As it washed over us, stimulating our creative senses to the point of self-awareness, I was presented with an opportunity that almost never happens. Many of you may remember the previous story I wrote about Robb Armstrong, one of the world’s most famous African-American cartoonists and motivational speakers of our time. Well consider this the prequel to that biographical adventure.
It was on this evening in Los Angeles, after being allotted the space and opportunity to introduce myself, highlight my special talents and promote any upcoming events to a crowd of roughly 100 people- a crowd that included some very successful and well-connected industry veterans- that I was motivated and inspired by Robb’s semi-autobiographical speech / performance. And then came the opportunity to meet Robb, secure an interview and tell his amazing story. You see, it was the opportunity portion of the event that made the difference as I sat there thinking it some kind of phenomenal coincidence. But little did I know, it wasn’t a coincidence at all; it was the carefully orchestrated intention manifested by Founder of the non-profit, “think-tank” workshop, Brandon "Dmico" Anderson.
“There are three words that describe everything about Industry Minds: motivation, information and opportunity,” Dmico says during our interview. “And this year, I want to spend the majority of my time increasing the opportunity side of the organization even further because that’s what’s going to set us apart and take Industry Minds beyond just Hollywood.” As far as I can tell, judging by the professional relationship that I was able to foster with Robb Armstrong, Dmico’s already perfected the opportunity end. A confident yet open man with a sense of humility that could set any crowd at ease, Dmico practically placed opportunity in our wallets that night when he insisted that we all stand up and take the opportunity to promote ourselves to the other attendees because “you never know who’s in the audience listening.” But aside from that, there was the opportunity that 11 actors and one writer capitalized on when they all decided to become active and consistent attendees of the workshops, leading to each of them securing management and/or agency representation solely through their participation within Industry Minds in just the last 12 months. And while induction into the fold has led to work and exposure on a variety of projects for some, others have come together and used their unique abilities to form teams and create their own ventures.
Ventures that were undoubtedly approached with a sense of fertile intuition due to the guidance gifted by the many guest speakers, which have included Writer, Director & Producer Jeff Sherman (The Boys: The Sherman Brother’s Story), Casting Director Kim Hardin (Think Like a Man, 2 Fast, 2 Furious), and Director / Producer Ken Whittingham (30 Rock, Suburgatory) to name a few. And in addition to the many career-breakthroughs to be had through participation within Industry Minds, there is also the camaraderie and togetherness that exuded from the crowd on my first night in attendance, two feelings that naturally combat the isolation often conveyed in a business that’s nothing if not competitive.
“I’ve never been great at networking, but everyone’s so welcoming and warm, and they provide great information; they make you feel like you’re not alone,” says Maribel Alvarez-Evelyn, a singer, actor, model, blogger and member of the Industry Minds’ board. “Industry Minds has allowed so many doors to open for me. For example, I interviewed with Dmico for a position on the board and was asked to be a part of the movement last spring. About two weeks after, I was given a script to read for an independent film. And while working on that film and still attending Industry Minds’ meetings, I had an opportunity to do my first photo shoot.” Yes, it’s these kinds of examples of people reaching their dreams that make countless newcomers to Industry Minds seek initiation into this movement. “And it is a movement,” Dmico comments. If anyone should know about that, it’s Dmico, having coined the phrase “movement” himself due to the results that affiliation with Industry Minds produces.
In fact, I highly doubt he would declare Industry Minds- an organization that never has and never will charge money for its services- to be his full-time job for anything less than a movement. “I don’t have a nine-to-five; I live off my real estate investments, so this is my full-time job,” he says. “And when you spend so much time on something- you see the potential, but you also see how far away from that potential you are because you realize that what you’re doing is meant to be so much bigger.” Having graduated from Dmico’s living room to a facility that scarcely houses the now 100 plus attendees, all within a year of its initial inception, Industry Minds is certainly positioned to cross over into the realm of giants in the near future. But possibly the biggest and most significant crossover came from Dmico himself.
Delayed but not Dismayed
Born and raised in Las Vegas, Dmico arrived here in Los Angeles in September of 2001 with not only the intention on making a name for himself in the entertainment industry, but also with a clear and concise plan on exactly how to do it. But after 9/11 changed his life, and millions of American lives forever, he decided to shift focus when he was introduced to the world of real estate. “People gave to me consistently without me even asking, and at some point, I realized that people wanted me to win, and they made a point to invest their time to make that happen,” he says. “And because of this, things changed. I went from having no direction to being able to decide what deals to take and where to invest my time.”
Making a name for himself in real estate came naturally to Dmico as he became known for his motivational speaking engagements, sometimes ministering to crowds of up to 7000 people. “So I’ve seen the results of people responding to me personally,” he says. “And to see them leave with a focus on the positive things that are happening in their lives just from hearing my words, that made me want to do something bigger.” Dmico knew that this type of work would be useful in practically any industry, and since he had always paid great attention to the film business- even while excelling in real estate- he began investing his time attending informational and motivation Q & A’s for producers, directors and writers. And after these conferences, introduced himself to the speakers he felt particularly moved by. “All of them gave me their time. Not one speaker said ‘no.’ And they didn’t know about any of the success I did or didn’t have, all they knew was that I came up and spoke to them,” he comments.
These introductions quickly led to some very beneficial personal relationships, and as Dmico’s list of contacts grew, so did his passion for the entertainment industry itself. In fact, in an effort to truly immerse himself in the filmmaking process, he did some work on several productions where his eyes were opened to some unfortunate realities. “I’ve been on set for small and large productions, and I’ve seen directors and producers who were sort of at a stand still in terms of having the experience of knowing what’s the next thing to do,” he comments. “Yet, when I would have private meetings with my contacts, I would hear what the next thing to do was if you’re a director, writer or producer.” So instead of keeping this information to himself, one day, he decided to invite several young professionals back to his home to observe while he held a meeting with one of his contacts. And with that, the first Industry Mind’s workshop had commenced.
“I was going to have the meeting anyway, might as well have it in front of people who would get something out of it,” he says, “and probably get more out of it than myself because my goal wasn’t to be a writer or director.” Yes, Dmico knew he had struck a chord in the creative consciousness shared by his first group of attendees, but with every meeting’s increased attendance, he also knew that he couldn’t keep this up on his own, deciding to put together a team in which he could share in the responsibilities. “When I was looking to put together a board, we were only at 40 members, and out of the 40, only a solid 10 came consistently, so I went to those people first” he says. “And I believe that any person that’s a part of an entity represents everybody in that entity, so I was very picky.”
Maribel- one of Dmico’s most trusted board members- had known Dmico through mutual friends before finally attending an Industry Minds meeting. “At the time, it was fairly small, maybe 20 people, but it was amazing,” she says. “And I wanted to be on the board because I wanted to be one of the people helping someone else achieve their goals.” In addition to helping others reach for the stars, Maribel and fellow board members Natasha Ward, Ahmadou Seck, Jerome Caldwell, and Danny Derakhshan, are also in a position to receive, respected as the official team that Industry Minds could not function without. “I’m not just telling them what to do, but I’m also catering to them based on their individual goals,” Dmico articulates. “For each speaker that we’ve decided on having at Industry Minds, I’ve spoken to or met with several others first. That means I’ve been able to get people based purely on my relationships within the industry, and I can put some of those people in direct connection with my board members.”
And once again, for Dmico, within service to others lies true accomplishment.
Always, Already Achieving
Today, Industry Minds is on its way to becoming an industry legend as far as motivation, inspiration and opportunity are concerned. And with an assembly of board members working with Dmico to see his vision through, they have, in essence, become a nurturing, results-oriented community for artists and young entertainment professionals alike. And in keeping this momentum going, they will be handing out budgets to filmmakers for projects in the next coming months, along with inviting some of the industry’s top entertainment professionals- including several 2013 Academy Award nominees- to speak at their upcoming workshops, the first one of the year taking place Tuesday, February 5th. But make no mistake, as good as all of this sounds right now, it’s only just the beginning.
“If you’re in Mumbai, India, and you have a project that you want to have more eyes on, I want you to be able to upload that project to the Industry Minds website. I want you to be able to upload your teaser or trailer for possible investors to be able to look at and decide if they’re interested. I want Ron Howard and Ron Howard’s son to both be looking at our website. I want to merge the generations of structure and technology, which are two completely different age groups, and merge them together so that they’re excited about doing business with one another. And the list goes on.”
And as Dmico’s list grows and grows and we start to see what’s possible as he begins checking things off, we achieve clarity on what’s possible for ourselves. And our list will inevitably go on and on as well.
For more information on the upcoming Tuesday, February 5th event, please go to www.industryminds.org for more details.