Most people don’t know this, but a book called Save the Cat! sparked my career as a film director 15 years ago. I knew absolutely nothing about filmmaking or screenwriting when I started my Dallas-based production company. I had just left a great job at FUNimation where I did licensing and merchandising deals for the then popular Dragonball Z anime franchise. It was October of 2004 when I started my new company. I was nervous, a bit unprepared and all I had at the time was an idea and a name: Mediajuice.
Rewind! Since I can remember I was always the creative “ideas” kid—daydreaming, writing my own stories, drawing my own characters, building props, creating costumes. But, as it happens so often, my creative ideas started to fade as I grew up and especially when girls came around. My interests, shall we say, went “elsewhere.” LOL. (Can you say LOL in a blog post? Well, I just did. LOL.)
When I graduated high school I pursued business and entrepreneurship, which somewhat left the daydreamer “creative ideas” path behind. From ages 18 to 25 I started two different companies, a cell phone dealership and a mortgage company, and I learned a lot through running these businesses, but there was always something missing. I felt like the younger me, the me that always wanted to come up with new ideas and create something out of nothing, was getting lost.
So, in the summer of 2001 I took a left turn in my life and pursued a job at a fairly new startup company called FUNimation in Ft. Worth, Texas. This is where my younger self, my “new ideas” self, was rekindled. While working at FUNimation and with our collaborators all around the world, I saw illustrators, sculptors, musicians, programmers, animators, editors, and artists of all kinds contributing to a brand and a business that was not only creating products people wanted, it was creating revenue. Big revenue!
After almost four years at FUNimation, I felt like I had learned a lifetime’s worth of knowledge about the toy, trading card, and videogame industries. But, that younger me, the “new ideas” me, was still yearning to get out. To go and do and create! I felt like I was ready. So, over the course of a few months, talking with close friends and considering all options, I decided to take the plunge. I planted the stake and my new production company, Mediajuice Studios, was off and running.
My first clients were Atari, Hasbro Toys, and Capcom. I felt alive and I had so many saved-up ideas I wanted to pursue. But this is not where my filmmaking career began. That was two years later when a close friend of mine told me about a new how-to book on screenwriting he was reading called Save the Cat! The name alone intrigued me but, after reading the first few chapters where Blake Snyder broke down the simplicity of some of my favorite movie stories with a “you can do this too” attitude, I was hooked. I read it cover to cover, then started over, this time with a highlighter and a notepad.
Blake’s book took away this imaginary veil I’d always placed between me and being a filmmaker. His simple story beats like Set-up, Catalyst, Break into Two, Fun & Games, and story payoffs were so ridiculously easy to follow and mimic—I knew that telling stories on a big or small screen is all I wanted to do from then on.
I started writing, collaborating with other aspiring filmmakers, making short films, and eventually landed on directing my first feature length documentary Video Games: The Movie and a follow-up docu-series called Unlocked: The World Of Games, Revealed.
So, my advice, if anyone’s asking, is to save your ideas! Save those ideas you had as a kid, don’t give up on them. Think back to what you loved as a child or a teenager or even subject matter you were passionate about as a young adult; dust it off and put it to paper. They say “write what you know” for a reason—it’s what you’re most informed and passionate about!
What am I up to now? I currently have several projects in development including an upcoming film about Nintendo, a documentary on magic with Penn Jillette, and have just released a 10 part web-series with Sean Astin called What You Don’t Know, which you can watch here. You can see all my projects at
mediajuice.com, fb.com/mediajuice or my IMDB.
Thanks for reading. I wish you all the creative success you deserve! Happy writing & creating friends!