Writer/Director Terry Gingles Tells His Story; What's Yours?

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by Tambay A. Obenson
August 19, 2013 2:46 PM
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Terry Gingles

Recapping... I did this in February of last year (2012), and got a few response, so I figured, a year-and-a-half later, with the site's audience now larger than it was back then, that I'd try it again.

I know that a significant chunk of S&A's audience comprises of actors, actresses, directors, DPs, editors, etc, etc, etc. Some are able to earn a paycheck utilizing their artistic and/or technical skills; others - and I'd say the majority - are what we've labeled the proverbial *starving artists*, working diligently, relentlessly, struggling to climb this incredibly steep hill, trying to reach some pinnacle of success - whether personal or professional. And still others exist somewhere between the former and the latter.

Where do you fall? And, as the title of this post states, what's YOUR story, and would you like to share it with the rest of the world?

Think of it as an extension of the successful S&A Filmmaker Diary series we launched almost 2 years ago. I'm looking for your individual stories of struggle and/or success, regardless of what rung on the ladder you are currently on, after all, not only is S&A just a source for news, its goal is also to become a community of cinema lovers where we can all share/debate/discuss/learn/teach/commiserate/etc.

Here's your chance. You might learn something; you might teach someone something.

What's YOUR story? You can email me (obensont@gmail.com). You can submit your story in any format - written, or even documented on video. I'll post as many of them as I can. Substance and presentation are key for consideration. 

And be sure to attach a photo (large size) for me to include, and if you have samples of your work, include them as well.

It could be a story about a current situation you find yourself in; or it could cover several days, weeks, months, or years of your career. It could be that you just want to vent your frustrations; aspects of, or people in this business that piss you off; aspects of, or people in the industry that encourage you. It doesn't have to be all negative, nor all positive. We're complex people, and so I assume our stories are as well.

In today's post, writer/director Terry Gingles shares his story:

Greetings,

I’m Terry Gingles, a filmmaker from Indianapolis, Indiana who’s currently living in Los Angeles California.  Until recently, I never believed I was one of those people who knew early on in life what they wanted to be.  Living in Los Angeles you often meet a lot of people, mostly actors, who have known what they wanted to do since they were kids.  I’ve always admired people who figured it out early and had the drive to accomplish their dreams. 

When I was in grade school the first thing I wanted to be was a photographer.  I wanted to take pictures that inspired.   I was advised by people close to me that there wasn’t that much money in photography and that I should reconsider that career choice.  Well a couple years later, I figured it out!  I think I was in middle school when I announced that I wanted to become a greeting card writer.  I figured greeting cards could be used for any occasion and the words inside of them could bring happiness, uplift and comfort people in any situation.  I was again advised to rethink that career choice because again, there wasn’t much money in that profession.  (I know now that there is, but hey, it was the 80’s and there was no Internet Ladies and Gents).  Towards the end of my high school career I finally made a “mature” choice and decided I wanted to go into marking.  I was a sucker for a good commercial, was brand loyal like most teens, and thought it would be cool to market the products that I loved.  That career choice was welcomed with open arms.

So, my freshman year I majored in marketing at Clark Atlanta University.  By my second semester, I was miserable.  I hated it.  I came home from class one day and wrote down ten things that I loved to do.  At the top of the list was watching films.  I found my curriculum guide and searched for film related courses.  To my surprise, Clark had a film department.  Another surprise was that even though Spike Lee attended Morehouse College, he took all his film classes at Clark since it was the only school in the AUC with a film department (if it was good enough for Spike…).  The next morning I took a trip to the registers office and changed my major to Mass Communications with a concentration in film.  The first day I stepped into the communications building I knew I made the correct choice.  I knew I was home. 

It wasn’t until years later that I realized I wanted to become a filmmaker all my life.  Photography is telling stories through pictures and that’s what film is, moving pictures.  Writing greeting cards was a way to connect and move people through words, which should be the goal of any script worth a damn.  Marketing is about getting people excited to buy a product, that’s what the entertainment business thrives on.   The day I put all these pieces together is the day I became confident that I made the correct career choice in becoming a filmmaker.   

It’s been a long road working in the film industry.  I can’t lie for a while I was just happy to be here.  I mean I’m a kid from Indiana so rubbing elbows with “cool” people was enough for a while.  I’ve been an intern, a production assistant, worked on locations, casted ADR sessions, worked as a producers assistant, I even had a chance to says lines in a hit movie (I wouldn’t call what I did acting lol).  It wasn’t until a well-respected director told me one day “come into the business doing what you want to do.  If you’re doing PA (production assistant) work you will always be looked at as a PA”.   Needless to say those words hit home.  I quit working on sets that day and took on a job that wasn’t directly related to the business.  I had to reinvent myself.  I didn’t have any money to film anything so I spent time writing.  I worked hard at it until I felt comfortable in my ability to tell a story on paper.  A script I wrote was a finalist in the Hollywood Screenplay Contest.  I gained a lot of confidence in my writing being in the competition but I gained a lot more just by writing everyday.  I felt it was time I began to shoot the short films that I had written.  This is the moment that I fell back in love with filmmaking.  It was also the moment that it became all about the work.  Studying great films and directors, listening to commentaries and podcast on filmmaking, shooting all the time, it didn’t matter if it was with a Scarlet or an iPhone.  I had to put in WORK.  There’s been a lot of ups, a few downs but the best thing about it is being able to witness my own growth as an artist.  Very intoxicating.  Always striving for perfection.  I may not get it on one project but I’ll work my ass off to get it on the next.  That’s what keeps the fire burning and how I know I will do this for the rest of my life.  And the bottom line… it’s fun as hell!    

Since November 2011, I’ve directed 11 projects, spec commercials, sizzle reels, a music video, promotional videos and independent television pilots.  Last year a pilot I directed, The Patrol, was a finalist in the New York Television Festival (NYTVF).  Currently I’m working with a great team on the latest pilot I directed titled Americana, a classic story of conflict between good and evil.  It is very humbling and exciting collaborating with other artists, sharing ideas with one common goal in hand: releasing a great project.

So yeah, consider myself one of those people who have known what they wanted to do all their life and with a lot of hard work and dedication; I’m making my dream a reality.

Attached is a link to a trailer for my latest project Americana and a link to a spec commercial I directed as well.


Keep working hard y’all!
Peace

Terry Gingles

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