t was, just an old plywood boat
A ’75 Johnson with electric choke
A young boy two hands on the wheel
I can’t replace the way it made me feel
And I would turn her sharp
And I would make it whine
He’d say, You can’t beat the way an old wood boat rides
Just a little lake across the Alabama line
But I was king of the ocean
When daddy let me
In film school, I really wanted to make a video to a song. I requested permission to make that my project, and my instructor said we had to make a documentary and rejected the idea I wanted to produce. Two years later, MTV was invented, and I would have had a music video in our portfolio and been in the right place at the right time.
Decades later, in 2001, my father was in the hospital dying of cancer when The Illusion Factory got a call from Arista in Nashville and asked if we would make a music video for them. We did not have a music video in our portfolio, but we were experts in the new computer graphics that were emerging, so they wanted us to make a video that felt like a Monet painting coming to life. I asked who the artist was, and they replied, “Alan Jackson.” Not being a country music, fan, I replied, “Who is that?” And they told me he was the biggest country music star out there.
My team and I labored over this music video as the true labor of love that it was. They put their heart and soul into bringing this to life. The film was shot on a green screen in Nashville and all of the animation and environments were created by the IF team.
Computers were not inexpensive enough to have at home yet, so we stayed at the office for three days straight as the deadline came bearing down upon us. We delivered the final video to FedEx with seconds to spare, and I went to the hospital to visit my father. He told me he did not want to die there and asked me to work out the logistics to get him to his home. And so it was.
My father had wanted me to take over his law practice and he was most gracious to accept that that was not my calling. His response back when I confided that in him was simply, “then be the very best filmmaker you can be.” And he never gave me a hint of grief about it thereafter. So here he was on last breaths, in his home, he woke up out of his almost comatose state and I showed him this video about a boy reflecting on how his father taught him to drive. He looked at me and told me I had made the right choice not to take over his law practice and he told me how very proud of me he was.
He passed away that evening.
Drive was nominated for Music Video of the Year in the Billboard Awards, The American Music Awards and it won the Video of the Year in the Country Music Awards along with three other awards in that show.
Life is short. Great dads are rare. If you are fortunate to have an amazing one, as I was, take every last lesson they taught you and share it with others, whether they are your offspring, or just someone who came into your heart and found a warm place to settle down.
Happy Father’s Day!