Midnight Three & Six is the second Sundance short documentary to come out of Dave Munson’s crazy Saddleback Filmmaker-in-Residence initiative.
In the fall of 2013, I was working in the Saddleback Marketing department, doing a lot of copywriting, as well as all the branded video content. One evening I was editing at Dave and Suzette’s house (which I often did around that time, as I was living in their guest bedroom while on a journey between here and there), and he marched up the stairs, popped around the corner and said something to the effect of, “Joe, no more copywriting work. You’re on filmmaking full-time now. OK? And I only want you working on Saddleback stuff four days a week. Take at least one day a week and make your own stuff.” This approach may sound a little radical, and I suppose it is, but it also aligns completely with Dave’s philosophy on business, which can pretty accurately be distilled into two points;
1. Do everything you can to get your employees doing work they love, and
2. Do everything in your power to make everyone around you as successful as possible
And so for the last two years, Dave has effectively funded an in-house filmmaking laboratory as a long-term marketing initiative. He’s given me pretty much total creative freedom to experiment and fail and develop as a filmmaker, both with Saddleback’s branded content, and my own personal work. If I want to go off and make my own personal project that has nothing to do with leather, Dave just says, have fun, good luck, see you when you get back. As was the case with Midnight Three & Six. The film tells the story of Dave’s sister Patricia, and her Type 1 diabetic daughter Grace. Type 1 diabetes research is a cause that Saddleback has been deeply involved with since Grace was diagnosed nearly ten years ago. And so when Patricia approached me about the possibility of telling their story to help raise awareness, I did not hesitate to take on the project.
We’ve kinda been making this up as we go along. But at every step of the way, I’ve trusted Dave to have patience when I fail. And he’s trusted me to learn from my mistakes. The biggest hurdle in developing as a filmmaker is having the resources to fail as often and as quickly as possible, so that you may begin to figure out what actually works. Dave saw the value in this model of protracted experimentation, and invested in me to execute it.
And after two Saddleback Leather Films in Sundance, not to mention dozens of other great festivals, as well as having our work highlighted on PBS and the New York Times, and a feature documentary fresh off the festival circuit that’s about to launch in 12 episodes on the Saddleback YouTube channel over the next three months, I have to believe we’re doing something right. If there are any producers out there reading this, take note: trust, kindness, grit and fortitude are the main ingredients to success.
Keep an eye out for many more films coming out of the Saddleback Filmmaker-in-Residence Story Lab this year. We’re just getting started.
Thanks for watching.