The rough cut of Hoaxed, my documentary on Fake News, is finished.

It's been a wild ride. Here's what I learned:

Take Risks to Earn the Job

My producer, author and filmmaker Mike Cernovich, put on a contest to determine who would direct the film.

The rules were simple: make a spec trailer for the film that showed off your skills and got people excited about the project.

Now, Mike and I knew each other. I edited his short documentary Un/Convention: Exposing Fake News at the RNC and DNC.

I could have been a typical millennial, banked on our pre-existing relationship and done a half-assed job in the contest.

Instead I relished the challenge, gunned for the gig, and took a financial risk by spending over a thousand dollars on my own entry to make it the best it could be:

The media can run on for a long time, but sooner or later God’ll cut ‘em down.

You don't deserve the opportunity; you must become worthy of the opportunity.

And guess what? I did and it worked out. I was in the airport when I got the call from Mike: "I'd like you to direct Hoaxed."

"Great!" I replied. "I'm really excited to --"

"-- with another filmmaker. This guy Jon du Toit. You cool with that?"

I hesitated.



Two directors? Nobody in Hollywood makes movies with two directors unless they're brothers (let alone two people who don't know each other!)

But this wasn't Hollywood and while we didn't know each other personally, we knew of each other. We had both submitted to the Paul Revere Contest in 2013 where I placed third and Jon placed second.

This was my entry Political Earth:

Ah 2013. Simpler times.

This was his entry American Drone:

He should have won.

Jon's film was by far the best and I had the faulty memory that he had won the entire contest. So when I saw his entry to the Hoaxed spec trailer contest, I thought: Not this guy again.

But I trusted Mike -- he is the greatest strategic thinker I know. And I respected Jon -- who is one of the best indie filmmakers I had seen. So I agreed.

"Yes. Let's do it."

Taking that risk turned out to be the best decision any of us made in the entire process. 

The key to collaboration isn't creativity; it's mutual respect and complementary skills.

The basis of our working relationship is that we respect each other's talent and we have the good sense to stay in our lanes.

We have had our tiffs, sure. We're arrogant directors after all.  But that's when our excellent cinematographer Justin Gum would step in and play peacemaker.

Raw Audio: “A Typical On-Set Tiff”

Even though Jon and I aren't brothers by blood, we are brothers in Christ and have become true 'bros'.

Pictured: Brothas from anotha motha. And Justin.

Pictured: Brothas from anotha motha. And Justin.

Our friendship and collaboration would never have come about without taking a risk.

God rewards those who have faith, and what is faith without risk?

In Part II, we'll look at what I learned during the production and how I almost got my ass beat in Harlem. Until then, you can check out the music video we made for the film with Red Yellow Sparks

What else do you want to know about directing documentaries? Or the making of Hoaxed? Comment below and subscribe to my mailing list for further updates on the film. You can also find me on Twitter

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