We had the good fortune of connecting with Charles Lopez and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Charles, what’s one piece of conventional advice that you disagree with?
I think the idea that we all just have to work hard to get what we want is a load of bull. It’s a gross oversimplification that doesn’t take an individual’s socioeconomic or environmental position into account. It implies that an individual’s success directly relates to how hard they work and if they aren’t successful that just means they’re lazy. There is an incredible amount of luck at play when we’re talking about someone’s success and this idea just dismisses that altogether. Ideas like this are misleading and make people believe that if they just follow the rules, work hard, and do what they’re told that they will be rewarded with success. This philosophy has to change. Not everyone starts from the same place or has the same resources. For some of us hard work will only take us so far.

A major turning point in my career was realizing the absurd amount of time, energy, and stress I was putting toward someone else’s misguided dream. Then seeing that dream crumble, leaving me with absolutely nothing. Over a year of my life was wasted on trying to make someone else’s dream happen, simply because I thought that was what you were supposed to do. It really opened my eyes and made me question everything I did from that point forward.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is no substitute for hard work, but you have to really think about what you’re working toward and who you’re doing it for. It’s important to know the why before you figure out the how. Whatever you do, it has to have purpose. If you’re working a 12-14 hour day then ask yourself why you’re doing it. If the answer satisfies you and keeps you moving in the direction you want to go then keep doing it. It’s important to work hard, but be smart about the work you do and who you do it for. This way you’ll be ready for when luck swings in your favor.

What should our readers know about your business?
Block Of Joy has always been rooted in discovery, adaptability, and craftsmanship. Our focus from the beginning has been to grow as artists, while giving people access to resources so they can pursue their creative aspirations–whether this be the people we hire or the clients we work with. Starting out, I was taking on spec projects to simply learn proper filmmaking technique and expand our portfolio; that expanded to improving our abilities and putting together a core group of people we could work with; now we have our crew and our focus has shifted to mastering each of our respective talents. Focusing on individual growth and putting people first is really what’s most important to us. We are truly a family run business, but now our family has grown to include everyone we work with.

You’re very fortunate if you manage to find success doing what you love. That wasn’t the case for me at the start. Like most people I jumped around from job to job just trying to make a living. I had no background in film, no one in my family worked in the industry, and I had no mentors to shadow when starting out. Not to mention I was moving to L.A. with zero connections and no way to get into the industry. Looking back at it now it wasn’t the smartest move, but sometimes all you need is to be resourceful and willing. I had some experience managing businesses from my previous jobs, and nobody was going to hire some kid with no industry experience, so I decided to create my own production company and start there.

It wasn’t easy starting with no capital, no connections, and no idea of how to run a production company. I know a lot of people who started their companies around the same time, put 100% of their focus into getting the company going, but when they hit their first road block–usually a lack of work–they gave up and got a job somewhere else. I can’t blame them because I’ve had the same thought time and time again. I mean, we all gotta make a living and being self-employed isn’t always the best method. But I saw a missed opportunity where others saw defeat. I had to still work other jobs while starting my business and these jobs provided great insight into how I should and should not run my company. They provided me with perspective on what it’s like working from the bottom up. I gained so much experience just working for other people and with that experience I was able to shape my own business philosophy and identity.

Sometimes the best way to start is to model yourself after someone you admire. Just be sure not to get discouraged when your path doesn’t work out like theirs. We often hear about the overnight success stories, but when you really start to dig deeper you realize many of those same people struggled to get to where they’re at. It’s important to remind yourself that not everyone works at the same pace. For some of us it takes years before we truly land on our feet, but be sure when that opportunity strikes you’re ready to hit the ground running.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This is always a tough one because L.A. has so much to offer. However, there is something that is undeniably unique and that is the food scene. It’s a crime not to try some of the amazing food the city has to offer. K-Town has a special place in my heart and to start things off right I’d probably take friends to one of several favorite KBBQ joints, whether that be Chosun, Ssam, or Dream. Maybe if they don’t feel like napping afterward we could go for something lighter like street tacos from any of the local taco trucks, our friendly neighborhood El Zarape on Fountain, or Sonoratown in DTLA. If they’re craving Thai then Thai Town is the obvious choice with Pailin being my all time favorite. And if we’ve been out all night and are craving something late then Fred62’s late-night menu is always a winner.

As far as places to hang out, the beaches are great when you time it right. You can’t really go wrong visiting the Santa Monica Pier or walking down Malibu. But if beaches aren’t your thing then there’s an amazing music and comedy scene. Half the time I’m away from the house I’m going to a show at the Hotel Cafe or checking out what’s going on at The Comedy Store or UCB. Not to mention all the underground shows you can discover if you look hard enough.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My family and tribe, both blood related and extended, deserve all the praise. They are my purpose for doing this. They have supported me through all the crazy ideas and have always provided guidance when I needed it. Thanks to them I have been able to shed all doubt that this journey is the journey I must take.

Also a huge shoutout to my best friends Linda Livingston, Anthony Lopez, and Ainjel Emme, who have all helped me realize my self worth, which has allowed me to grow into the person I am today.

Website: blockofjoy.com

Instagram: @charlesdlopez

Image Credits
ZB Images

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