Film Stars May/June 2019

August 5th, 2021 by Bryan

You’ve Got a Friend in Film: The Industry Through Humbled Eyes

By Emmariah Holcomb

Mitchell Goldman may have seen the movie Toy Story on an old dubbed VHS tape when he was around 16 years-old, but he lives its iconic song “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” every day.

When you meet the 38 year-old owner of Finalist Films in Marrero, La., you instantly feel as if you’ve known him for years. The easy going and positive-spirited tinter and entrepreneur, is so easy to talk to that you quickly lose track of time. He is also as humble as they come.

“I don’t feel like I’m important enough for a title, I’m just a man trying to make it in the world,” says Goldman.

But before he went into business for himself, he stumbled upon the industry with his older brother’s help in 1998 and never left.

Brotherly Love

“I was a teenager and was cutting up, my brother was working at an audio shop at the time and there was a shop down the street that was owned by the audio shop  owner’s brother. Well they needed someone to install alarms in[side] of cars and that’s where it all started,” Goldman recalls.

From there he started focusing more on working rather than attending school.

“I was skipping so many days in high school they ended up taking my name off of the roster. Can you believe I was thrown out of school at 16?” asks Goldman.

But he didn’t let that roadblock get him down, as he earned his general education diploma (GED) the following year at 17. Meanwhile, he was still “cutting up,” but fortunately his older brother came to the rescue by leading him to the industry when he was a teen. Now Goldman celebrates more than two decades in it as well as the start of his own business in March of this year.

Family Ties

Although he’s not the type to boast about his industry tenure, there’s someone close to his heart that looks up to him every day.

“It’s amazing that my son looks up to me because he can have any other role model in the world. I actually spend a lot of time investing in him because I want him to be better than me and have more options,” says Goldman.

He credits his wife and son, as they have been his support system for years.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. My wife currently handles all of my new appointments and customers. She’s an artist and she’s so wonderful I can’t even explain it in words sometimes,” says Goldman.

But there are times when she’s not so thrilled about her husband’s new business.

“Oh, she gets jealous when a lot of women call me for work, but she also understands that this is how we survive. I have to work,” Goldman says.

Absolute No

Of course every person who’s ever tinted cars has at least one they’d rather not tint again. The same is said for Goldman as he thinks back to one such experience.

“The 1995 [Oldsmobile] 4-door Cutlass Supreme, man that’s a car that if any of my customers wanted tinted I’m ready to tell them I just won’t do it,” says Goldman.

But what makes that particular vehicle so challenging to the point where he’d rather tint a Volkswagen Beetle?

“It brings me back to when I was younger and I tried so hard only to have to redo it. To me it’s a waste of film. I’d rather tint 10 Beetles than tint that car again. I can do a lot of older cars but just not that one,” says Goldman.

Simple Philosophy

Installing window film is similar to an art form, in which the installer puts a little of themselves in every installation. Although Goldman agrees, he has a unique comparison related to the industry.

“It’s like eating a Reese’s peanut butter cup, there’s not just one way to eat it, and that’s exactly how tinting is. Whatever might be affecting you outside of the shop will be seen in your film,” says Goldman.

He stresses the importance of living with minimal anger and periodically reconnecting with the reasons why he fell in love with the industry.

Self-Worth

Goldman says one of the biggest highlights he has is competing in the annual International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off™ (WFCT).

“I had heard about the competition in the early 2000’s but for years I thought I wasn’t good enough,” Goldman recalls.

Feeling slight self-doubt may have started early on in his career, but it didn’t last long. While Goldman worked for his most recent employer of 14 years, RD Audio and Security, he quickly realized he was the only employee who was tinting customer’s cars.

After years of mastering efficient installations he began to see his worth and decided to take it center stage.

Competition Time

“My first time competing was amazing,” Goldman recalls.

His first WFCT competition was in West Palm Beach, Fla., in 2017. He didn’t know anyone prior to going but that didn’t stop him from stepping out and meeting industry professionals.

“I’ll admit I didn’t know about the conferences before the actual competitions, but I learned a lot. I also got a chance to meet a lot of people, many I still regularly talk to,” says Goldman.

When the results were in, Goldman did not take the grand prize home but what he did go home with meant much more to him.

“There were times before I competed that I really doubted myself. I would ask myself why was I doing this and why I stayed in it for so long. Then I competed and realized why I do what I do—I love it and it shows in my work,” Goldman says.

Inner Peace

Goldman’s business is already becoming a local favorite.

“Now that I’m in my own business I have to find what works best for me. I’m the little guy and I’m all for supporting people like me in the industry, who are trying to figure out what works,” says Goldman.

Since starting his own business he’s noticed more opportunities have been presented to him and that more people know who he is before they make an appointment.

“I’ve been working for myself and it’s been beautiful. I’ve never been more at peace in my life, and the only people I have to answer to are my customers,” Goldman adds.

Emmariah Holcomb is the assistant editor for WINDOW FILM magazine. Reach her at eholcomb@glass.com, and follow her on Twitter @WindowFilmMag.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

Leave Comment