As we film and interview the team and speakers for TEDxLondon #BeyondBorders, my inner nerd and outer fanboy are in heaven. Dreamers, activists, storytellers, thinkers, pioneers and more, sharing stories where science fiction becomes science fact and where potential tombstones become resilient stepping stones.
I had been reading anything and everything I could get my hands on regarding metaphysics, new thought philosophy, esoteric ideas and anything to do with spiritual awakenings for about 10 years. I had found ‘Watkins’, the worlds oldest metaphysics and spiritual bookstore, which felt like my own Hogwarts. And then I stumbled onto the work of Michael Beckwith, who to me was like finding a philosopher version of Steven Spielberg. Wonder, awe, insight and most importantly… sense.
After about a year of reading everything I could find of his, The Secret came out. Watching it, a title card came up with his name and his face. I thought: “It’s my guy!” After watching him for all of a minute, I booked my first ever flight to LA and went to a week-long retreat with him to study philosophy, meditation and, in essence, ‘advanced common sense’. At this point he had been on Oprah and as such there were a thousand or more of us at this event. On the last day, I queue up nervously to go speak to him. I fumble out my words. I’m saying something about, wanting to train in philosophy, building a company that makes spiritual cinema. He looks at me with something I want but lack. Clarity. “Go and do it” he says.
Ten years later, we take this picture. Seven years of studying, training and multiple temper tantrums later at night school. I graduated within my little esoteric school of new thought philosophy and, after a few failed attempts, I finally start my own company, Stories Like Us, which has finally moved into the space of developing TV shows and films built around hope and optimism. Here’s to the ones whose convictions can outweigh our doubts. Keep dreaming. Keep chasing. Keep believing.
So what is the ‘North Star Foundation’? A film fund producing impact storytelling projects based on hope and optimism.
Our film fund will produce stories and fund storytellers who want to make stories to uplift and inspire. Stories to remind you that someone else has been through whatever you’re presently going through. Stories to remind you that you’re not alone.
For 17 years, I have been holding onto this dream. I have been close multiple times and have watched it fall away in ways ranging from annoyance to deep embarrassment. Over the last three years, I have been meeting with this guy, who has revealed himself to be a mentor, philosopher, mathematician, investor and now a good friend. He’s always encouraging, always challenging and always ready to ask me the questions I might want to hide from. Patiently he watched me grow my love affair that is Stories Like Us into its current shape: from family films, events films, corporate films to TV and film development. At which point, in the most movie-like moment, he invited me into his office and had me pitch the ‘big’ dream to a bunch of welcoming but unknown faces. I would later discover I had pitched some of the most influential and successful investors, lawyers and entertainment giants in London. The outcome of which was a date, 27th of Feb, set for our gala dinner. At that event, he and I would present to a room of investors, connectors and change makers. The dream would become a reality and over the remainder of this year I will move to producing commercial content designed to share unapologetic Hope in a time where we have a culture of hate and hatred of culture.
I feel happy and tired and might now have to shut down for some spiritual maintenance. It’s been 17 years of self pep talks, a lot of close calls, heartbreak, and a lot of dreaming with no evidence it would ever happen. Now, I need to gear up for the actual work. The fund will be working with a new media company based on the idea that we are only ever one ‘chance’ away from the breakthrough we are dreaming of. So until the next story time, keep believing, keep growing, keep chasing, keep loving. You’re closer than you know. Let’s get it.
Twenty-four hours ago, I was standing here, looking up at this sign, dreaming hard, about to have the ultimate dream and chase tour through Randall’s house in ‘This Is Us’.
As is still the case, 90% of my dreams feel bigger than my resources, environment and current skill level. But hope and hustle, or as the Madre would say “pray, then move your feet”, has put me in more dream spaces then I would have believed possible over the last couple of years.
I went out to LA this time praying for clarity and courage. I learned last year that perfectionism and procrastination are twins. Don’t wait to have it perfect to move forwards – just start. Letting go of the lie of the perfect start and embracing the playful sketchbook idea is my goal for 2019. I wish for all of us chasing a dream the clarity to just begin and the courage to keep going. Let’s get it.
Focus. It’s the final few weeks of 2018 and, for me, this means I get to practice some of the new habits and focus techniques I want to rely on in 2019, which means making tons of mistakes and having the permission to get it all wrong. Too often, I’ve set a million new goals at the start of the year and lost momentum by confusing the learning stage with an evaluation stage. So for now it’s time to mess up all my goals, fall down, set unrealistic expectations, learn from them and give myself a chance to start 2019 chasing dreams with some insights and practice already with me. For anyone who feels like new year, new me has been a let down, give yourself the opportunity to practice your goal and mess up now so you can take the ninja insightful version of you into the New Year. Practice what you want to become and fail forward. Let’s get it.
When a 4-year-old walks in on his mum and her friend watching a DreamChaser video and asks if you could be his friend?!! My heart almost exploded. And when he gives his mum a Batman mask to show you how you could be friends… CUTENESS overload. The only appropriate thing is to make him a DreamChaser response video. This is more hyper than usual, features props, and how to chase dreams and work with rejection for 4-year-olds. Big love to 4-year-old Jacob. But… you still might get something from it.
This video has stories about what happened when my kitchen burned down as a kid, the end of of Titanic and, most importantly, how the current version of positive of thinking may be harming more than it’s helping. Wondering ‘will it get easier?’ Here is my full-on hyper, triple espresso mode answer for you. Chase your dreams!
Anxiety and ambition show up side by side. It’s been a crazy year. We are not as far as I want us to be; yet we are a lot further than I thought we would be. Getting up early, taking a moment to look up, say a thank you to life before having a chat with my anxiety and ambition and getting those two to work together has been the best habit I’ve discovered this year. It’s not either courage or fear. It’s not happiness or sadness. It’s an orchestra. Every emotion, every hope, every dream and every fear is all sitting there playing their own instrument. For me, prayer and gentle focus (start one thing, get distracted, realise I’m distracted, forgive myself and get back to it) are the conductor. However, whether you are chasing a dream or totally content in your current season, there is an idea I see everywhere that says you should always aim to be happy. That all the other players in your orchestra need to pipe down and happiness should be the only member of the band. I feel like that idea causes more unhappiness than we realise. At the time of taking this picture, I got bad news, I was also in the middle of a film and was holding a personal health challenge. I was happy, worried, a bit sad and hopeful throughout the day. A few years back I would have repressed most of those feelings. This time each one would be met with the same thought, the same conductor. A simple saying, said over and over: ‘This will make me better’ – a better producer, better friend, better man, better husband and, life/god willing one day, a better dad. To anyone feeling that they ‘should’ be happier, I wish you the same thing I wish for myself: a more skilful inner conductor who can work with whatever you currently have and when needed remind you to look up before you put your head down.
These two. Since I was about 13-years-old I have imagined a future version of a BAFTA/Oscar speech. Over the years, different people have entered and left that list. Jo and Kate will be on that list till the day I die. . .
A lot of us have dreams or goals, bigger than our environment, resources or backgrounds. The time you spend in the gap between where you want to go and where you are can birth all kinds of shit. My impatience with that gap has at times led me into quiet, potent bouts of depression. If you’re lucky, life will send you people (angels) who will see the future version of you in your current state and if you’re really lucky their conviction can outweigh your doubt.
Almost five years ago, I was sketching the dream of Stories Like Us out of the cafe owned and run by Jo and Kate, Canal Deli. Over the years of (occasional) free coffees, lunches and ’holy shit you didn’t!’ stories, I got my faith topped up and my dreams restored. Yesterday I pitched three TV shows at the BBC and got three follow up meetings. I’m still in the gap, but now there is a studio in Camden, a small team, batmobiles, potential studio spaces in LA, trips to TV sets and I’m getting ready to pitch to two of my dream companies next year. In ways that Jo and Kate will never understand, I take them with me into every big meeting I walk into. . . Here’s to those who support our dreams with whatever they have to give.
Back from LA LA Land. Waking up at stupid o’clock hungry to chase these dreams. We did more film work with Nolan Bushnell — who founded Atari, was Steve Jobs’ only ever boss, invented Chuck E. Cheese and who, in his late 70’s makes me feel all kinds of lazy. He’s building a new computer games studio with an ex-head VFX guy from Marvel Studios called Zai, who might be (is) the most effortlessly chill person I have ever met. Zai designed the Jarvis interface — you know that POV of Iron Man inside the suit, he casually made that.
Both guys talked about fear and passion. Fear, not as something to destroy but as an ally, something useful. Something to let them know to move forwards and to ask better questions along the path. Obviously, I loved listening to this. A month ahead of building the Stories Like Us / dream chasing roadmap and sorting through all of this content to make useful Dream Chaser content. Driving the Batmobile in the sun, having conversations I never want to end, taking my first-ever hike and sharing movie producer dreams with my oldest friend — LA I’m sold. Can we make it official? Dreams to chase.