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Check Out Rick Wayne’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rick Wayne.

Hi Rick, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I have a tattoo on my right sleeve that reads VXXIMMIII, the date I first picked up my dad’s 8mm camcorder to direct my neighborhood friends in the lowest budget Matrix spin-off to date. I continued to incorporate friends, family, teachers to act in my short films as I developed my skills. I was 17 when I gathered about 100 neighborhood extras to act as a rioting mob down my childhood street. I won a number of film and music video contests early on. A highlight was my first place win, handpicked by Alanis Morissette and receiving a stipend larger than my part-time gig at Abercrombie. In college, I legally formalized my company Underscore Films, scouring Craigslist ads for any work I could get my hands on. It was this hustle that leads me to work with NBA Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady. I did my best to elevate every project, overdelivering every step of the way. I tell myself every opportunity is only as good as my last performance. I worked at an advertising agency for a few years, honed my skills and learned other sides of the industry whilst saving money and moonlighting on my own company’s projects.

The time had come for a group of friends and I to make a run at Los Angeles. We filmed our entire journey, the move, the early months and sold it to Project Greenlight as an original, digital series. We hustled day and night, calls and e-mails to get whatever work we could. It was a lock-step process, with each job seemingly bigger than the last. To date, I’ve gotten to direct some amazing projects for NIKE, Bud Light, Intel and more. The COVID-19 pandemic hit us hard, shuttering our work. So we turned inward to develop a documentary created entirely from the quarantine of our homes in collaboration with producers in 15 different countries. The mini-documentary, Everyday Heroes, shines a light on all the good happening in local communities, heroizing the everyday people at that time. It’s since gone on to win a number of awards in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York, etc. Currently, I’m in pre-production on a short film and preparing the screenplay for my directorial feature debut.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The road to filmmaking or any personal creative endeavor is rarely without its peaks and valleys. I’ve experienced some truly hard times financially and personally. I’ve always said I’d rather be broke doing what I love than rich doing something I hate. This industry really challenges you to work harder than anyone else because if you don’t someone else will. That’s the love for what we do. The COVID-19 pandemic was especially hard in 2020 as it shuttered many production companies and projects. I believe adversity is what builds the thick skin and bold hearts required to truly achieve our dreams. And I don’t expect it to ever be any easier. Here’s to the crazy ones.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I’m a director of commercials, content and films. I think you could define my work as aspirational, full of color, telling stories about fascinating people. I’m incredibly proud of all the amazing creatives I’ve had the chance to work with. Every day on set is like a day at Disney World. I would also like to credit the passion projects I’ve completed over the years, which always seem to be the ones that gain us the most recognition. I think it’s important to continue creating something that demonstrates your total, uninhibited creativity. I’m just here to make great art with the people I love and inspire another generation of filmmakers to tell the stories only they can.

Are there any books, apps, podcasts or blogs that help you do your best?
I think Masterclass is a really remarkable thing for many industries and I’ve learned a lot about screenwriting and other skills through it. I tend to avoid books about my own industry as I want to experience other factions of life. The last few books I’ve read are. Think Like a Monk – Jay Shetty A Promised Land – Barack Obama Never Split the Difference – Chris Voss Eleven Rings – Phil Jackson Memoirs and Misinformation – Jim Carrey

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Image Credits:

Mike Danenberg, James Exley

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