Meditations from the Mediterranean
By Vern Oakley
Late last summer, I took a phone call from Europe while at a Tribe goodbye lunch for our college intern before she returned to school. “Your film entry will receive an award this fall; we hope you’ll come to Cannes to accept in person.” This sparked our little celebration which now became even more spirited. The luncheon’s ‘tribal council’ wondered why I even considered not attending. Their mental calculus was simple. How could I lose: a trip to France, pick up an award, and visit my daughter studying in Paris for the semester.
Before I got home, my version of the math, while different, came to the same result: screen the world’s best corporate films, network with other directors and producers, get a fresh perspective on the global film scene (and new ideas), meet up with our Swiss cinematographer, have my daughter come down to Cannes and celebrate with us and hey, see how Tribe’s work holds up on the global stage.
I was not disappointed.
Director of Photography
Michael Spindler (Middle),
Huberth (Right) and myself
in front of the majestic
Fast-forward to the Cannes Corporate Media and TV Awards show. Before the awards banquet itself, I took the opportunity to screen about 50 entries. The corporate film appears to be held in high regard around the world, perhaps more so than in America, judging from the high quality and bounty of great films. The Europeans, I observed, seem to relish great style, design and production values. These entries were technically superb but significantly less emotional than I imagined – or what Tribe strives to achieve. Even though Tribe films are ‘corporate,’ I believe the power of our films comes from touching human emotions, capturing the genuine moments of humanity that help us feel something, feel connected, feel purposeful and belonging to one’s tribe.
By the time the banquet rolled around, I felt a real sense of excitement. Sitting at our table was the Tribe co-producer/co-director Jon Huberth, cinematographer Michael Spindler, and yes, my daughter Grace; I was confident yet anxious – how did the international panel of judges feel about this Tribe production?
Check out the award winning "Echoes of
the Past, Voices of the Future" here.
Our film entry "Echoes of the Past, Voices of the Future," for Washington and Lee University’s capital campaign, was the only US film to win a Gold Dolphin in its category. We held up quite well out of the 400-plus entries from around the world. There were whispered rumors we had been hotly debated for best in show. Jeff Hanna, our client at Washington & Lee, received a congratulatory text after we got off the stage; he and his team were thrilled and raised a celebratory glass (from Lexington, VA).
Enjoying this moment with my daughter: priceless.
In my role as President of the International Quorum of Motion Picture Producers, I made contacts with several production company owners that were interested in our global network.
Hoisting the gold. On stage: Michael (left),
Festival Director Alexander Kammel (back),
Jon (middle) and myself (right).
My brain got a total ‘reboot and recharge’ ;-) I brought back new ideas and fresh approaches from the global marketplace of creative directors and film companies. I conceived a corporate film concept – later loved and bought by a Tribe client – while daydreaming on the beach in Cannes in front of the Carlton Hotel.
Wow, what a trip.
On the return flight, I recalled a quote I heard from Oprah that went something like: “the more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” Positive thoughts, feelings, phrasing and emotions attract positive outcomes. This journey began immersed in a positive moment and now I have returned with that positivity…in the shape of a dolphin.
After many years we have developed a culture of a “celebration” here at Tribe. Days are long, the work is challenging and life is ever ticking away so we find it important to recognize and reward accomplishments of all sizes. Taking time to honor those accomplishments is a great way to put the “DVD of life” on pause, reflect, and renew in our business and personal lives. Being storytellers who invoke emotions in our audience, it's good to let our own happiness soar when we can.
Here’s to life.
My daughter Grace and me at the Awards Gala.