Graduating from Providence St Mel in Chicago, Knox College, and DePaul University, DHVinci started his writing journey at a young age. He wrote poetry, short stories, screenplays, and self-taught himself 3D art/animation.
After studying abroad in Dublin Ireland, DHVinci shifted his mindset from wanting to work in an animation company to develop his own path. Now he works to travel the world while building his own business, writing and animating his own projects, and enjoying what life has to offer.
I think I noticed I wanted a career as a writer around late middle school or early high school. It was around the time I started writing poetry first. As a quiet, introverted student, poetry seemed to be my outlet at the time. It came much more accessible to me to the point where after I graduated high school, I completed a book of 64 poems that my entire family loved. After that, I couldn't think of a single poem to make (because all my poems rhymed) so I moved on to something bigger.
College was a real eye-opener for me. Three things happened at that time. First, I got into short story writing. As an English Major and Creative Writing minor, I loved coming up with ideas, brainstorming, and creating a beginning, middle, and end to a compelling story with enriching characters, attention-grabbing plots, and immersive world-building. I enjoyed studying the classics of literature, especially Jane Austin (our primary focus that I could remember). In college, I created the short story 'How The Fox Got Its Color'. This was an important first step for something to happen later.
The second thing to happen in college was my studying abroad. Now, I never saw myself going anywhere outside Illinois, except Alabama and maybe Colorado because I had family there. So for a hermit like me who dislikes going out anywhere to spend 3 1/2 months overseas was unthinkable. However, I had no choice at the time because I had to fulfill a specific requirement in order to graduate on time. So, if I didn't go abroad, I'd have to repeat another term while my classmates moved on. So in two weeks, I finished the applications, I picked the location to travel to, I did research, got counciling, went in for my medical examination, applied for scholarships, wrote essays, got recommendations, and got everything completed. However, I did not submit everything until the last 2 minutes before midnight the day before everything was due. I was terrified because there'd be no going back. The moment I looked over everything and submitted my work, I went to my dorm and went to sleep to reduce all the stress I'd built up getting to that point.
After I did, amazing things happened. I got accepted to go to Dublin, Ireland for their new writer's program for 3 months, I received an anonymous donation of $8,000 to cover my flight and trip, I got the scholarship I needed to cover some of my other expenses, and I flew 8 hours overseas 2-3 days early to take in Dublin for myself before classes started. I had an amazing time! My classes were enjoyable, my professors and staff were loving, the culture and atmosphere were beautiful, the day trips around the island were memorable, and the internship gave me insight into working in the real world. With some convincing, I took a mini 4-day vacation and traveled to Rome, Italy. I was over the moon to have gone there and could write a short story about that experience alone. When I returned to the states, wishing I could be gone for a full year instead of a few months, I became the ambassador for the IES study abroad program and happily share my experience with anyone looking to study abroad. Take the chance! It's a life changer.
The 3rd and final thing that happened to me in College was being able to make a group of friends. These same group of nerds, yes nerds whom all wore glasses and spoke on subjects I still don't understand today, invited me into the group, got me to play Smash bros, introduced me to DND, magic the gathering, and so much more; all of which I knew nothing about prior to coming to college. To them, I'm very grateful and I enjoy all the time spent together. Now they've introduced me to new music and the renaissance faire which made me enjoy life even more after my whole shift in perspective after studying abroad. So if they're reading this, thank you for the life-changing experiences and the friendship you've all made with me.
(Story of how I got lost in Rome coming soon)
After I was done with middle school, high school, and College, I was still unclear about where I wanted to take my life after that. I still had the urge to travel now that I was exposed to the wonders of the world but wasn't sure how to go about it. I also wanted to focus on my career as a writer but with so many options, I couldn't narrow down a choice I wanted to be stuck with. Then I remembered how I always said I wanted to bring my stories to life. So much so that up to that point I had self-taught myself 3D animation. Originally using the software called Illusion Mage, then later moving ontop Blender 3D, I had sprinkled my self-taught animation over the years but never took it seriously. Since I was a Disney fan, with my favorite of them all being Aladdin because of Genie (Rest in peace Robin Williams), I often dreamt of working with companies like Disney, Pixar, or Dreamworks. So I decided to pursue a career as a screenwriter.
Remember that story I said I wrote a while back? The story of 'How The Fox Got Its Color'? Well, one summer I applied to an intro to a screenwriting course by Paul Peditto, creator of the blog Scriptgodsmustdie. For that program, I adapted my original short story into a screenplay. It became the first professional screenplay I'd ever written and with his help, I submitted that along with some supplementary work to DePaul University and got into the graduate Screenwriting program. It was there I learned most if not all the ins and outs of being a screenwriter for movies, television, web series, and more. I even got a part-time job on campus as a game lab moderator and was able to watch many students play all sorts of games from console to Virtual reality, to PC. (It's also where I made the shift from console gaming on the play station to PC gaming... with a play station controller).
The second biggest eye-opener for me was when I studied 'abroad' again. It was a 12-week program where my graduate class would go to Los Angeles, finish our final semester there in classes, work on internships, and try to find connections to work in our field. It was hard, expensive, and warmer than I'd like most days, but I got to read, write, and edit scripts, I got to watch films in several types of theaters, and I got to see how voice actors get hired during 1 internship, I worked for my cousin who had a hand everywhere in Hollywood, I took a tour of Disneyland, Warner Bros studios, Universal Studios, and my favorite, a personal tour around Dreamworks Animation Studios. That's right, I made a connection, then a friend, and got to tour one of my top 2 studios of choice, even going so far as to get an interview with them, even though my chances to get hired were slim and I had to decline because my program was ending.
However, a lot of things happened that convinced me I wouldn't last too long trying to work as a screenwriter in Hollywood, even though I was told it was THE place to be for my line of work and to make connections. Hollywood was nearly 3X as expensive to live in. I was going to be in massive financial debt after all my schooling ended and I didn't want to live in a huge city with roommates, terrible public transport, and no job. I couldn't drive because I had no license or a car, I wasn't paid so I had no income, and I couldn't rely on others to take care of me when I didn't have a plan on how I was to survive out there. There were two pieces of knowledge I was told that convinced me I wouldn't make it in Hollywood. The first was that it was incredibly competitive to get a job as a screenwriter and you'd need to be working on 10 projects at a time and be ready to pitch them at every opportunity. I could barely come up with 5, let alone 10. Also, I wanted to work on cartoons for a living, but the focus was on live-action films and tv shows and the best way to get into jobs was to have 3-5 titles to your name (IE being a writer, actor, producer, director, sound designer all in one), or you had to be a PA (Production Assistant) and work on sets. I'd also have to get a day job to support the bills, and a night job working on myself and my projects. Even if I managed to land a paying gig, I'd have to continuously apply to places because once a project was completed, that was it. It'd be hard to get a full-time paying gig for a long time.
The second bit of knowledge that convinced me I wouldn't make it in LA or as a screenwriter was that, whatever I wrote, once I hand it over to a studio, it no longer belongs to me. The studio making my work would have full control over what happens to it and where it goes. That means if the series did good, they could decide whom to hire, what to change, where it goes out to, and how to profit from it. The original writer would have to fight tooth and nail, with a lawyer and luck, to be in the end credits and actually get paid because the script is roughly 10-20% of the work while the 80-90% is on preproduction, production, post-production, and marketing. So if you don't have more than just a screenwriting title to your name, it'd be hard to get paid for the script you wrote that the company is making a movie or a series out of. If the film/show did poorly for whatever reason, got delayed due to production issues, or was never greenlighted to begin work on it, the script would be shelved or in what's called production hell. This means that they will have a script in their library but choose not to do anything with it or keep it just to have it. In order words, if they shelve a story that I make, I would have to pay them thousands of dollars to get the rights back to my work. I personally did not want to go through any of this. I admire screenwriters who are well-rounded and flexible, but this direction didn't suit me.
It was around that time a huge scandal happened to writers who were getting ripped off by their agents and had to fire them for taking more than their fair share of cut from a writer's profits. I know that hard work, resilience, and persistence would pay off, but I didn't want to put myself through so much stress, I moved back to Chicago, got an apartment, and did some regular 9-5 jobs as I was happy not to be studying again. It seemed my idea of traveling the world and making a successful project would be even harder due to the pandemic. I knew I had to change the way I'd want to do things and being quarantined for a while gave me all the time to do it. It also gave me the self-reflection and realization that I could go, do, and be whatever I wanted. Who cares what I do with my life but me? So I was going to make the most of it my way.
I knew I wanted to do a few things with the rest of my life. Firstly, I wanted to go abroad again and see the world. I stumbled upon a female African American traveler who'd been traveling the world during the pandemic living out of hotels full time. I got her courses, examined her material, spoke in her groups a few times, and now I have the knowledge of what I needed to do to live in hotels. I just need to work on a plan. The second thing I wanted to do was make a lot of money, more than what any job could provide me. So, I decided to run my own business. I didn't want to be a freelancer which was appealing at the time but wasn't sustainable or something I could do fast to get me the income I needed. So I registered a DBA under Five Stars Pros. A business helping other businesses grow on autopilot by building their Reviews, SEO, and reputation. My goal is, at the time of writing this, that by 2024 (When I turn 30 years old which is my golden year being born on the 30th of January), I'll have a full-time income capable of traveling the world, helping businesses, and living by my own set of rules. Since there's no shortage of businesses to help worldwide, I could use any excess funds to support my personal projects.
The last thing I wanted to do was continue writing and animating. I mentioned before that I self-taught myself 3D animation over the years. Now, I'm going to write and bring my characters and story to life my way. I kept all my notes from grad school about screenwriting, purchased the industry standard screenwriting software Final Draft 12, download the free animation tool Blender, saved and purchased the Asus Zephry duo 15 duel screen laptop, purchased additional character and animating software to help my workflow, and collected a ton of resources about writing, 3D animation, and even game development. I was going to enjoy the long-term process of making my own studio pipeline and build a 9 season animated web series the way I want to do it.
And this so far is where my story stops. It is now late 2022 and I have a lot to do. I created this blog to showcase myself, my work, my passion, and what I plan to do. The rest of my journey continues on the blog I plan to do. I hope you all have enjoyed reading my story, and learning more about me, and I hope you stick around for what I plan to do.
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Be blessed and make a plan to follow your dreams. Take care and happy reading, watching, and playing.