Self Expression Magazine

On Talent

By Myfilmproject09

On talent
 Webster's definition of talent is "any natural ability or power." So what does that mean, specifically. The closest in a Gallup definition focuses on one word, "natural". 
But that still doesn't really explain what talent is, or who has it and who hasn't.
Take me.
I often get told that I have talent but the truth is, I don't have talent. How do I know this?
It goes back to my short time in film school in the Canadian Rockies where I attended the Banff School of Fine Arts. The fine arts were mostly music, art, photography, singing and all those other arts.
What was I doing there?
Well, my then wife Brenda  and I spent the summer there, her taking photography and I took a film
On talentcourse. The thing here was that I had already worked in television for 2 years and probably knew more than the teachers. I didn't really care because this was two month holiday for both of us.
It's also where I met Phil Borsos, a 19-yr old filmmaker from Vancouver. We both liked each other's work and made our obligatory short films together. It was the beginning of a great friendship. And it was a lesson in how to make some success in the world of film and TV.
Every class member had to make a short film over the two months we were there. I had no great ideas so I made a 10 minute documentary of the town, playing with the idea of the tourists below the school and the school itself, set amongst the incredible Rocky Mountains. Brenda shot this photo of us, Phil on left with shaggy hair and me with beard.
On talent
Phil's idea for his short film was about a trumpet player who blows himself up.
See what I mean?
I made my film by walking around town and filming tourists and then artistic people at the school. Very lazy.
Phil asked me to shoot his short and we had to hoist heavy wood doors up 8 stories of the school's residence just so that Phil could put the actor up higher than the mountain view.
So, who's the one with talent?
Obviously, Phil.
We both said goodbye and left to our respective homes, Phil in Vancouver and me in Windsor, a little city across from Detroit.
Two years later, and me getting fired at a TV news network, I ended up in Vancouver as Phil
On talentand I always talked about starting a company. So we did. Rocky Mountain Films. And we shot a short film about a Cadillac car and a car salesman. It didn't do much. I'm on the dolly and he's kneeling down.
Then Phil came up with another idea. He wanted to make a short film on a barrel maker who made wooden barrels for whisky. In fact it was one of the few remaining barrel factories in the world. Phil had seen it as a teenager and always wanted to make a film of the place.
So we started to make the film with help from the NFB, also known as the National Film Board, a government agency that made films and assisted people making Canadian films. They gave us film stock (no Digital at that time, 1975), and cameras, one Arri S and a French Eclair camera. Both were 16mm film cameras.
Right from the start, Phil had the crazy ideas, and they always worked. I easily shot the scenes he wanted and it was a lot of fun. I was working at a TV station at the time, 4pm to 10pm and after a week of filming, I was exhausted between the two jobs. We got another cameraman, Tim Sale, to finish the film.
After that, we gave it to an editor, who was pretty tough and hard to work with. I got a job at a TV station in another province and then Phil called and said it was done. I flew there and looked at it, it was pretty good. It was called Cooperage, which is the technical name of the factory.
However the NFB said it didn't have it's standards. Simply put it was inferior. 
We thought we liked it.
We liked it so much that we made a 35mm print, now 15 minutes long, and put it into the 1976 Academy Awards. 
But before that, the Canadian film awards came and guess who won for Best Short Film?
We did. 
We beat every NFB film that year.
It felt good.
And then, the Academy Awards came and we didn't win. But we were finalists.
So where does this go?
It's where I learned how to stay in the film business, by finding someone who really is talented and someone like me who worked very hard and very stubborn. If I wasn't talented I was gonna be as good as I could. 
And I did that. And am still doing that. But without true talent, I would never have made it this far. And maybe Phil wouldn't have made it without my ability to film and to come up with ideas and that both of us loved making Cooperage so much.
We stayed close friends for years until, at age 41 in 1995, Phil passed away from leukemia, way too early. It was around this time of the year.
I miss him dearly, and keep in contact with his wife and his two sons, both incredibly talented.
So that's what talent is. At least to me. Go figure. Paul Newman once said that acting was very hard for him, he didn't really have a talent for it and had to work very hard.
I like that.
And one more thing; both Phil and I were the only two people in that film class that failed.
We failed totally.
But as of this day, nobody else in our class ever came even close to our accomplishments. And as for the course, in hindsight, both my ex and I agree it was one of the best years ever.
  
On talent 
On talent

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