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Name: Adam Bernard
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About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Pete Finch - Long Live The Hustle
Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Over 300 hours of footage. After eight years of shooting, including two filming his television show, Live with Pete Finch, at UConn, that was how much video Bridgeport native Pete Finch had taken of himself. To say the camera had become one of his best friends wouldn’t be that much of an exaggeration. “I had to talk to somebody,” he says with a laugh.

Finch has edited all that footage down and turned it into a documentary titled My Hustle, which takes a look at the many obstacles he’s had time overcome while trying to continue making his television show, which ran for two years at UConn until he graduated in 2004.

Of course, there were also obstacles when it came to making My Hustle, and there were even obstacles for Finch after it was done, the biggest being getting people to want to see a movie about his struggle. “It would be naive to think that most people would care about me,” he says, adding that despite his high profile interviews with some of the hip-hop world’s most popular artists, including Lil’ Wayne and Ice Cube, he feels “most people still have no idea that I even exist. There are people who I grew up with, or people in my family, who don’t even have a clue what I do. This movie just kind of says hello, this is what I’m doing, I’m competent, I’m not just dreaming.”

Finch knew if he wanted to attract a large audience he was going to have to find a way establish his credibility very quickly in the film. He did this by creating a five minute promo that features various celebrities from the world of hip-hop shouting him out, and placing it right after the two opening scenes of the film. My Hustle then dives into the past half dozen years of Finch’s life, chronicling everything he’s done to try to take his show to the next level. He feels the film is along the same lines as HBO’s breakout hit How To Make It In America, noting, “they talk about 20-somethings out there hustling, finding something they really believe in, going through all types of ups and downs, snags in the way, obstacles, but just finding their path and sticking with it.”

For Finch, his path in entertainment started at UConn in 2002 when he started Live with Pete Finch. He says his goal for the show was to create something that would be a mixture of Larry King and Arsenio Hall. He notes that’s a combination he still likes to try to embody, saying “I want the people who want to have fun, but also want to keep it real and see the world be better.” All of this fits into Finch’s overarching goal for everything his does, which he says falls under the umbrella of “making a difference through the media.”

Finch comes by his love of arts and entertainment, as well as his love of public speaking, honestly. When he was growing up his mother, who now works in education and runs a non-profit organization, was a ballet dancer, and constantly exposed Finch to the arts. Finch’s father is the mayor of Bridgeport, and has been a mainstay in the local political scene for a number of years. Pete notes “it’s almost like I’m a funny science experiment based on my parents.”

If he’s a science experiment, he’s one that’s gone very right. Finch is even following in his mother's footsteps in education, teaching an after school film class for middle schoolers in Bridgeport. By reaching out to the youth he hopes to instill in them the idea that it’s important to develop yourself fully, and not settle. “It’s easy to go and get hired for a job that you just show up at,” Finch explains, “but to create something and have these types of life skills, that’s something that people can’t take away from you. That’s the message I want to relay. If you have things to offer and you’re passionate about things, no one can take that away from you. You can get fired from any job, but if you have a foundation of skills, and recognition for things that you’ve done, and you’re out there in the world, no one can take that away from you.”

This is an ideology that affects Finch not just in his work, but also in his every day life when people who don’t understand his goals try to push him in different directions. Just a few weeks ago he was a passenger in a friend’s car when they were pulled over for speeding. Finch remembers the police officer telling him to consider a career in law enforcement. “He was like ‘hey, you know, you should really look into being a cop.’ I’m like, really? C’mon man. Do I really need to be a cop? Am I really on the wrong track here?” For Finch those were all rhetorical questions, easily answerable with the word “no.”

Not only does Finch have no interest in doing anything other than what his hustle has been for the past eight years, he notes “I’m a filmmaker and a TV producer and I’m lecturing the students at UConn about achieving their dreams and alternate ways of finding success and I’m almost feeling like I can’t ever not do what I’m doing. I can’t ever stop, because if I stop it’s like hey, you can go try to be successful alternatively like I did, but it really doesn’t work. How can I live with myself and talk about anything if I give up?”

Giving up isn’t in Finch’s vocabulary. In fact, in addition to continuing to pitch Live with Pete Finch to television networks, and looking for film festivals where he can screen My Hustle, Finch is also putting together a show called Park City Live, which he describes as “something like Live with Pete Finch, but more dedicated to the greater Bridgeport area’s arts and entertainment.”

Although he’s come a long way from the opening scene in My Hustle, which is a recreation of his first hustle, selling baseball cards as a middle school student, it’s clear one thing has remained the same and that’s Finch’s passion for doing things his way. It’s done him pretty well, so far, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him on our TVs sooner rather than later.

Story originally ran in the FairfieldWeekly.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:55 AM  
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