Elizabeth Halford Photography {the blog} » photography in plain English

Cale Glendening. Hollywood filmmaker. Completely inspiring guy.

When I knew that my friend Darren Lewis {you met him here} was hosting Cale Glendening {that’s kale like the salad, not Calle as in France} here in town to recuperate from their music video shoot in Ireland, I was pretty stoked at the opportunity to connect. He’s American, I’m American. He’s a filmmaker/photographer, I’m a blogger/photographer. He’s young and successful, I’m young and -kinda- successful. He’s self taught, I’m self taught. He has two eyes, I have two eyes. You get the picture. So I met Cale & Darren for tea yesterday and it was a blogpostworthy day.

Cale is 25. He’s a Hollywood filmmaker. And chances are, if you’re one of my regular readers, you’re thinking, “what on earth does that have to do with me?” Everything. Cale is passionate, you’re passionate. Cale has dreams, you have dreams. Cale is making it happen, you’re making it happen. It doesn’t matter that the field is different because the things he shared with me apply to anyone, anytime, anywhere, no matter their passion. Want to race cars? Read this post. Want to open a daycare? Read this post. Want to further your photography? Duh…you’re already reading.

After a little small talk, I asked the spring-loaded question: “so how did you get into film making?” And I was so inspired, my heart was racing and so set alight with his story that by the end of it, I was like, “yeah…um…I…I…I have a blog.” I pretty much forgot anything I had planned on saying because my head was racing and doing what it does when I get inspired. I can’t really keep up. So here’s his story:

Cale & Stan Lee

When Cale was a kid, he watched movies. John Wayne. Clint Eastwood. Top Gun. But he didn’t just watch films. He watched them. Fast forward a few years and Cale is a pretty typical teenager raising hell at school. He had this one class where he always showed up late, brought food, didn’t do any work. He got in a big argument with that teacher and wanted out of her class. His aunt was the counselor and she said the only class with room was video production. Cale said that as soon as he got into that class, everything came flooding back: his passion for film as a child, his dreams to be the one making the movies. At that moment, he knew what he would do with the rest of his life.

So nearing the end of highschool, Cale got accepted to an internship with CIY (Christ in Youth) in Joplin, MO. They wanted to bring him in to meet the director of media and then offered him a 30 day internship to make 5 films, but accepting it would mean missing the last month of his senoir year. And what did his school do? They said no! Don’t get me started, but HELLO! Isn’t this what school was preparing him for his whole life? Aren’t we expected to become successful, live our dreams, and be somebody? So this is exactly what Cale told his principal. And the superintendent. And the school board. Cale didn’t take no for an answer and finally, the superintendent herself let him leave for the internship.

"Jeremy Cowart is one of my favorite people. He's an incredible role model in every way, personal life to business, he is a model of integrity. Honored to be good friends."

After graduating highschool at 18, Cale packed his bags and drove to L.A, convinced he could make films forever. With no friends, no family, no contacts, he found a job through Craigslist as an extra on a music video. He was very camera shy, but he knew this would be the place with brains to pick. He ended up sweet talking his way into the position of production assistant on the last day of shooting. He felt lost and overwhelmed on that day, working next to a legendary director {Nigel Dick} but his tenacity to make it happen worked and he was soon pulled into the production manager’s office and asked to share his story. She got on the phone with DNA {David Naylor Associates} and said, “I have the perfect young man for an internship”. He met with DNA the next day and got the job even though he wasn’t in college like most young people desperately seeking internships.

Now, this is the part that made me think, “Holy. Cow. Not only is he driven, smart and mature beyond his years, this guy is an actual real life nice guy!” Cale’s grandmother was diagnosed with aggressive Alzheimer’s so he found someone to take over his lease, said goodbye to his ticket-to-fame internship and went home to rural Muskogee, Oklahoma to take care of his grandma.

When Cale got home, he really didn’t know what he was gonna do. There aren’t any films being made in Muskogee where the population is 38k and the current mayor was elected when he was just 19 years old {thanks for that, Wikipedia} So he sold his car, bought a Canon 5D {good choice!} and started taking senior photos for a living. He said I would laugh if I looked back at some of his first work in photography. Couldn’t find any. After doing that for a while, he made a calculated decision to invest a big chunkachange on video equipment because he knew that’s what he really wanted to do. His first test film with that gear was a music video for a metal band and that winter’s first snow. After putting just those two items online, Cale was hired to do a documentary and the rest is history. He paid off his initial investment in that first year, too. Now, he lives in Hollywood and travels all around the world living his dream. And I can’t possibly fail to mention that he’s friends with my number one numero uno absolutely most gigantic photography hero Joey Lawrence.

And that was all just a few years ago. Do you remember what you were doing 3 years ago? I do…same thing I’m doing now. Heck, I was probably wearing the same pajamas I’m wearing now.

Cale filmed the Indonesian Mentawai Tribe with Joey L. Cale said of this photo, "He would always grab my hand and smile. That's what they do when you're considered a friend."

Out of everything that Cale told me about his life, there was one thing that stuck out the most to me and it’s this: when he was exploring film making and working that first internship, he met many film greats like Mark Webb, Francis Lawrence, and DP Janusz Kaminski. He was always ready with a pen and paper and would ask them just one question each. And he noticed that no matter the question, the answers never had to do with college, university, or the other things we associate with learning. And the best piece of advice given when he asked how to become a film maker? Make films. This is exactly what I tell people who ask how to become photographers: take pictures. Want to become a chef? Cook food. A doctor? Start operating on people…wait…scratch that.

The second thing that stuck out majorly was what he said about his website. He said that he desperately needed to update it because he has reels and reels from allover the world that he hasn’t shared but -get this- he’s too busy working to have updated it. Take that as a lesson for us photographers. How many of you spend way too long fiddling with your website and logo and not enough time hustling the business to actually make a name for yourself and -gasp- MAKE MONEY! Stop playing with your website and Facebook page and start working!

So thank you so much for giving me some of your time, Cale. Enjoy my little seaside village. I eagerly look forward to seeing all that life has in store for you.

To view some of Cale’s magnificent work, including that first snow film and -my favourite- The Mantawai tribe, visit him on Vimeo.

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  • Erin Bremer

    Very cool post.  Thanks for sharing!

  • http://twitter.com/BobbyNuurri Bobby Nuurri

    Glad I know this guy. He’s amazing and a total inspiration. Bless you Cale.