This week’s conversation is with Marty Callner, an award winning filmmaker.

His diverse resume includes specials starring Chris Rock, The Rolling Stones, Justin Timberlake, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Bette Midler, Jerry Seinfeld, Will Ferrell, Garth Brooks, Diana Ross, Britney Spears, and Robin Williams, to name a few.

He is also the creator of the immensely popular and Emmy award winning HBO series, Hard Knocks, which gives viewers a look into the inner workings of NFL training camp.

Marty has directed over 200 music videos, including such classics as Aerosmith’s ‘Crazy’ starring Alicia Silverstone and Cher’s ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’ filmed aboard the historic USS Missouri.

He’s earned five MTV Music Awards including ‘Video of the Year’ and forty-three Emmy nominations including Callner’s back-to-back directorial nods for “Bette Midler: Diva Las Vegas” and “Garth Brooks: Live From Central Park”.

For Marty it all started with his learning to “dream big.”

His mom taught him that, “A man who doesn’t build castles in the air doesn’t build them anywhere.”

How cool is that thought?

Marty is a risk taker, an innovator, and to this day he’s looking for ways to reinvent himself.

“Don’t think about the results. It’s all about the work. The results will take care of themselves if you do a great job.”

In This Episode:

  • Grew up with divorced parents, dad wealthy in Chicago, but mom lower middle class in Cincinnati
  • The greatest lesson his mom taught him: dream big
  • Spent summers in Chicago with his dad where he developed an appreciation for fine art
  • The keys to his success: The “Red Theory”… surveillance, research, execution, and domination
  • Why preparation played such a large part in his work
  • The reason he set such a high standard for himself
  • How he was impacted by fearing failure
  • His advice for getting into the industry
  • What he’s constantly searching for: ways to reinvent himself
  • Whether or not he cares about notoriety, fame, and awards
  • Using imagery to help make his visions came to life
  • His signatures: “Always bigger than life” and “That it’s magical”
  • The story of he realized his dream of working with Mick Jaggar and the Rolling Stones
  • Why risk taking is a part of everything he does


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What his mom taught this about dreaming big: “A man who doesn’t build castles in the air doesn’t build them anywhere.”

“In order to be special and put my magic into it and to take it to that next level of greatness, preparation is the key for me.”

“I often say directing is problem solving. If you work hard enough you will find the solution.”

“I’m always searching for reinvention.”

“I take risks in everything I do. Big risks. Everyone of my projects has risk built into it. Every single one.”


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Director and Producer |

Marty Callner is an award-winning director and producer. He has made music videos, comedy specials, concert specials, and created television shows with some of the biggest artists in the world.