A couple nights ago I watched the Olympics on my big HDTV at home. After my initial gawking at all the makeup caked on the figure skaters, I started thinking about goals and how they shift. See, there was a time when the one thing I wanted to do most was… edit for the Olympics. Now I’ve never been athletic – to this very day I become insecure the instant I set foot on a basketball court, pick up a baseball bat, or swing a golf club. I figured that even though I have no desire to put in the work necessary to be an Olympic athlete, I would achieve the next best thing by being one of the people who bring their stories to the world.
In 2003, NBC was crewing up for the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. I was cutting for a daily entertainment news show on FOX, and I started asking everyone I knew about who I should contact to get on board with NBC. Well whaddya know, I started getting leads. A fellow editor from my previous job, also at FOX, had a friend who ran a post house in New York City who had also cut on location for multiple rounds of Olympics. I called the contact in New York, and he gave me the info for the Director of Olympic Operations at NBC. I kept asking around in Los Angeles for leads to the Olympics, and they pointed me to the same guy, who I emailed inquiring about how a young, fast, motivated editor could end up editing for the Olympics in Athens.
Imagine my reaction when I received an email from TheMan@NBC.com (yes, that’s a made-up address). I was thrilled. Amazing, I thought, I’ve been putting it out there that I wanted to edit for the Olympics, telling the stories of the best athletes in the world, and I just got an email from The Man who would hire me. I was dancing a jig around my edit bay.
The contact asked me to submit a VHS demo reel to the address he supplied. (Crazy how old school that sounds, huh?) I promptly updated my demo reel, printed off a nice label for it, popped it into a little black VHS case and dropped it into the mail for NBC in New York. And proceeded to wait.
In the meantime, I had actually bought the John Williams CD Summon The Heroes at Amoeba Music Hollywood (one of the most fantastic record stores ANYWHERE) and was cranking Olympic tunes for weeks on end everywhere I drove. Would you believe, I started seeing references to the Olympics everywhere I went.
I found myself often driving northbound on the 110 Freeway past the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, home of the USC Trojans and the site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympics. Even worse, every day I would cross Olympic Boulevard, a major east-west street in Los Angeles, and wonder, wonder, wonder… would I ever be part of the Olympics, and hear those majestic songs put to the pieces I would edit?
I waited, prayed, thought about all things Olympic, and waited some more. I found out that my reel ended up in the hands of an NBC producer in New York, I was under consideration for the on-location position editing for the wrestling venue in Athens, and… the position was ultimately given to someone else more experienced. Was I disappointed? Sure. Though I had no regrets whatsoever – I had put my desire and goal out to my network of contacts, and I knew I had done everything within my power to make things happen. Everything beyond that was out of my control, and I immediately moved on to the next goal.
Looking back at those times now, I am absolutely confident that if I had continued my quest to edit for the Olympics, it would have eventually come to pass. Because I knew I was good enough to do it, and it was only a matter of being patient enough to get the right hookup at the right time. I’m currently pursuing other goals. Like expanding Editmentor around the world.
What do you dream of? What do you want to achieve? What stories do you want to tell? I’m telling you right now, it is always far more possible than we ever imagined. Because when we set our minds to something, get off our butts and actually DO something, anything – it’s amazing what can happen when we decide that we want it, and go get it.
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