Today we’d like to introduce you to Al Kalyk.
Al, before we jump into specific questions about your work, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Yeah, I’m Australian, Croatian dad, big religious family, I went to a Jesuit school. I wanted to be a priest or a Franciscan brother for most of my childhood. My brother left home to study when I was 16 or so and left a bunch of his books behind. I was banned by my parents from reading any of them so naturally, I read all of them. I found Kundera, Nietchze, Kafka, Oe, and Borges.
These authors changed everything about me. I started gravitating towards writing fiction, after school, I studied Fine Arts and Philosophy at Sydney University. Film studies 101 was in the mix for art history, and a few meaningful professors, studying Lev Manovic and I fell in love with films like The Matrix and Children of Men. I started assisting producers, then gave directing a shot with no real experience, but it made sense to me immediately, and it felt good. A few years after that I moved to Los Angeles to study at the American Film Institute Conservatory (MFA). Now I’m working in music videos, commercials, and have written a feature with my brother, which we are shooting next year.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Directing and writing are two incredibly lonely things to do, and Los Angeles is an incredibly lonely city to do it in. I remember when I started AFI some of the grad students told me to start fundraising straight away for thesis – they should tell you to start therapy right away for Los Angeles.
But it’s hard to talk too much about my own struggles when my job is to study the misery, the heartbreak, and the hardships of others. I spend a lot of time researching and reading other people’s life stories, and it puts everything in perspective.
I think in terms of career hardship, for every little success I’ve had, I’ve had hundreds of rejections and failures. I’ve reached out to close to a thousand people at this point that I never heard back from. All attempts at getting my foot in the door. I’ve realized, now, the point isn’t to get your foot in the door but work to building your own thing. That’s what I’m trying to do now.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
My dad always says the harder I work the luckier I get. I believe that. Being a success the way we imagine is a crapshoot, the best we can do is keep working and keep making opportunities for ourselves.
Portrait: Kylie Shaffer