damon Dash - then head of Rocafella Records. I was working on a long form project with him and from his house to the office to spending time with his friends, it really was an all-in situation.

I learned a lot from him - well, at least one really important thing - and it was that if nothing else, he's a man of action.

If he had an idea at 11:58, by noon he was on it. He was making calls and he would follow up and he wouldn't stop until it was happening.

I know so many people with so much talent who tell me these great ideas, and often one of two things happen. 1. Nothing. Or 2. They start, but don't finish. And by finish I mean, really stick through the roughest, ugliest, non-money-makingest part of it until it happens.

I know from watching him that Damon's follow-through was impeccable. Even now, I don't count him out because I know the man. Whatever he's working on, the moment he had that idea he put it into motion and he won't stop until it happens. I know it seems un-timely to talk about what I learned from him with so many stories swirling about where he is now, but this isn't a story about what it takes to stay "there," but what it takes to get "there." And that "quick to action" added with "don't stop/ won't stop-ness" - the will to push and push on the same project - not jumping to something else - until the first one happened instead of giving up when things don't magically turn out the way they want in 6 months. Or a year. Or even two years... is THE way to get there and the most crucial part of filmmking because:

1. The average length of time it takes a script to go from script to screen is 7 years.
2. At every WGA seminar inevitably someone asks about sending out treatments of a script as a writing sample and the panelists tell them absolutely not and by the way don't tell ANYONE you're writer until you have a feature length script to show because if you were a writer you would.
3. Filmmaking is not so much a profession as a life-long commitment. It's like joining a convent. You give your life to it. You get hurt by it, you get knocked down by it, rejected by it. You have to go to meetings ALL the time, work EVERY day, FINISH scripts, face rejection and uncertainty constantly and if you don't know going into it that you can do that, then make your life easier and go to school for a 2nd degree in a lucrative, stable career like law.

Otherwise - when you have an idea, jump on it, wrestle with it, work it out, PERFECT IT. Do it NOW. And then DON'T. STOP.


  1. Just what I needed to hear. I'm always waiting for the right moment, when the moment is now. Thanks :)

  2. I needed a Dash of the Damon tonic. Love it!

  3. Blessed Love and you're right. I will be reaching out to you about our upcoming Soul Flower Film Fest. Hope you can attend.