I was so nervous the morning of my first film class. The night before I stayed up all night reading the Rate My Professor reviews. Some said,
"Inspirational...life-changing...one of the best classes I've ever taken."
"Awesome," I thought. I couldn't wait for class. I've always wanted to learn about filmmaking. But then I kept reading the reviews. And I became scared shitless.
"Teitler makes kids cry...he will emotionally tear you apart...I dropped it after the first class."
Part of me wanted to just quit before I even started. I didn't want this new endeavor to be a waste of time. I was already feeling like I wasted the past four years in college. That previous May I graduated from Marymount's acting program. The day after graduation, I moved back home to CT. I quickly started to feel like a failure with a useless degree that promised disappointment & unemployment. So, I decided to go back to school. And that's how I met my guru Jeff.
Jeff is one of the most inspiring people I have ever met, not only because of his wisdom, but because of his brutal honesty. He has no problem telling you when your work is not up to par. And it can be hard to hear at times, trust me. I still have a lot to learn, but facing the truth & trying again is how we grow.
I used to be the laziest student. I'd half-ass projects, make excuses, and skip class. But he never gave up on me. He would always bother me with an emails like,
"Why aren't you filming? You won't have work to show unless you do the work. Stop the child's play and be an artist already."
My work ethic was always start & stop. I would build up the courage to film something, but then give up right after. There was always something to fix...a voice-over line...a weak shot...always something. I'd leave class feeling like any effort was a waste of time. "He's not gonna like my work, there's always something wrong with it. What's the point," I thought.
But then I finally realized I was the problem. I needed to stop giving up and focus only on advancing. I put all my emotions aside & started doing the work. And it paid off.
At the end of the spring semester, I showed my first episode at the final showcase for CCSU's communication department. It felt amazing to share all of my hard work with everyone. It took me all semester to perfect. There were countless late nights of editing, filming & writing. A lot of the time I wanted to push it off & take a break, but I am so happy I stuck with it.
I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for Jeff. He always believed in me, especially when I couldn't believe in myself. His advice, encouragement, & guidance made this project possible. There are still times I want to give up, but that night I released the series trailer, he reminded me why it's all worth it...
Jeffrey Teitler is an associate professor of CCSU's Communications Department, with a concentration in production & performance.
He is also the creator of Envision Films, an independent film production company focused on compelling story-telling, media education, & artistic collaborations. He strives to develop work that explores cultural dilemas, complex characters, & social change.