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Meet the powerhouse filmmaking duo, our mentor Dream Team Bayou Bennett and Daniel Lir. Based in Hollywood, California, Bennett and Lir are creative, driven and passionate about the work they do and boy oh boy are they busy! Projects include a long list of music videos, documentaries, and feature films. They’ve been recognized with a slew of industry awards and have worked with icons like P. Diddy and Coldplay and have even had a hand in discovering new talent like Lea Michele of “Glee” and Matt Bennett of “Victorious” which airs on Nickelodeon. Their positivity is virtually contagious and their dedication to mentorship is second to none.
So what happens when an apprentice who’s equally as dedicated and positive about making film shows up to train? Well, in the case of Film Connection graduate Mike Dusenka, that apprentice ultimately becomes part of the team!
RRF: Do you and Bayou work well with Mike Dusenka?
Daniel: Yes. We work extremely well together, and Mike is very involved. He’s gone from being a student to helping the company with its daily promotion, to going to meetings, to being involved in the development of the contracts. You know, basically everything you need to actually run a successful company, Mike has been able to get to learn and get insights into that whole process.
Bayou Bennett: After training Mike for a while, Daniel got him to a level where we could actually hire him to edit music videos and things for us. We are also mentoring him as the director, so when we’re doing our feature films and whatnot, he can continue working on the music videos and commercials. He’s basically learning all our secrets.
RRF: Considering your motto is “Let our dream manifest your dream” we figure you guys are pretty positive. Why is that important?
Bayou Bennett: Yes. We keep it positive. That’s really important for Daniel and me because you need everyone to be on the same page, it needs to be a positive environment. Mike is absolutely one of the most positive people I know, and it really adds to the environment that we really highly always recommend and create, not only on our sets, but in the office, because that’s the only way to be.
RRF: What do you consider the most important aspect of being a mentor?
Daniel: I think the value is in being able to be a lighthouse for students and filmmakers. If you have someone who’s experienced and has recognition, and has worked with celebrities and has had successes, they’re able to give students a pathway that’s kind of lit up as opposed to [being] in the dark.
RRF: In the video you and Bayou did for Film Connection, Bayou talks about just how powerful it is to be able to show people how to do things hands-on.
Daniel: Mentors are able to cut out a lot of the unnecessary confusion and lack of knowledge and lack of [knowing] how to approach the film industry. So, I think it’s a really very powerful position… I graduated from a very top film school but because I didn’t have a mentor, I was in the dark for many years about how to go about doing things correctly. And now, having had a mentor in the last two years myself, who produced movies for Francis Ford Coppola, I could see how much it helped me to have that kind of mentor. So to now be able to be that to someone else is very empowering.
RRF: So your mentors Daniel Lir and Bayou Bennett had some very positive things to say about you and the work you’re doing. What do you have to say about the Film Connection?
Mike Dusenka: Film Connection, to me, has been extremely beneficial. I am a very driven and a motivated person, and this program really compliments that because it gives you the skills. Then there are the people in the industry you have to know to really get your foot in the door and get started. For me that was very, very beneficial and it really opened my mind to how I can make a living and a career as a filmmaker and to continue to be solvent throughout the rest of my filmmaking.
RRF: Was there something about Film Connection that especially caught your eye when you were looking into film school?
Mike: Well, the Film Connection really caught my eye because it’s affordable. I will not be in debt, and I get actual skills that I would not get at a traditional film school.
RRF: What have you done on set that you like most so far?
Mike:My favorite thing on set that I’ve done with my mentors is being the director of photography (D.P.), and directing how the shot will look, where the lights will be placed, and the mood according to the lights and camera angle.
RRF: How do you feel about working for your mentors, going from an apprenticeship to being part of the company? How has the transition been?
Mike: To be honest, the transition has been excellent. Daniel and Bayou have become my best of friends, really good friends. I’ve been able to become familiar with how they run things, and how things should be done [to] maintain business. They really trained me on that and how to become an expert filmmaker. Now that I’m working full-time with them every day, I’m just continuing to learn even more.