Creator Buddy System

Before you earn an audience, users, paying customers, investors, shareholders or employees holding you accountable to your work, you often find yourself alone and unmotivated. Unless you popped into this world as a self-starting anomaly, waking up and getting to work on something that doesn’t exist yet and that no one else cares about can feel like forcing children to eat broccoli. It helps to have business or creative partners on the project with equal or greater investment in the outcome – and sometimes that’s all you need. But even partnerships lose steam and it helps to have someone else on the outside to push you.

You may need a creator buddy: someone you never want to disappoint and who also has his or her own personal projects in infancy. Someone outside your field with whom you can learn from each other. Between the two of you, schedule regular check-ins to set goals and debrief accomplishments or failures on a regular basis. Weekly or bi-weekly works best, nothing too involved. Encourage each other to set goals you both can realistically achieve in that time and hold each other accountable. Send text messages to touch base in between. Whatever helps to keep you both on the tracks and moving forward. Before long, you’ll find yourself accomplishing more – if only in fear of disappointing your buddy if you fail.

Sounds too simple, but the work you need to do today is difficult enough. Avoid overcomplicating it with crazy motivational regimens. Find a buddy that can pull you out of isolation and give you the push that you need. He or she will appreciate it as well.

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The Best Kind of Roommate

…is one you can talk to. I find little more therapeutic than coming home to a good conversation. Party friends, work friends and game buddies often make lousy roommates. Find someone with whom you can vent or philosophize. Same applies to the person you marry. Sex only lasts so long – make sure you’re with someone you’ll still be relieved to see and talk to everyday when you’re old and broken.

Trust In People’s Cores

Lives are unstable and crazy things happen. People can react in unpredictable ways to unpredictable things. Too much dwelling can quickly transform a person into an unrecognizable Mr. Hyde. The last thing you should do when friends or family react unpredictably to an unpredictable event is react unpredictably yourself. Take a moment to breathe, step back from the situation and wait for the dust to settle. A single event alone cannot transform a person completely (though it certainly can catalyze a chain of behavioral change). Trust smart people with strong souls to undulate back onto their original paths. Have faith that spontaneous decisions or wild moves are a temporary lapse in character and not a complete restructure of people’s cores. Do what you can to help them find their way back home, but be careful taking the reins on an unpredictable situation. Human ambition and emotion should not be lured back into a cage – boxing the beast may be more dangerous than letting it run wild and tire itself out.

In crazy situations, stand by with support and love. Have patience and trust that a person will remember who he or she originally set out to be.

How America Can Reclaim First Place

American FlagsCan you imagine traveling six days by horse in a blizzard to hang out with peers and talk politics? Can you imagine waking up to a trumpet, grabbing your gun and running outside to join other armed neighbors to defend your cul-de-sac? Can you imagine hiding in your basement with friends for fear of your life and plotting a bloody revolution? These activities were commonplace 250 years ago at the birth of our nation. Early Americans went to great lengths to come together, stand as one, and protect our freedoms. The value of togetherness networked local communities, rallied the majority against common enemies, and united the colonies.

Somewhere between the Cold War and postdevelopment, Americans lost site of that camaraderie. We lost site of togetherness. Back then, the freedom to assemble was a huge deal – so important that it topped the list of our constitutional amendments. Today, I see a lot of ambition and very little group collaboration. Few people stand collectively behind anything except brands and religion (and even those groups are fading).

We need to come together again. We need to debate again. We need to start a cultural revolution again. And like all great movements in history, the era of neo-togetherness starts small: spend more time with friends. Spend time discussing how you think the world should look. Spend time making suggestions and outlining solutions. And if you are brave enough, spend time tackling those solutions together.

Our great country evolved through community. Only a strong community can keep it alive.

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The Difference Between Liking and Respecting

I consider very few people “worthless.” Almost everyone has a redeeming quality. Many less-sociable acquaintances are quick to judge others and shut the door. I don’t think that’s fair or reasonable. No, I’m not saying you need to be friends with everyone. Hell no. But don’t throw out fools just because you can’t appreciate foreign personalities.

I make a casual mental effort to divide people into two groups:

People I like.

People I respect.

The “likes” tend to carry genuine personalities I can connect with. These individuals become friends.  The “respects” have notable skills or chapters of knowledge I admire. These individuals find a place in the business rolodex.

Most people I meet fall into one category or another. I respect a large number of professionals, but never plan to break bread with them. They sit on my contacts list anyway.

The true keepers fall into both lists. These are the people with whom you build projects, share ideas, explore the world, socialize, dine and spend the rest of your life.

Woe to those who fall on neither list.

Film Friday: The Key to Becoming a Successful Director

Writing a screenplay, filming shorts, building a reel, exhibiting talent and advertising yourself as a “director” are NOT enough. Film is a collaborative art and it takes a strong core team. The key to becoming a successful film director (or any key-level position) is to surround yourself with talented people who can only see you as a director.

True for any profession – surround yourself with people who believe in your dreams. Family and significant others are a good start, but you need professionals who can support you and your vision. Convince the industry you are best at doing one thing above all else.

I have mentioned this before, but it has to do with portrayal. If people see you as a good assistant, they will only see you as a good assistant. Best camera operator in town? Good luck getting calls for anything else. If your agent values you as a writer, hard chance earning a push toward the big chair. Show everyone you are a good director, and they will only see you as a good director.

Start on your level. It is far easier and more effective to prove it to peers who will recommend you than to a studio executive with your reel or a script. Your network is your net worth. A friend’s “I know this great director” is far more accelerating than “I know this talented guy who is working at an agency.” If your friends don’t title you a director, no one will.

Best to build your team on level, too. You need at bare minimum a producer, director of photography, production designer, sound designer and editor who can vouch for you. Part of your marketability as a director are the talented chaps you have in tow.

If you are not building relationships with collaborators, getting constant practice or stuck working a 60-hour week, I strongly encourage you to quit your mediocre day job and get busy because you are wasting time. Don’t tell people you are a director, be a director. The only person who will believe your lie is you, unless of course your lie comes true.

Share this with peers you believe in and encourage them with your vote of confidence. Success in collaboration is a two-way street.