Talking about yourself is a high wire act.
It is also part of the weirdest experiences I have had at film festivals or networking events. How to talk about yourself enough to establish credibility, but not so much that you become the guy who everyone assumes has narcisissm or special needs.
Everyone wants to feel like they are achieveing something, after all. That applies to more than just film.
In a room full of peers, family or friends, when someone asks, 'are you setting the world on fire?', you want to be able to say 'of course!'.
And, quite frankly, the ability to talk about your success is important. Successful people I know own their success as much as they own their failures. You should be proud of your achievements and be able to articulate them.
Succinctly, of course.
It's an art form.
Remember, you are building relationships. Relationships that may only ever be cordial, but you never know what could develop professionally.
But you must also remember, there is a golden rule when building relationships.
In the film world, where so much effort is spent in the ethereal realm of story development or rumoured productions, there is a razor thin line between talking about your achievements and overblown hype.
This may seem an obvious statement, but it is absolutely critical you be aware of the line between hype and truth.
There is one thing that the majority of experienced professionals develop, and that is the ability to spot a fake or overblown story. This is because spotting hype can be the difference between developing a strong collaboration or achieving nothing.
The most common example is the sin of omission.
For example, if you leave a few key words out of a film festival title, it is the difference between suggesting your film was selected for the Cannes Film Festival (the official one) or the Cannes Independent Film Festival (the recent addition which I strongly believe is a scam).
And if you get caught on a lie, not only will it get pointed out, but it is hard to recover.
A recent example was when an Australian horror film, 'Muirhouse', travelled to Cannes this year to screen at the Cannes Film Festival's Film Market.
A story appeared in Inside Film, headlined: 'Aussie horror film Muirhouse to premiere at Cannes'.
Not an innacurate statement.
Except that the prestige of being selected for the Cannes Film Festival is very different to the experience of screening at the Cannes Film Market. The market is still an excellent milestone for the film, but alas, different.
The comment section of the article reflects exactly the reaction I am talking about:
"Cannes" and "The Cannes Market" are two very different things and the title of this article is quite misleading. You shouldn't have the heading of an article as "premiering at Cannes" as this suggests it's in the line up proper, not the market. No offense to the filmmakers, I'm sure it's a great film, but the the heading shouldn't be so misleading." (Bill. 02/05/2012)"
"Premiering at Cannes and screening in the market are two very, very different things. Misleading headline. (Harry Newt. 02/05/2012)"
"I look forward to seeing articles on the other 20 or so Aussie films "premiering" in the market at Cannes. (Anonymous)"
An innocent mistake in this example, surely, but it shows how highly attuned people are when they suspect liberties are being taken with the truth.
So, what is the easiest way to avoid this kind of trouble altogether and to be held in the highest regard by your peers?
Follow the golden rule.
Be proud. Be articulate. But, most of all, be honest.
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