I was talking to a friend the other day about his film project and how excited he is that his Kickstarter worked and how he now had the seed money to begin the arduous trek to actually getting his film made.
He’d set a realistic goal, for starters, not one of those “I need to raise Two Hundred Thousand dollars in 10 days, so if you have Two Hundred Thousand friends who can give a dollar each we’ll be funded for our film about the dangers of Glitter Tattoos”. He also said he got a couple of nasty notes from people who didn’t understand how HE could get funded when they couldn’t. I wasn’t surprised.
It got me thinking about why I think it’s important to actively support people who are trying to write and/or make films and TV. I am a firm believer in independent film and love what it can be in the right hands. I’d rather see a good small film than a big blockbuster any day of the week. (Except for the Lego Movie… that one kicked ass and now I’m singing “EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!!”)
It’s a relatively small community, this group of people actively trying to be a part of this industry, and I’m startled and saddened when I hear writers and actors and filmmakers getting upset or disappointed that someone has achieved some success and it isn’t them. We should all as a community honor success and genuinely be happy for the people who worked so hard to get it. I feel great when I see someone I know, or don’t know for that matter, get that golden ticket they worked so tirelessly for.
I know how it feels to be on both sides of that equation. I know friends and colleagues and acquaintances who are happy for me when good things happen and I’ve been with people who don’t understand why it couldn’t have happened to them instead.
Success is NOT a Zero Sum Game. Because one person is successful doesn’t mean another person won’t be. Success is open to all comers. Yes, you do have to perform. Yes, there is a modicum of good fortune involved at times. Yes, who you know can be important. But those last two things fall to the wayside if you write something or make something wonderful. Every overnight success I know worked like crazy to get there. They honed their chosen craft. They trialed and errored their nails down to the bone. They networked (the right way), building real lasting relationships with people in the industry. And they were encouraged by their friends and by some of the people trying to do the same things. It should be all of the people.
I love to encourage new artists. I give to projects on Kickstarter and Indiegogo because I LIKE the project or the person whether I know them or not. I’ve helped writers in past by something as simple as giving notes on a script to as much sending a script to a producer because I loved it and it fit what was being sought. I’ve done this for friends. For people who have networked with me the right way. I’m no great shakes in the industry right now. I hope to be soon and things are looking pretty favorable, but what little I can do right now I want to do.
Why? Because we all have a shared goal. That’s the thing that binds us all in a kind of wonderful desperate hopeful community. To someday see our words, our images, on a screen entertaining, inspiring, exciting, scaring, thrilling, and educating people depending on what we’re trying to do.
So I encourage you to stop being jealous of other people’s success if that’s what you do now. Be joyful when someone gets what they’ve dreamed of. Mike Le got some amazing news this week about his script and a director hired for it. I couldn’t be happier for him. I don’t know him, but I bet I know how hard he worked for that moment. I’ve had moments like that and know how they feel. Pretty damn good. Way to go, Mike.
This Blog also came about when I heard someone bitch and moan about an acting part that went to someone they know instead of them. I’ve been on the actor side, too. If I hold my hands about four inches apart that gives you an idea of my acting range. If there’s a part within that range I’ll knock it out of the park, but those are few, so I’ve had my share of no calls after an audition. But I’ve never been angry at the person who got the part, like some I’ve actually heard. The person who got it had a better audition than I did or looked more like the director or producer envisioned that part to be. You can be disappointed and still be happy for the others.
When success eludes you or someone else gets what you wanted, it’s NOT personal. The factors involved, including the other person probably did a better job than you, are out of your control. I know that’s a very hard thing to swallow sometimes. I’ve had to do it a lot over the years I struggled. But all you can do is strive to be better and hopefully honor the person who was.