~ Photo Credit: Aaron Torres
-- FOUNDATIONS --
Growing up in the beauty of the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming, I lived in a childhood full of awe. My family life was rich with experiences in nature and in the imagination. They provided me with many artistic influences. I am indebted to my mentors.
My dad, Jeb, is my ultimate hero as a globe-trotting, high-altitude mountain climber. His professional outdoor photography influenced me with his images of beautiful vistas and their wild adventures painted amazing stories in my mind. My dad created slide shows of various expeditions, such as Cowboys on Everest, where he used music to tell the stories. One time my dad bought an album by Vangelis and, with a sparkle in his eye, he told me, "every song tells a story even if there are no words." Together we listened to the music and as it finished my dad asked, “What story did you see?” This question prepared me to use my visual storytelling to help others to see.
My uncle, Billy Schenck, also was a great influence through his Western hard-edge pop paintings. Billy introduced me to classic films, especially Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns. Through the use of composition and visual style, Billy impressed upon me a sense of space and world and emotion. He also showed me excellence in his craftsmanship and careful execution in his paintings. I spent countless hours in his studio drawing and listening to a wide variety of music as Billy painted.
Also, lifelong family friend, Anne Coe, left deep impressions on me through her paintings and fantastical designs. Anne recognized my budding passion for film and story and introduced me to Joseph Campbell and his book the Hero of a Thousand Faces and a DVD series of interviews. These materials powerfully confirmed in me my vision as a storyteller. We discussed considerably the importance of myth, its relevance, and the pervasive need for those stories today.
While driving on a long road trip we listened to many recorded books. One in particular made a huge mark. My mom, Gail, introduced me to the ‘How the Irish Saved Civilization’. This detailed history lesson showed me countless resources of mythical stories. I saw how important history was to preserve various cultures and the need to pass on a mythical lineage to the next generation. The book demonstrated the importance of research and how to draw upon the stories of generations past to empower others to reach into their future. I also saw that if you could bring your future into the present, you could endure any of life’s challenges.
Years later when I attended the University of Southern California Graduate Production Program I made a short film called "Seasons of Light". For the film’s style I wanted to tell the story only with shadows. While making it, I gained a revelation and understanding of ‘Shadow Language’. I always hated on-the-nose dialogue and forced storytelling. But through these dark sayings of filmic language I realized that these “shadows” speak deeper into the heart than through direct messages. I also learned to hide the treasures of the truth in the shadows of my art so that the audience would eagerly go hunting for it. I realized how to create emotional “aha” moments of revelation which makes the film’s experience more impactful and reach everyone and not just a limited audience.
With these many gems deep within my foundation I have been able to grow into a fuller, more complete person. By overcoming life’s challenges and consistently learning to see deeper into my heart, I have something great to bring to others. My love for the audience is deep and I seek to enlighten them in these dark times. It is my commision to draw people’s attention to their true selves and see them set free to run, to jump and to live their lives to their fullest potential.