I remember the day I graduated from Art School with a B.F.A. in filmmaking, inspired to take charge of the world and make films.
Three months later I found myself moving back in with my parents and working overnight backroom shifts at various odd jobs, from pushing carts in the snow at Target, to being an office cleaner. I kept hoping for an opportunity to become a filmmaker and work on my first project, but for a while nothing happened.
I worked for several more months as a janitor, scrubbing toilets, waxing floors and cleaning offices and decided to save my money so I could buy film equipment and make my own movie. By the following spring I had gathered a 7D DSLR camera, some lights and audio gear.
Then I quit my job to make a movie.
I wanted to make a film that would say something, inspire my generation, especially those going through a situation similar to mine. I found myself watching television, and didn’t feel there was enough positive content that was inspiring to my generation or really saying something.
So I used the rest of my money to buy a train ticket and traveled to four different cities, documenting 20 Somethings, and their stories. I had no place to stay and no money left. So many of the people in my film let me sleep on their floors and cooked for me.
Every city I went to and every person I encountered had an amazing story of their journey and the struggles they too were overcoming as a post-grad in this generation. It was truly an inspiring experience. I made it back home to Connecticut broke, but with hours of footage, and very inspired, and there I began editing and creating, 20 Something.
I faced several obstacles and challenges after I shot the film. My computer froze, hard drives would crash and I lost a lot of footage. I had to hire a music composer as well as pay for music licensing, so I began doing overnight shifts as a Janitor at an Air force base. I got very discouraged while putting this project together, I would come home around 2AM and would have to muster up the energy and inspiration to begin editing this film and paying for all the music licensing fees.
But the work paid off. By the following April I made it into my first film festival.
When I arrived at the Riverbend Film Festival in Indiana it was an amazing experience. It made all the 2AM overnight shifts, full of scrubbing toilets, cleaning Air force bases and sleepless nights… It was all worth it. The audience was predominantly college students and they loved the film. They told me how they related to each story and it was inspiring to see each person’s story and where they were moving in their lives.
Several of the students asked if this film was apart of a series or going to be on Television, and at the time it was only one film, but their positive feedback galvanized me to create the second film from the series, 20 Something New York.
I worked on the second film, traveling in and out of New York while working six-days-a-week cleaning Air force bases. The people I came across in the second film continued to simulate what this series and brand is all about, which is making inspiring and impactful stories that people can relate to. 20 Something screened at several more festivals, and I was able to get both films distributed onto, Amazon as well as the soundtrack on Spotify and Itunes.
What I’ve learned from creating this film series is to go out there and take action, and don’t be afraid of rejection. There were several Bands and Artists that didn’t return our phone calls, but there were several that did. And they really wanted to be part of the project, and were willing to work with our shoestring budget.
Several film festivals told us no. For any filmmaker that can be very discouraging. But when some said yes and invited us to screen our films, it was a very inspiring. I also learned that being a filmmaker isn’t about just shooting a film, but about telling a story. We all have a voice and a story to tell, and we all deserve to be heard. Filmmaking is how I found my voice and I am grateful that this is the medium I can do it through.
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Lanze Spears is an Independent Filmmaker who’s inspired to create stories that focus primarily on people, relationships and human interaction. He loves to play with the visual symmetry and cadence of how pictures, music and sound played with in certain rhythms, can really evoke a powerful emotion from your audience. For more info on his projects and upcoming films visit, www.agapefilms.com His documentary series can also be found at www.20somethingseries.com