Alumni StoriesAugust ’93 and Sam ’96 Cole

Storytelling with Creative Confidence

August Cole ’93 is writing techno-thrillers about the next world war. His brother, Sam ’96, is making films in New York City. “I’m constantly looking for inspiration,” August says. “When I feel inspiration and love,” Sam says, “I see beauty.” These two brothers are inspired to do the work they do because it’s not work when you love what you do.

“My Bush education gave me a creative confidence that I couldn’t have developed anywhere else,” August says. “Bush gave me the confidence to strike out into the world,” Sam says. Both brothers mention the Bush teachers who gave them the opportunities to discover the world. More so, gave them the chance to find out who they were themselves. Teachers like Carmine Chickadel, Joel Dure, Gardiner Vinnedge, Lois Fein, and Lori Hall inspired them and helped shape them into the men they are today.

Today, August is based in the Boston area, where he focuses on writing fiction; he travels globally to speak and consult on the future of conflict. He also works on creative foresight at SparkCognition, an AI company based in Austin, Texas. His breakout was co-writing the 2015 thriller Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War, heralded by the USA Today as “A modern-day successor to tomes such as The Hunt for Red October.”  

“The more I chart my own professional path as a writer focused on using my fiction to better understand the future, the more I look back at my experiences at Bush,” August says. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, and getting an MPA at Harvard Kennedy School with a focus on national security and foreign policy, August has worked as a defense industry reporter at The Wall Street Journal, a non-resident fellow at West Point’s Modern War Institute, and directed the Atlantic Council’s Art of the Future Project, which explores narrative fiction, visual media, and other art for insight into the future international security environment. “My work increasingly focuses on writing fiction and I made more changes last year to confirm that. I want to pick my own path in making this writing life.” August is currently wrapping up another novel with his Ghost Fleet co-writer Peter W. Singer.

Sam works in New York City as a filmmaker and photographer for brands like Nike, Timberland, and G-Shock. In 2012, he completed Danchi No Yume (Dreams of the Projects), a feature documentary exploring the life of legendary Japanese hip-hop artist Anarchy. Rated four stars by The Japan Times, Kaori Shoji writes, “Mukaijima is depicted as a terrifying fortress that nevertheless holds a certain allure. This is where Anarchy scribbled poetry on cheap notebooks and met up with friends to make hip-hop and shook his tattooed fists in fury at the fate that brought him here.” Sam says, “My desire and will to create a feature documentary in Japan was derived from my foreign language experience and travel at Bush. I would have never made Danchi No Yume without my Bush experience.” 

Sam is currently working on a pro-bono short documentary film for Warrior Camp—a unique experience for military veterans suffering from PTSD and moral injury. Aside from working with the likes of Duckie Brown, Visionaire, and Excel Sports Management, Sam founded Make Believe LLC in 2006—a full service video production company. He says, “My love and appreciation for my subjects comes through in the final product.”

Storytelling is important to the brothers, and it touched both of them during their formative years at Bush. Now the two are passing stories down to their own children. “I usually spend twenty minutes reading with my youngest daughter before she goes to bed; each of us absorbed in our own books,” August says. “The other night, I was so content I completely lost track of time, which is a great shared experience and a feeling I strive to give readers with my own writing.” In New York, Sam walks his son, Otis, around the streets of Brooklyn. “Watching him grow and learn is beautiful. Every day, I take Otis for a walk and I see all these little pockets of history.” Sam’s latest interest in regards to beauty is admiring nineteenth-century brownstones in his neighborhood. “I love taking photos that look as if they could have been taken a hundred years ago.”

The brothers expand the world through their lives and through their work. Sam says, “You’re more equipped to handle what the world throws at you after you’ve had the Bush experience.” 
The Bush School is an independent, coeducational day school located in Seattle, WA enrolling 715 students in grades K–12. The mission of The Bush School is to spark in students of diverse backgrounds and talents a passion for learning, accomplishment, and contribution to their communities.

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