Tuesday, July 03, 2012
GIVE MORE THAN YOU TAKE
Can you hear about a person you know having success and be genuinely happy for them?
What about if they are a peer? Or, put another way, a competitor?
A lot of people struggle to give a straight answer to these questions.
With the new online world for content creators, the idea of the 'personal brand' has grown more pervasive. As it takes hold of a filmmaker, they start to believe they are in competition with everyone.
If you get funding for a feature film, they didn't.
If your script gets bought by a major studio, theirs got left on the shelf.
If your film gets selected for the Oscars, theirs goes straight to an unwatched DVD collection.
It doesn't matter how true any of these statements are. They might not have even finished their script, or cut their movie.
But your success means their failure.
I have met these people. They exist.
But what if, and bear with my overwhelming optimism here, we were all in it together?
What if we looked at ourselves as a community of artists, where the success of one enables the success of others?
Imagine cheering for your filmmaking peers, and having them cheer for you in return. Or supporting another filmmaker with their dream project, knowing that this is the kind of working environment you want to create.
I am not a lone idealist on this thought.
And it is not just because I am not an Oscar winner (yet) or earning millions producing Hollywood films.
The producer of Terence Malick's 'Tree of Life', Sarah Green, believes in the community of filmmakers supporting each other too. Ms Green gave a wonderful and inspiring key note speech at the Sundance Film Festival this year that sums it up far better than I could.
In case you're feeling lazy, the best quote from the speech is:
"So give some of your time, your expertise, your energy to mentor, to train, to advise and to cheer. What benefits one independent film benefits us all. Who hasn't referenced "Brokeback Mountain" or "Little Miss Sunshine" or "Precious" when trying to explain that our "female-driven," "period," "coming-of-age," "Americana" (oh, and here's the real eye-roller in a pitch meeting) or "drama" was going to make pots of money. A truly successful indie gives us all something to point to when pitching our own film, and makes it easier to get another independent film made."
Giving more than you take.
A crazy idea?
The cynics will object and say this is all great in theory but impractical in the competitive film business.
But what if I told you this cooperation already existed?
In Australia, there is a group called Blue Tongue Films. They are a small, loosely organised commune of filmmakers who work on each other's projects.
Writing, directing, producing, acting, editing, etc. Whatever needs to be done to get the film made.
So far, they have had Oscar nominations, a Sundance selection, a Cannes selection and long list of other accolades.
Technically they should be in competition. Instead they support each other to make better and better work.
It is possible.
Ghandi said: 'Be the change you want to see in the world.'
So filmmakers, and everyone really, where does this better world start?
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