When Bruce Campbell and his best friend Sam Raimi sat down and started to really work on their first motion picture "Evil Dead," Campbell said they both had a lot to fear.
"Were we afraid to take money from blood relatives, friends and total strangers to risk it on a first-time director, with a first-time actor and a first-time producer? Absolutely," he told a packed audience at Hastings College Saturday night. "In fact, beyond that we were crazy. But it's the good kind of fear that keeps you focused and motivated."
Campbell was brought to the college to speak on the topic of fear as part of the Artist Lecture Series in conjunction with the new freshmen experience program.
The event, which was open to the public, was seen by hundreds of people, including fans old and young carrying "Army of Darkness" action figures, copies of Campbell's two books and other items in hopes of snagging an autograph.
When it came to the making of "Evil Dead," Campbell said he and Raimi were able to overcome their fears and eventually had worldwide success with the film and their investors were heavily rewarded for taking the risk.
"These intrepid people have gotten back about 30 times their money," Campbell said. "Nobody is afraid anymore. There is no fear."
Campbell did say that fear is logical; everyone has fears. The defining moment, though, isn't the fear but how a person responds in that moment of fear.
"Were any of you afraid of the dark as a kid?" he asked the audience. "Not me. I took advantage of it. My brother and I met those fears head-on by roaming our neighborhood at night becoming very proficient peeping Toms."
One of the first moments Campbell remembers overcoming his fear was as a child on a hockey team.
He was on the worst team in the league and it was preparing to play the best team.
"It was weird," Campbell said. "I was so afraid of playing them that I sort of maxed out. I couldn't get any more afraid."
At that point, Campbell changed that fear into a positive energy and the team ended up playing its best game of the season. The team lost miserably, but Campbell said the coach knew the players gave everything they had because they weren't afraid anymore.
"There is an advantage to being really afraid," Campbell said. "Eventually you'll stop being afraid because you can't get any more afraid or you'll just die I guess."
After completing "Evil Dead," Campbell and Raimi came together for their second production, "Crimewave," a film that went two times over budget, took twice as long to shoot as planned, was re-edited by the studio and never even made it to movie theaters.
Those factors were certainly enough to make any actor, producer or director fear taking that leap into making another film.
"This could have given me a very legitimate fear of failure but more importantly the experience provided us with how to do a budget, how to deal with actors, unions, studios, legal people. It just made us stronger," he said.
Thirty years later, Campbell said he's still standing and still doing what he loves because he doesn't let fear consume him.
"You're going to fail at something, but I've learned the most lessons out of failure. It's not a bad thing," he said. "To me, living in fear is a tremendous waste of your personal resources."