Finding Joe: The Story Behind the Story…

An incident took place during the recently concluded Frys.com open. Someone who claimed to have been inspired by the movie “Drive,” threw a hot dog at Tiger Woods in an act that he claimed was “courageous and epic.” Getting arrested for disturbing the peace and impacting the results on that hole (Woods missed his 18-footer) aren’t exactly the outcomes one would attach with such a noble-sounding intent.

There are, however, a number of positive, inspirational stories happening as the result of another movie (one that’s in limited release ) called “Finding Joe.” This documentary by first time filmmaker, long-time ad director, Patrick Takaya Solomon is a self-funded, labor of love that has garnered overwhelming responses from the audiences that have managed to find where it is playing and see it.

Per the press materials, “Finding Joe” is a rich and inspiring exploration of famed mythologist Joseph Campbell’s (1904 – 1987) pioneering studies into what he dubbed “the hero’s journey” and its continuing impact on our lives and culture.

Here are some ponderables from my look at the trailer (see below), a read through of the film’s website (www.findingjoethemovie.com) and interview with director, Patrick Solomon:

“I went out and did something.”

Life Changer. That’s what many have told Solomon via email and face-to-face as they described to him how his film made a life changing difference — inspiring them to do things they’ve put off.

Note: I don’t believe hot dogs were involved in these stories.

Bootstrap. In true Silicon Valley fashion, Solomon bootstrapped this venture. Taking Campbell’s often repeated advice to “Follow your bliss,” Solomon began the project in February 2009. He took a second on his house. Maxed out his credit cards. Heck, he’s even paying to play. That’s right, he came up with funds to get his film on the limited number of screens where it is showing. Talk about leap of faith! This film may leave him and his wife penniless. But the ripple effect on audiences and participants are, as the ads say, “priceless.”

Lifeboat. One of the biggest challenges Solomon had was taking all the incredible footage he captured, which amounted to a 5-hour epic that DeMille (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049833/) would appreciate, and trim it to a mere 80-minutes. He had to play lifeboat — making painful choices on what/who to throw overboard while maintaining a cohesiveness to the story. That was a gargantuan task.

Finding Campbell People. One of the questions I asked Solomon during a phone interview, based on the film’s trailer, was how he knew Tony Hawk, Laird Hamilton, and others were “Campbell people.” They weren’t, I was told. Rather, they were people who were “following their bliss,” he said. “They didn’t know there was a name for what they did.” It sounds like Solomon helped his interviewees find Joseph Campbell too.

Degrees of Separation. Much as been said about the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” where there’s an assumption that any individual can be linked through his or her film roles to actor Kevin Bacon within six steps. In fact, the San Francisco Chronicle ran a story after the remake of “Footloose” was released, that referenced this. The Interview Subjects for “Finding Joe” had their own “degree of separation” worth noting. For example, Solomon told me that Brian Johnson, the philosopher and CEO of en*theos (a company that creates cool stuff to help people live optimally), recommended Solomon contact Robin Sharma, best selling author of books on leadership, who recommend Deepak Chopra, another best selling author (“Seven Spiritual Laws of Success“). Campbell would appreciate the serendipity of it all.

Finding the Time. Perhaps the biggest challenge for many of us in this millennium, is finding the time to get to the theatre to take in a movie. We live in a time-shifting, movie streaming world these days. Grass roots support with cutting room floor clips made available on YouTube, FaceBook and the web may help spread the inspiring story Solomon is telling.

Rally Time. This weekend, October 21, the film opens in San Diego, at Gaslight 15. It has been held-over in the San Francisco Bay area where it opened on October 14. It’s a great time to show some support for ad man, entrepreneur, director Pat Solomon by attending AND spreading the word.

A Closing Thought. I only became aware of “Finding Joe” from a review I read on Saturday morning that appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle the day before. It was a particularly harsh write-up that had the “Little Man” in a stiff, upright position. I made a note to do some research about the film, but didn’t get to it until Monday evening. When I ran on Tuesday morning, I pondered what I read.

What bubbled up was a scene in Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, where Luke is approaching a cave. He asks Yoda what’s in there and Yoda replies, “only what you take with you.”

For any film (or book, or play), the response of the individual is somewhat impacted by “what you take with you.” The reaction of the reviewer in The Chronicle should serve as a reminder of this. He wasn’t a “Campbell person” nor someone at a stage in his life where he could walk away with the elixir that comes at the end of the “Hero’s Journey.” That’s okay. But it shouldn’t influence whether others should go see this documentary.

Based on what Solomon told me, many of the audience members would rate the movie with the little man leaping out of his chair with his smartphone to his ear — making a call and perhaps plans to do something that he’d put off.

The other bubble up for me, was the influence Campbell may have had on Nike.
That may sound weird, but coming full circle with advertising (remember, Solomon cut his teeth directing in this field), the year after Campbell passed away, Nike’s award-winning, “Just Do It” campaign launched. Campbell, a runner, would have appreciated it.

To me, the story behind the making of “Finding Joe” is truly inspirational. I wish Solomon the best of luck in his efforts to draw audiences to his screenings. Whether or not you can make it, please drop him a line (info@findingjoethemovie.com) and let him know your thoughts. Sometimes the reward of a job done well is having done it. The elixir for him may be that he has introduced Campbell to a new audience and rekindled a flame of others familiar with Campbell’s work but perhaps too busy to “do something.”

“The influence of a vital person, vitalizes.” — Joseph Campbell

May the light shine brightly in the hearts and minds of those ready for their individual hero’s journey. And may we all have our hearts and minds / eyes and ears open to hear the stories of how others have been influenced by this great teacher.

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Finding Joe – Trailer V.7 from pat solomon on Vimeo.




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  1. […] of a most excellent film by Patrick Takaya Solomon. Finding Joe is a self-funded, labor of […]

  2. […] around with a tiny voice recorder interviewing folks I know who have been living their bliss. While Pat Solomon found many famous people (authors, actors, athletes, etc.) for his “Finding Joe the […]

  3. […] Joseph Campbell Foundation just made a special announcement. FINDING JOE will play for ONE NIGHT ONLY in New York City at the Symphony Space on DECEMBER 13, 2012. The […]

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