Updated: Nov 27, 2018
Robert Frost once told me he took a road less traveled. That road made all the difference. With time, deliberation, and conviction, I have forged a curious little path, waddling along thoroughfares, leaving a marked trail for others to stumble upon and enjoy.
But before I could contribute something of value to this world, I realized I would first need to examine and catalog the intricate workings of those strange creatures we call humans. So I drifted from place to place, storing all my discoveries on scraps of paper, audio recordings, and the few trustworthy portions of my memory.
My quest began within my own veins and arteries. Being part English, Italian, Spanish, German, Irish, and Scotch gave me an interest in these cultures and their history. There were an abundance of stories and facts that unraveled from the get-go. For instance, discovering an old relative named Robert E. Lee prompted me to become the youngest member of the L.A. Civil War Roundtable. To know where one should step next, one must know where one has been.
A number of opportunities for me to study other cultures presented themselves as well. My Father worked in the film industry, traveling abroad quite frequently. I tagged along. For six months, I roamed about England and witnessed ancient traditions attempting to stave off the forces of modernization and her neoteric colleagues. For three months, Italy became my home where I was the master storyteller composing tales of the industrial world to a people rooted in an agrarian heritage. In Vancouver, Canada, I watched the sun retreat behind the luminous buildings of a model city where business is at peace with surrounding nature. Japan unleashed my already too pungent imagination with its wonderful inventions that elevate man’s powers and open new doors to the future. Atlanta and New Orleans introduced me to care-free days of old where recollections of a forgotten past emerge in fanciful stories and jazzy music. Chicago’s weathered city streets housed struggling stragglers resembling victims of other metropolitan cities; the same problems, the same needs. All these places were embedded in my memory and in my soul.
While savoring the flavors of various cultures, I studied the by-products of their societies as well. Primarily, I investigated music, drama, poetry, fine art, photography, and film. Listening to everything from 54,000 kilohertz to 108 megahertz on the radio dials gave me a sense of rhythm and timing to practice a sharp bit of wit. When I was younger, my brother and I wrote plays for a miniature theater of wood and cardboard. Audiences were coerced into fits of elation as we unveiled our latest and greatest performances, music, and special effects never seen elsewhere in the annals of miniature playmaking. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Starlight Express, Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera made me marvel at the life-size stage as well. Reading poetry informed my metaphorically-charged writing style. Art classes at UCLA prompted my probing hands to transfix complex ideas and emotions onto drawing paper and canvas. Practicing photography taught me how to capture the totality of a person, place, or thing in a split second. And, of course, the large scope and emotionally-impacting power of cinema spurred my obsessions with this elusive art medium.
Every cultural by-product I examined aroused abilities loitering within my consciousness. Searching for the very limits of my capabilities allowed me to succinctly define the man, filmmaker, screenwriter, and entertainment executive that I am.
Reveling in the healing power behind the transfer of emotion and idea into something tangible for humanity to explore, film enables the earth’s souls to escape from their own lives for a short while and traverse a different path. There is a great learning experience in all of this that contributes something of lasting value.
One day, I asked Robert Frost if he appreciated the man I had become and the paths I was treading. Through one of his poems, he told me I had miles to go before I sleep - miles to go. I don’t know of any other medium than entertainment that excites and utilizes my mind and my abilities with the same amount of passion. Someday, somewhere, someone will say, “I like that guy. What’s his name? Dustin? Yeah. He taught me to see things from a different perspective. He changed my life. He’s good.”
That's how I will have made all the difference.