We had the good fortune of connecting with Neal Tyler and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Neal, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Playing it safe is the only unacceptable risk. As an independent filmmaker, I’m in constant risk of humiliation, failure, and financial ruin. The hours I’m not actively on set, I’m usually either writing, editing, researching, brainstorming, processing photos, or developing ideas. That constant investment of time, money, and energy is the cost of pursuing your dreams and fighting to create something you believe in. That “something” doesn’t just have to be a creative endeavor, it could be a vision of how you want to live your life. Identifying and rejecting what is holding you back in life can be painful. It means burning your safety net. Feelings get hurt, bank accounts go dry, and people forget your name. But the power of saying no inevitably leads to a better yes down the line. No progress comes from stagnation, and all of the successes I’ve had in my life have been born of risk.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Whether I’m directing a film, shooting a documentary, writing a script, or taking a photo, I still consider myself a storyteller first and foremost. I try to apply that eye for detail and empathetic ear to every assignment or passion project.
Success takes tenacity. I’ve always brought the same dogged work ethic to every job, and I feel like that has propelled me as much as my actual skill set. The perspiration matters just as much as the inspiration.
One lesson that I’m continually reminded of is that humility and confidence are not mutually exclusive. Collaboration is at the heart of all that I do, and that requires being humble enough to admit you don’t have all the answers. That said, you have to maintain confidence in your talent and vision. Great things can happen when you find the right balance: Humble enough to collaborate, confident enough to fight for what you believe.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Southern California has a lot to offer, so I always try to cultivate a trip that will suit a visitor’s unique interests and show them something they can’t experience where they’re from. The ideal itinerary would probably stretch beyond just a week: Hiking the Angeles National Forest, visiting MOCA or an independent artist showcase, and catching a live act at the Greek or Troubadour. I’d skip the standard postcard destinations in favor of something off the beaten path like Scot Nery’s BoobieTrap. It’s this amazing underground variety show that features a wide range of acts all in one night: Comedians, sword swallowers, ventriloquists, and performers that defy all explanation. By day, I’ll either take them to Venice Beach for the spectacle and people watching, or up north a bit toward Leo Carillo for a more restful day. The advantage there is being able to stop off at Neptune’s Net for a good bite. I’d also be sure to take them out to All Time, Tere’s, Cole’s, Little Jewel, and Little Dom’s. And no trip would be complete without a Manhattan or two at Musso and Frank’s.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My parents definitely deserve the first and loudest shoutout for all their support through the years. My dad is a professional photographer, so my parents understood the initial risk but eventual reward of pursuing a creative calling.
Another early proponent of mine was Brother Gerry Molyneaux, who ran the film program at La Salle University. Aside from exposing me to some life-changing cinema, he also gave me some critical wisdom at a time when I needed it the most: “Do Better.” I keep those words with me wherever I go and always try to Do Better in my personal life as well as my professional.