In December 2018, I was enjoying the busiest time of my woodworking career. Thanks in large part to a place called Shop Made in DC, I was selling tons of small items. The visibility of my work in that store led to other cool things: my city councilman bought gifts for city council members from me after seeing my work there, I got some cool commissions, and a guy named Shawn Bruce decided he wanted to make a film and feature me.
If the music in your brain just stopped and you heard the sound of the needle going off the record, you just had the same experience I did the day I opened the first email from Shawn. I had never met the guy before, nor did I feel credible enough to be in a film about woodworking. But in his note, he said that his grandfather had been a hobbyist woodworker who spent his days working a government job and longed to make a living from his shop. That got my attention. Shawn, who enjoys a wonderful relationship with grandmother (his grandfather has since passed) was drawn to the craft as a child— maybe more so as an adult— and he wanted to use his camera to explore it with me.
Anyone who knows me well, knows that I HATE being the center of attention. I love talking with one or two people about interesting things; I don’t like talking about myself. Being in front of a group or a camera is more terrifying than using a table saw without a fence (I would suppose, I’ve never done that, especially if anyone from OSHA is reading)
I would normally be hesitant for other reasons. In the woodworking community, we have some actual masters, legends...people who have forgotten more about wood movement than I’ll ever know. Those are the people about whom films could be made.
But oddly, something about Shawn’s note--its sincerity, its authenticity, its ties to his grandparents, and the fact that it was nicely written--convinced me to say yes without much thought. As I hope you’ll see, this film isn’t really so much about me or my work; it’s about how I think about the craft and why I enjoy it.
Shawn did this as a personal project and he had total creative control, though he was very accommodating to my neuroses about being on film! So all credit on the quality of this piece goes to him. Thanks also are due to Shop Made in DC and the staff who let us film there during regular business hours. Thanks also to one of my favorite customers, Dan, who let us interrupt his Sunday to film some finished pieces (he also fed us!).
I’m really grateful for the opportunity this project gave me to solidify and share some of the thoughts that have lived unexamined in my head for years. I’m proud to be a part of the piece and happy to have met Shawn.
Check out the film here.
If you’re looking for a videographer/photographer, I can’t recommend Shawn highly enough. You can see the quality of the work yourself...he approaches it like a craftsperson and his love for it is evident in every step. If you’re not a natural on camera, he will put you at ease and I think you’ll enjoy the process. See more of his work and get in touch with him here: