Dream Team Directors Bayou Bennett & Daniel Lir are a husband and wife duo who live to inspire and empower people in the film and entertainment world. They talk with ATM about their YouTube show The Dream State and success stories from people in different industries.
ATM: How did you all brainstorm for this show?
Daniel: We have always wanted to host a show. We felt there were so many potential barriers in accomplishing goals in Hollywood and the entertainment industry. We really wanted to give people a road map. Sometimes there is so much confusion as how to do this. We wanted to take away the mystery and confusion from the entertainment industry, and to bring bigger and better understanding, inspiration, and empowerment in this area. This was our initial idea.
Bayou: We mentor a lot of filmmakers. I was a Professor of film-making at New York’s top schools. My favorite thing is being able to inspire other artists to make their dreams come true. We realized we wanted to inspire all artists, not just filmmakers. This is what we do with our show. We bring on fine artists, graffiti artists, musicians, fashion designers, actors, and filmmakers. We like to show behind the camera as well as in front of the camera that this is how these top creators have done it.
Bayou: I keep hearing over and over to be optimistic. When barriers come up you cannot focus on them, but you just keep going and creating.
Daniel: Each story is an individual one, which is what makes it so interesting: their passion, purpose, and persistence. Devine Evans was a story that really captivated us. He really wanted to be in the music industry. He was at a point when he was homeless and living at an airport in Atlanta. Evans would go there every night to sleep. He just kept being persistent and he met people. It is also about meeting people. Now he has worked with Justin Timberlake, Dr. Dre, Lady Gaga, and Rihanna. He would say it was about creating and educating himself on technology. He does so much preparation on every project. He kind of thinks about what could go wrong and troubleshoots so nothing will go wrong. He just really knows his technology very well. Everyone is different.
Another interesting person was Nolan Bushnell, who founded Atari and Chuck E. Cheese. We brought him in to show artists how to think big. How could it be manifested at the biggest possible level? Maybe it is not making a small indie film. But, how could I go from being like Ryan Johnson who directed an indie film called Brick to directing Star Wars? Nolan really taught us step by step how to do this. He did not really have the money or the backing. They just had this idea that “they would never be as crappy as they were last year.” They just kept advancing and advancing. They did it through passion, optimism, imagination, and creativity.
Bayou: Jason Dohring from iZombie and Veronica Mars said it is also a business. You have to promote as an artist. You sent out your head shots when things get slow. You keep doing it and this will get you a job. He said today it is great that you do not have to get in front of the right people. You just have to make the most amazing film that can go viral on YouTube.
Daniel: He also said people ask about “how do I get an agent?” He said the first thing you should be concerned about is, how do I become really good?
ATM: How can a person turn constant rejection into resilience?
Bayou: We have been in the industry so long. Daniel started in New York City. He always found a game in it and recreated himself. We always would recreate ourselves. We had a film called “Text Me” that film got into film festivals all over the world and is viral. We created this on our own when things were slow. You get more creative when you have time on your hands.
Daniel: The things that we did when we did not have jobs were the things that pushed our career the farthest. For actors when they have a lot of rejections, they say screw it and produce your own film. Empower yourself. Do not depend on others to give you that “yes.” It might be based on looks, tall or short, blonde or blue eyes.
Daniel: Being successful is being influential. I have heard many definitions of success, this is the best one for me which I got from top street artist, Chaz Bojorquez.
Bayou: I also think it is when you are happy at what you are doing, and you feel like every day is not like work. We are going to a location scout for our music video. It is not a job for me, it is fun. It is hard work. It could be a 12-hour day when we are shooting. It will not feel like hard work because we love what we are doing. When you get to continually do what you love doing, you get to make a difference in the world. We only do content that makes a difference in the world, uplifts people, has messages, and makes people feel better. It feels better to be able to choose this as a creative artist.
ATM: When did you all individually find your own purpose to inspire in life?
Daniel: For me, it was only recently in the past. We did a project about food rescue with this organization called City Harvest in New York. I also worked on this film called Carbon Nation, which was a solution to global warming. Only then, did I really see we could do something about the state of the planet earth. After this, many of our projects had something to do with making the conditions better. Working with someone like Oscar Nominee Mark Ruffalo made me say this guy is so passionate and is using all of his power to make things better in the world. Like changing policies and changing our behavior in oil.
Bayou: I was a film-making professor and dancer. Earlier than that, I was experimenting in my Master of Fine Arts with visuals. Film-making kept coming into my universe. I said this is what I should be doing because I can mix all of these things together. As a Director, you are directing the whole process and as a teacher, you are directing your whole class. As a dancer, you are creating aesthetics from costumes to makeup. My purpose of being a filmmaker is to uplift, inspire, and make a better world. I will reach these billions of people through being a filmmaker. This was my whole goal as a filmmaker.