By Amanda Morad
June 20, 2016
Documentary filmmaker Craig Forrest shares career wisdom with students.
Having made films across 144 countries on six continents, Craig Forrest knows a thing or two about creating a successful career in media. When he spoke to Regent University students in the School of Communication & the Arts (SCA) recently, he shared valuable wisdom for those with careers still in the making.
Forrest has worked with clients including CBS, ABC, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Fox Sports, HBO, Billy Graham, World Vision, Samaritan's Purse and many others. He was also recently part of the production team for The Amazing Race (Season 14).
"There are at least 10 ways people communicate every day, but people still don't talk to each other," Forrest said. "This is a people business. If you have great people skills, that's half the battle."
Developing good people skills means acknowledging people, answering messages in a timely fashion, and remembering people's names and affiliations, he outlined.
"You can be the best producer around, but if you don't communicate, that will be your reputation," he explained. "People never forget how they are treated."
Forrest also offered students a nugget of wisdom to carry with them onto their first jobs as assistants: "Always ask, 'What do I know? Who needs to know it?' That's the key to project management communication."
Forrest then addressed humility, discretion, honesty and sincerity as qualities needed in entertainment professionals today. The beginning of a film or video production career is always the toughest, but he encouraged students to be persistent and to never give up.
"There will always be someone working harder than you. Someone out there will sleep less and work harder, who will give up their weekend and give it one more shot. Be one of those people," he said.
Forrest also encouraged them not to disdain small beginnings. "Nine years into filmmaking, I finally felt like I knew what I was doing," he said. "You're not going to be brilliant your first year. Just collect the best body of work you possibly can."
Finally, he encouraged students in their art—an aspect of the industry that young professionals often feel they have to sacrifice in order to get a paycheck.
"You're going to do work that doesn't meet up with your taste and ambitions for the first few years," he assured. "But God gave us skills for a reason—we should be the most creative people in the universe, and our skills should have integrity.
"I would rather please God than please my bank account. If I please God, He'll take care of the bank account."
Forrest's faithfulness to integrity has proven fruitful throughout his career. His projects have won or been nominated for 29 film festival, television or video awards. He's covered topics as diverse as voodoo, tribal warfare, sex trafficking, Islamic terrorism, famine, poverty and the supernatural. He is a frequent speaker at media conferences around the globe and is the author of two books, Commando Tactics for Digital Filmmakers, and Night Train to Cairo: A Filmmaker's Journey Across the Globe.
Learn more about SCA's Cinema-Television programs.