Film Short: Producer/Director Tim VandeSteeg Leads “My Run” Down the Right Path
Producer/Director Tim VandeSteeg was kind enough to be the final member of the “My Run” team to do a Q&A with Filmmakers Notebook and I think you’ll enjoy reading what he has to say about the documentary and his work.
Since you had the first feature sponsored by Subway Restaurants, what advice he would give other filmmakers looking for that type of corporate support?
You have to really understand why you’re approaching them and have the answers to these questions: How can they help you? How you can you help them? What’s in it for them? Why do they need you? What value do you bring? What’s the nature of the relationship? What can be gained? How long will it take? Why them?
Your motto at Indiewood Pictures Be Powerful, Be Unstoppable seems applicable to the documentary “My Run”. What attracted you to Terry’s story and made you think it would be a good fit for your company?
Actually, my personal motto is: “Be Powerful, Be Unstoppable”. Indiewood Pictures’ motto is: “Unlocking your imagination” and “My Run’s” motto is BE SOMEBODY’S HERO. To me mottos are very important, they tell the world who you are and what you’re all about. A great motto can empower you through tough times and through obstacles that come your way and can keep your focus clear and precise.
As an independent filmmaker for the last 19 years, I understand that challenges and obstacles go along with filmmaking. You never know what’s going to happen. There will be good things and some bad, but it’s all part of the process. The key is how you handle these ups and downs along the way. I approach filmmaking and my life with what I call the “Rocky Balboa Attitude.” As long as you keep fighting and you don’t quit, you NEVER fail. It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down, smacked around, beat up, as long as you don’t stay down you always have a chance, an opportunity to succeed. I believe if you have passion, a work ethic and are persistent, and I mean absolutely relentless, you can get through just about anything.
First and foremost, meeting Terry and hearing the story of his life as a single parent and of his mega-marathon, I can relate to Terry’s experience on so many levels. I know firsthand what it’s like for kids to grow up in a single-parent home and how hard it is for single moms and dads to cope with all the challenges their situation throws at them.
Second, I love “hero triumphs over all” stories i.e. “Rocky” and “Natural”. In many senses, Terry is a real-life Forrest Gump, someone who had all the cards stacked against him and still managed to come out with a winning hand. Terry succeeded in the tremendous challenge of raising three kids on his own. That’s an incredible accomplishment, but it’s not a unique one: many other moms and dads are going through the same thing.
To me “My Run” is the ultimate super HERO story of a man whose super powers are his courage, compassion, and absolute love and willingness to do whatever it takes to protect and provide for his family and improve the lives of others. Terry may not have an “S” on his chest, but he exemplifies what a real “super-man” is all about. The message of “My Run” to me is all about “BE SOMEBODY’S HERO”… make a positive difference in someone’s life. That’s why I made this film, to inspire as many people as possible and to show them with passion and persistence anything can be accomplished, and that with compassion and a willingness to make a difference anyone can be a real hero. Filmmaking is like a marathon and the story behind “My Run” is no exception.
Will you take a different approach in producing the feature and if so what will that be?
The plan is to focus and be persistent.
What words of wisdom would you share with other producers looking to start their own production companies?
First off, make sure you have the passion and persistence to push your company forward despite whatever obstacles stand in your way. Create a detailed business plan that includes benchmarks and phases. DO NOT spread yourself too thin by working on too many projects when you start your company. You have to focus. Remember, NOT all opportunities you come across and that are presented to you are your opportunities, sometimes they’re just distractions disguised as opportunities to pull your focus away from what you really should be focusing on.
How is your experience directing a documentary different from directing a feature film?
Regarding interviewing versus script, with a documentary you never know exactly how the interviewees will answer their questions and you have to be ready when asking your questions based on their answers, you may open all new and interesting sides to the story and with a feature you have a script, so there are no surprises.
If someone had a story idea they thought was a good match for your company, how would you recommend that they approach you?
Email submission only and ask if I’m interested, don’t send blindly.