I listened. I learned. I got better.

In my freshman year of college, I turned in my first English paper. When I got it back, in the upper right-hand corner was a huge, red circled “F”.  I was flabbergasted.  An “F”?

When the teacher, Olga, a Russian-Orthodox lady spoke to me after the class, she pointed out everything that was wrong with my paper. She almost began crying, as she lamented the fact that I was a freshman in college and had no idea how to write. 

She was right.  My writing was simply awful. 

I became her project. Assignment after assignment she would walk me through each paper and teach me how to become a better writer, and…

I listened. I learned. I got better. 

Eventually, I transferred to USC’s film school. After our first weekend of filming, our instructor, Mel Sloan, asked if any of us had any problems or questions. I raised my hand. I knew I was about to get laughed out of class. Mr. Sloan motioned to me, “What’s your question?”

“I don’t know how to focus my camera”, I said. 

The classroom erupted with laughter. I knew what they all were wondering: How in the world was I able to get into this elite film school when I didn’t even know how to focus a camera? Everyone continued laughing. Except for one person.

Mel Sloan. 

He stared at me, ignored the laughter, and addressed me as if I had asked him the most important question he’d ever been asked. 

He then instructed me on exactly what I had to do to focus my camera. I nodded when he was done. He smiled at me and said, “Great question.”

I ended up getting the best grade in that class. In truth, it was namely because they graded you, not on how good you were, but rather how much better you got during the class. I started out at the bottom, but…

I listened. I learned. I got better. 

As I was graduating college, I was auditioning for the movie Footloose. They wanted to see if I could dance. So, I went to a local dance studio and took a class. Afterwards the owner of the studio came up and said, “So, how do you think that went?” That was a very polite way of saying, “That was a trainwreck.” And it was. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing out there on the floor. 

A few days later, I went to a Pre-Jazz 1 Introductory Class. There were maybe 5 people in the class. The instructor, Ann Olsen, was an incredible dancer.  One of the first things she wanted to teach us was a ‘Jazz Walk’. Huh? I kind of thought there was only one way to walk in life.  In my baggy sweats and basketball shoes I meandered across the floor. I looked ridiculous. 

But, Ann looked at me and marveled at the slightest things I did correctly. Step by step, I began to learn how to dance. I was horrible, but…

I listened. I learned. I got better. 

I had also begun seriously studying acting at an actor’s studio. In this studio were some of the most famous actors of that time; Sean Penn, Nicholas Cage, Meg Ryan, Michelle Pfeiffer, etc. I was clearly out of my league in this class. All of these actors were stars and I had not even gotten my first job. However, the owner of the studio, Peggy Feury, addressed me and spoke to me like I was one of her top students.  I never understood what she saw in me.  But, class after class, I would sit there and…

I listened. I learned. I got better. 

So, why point all this out now? Two reasons.  Number one, in looking back, I realize what it means for one person to show an interest in another person. When I think about Ann, Peggy, Olga, Mel and many others, I can see their faces smiling at me, nodding, encouraging me and pulling for me.

The power of their collective kindness is something I try to carry with me and pass on. 

 Two; when you look at the poster from our new movie, at the bottom you will see what they call the Credit Block. In that block, you’ll see that I’m credited as the writer, producer, director, and actor of this movie. As you can see from the poster, I dance in the movie, too.

The work hasn’t been easy. It’s taken decades. But…

 I listened. I learned. I got better. 

 In fact, with this movie, I became the first person in the history of film to write, produce, direct, act, edit, dance, and distribute a movie.

How crazy is that?


Keep the faith, 


P.S. The movie will be released in late August. More details soon.