Feature Presentation

film-681993_640For the past several years, I’ve taken a week of vacation in July to attend Boy Scout Troop 157’s Summer Camp in Ardmore Oklahoma. Both of my sons earned the rank of Eagle Scout as part of this troop and I have many friendships that began as a result of my involvement. Over the years I’ve helped out by teaching various merit badges during this camp and am proud to have played a small part in the development of many young men.

As much as I try to share some knowledge with the scouts and help develop their skill sets during this experience, I feel like I am the one who learns the most from our time together. Take this year for instance. For the 5th time, I taught a Movie Making merit badge class. My goal is to teach them the fundamentals of film production through practical application. In other words, we make a movie.

Five boys signed up to take my class and despite the restrictions placed upon them given the context of an outdoor summer camp, they produced an impressive film. Along the way, they taught me a thing or two about achieving your goals.

  • Set a short timeframe. Summer Camp only lasts a week. Each class only lasts an hour. That means we had 5 hours to come up with a concept, gather resources, shoot the video, and edit everything into a final cut. That meant we had to move fast. There was no time for long debates about who would play what role or how each line of dialogue should be written. Once we decided on the basic story, we started moving.
  • Keep things simple. As you can imagine, this production didn’t have a huge budget. Costumes, props, locations, equipment – everything we used had to be readily available and cheap/free. I think we may have spent $20 on some stuff at Walmart. Everything else was found around camp. Our cameras were smart phones. The editing software was a freebie included with Windows on the troop’s computer. Costumes and props were either borrowed from other parts of camp or fabricated as needed.
  • Focus on the finish-line. Knowing we had to debut our movie to parents and friends during the campfire on Friday night meant that every member of the team was invested. These guys gave up their free time to shoot scenes in triple-digit heat. They could have been at the waterfront where it was much cooler and a lot more fun, but they were committed to the end result.
  • Roll with the punches. Things didn’t always go as planned. They botched bits of dialogue. There were wardrobe malfunctions and stunts that were too complicated to pull off. But that didn’t cause anyone to give up. They just found a way through, around, or over every obstacle that presented itself.
  • Enjoy the process. The ability to laugh at themselves played a big part in this group’s resiliency. They truly seemed to enjoy every aspect of the movie making process. While I made sure we had a coherent storyline to follow, they regularly contributed their own ideas – ideas that made the end result better. Had I not given them this flexibility, I doubt we’d have a product anyone would be proud of.

When Friday night rolled around, I was confident the guys had put together a great piece of work. Was it perfect? By no means. I don’t see Showdown at Devil’s Gulch winning any Academy Awards. But it accomplished the objectives that were set out. It was definitely a success. What’s keeping you from achieving your goals?