Anthony J. Baldwin is the founder of Toronto-based film production company Steel Hammer Productions, where he operates as a writer, director, and producer. He specializes in short film and music video productions.
If you could your past self some advice, what would you tell yourself?
Go easier on yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and progress is never linear. Some of the most famous people working in the film industry today didn’t start until their 40s and 50s. No one cares about your past or where you came from, so instead of using it as a crutch, use it as a driving force to motivate you to reach new heights.
When you first started your career, how did you know you were ready and what made you start?
The funny thing about this question, and what most people won’t tell you, is you will never be ready for anything. There will never be a perfect moment. An opportunity may come completely out of nowhere, and you may have no choice but to dive in headfirst. This is exactly what happened to me. An independent artist approached me to produce his first music video, and I didn’t want to look unprofessional. I decided to dive in headfirst. From there, Steel Hammer Productions was born midway through pre-production, and I’ve never looked back.
What or who has been your greatest influence in business?
My greatest influence may seem like a cliché, but it’s always been my mother for me. From a very early age, she instilled in me to always have a strong work ethic and not shy away from a challenge. My mother taught me the importance of following your heart and loving what you do. She sacrificed so much to ensure I had everything I would ever need in life. One of the biggest lessons I learned from her was to be a fighter and that if I truly wanted something, to not wait for it to come to me but to go out and go after it. She is my biggest cheerleader and a great source of inspiration. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for her.
What is your favourite thing about what you do in your career and why?
Without a doubt, my favourite thing about my career is that I get to tell stories. Storytelling has always been a great passion of mine. Whether it is a 5-minute short film or a 3-minute music video, a story is created. Film has always been my escape from reality, so when I can create a world that is an escape for someone else, there is no greater joy than that. When you tell a story, you know you have someone’s attention, and when you have their attention, you have the chance to make a lasting impression. It’s nerve-racking, frightening, and exciting all at the same time. Being a storyteller means you get to live on through the stories you tell and the art you make long after leaving this world behind.
Do you have a mantra or phrase you live by? What is it?
My mantra comes from one of my favourite films of all time called, The Departed.
“No one gives it to you. You have to take it.”
Ever since I was a teenager, this phrase has been something I have and continue to apply to all aspects of life. It’s such a simple line of dialogue, but it’s packed with so much meaning. This phrase constantly grounds me and motivates me to go for the things I want in life. If an opportunity comes your way, grab it, but if it doesn’t present itself, go and make your own opportunity.