From HR Exec to Filmmaker?

I’ve read about people who start second careers quite different from the one in which they worked their entire life. I never thought I would be one of those. I really enjoyed my career in Human Resources… loved the diversity of work and people, and had a great time as Vice President of HR for a growth company that achieved the top 1% of companies in shareholder return since it went public in 2001. But after 14 years in that role, and 34 years in the HR field, I was ready for something different. Could I go from HR Exec to Filmmaker?

I was fortunate to be in a position where I could retire early, and started writing a few years ago. That writing resulted in a screenplay with a co-writer, incorporating some of my passions: music, parody and mockumentaries. We worked hard on the script, making multiple revisions knowing that it all starts with having a killer script. I met a producer and director who shared some of the same passions and… long story short… we made a movie. To be clear, it wasn’t quite that simple. It was over two years from concept to principal photography, with some alterations along the way. But bottom line, we just finished filming it, and it’s called Liberty Mean. It’s about four friends’ misguided efforts to parody the songs of their idols, and earn enough money to make it on stage at a major music festival.

Many of the skills I learned in business were very helpful throughout this process. We had to create a business plan, create a budget, find partners for locations, wardrobe, catering, musical instruments and the like. We found some very generous sponsors who helped us make this independent film a reality. The arts community in Columbus has been so supportive at each phase. It was so gratifying to see the script come alive with the wonderful cast and crew. And cast members putting their own special spin on the characters that we created. And reaching out to some special guests for appearances in our film that actually said “yes” (thank you Foghat, Michael Stanley, Alex Ortiz, Randy Malloy of CD102.5, and of course the Black Owls)!

We are now in post-production, editing the film, re-recording and mixing the music, and targeting film festivals. Plus working on a social media campaign that we started even before filming. We hope to finish post-production over the next several months so that we can submit to those targeted film festivals for 2017 exhibition, as well as a premiere in this city that has hosted so many locations for our film and provided so much support. I’ve had a blast through it all, and am looking forward to the next steps in the process.

You can follow our progress at, and sign up for email updates. I’ll continue to share my experiences and am encouraging others on this project to do the same. Stay tuned!

– Mark Stewart