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By Bold Journey

We’re excited to introduce you to the always active and insightful Gabriel Rhenals. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Gabriel below.

Gabriel, thank you so much for making time for us today. We can’t wait to dive into your story and the lessons you’ve learned along the way, but maybe we can start with something foundational to your success. How have you gone about developing your ability to communicate effectively?

I can recall a particularly sharp turning point in the development of my communicative abilities taking place in my early adolescence. One afternoon during my sophomore year in high school, I experienced a powerful urge to challenge my usual, dyed-in-the-wool introversion by raising my voice to address my teacher and classmates regarding some now long-since-forgotten matter. I think I was calling out a fellow student's inopportune behavior. In any case, in the immediate aftermath of my boisterous comment, I’d scarcely felt as much agency, assertiveness and confidence up to that point in my life. Though vague in detail, this memory has always stayed with me.

Following my sophomore year in high school, I spent more time involving myself in classroom discussion than in the social circles of my peers. Most of the time, the teacher-moderated discussions were of a political or socio-cultural nature which I absolutely relished. This exclusively curricular extroversion also expressed itself in my eagerness to prepare academic presentations aided by a concurrently developing video editing savvy.

I amazed my teachers and classmates with video presentations prepared on my NLE-capable home computer and transferred to VHS tape to be played on the classroom television. These early digital multimedia creations also served as a supplement to my short filmmaking which I commenced around this same general time period. This activity and its ensuing sophistication would later inform the basis of my identity as a filmmaker and a communicator.

Although I’m unaware of the exact, deciding psychological and environmental conditions that prompted this communication growth spurt in my early-to-mid teens, I was never the same once it occurred. All my practice of communication afterward was far more conscious, deliberate and mindful of progress.

Let’s take a small detour – maybe you can share a bit about yourself before we dive back into some of the other questions we had for you?

I’ve been an independent filmmaker for over two decades. Having spent a majority of that time making (i.e., writing, producing, directing, shooting and editing) short films, I now make feature-length films. I have also self-published my 1st book 20 Years a Filmmaker with plans to author more.

My 3rd and latest feature film is titled Death Cleaning and it’s a drama-comedy about a young woman in a rehab clinic with a unique sci-fi twist! The film was recently sneak previewed at University of Miami’s Cosford Cinema, the largest single-screen venue in Miami, with an impressive turnout of cast, family and friends.

I expect to organize a few more screenings of Death Cleaning in my community before I am notified by several in-state film festivals about potential inclusion in their program lineups next year. But there is no rest for the wicked! I’m already in the thick of writing my next film. In fact, writing duty on my 4th film began months before I completed work on Death Cleaning!

If you had to pick three qualities that are most important to develop, which three would you say matter most?

Productivity. Simply put, the habit of completing projects and following through on commitments of any kind is a great habit to engender; facilitating trust, respect and overall goodwill from peers and non-peers alike. David Bush, a prosperous contemporary of mine, once commented on his prodigious creative output with the following adage: “Quality can come from quantity.” In other words, the more active you are in putting theory to the test and gaining from the results, the more likely you are to achieve an accomplished result. And if you’re working in the arts, there’s no bottom floor to creativity. Its potential is infinite or, if finite, terminating well beyond the term of any practitioner’s natural life.

Solitude. Speaking of prodigiousness, the famed artist Pablo Picasso once said, “Without great solitude, no serious work is possible.” I heartily agree. For some, significant detachment from social groups or even simple dyads, is unthinkable. But I compare the tolerance of solitude to the ability to breathe underwater. Where others would be buoyed by loneliness and a need for intimate connection, the solitary person is able to dive deeper and access depths of experience and insight inaccessible to obstinate landlubbers. While the prospect of great solitude may sound terrifying for the many, I think, to take my marine analogy further, we can all afford to be a bit more amphibious than we’ve evolved to be!

Generativity. I like to say life resets the computer, culture saves the work. Too often, culture is assumed to consist solely of the activities of its host society’s adult members. What they believe, how they behave, how they dress, what they eat, what music they listen to, etc. However, a personally key component of the definition of culture is its relevance to the most important yet critically underserved counterpart to adult activity – the raising of youths which will inevitably replace the adults in the future. The value of generativity has factored into my life since young adulthood, informing my interest in extensively documenting the governing philosophy and mechanics of activity which constitute an active, creative and joyful life. All adults were once young people in need of purpose and guidance. As such, the cultivation (the root word behind culture) of rich formative experiences for young people is one of our society's most essential responsibilities which I always try to honor and serve to some degree.

Before we go, maybe you can tell us a bit about your parents and what you feel was the most impactful thing they did for you?

Growing up, my parents were somewhat restrictive and unyielding toward the inevitable consumerist wants and desires of their offspring. When it came to toys, fast food, video games, movie theater visits, pocket money, etc., my parents counterculturally insisted on necessity and the value of applying our own intelligence, talent and wits to add value to our time rather than pay to simply have it filled. My parents’ austere and mindful rearing left an indelible imprint on me which I’ve only grown increasingly appreciative of. Frugality and economy play into my filmmaking more often than I sometimes care to admit. So, thanks for that, Mom and Dad!

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