I was interviewed once by a film school graduate for a film magazine, who had the attitude of who was I to think I can make feature film without an expensive film school, and without working for years as an intern.
Who am I? I was born in a small town in Pennsylvania. The first house I remember as a child was a log cabin without electricity out in the woods on Mason Hill. Later we lived in an oil boom town that had gone bust. It was a small town with limited opportunities.
As a kid I decided that I needed to do things differently from the people around me if I was going to be a winner. I heard the famous coach Vince Lombardi say “Victory doesn’t just go to the strongest and the fastest it goes to the one who thinks he can win.” I came to four important conclusions.
If I don’t try I don’t win.
- Winning doesn’t require that I to be better than everyone else.
- Bad habits and bad assumptions are my worst enemies.
- Teaching others teaches me.
As a kid I read classic books because no matter how difficult they were to read, there was a reason that they had become classics. I remembered a quote from Aristotle who said “We are what we do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.”
After the real estate bust in the 1980s I realized that economic security is a necessity, so I decided to become the first person in my family to become an attorney.
I had no role model, but I realized that I could only be defeated by my own doubts.
I worked full time at a maximum security prison in a disciplinary unit at night to get through law school. All my workers were murderers. I went to law school full time in the day time even when I had to stand up in the class to stay awake. I discovered that if I trained my mind to win, success would follow.
I passed the bar, worked hard for 25 years, raised my family, put the kids through college. But that’s not who I am either. Not all of me anyway.
When I was a kid I wrote poems and stories. I wanted to make films, but we had no money. Filmmaking is a risky proposition. It was better for me to put my nose to the grindstone, but I always wanted more. I wanted a change and I viewed myself as a winner.
I learned several things about life while working in the prison. Life will keep you on your knees if you let it and excuses don’t count so don’t bother making them.
Rocky Balboa said something like “Winning is about how much you can take and still keep moving forward” and I don’t think truer words have ever been spoken.
Young people are fun to be around because they are the opposite. They radiate potential. Unfortunately that doesn’t last long as they are continually told they aren’t good enough, aren’t smart enough or don’t have the background to reach their dreams. Eventually they believe the criticism.
I want to tell each of them to “Dare to be great!” “Live your life with a purpose!” “It’s not where you came from, it’s about your desire to do something!”
The first thing I do every morning is the hardest thing for me to do that day, so I’ll have no excuses. I focus on doing one small thing at a time and do it the best I can do it. Doing things right the first time gives you more free time!
The happiest times of my life are when I am making progress on my projects. Don’t do it by force of will power. Create an inspiring goal to fuel your desire. By creating this vision I create an intense positive emotional reason to succeed.
I do little steps every day, and consistent problem solving. There are no sudden successes or failures. The old joke is that it takes 10 years to become an overnight success. Remember to meet people, to read books and write a nice notes.
Tony Robbins says “We act consistent with who we think we are.” If you think of yourself as a smoker, even if you quit smoking you’ll eventually return to smoking.
When did you define yourself? Did you decide what you were capable of doing as an undeveloped kid? Is that fair to who you are now? What is the tipping point to decide it’s time to redefine who we are?
Athletes find the time to work out. People who make money find a way to make more money. We are the actions we do consistently. I know who I am and I’m taking action.
I continue to work at improving my script writing, editing and camera work. I don’t have a Masters degree in filmmaking, so I draw upon the unconventional. I find that if I work with people with a high standard for filmmaking that I raise the bar for my own standards.
I won’t let my filmmaking associates down. I won’t let my filmmaking friends fail. Age, experience and education will not stop me. I will not know the meaning of defeat! I’ve made three feature length movies and this year I’m going to (AFM) American Film Market, October 31st-November 7th, 2012. (like Cannes for the west coast.)
By the way, that film school graduate that told me I would never make it in movies, to this day has never completed a feature film of his own.
I am Duke Marsh, a feature film maker, and I am a winner!
Duke Marsh Bio:
C. Duke Marsh – Director, Cinematographer, Writer, Producer (and attorney)
Born in Pennsylvania and raised in California. Duke has a doctorate in law as well as degrees in business and real estate. While married, raising his three sons and practicing law he also wanted to learn about filmmaking.
The time spent practicing law would not allow him to intern on movies or gain experience in other traditional ways.
He never believed anyone was going to just give him a chance to work on films. But, when the video revolution began he saw it as opening to create digital movies, and built his own video camera and video monitor from parts.
Then he spent years learning about lighting, sound, lenses, cameras, writing, directing, and movie production in order to do it on his own.
Back in the VHS days video wasn’t good enough to produce a feature film, but the second video revolution of digital cinema slowly made filmmaking broadly available to those with the knowledge to use it properly.
The equipment was soon upgraded to increasingly better equipment as he gained experience and connections while writing, producing, direction and shooting various movies. He has won a Telly Award and a Videographer’s award.
Sonia Marsh Says: Yes, Duke is my husband. You may already know about our family from my book, Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family's Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island.
I am so proud of Duke, but confess that I had no idea about his childhood passion and dream to make movies until I heard his emotional speech at a recent SCWA event, where he shared his story with the audience.
Do you have a “My Gutsy Story” you’d like to share?
Sonia Marsh Bio:
Sonia Marsh is a “Gutsy” woman who can pack her carry-on and move to another country in one day. She is the founder of the "My Gutsy Story" series, a popular contest on her blog.
She says everyone has a “My Gutsy Story”; some just need a little help to uncover theirs. Her story, told in her travel memoir Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family’s Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island, is about chucking it all and uprooting her family to reconnect on an island in Belize.
Sonia has lived in many countries – Denmark, Nigeria, France, England, the U.S. and Belize – Sonia Marsh considers herself a citizen of the world. She holds a degree in environmental science from the University of East Anglia, U.K., and now lives in Southern California with her husband, Duke.
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