Jan here. For months now, I’ve thought about my Oscar’s speech. More specifically, I’ve thought about what I want to say in the fun video I put together leading up to this weekend’s events. I’d love your thoughts.
“No one will remember you.” That part of the speech was inspired by something my brilliant buddy Steve Faktor said at my birthday party a few years ago about Steve Jobs. “Steve is already being forgotten,” he said.
There are many people who don’t know who Steve is and that number will increase. So many of us work so hard to be remembered, but it’s important to realize that’s not what people actually remember about each other. We remember how we felt when something happened. We may not even remember what the something was, but how we felt influenced our reactions and subsequent behaviors. So, in the end, it’s not about people remembering us or our work, but it’s how they felt when interacting with us or our work.
That feeling is connected to how we treat each other, and how we treat each other boils down to our character.
Before I continue on this writing, and I know it’s been several months since I shared deep thoughts like this with you, here are some brief bullets on my progress of implementing the exact ideas I’m sharing with you today into the ecosystem of my life/work (they are the same):
London futurist and recently named Top 25 Women on the Metaverse Amelia Kallman surprised me by featuring my startup ReelwUrld on her The Big Reveal podcast. It’s always a joy when people simply “get it”.
Ted Talking luminary Robert Coombs and ESPN gambling expert Reed Kuhn (oh wow, their last names rhyme! #janraps) both invested in ReelwUrld. Robert made this sweet investor testimonial video that got me hyped up when he called our platform “open source superheroism.” More people getting it, and betting on us.
Back to the Oscars. I won’t be watching them, as I haven’t in years (except in 2019 when my former roommate and head of the Isaeli Consulate’s film initiative Eran Polishuk invited me to Charlie Prince’s watch party with some exuberant Weinstein Co. defectors). While I love a lot of what the Oscars is and can be, my words in the above address to the Academy regarding character are authentic.
Hollywood is one of the world’s greatest influencers when it comes to culture. Stories produced by the Hollywood machine as films or television are widely distributed and consumed globally, resulting in varying forms of emulation of the character models portrayed on screen by many cultures. I believe that a shift toward higher ideals in the characters portrayed in Hollywood content will result in people worldwide adopting higher ideals into their daily lives.
In a sense, this is part of a greater theme that I often reference in my conversations on motivating forces: Recirculation of Wealth. Great character is a form of wealth.
Packaging and distributing, i.e. “selling,” great character is a serious undertaking. Trust me, I’ve torn myself apart on this subject many times when writing screenplays and realizing that I knew better than the characters I was writing. That was a HUGE wall for me, because if I know better, WHY wouldn’t I show others HOW we can be better through my writing?
As my advisor and Al Pacino’s producing partner Barry Navidi said on our podcast a few weeks ago, “filmmaking is a long term relationship…you better find the direction of why you’re going to go through all of this.”
It is hard to show good character amidst all of the noise we have in society, especially now. AND THAT’S EXACTLY WHY IT’S A MASSIVE OPPORTUNITY.
People are starving to see others give them permission to stand up and live righteously. That’s a strong word I just used. I mean it. That’s why superheroes are a big deal.
Marvel knew it before Disney bought them. Disney knows it. It’s part of the reason that superheroes fight aliens and not specific governments and groups of people like action films of the 80’s and 90’s.
Feed people something not too politically or spiritually opinionated to rally around to give them a taste of the righteous power of good character.
After they buy the ticket, they can return to their normal lives and we can do it all over again, says faceless corporation.
I tell you, when aliens finally make a public landing on Earth, we’ll all be just as embarrassed as liberal white people are for slavery. (Maybe not as much, but close.)
My point here is that the desire to see, feel, and embody good character is at an all time high. Who decides what good character is? Humanity figured that out a long time ago, so you already know.
An Indian spiritual thought leader who spoke on the oneness of all paths summarized those core values. They’e been a compass in my life since childhood.
Seriously, these 5 universal values have circulated the core of my decision making process for my entire life. That doesn’t mean I always follow them. It means that I'm so aware of them that when I haven’t followed them, I’ve been burdened by knowing that I made a decision away from what I consider foundational goals of humanity, which never really results in a sustainable sense of inner well being. Super heavy. That’s my life.
Here they are in case you need a compass (along with a little commentary):
Truth - If we speak less and with more truth, everyone’s life will improve. That mean’s tell people when there’s food in their teeth or hair. Like I did for Kevin in the North Hollywood comic shop yesterday (I know he’s reading this).
Right Conduct - This is conduct that benefits the highest good for you and others. I find the word “right” can be confusing to many people. Instead, I defer to a wonderful note that Deepak Chopra gave in the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success on listening for a physical sensation of comfort or discomfort in the body (specifically the belly or the heart) when making ANY decision. Pose the question to yourself, listen, and if you feel a good sensation in your body, do it. If a bad one, don’t. This process will become nearly instant over time with practice, but if you’re just starting it may take a few seconds or minutes and that’s okay.
Peace - Practicing quiet in the mind, heart, and home so you can bring that to others.
Non-Violence - Not causing pain for yourself and others.
This one was tough for me to get around since childhood due to my upbringing in the martial arts. However, my journey has yielded a sense of maturity on the concept of violence. I saw a documentary about MMA years ago where a coach spoke on the Latin meaning of the word “violence.” Paraphrasing how he put it, the root of the word is about the violation of a person’s rights, and therefore, responding to “violence” with physical force when appropriate is not “violence.” His perspective resonated with me, and I’ve spoken about it many times since, and that idea has empowered some of my Justice For Hire community members(who are actors, not vigilantes), to be more brave in their own lives.
If this doesn’t resonate with you, give me a break. I’m an action filmmaker and have been attempting to justify my desire to see fight scenes since before I could talk.
Love - Practicing all of the above as embodiments of love.
To touch on superheroes again, I believe that the most praised ones embody all of the above traits. Captain America, Wonder Woman, non-Zack Snyder Superman, and more I’d define as role models for good character.
But simply showing good character is not enough. We need to empower the audience to take more action on these traits than current media allows. Blah blah blah my company ReelwUrld we do just that blurb. You already know the thesis of all my writings point back to my life’s work at my company. I only write what I’m implementing as a means to optimize the action I’m already taking, then I share it in hopes of being helpful.
What I really want you to take away is that it is to your benefit, financially, materially and spiritually, to build your own bridge from whatever you are presenting to the world in your work or life back to Good Character.
That’s it. I hope this was in some way helpful to you. I swear I only name drop in emails to give shoutouts to those I respect and paint clear pictures.
Thanks for the continued love and support and time if you read all of this and clicked those valuable links. And of course, bet on ReelwUrld, as our valuation will never be this low again.