Thursday 4 March 2010

Shutting My Mouth And Getting The Job Done.

I have always been a do-er, when it comes to my career. Most people who know me know I am quite prolific when in comes to producing work and having ideas. But that being said -- I still often find that I'm not really doing the work. I remember, years ago, I used to moan about the lack of opportunities for upcoming screenwriters in the industry, even though I'd never written a feature. Likewise, I'd often moan about the difficulties of shooting on zero-budgets even though I'd never attempted to get funding. Over the years; I've become much better at doing the work.

Due to a variety of factors:- i.e. growing up, reading interesting books, unexpected opportunities, people dying, etc-- I started to look at things a lot more deeply and found myself really interested in psychology, and in creativity; I guess -- the psychology of creativity. And in the last year or so, I've gotten very good at being able to sit down with friends; writers, actors, etc-- and been able to really help them with writers block, self-esteem issues, resentment towards 'the industry', etc, often working on interesting issues and making a difference in quite a profound way. Unfortunately, after a while - it becomes a kind of schtick. I sit there, in a coffee house with a friend, spouting stuff about how to deal with inner critics, how to always be ready to write, etc; meanwhile, time would pass and I WASN'T ACTUALLY DOING ANYTHING.

And I hate people like that, people who swallow a psychology book and then start rambling about how the key to something is in the unconscious of some subconscious thing that is based on the ego of a tree and aligned with Neptune, or whatever; and I don't want to become one of those...

...But then again, as I write this -- feeling like I haven't been doing the work; if you asked people who know me, they'd probably say I have. This year I've I've written a feature screenplay, am starting a new one right now, I've got my short films into some festivals, I've interviewed one of my favorite writers (come back here next week to see!), I've consistently written this blog, and won an award for it; I've facilitated, filmed and edited in schools; doing work that is improving the lives of really at risk kids (behaviorally); I've actually done quite a bit.

So what am I talking about? On the one hand, I feel like I often let things slide without doing enough. But then again; what more could I have done?

"Now I have already mentioned that there was a disturbance in my heart, a voice that spoke there and said, I want, I want, I want! It happened every afternoon, and when I tried to suppress it got even stronger. It said only one thing, I want, I want!"
-From the book 'Henderson The Rain King' (Saul Bellow)

I guess what I am really getting at -- is laziness. The kind of laziness where an actor asks for their showreel footage and three weeks later, I haven't sent it. Eventually, I say, "It's in the post," and then four days later, I put it in the post. It's that kind of thing. It's that little part of me that is quietly, subtly lazy; like a kid who never really cleans their room, or a friend who never quite makes it to the party.

I feel, right now, that I need to focus more. I need to act on everything as it happens. Answer the calls, finish the scripts, research the things I need to research; basically, I just need to do all the things I do, but do them more precisely, professionally, and consistently. Do I make any sense? I hope so.

I've always believed that this industry isn't particularly hard to achieve a lot in, despite what everyone says. I think there are very few people who, when it comes down to it, will turn up for a shoot in a field in the freezing cold at 5am, and do it for three months solid for virtually no money.

Likewise, there are very few actors who take the pain of rejection, learn from it, understand their part in it, and come back stronger again, and again, and again-- there are very few writers who write the 10th draft, of their fifteenth screenplay, after being rejected or, worse--- being oh-so-close to major success before being dumped in the waste. THAT is doing the work; persistence:--- consistent, unwavering, absolute persistence and dedication, time and again, day after day.

That's me, from now on. Are you with me?

Care to share?


  1. Absolutely. If there is anyone who can do whatever it is they set their mind to, from what I can tell from your blog, it's you. You have a passion and a drive that is inspiring, a belief in yourself and your abilities as a writer, director, producer that is evident to anyone who interacts with you and reads your posts. It is that spark that will be the key to achieving exactly what you listed here-putting in 100% of your time, energy, and focus into making your future happen on your terms. The advice you've given over the last year has helped an enormous amount of people and now - it's helping you, too. There is no better time than now to be what you want to be. Carpe Diem, Kid in the Front Row. We believe in you!

  2. Another very inspiring article. I don't know if this makes me crazy, but I love the idea of a 5 AM shoot in the freezing cold. Hopefully that's a good sign.

    But I get what you're saying here, and I do try my best to go out and do things rather than just talk about going out and doing them.

  3. . . . a year and a half ago, with the economy tanking, i took a 8-5 job to pay the bills. my writing suffered. but i had a realization similar to yours: if you want to write, write. so for the past six months i get up every morning at 5am and write for a couple of hours before going into Hiveworld. and you know what? i've discovered that dawn is magic time for writing for me. i love it.

    yep. show up. just do the work :)

  4. Kate, that is so inspiring - you're amazing!

    Meaghan, thanks for the kind words!

    Danny, that you are eager for 5am shoots is definitely a good thing!