West Point 100: Creators
ANDY MAZEIKA USMA ‘08
Welcome to the “West Point 100: Creators” project. This effort is both a creative project and an insightful ethnography - curating a collection of 100 West Point creators.
This endeavor will ask the basic question: What do West Pointers create? And why?
In this Q&A we will explore with West Point creators the topic of creativity and the impact West Point had on their ability to think critically about the world around them and their place within the construct of the American Dream.
PART I - THE BASICS
In the simplest of terms, what do you create?
Narrative through visual, written and interactive media.
What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?
I think about my wife and daughter a lot and how I can better improve their lives. This leads me into sharing compelling stories that can help influence people for the better.
If you could only keep five possessions, what would they be?
If you could witness any event of the past, present, or future, what would it be?
The Battle of Hastings.
On my deathbed, I will wish that I had spent more TIME on
doing a better job of taking care of myself. I don't sleep as much as I should.
On my deathbed, I will wish I had spent more MONEY on
helping more people. I value employment as a function of helping others - so hiring people to work with me is always a wonderful human act; but also being charitable is a great thing as well.
What’s one thing you own that you should throw out but probably never will?
Old military shirts. They're not all comfortable or fashionable, but they have this ability to travel through time in a metaphorical sense.
PART II - YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS
Let's talk influences - Give us one musician, one book, one tv show, one movie, and one podcast that impacts your creative mindset. Feel free to expand and give us a little background on each.
Musician: Varies by genre, but John Williams, Daft Punk, Metallica, Rage Against the Machine.
Books: Tolkien, Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, Kingdom ComeÂ
TV Shows: The Office, Game of Thrones, Westworld, Silicon Valley, Battlestar Galactica
Films: Metropolis, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings, The Avengers, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, and the rest of the Marvel MCU (sure, why not.)
What do you collect, and why?
You can never have too many books!
What ritual or habit is especially important to you?
Family time, meditation and self-reflection, and physical fitness.
What is the best investment (money, time, relationship, education, etc) you made in getting to where you are today?
My family and my own personal, creative development. But also assisting with the creative development of others too.
What tool or object could you not live without in your workday?
If I had no means of writing, I would probably lose my shit.
What are you not?
Close-minded, or at least trying not to be. I think objectivity is so important in order to be expressive as an artist. That, and a healthy assumption that there is still more for you to learn.
What do you do to get into a state of flow or your creative zone?
I find the evenings to be my strength, when life isn't so hectic. It's calmer or serene. But if it's day time - somewhere quiet where I can listen to music and write.
What is your biggest roadblock in your creative process?
Self-doubt. This sounds pathetic, but not getting into any of the film schools where I applied was a bit of a blow to my ego. In a way, I faced an existential crisis of sorts; but I needed to feel that in order to regroup and refine my targeting, so to speak. You can always get there: you just have to find the path that suits your abilities.
Name one company or person you’re itching to work with.
My friends, especially those with creative aspirations (Cue emotional rendition of "Concerning Hobbits") (Just kidding ;) I could say Peter Jackson, or Kevin Feige or some other big name; but the most soulful approach is to create something with people you know. The end result is much more enjoyable when you make something you trust and respect.
PART III - WEST POINT
Talk about a West Point connection that was meaningful or unexpected.
LTC Lester Knotts and Dr. Elizabeth Samet. In their own unique ways, they ignited my flames for creativity. Because of LTC Knotts, I took Dr. Samet's Film & Film Theory course, which resulted in more creative understanding and the beginning of my creative network. I am truly grateful for the two of them.
What has been your high point, thus far, with West Point and its community?
My Kickstarter campaign has been met with warmth and excitement, and that has been motivating.
What aspect of your time at the academy affects your currents endeavors as a creator?
The work ethic required to succeed. That's what has enabled me to keep going.
What question(s) or favor would you ask of the greater West Point community?
Please check out my Kickstarter Crypto Cartel and feel free to back it for a copy of the game.
In 6 words, describe being a cadet.
In 6 words, describe being an Old Grad.