Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Old Stuff: Give What You Want To Get

I hear a lot of filmmakers grousing about what isn't working for them, or in independent filmmaking as a whole. "My film didn't get into this &#*$ing festival or that &#*$ing festival!". "My film got in, but there were only 5 %$#*ing people in the audience!". "I can't find a *&^%$ing distributor!" "I found a distributor, but they haven't done a %$#@ing thing for me!". "The only $#@*ing thing I see in theaters is $#*@!". "Nobody cares about independent &#%*ing film!"

They are often quite surprised (and defensive) when I remind them that they probably have unwittingly contributed directly to the situation that disturbs them. The common response is often one of mild outrage, leading to a recounting of all of the work they have done for their film(s) and for themselves. Given all they are doing, how could they be held accountable for anything?

I admit, it is annoying to have someone like me point the finger back at you when you just want to vent. We all need to do it without shame from time to time. But it is also important to be aware that sometimes intense self-focus, no matter how much work it involves, can put us in a bubble, without any relationship to the world around us. When you are aggravated and/or disappointed by all around you, it's important to step back and ask yourself "What have I done to contribute to the situation?" Or, more importantly, "What have I not done to help create a world that will support my filmmaking?"

Without getting into new-agey spiritualism (not that there's anything wrong with that, but...), what you put out in the world is what you get back. What you support will support (or not support) you. Do you read scripts and offer feedback to filmmakers struggling as you have struggled (or are struggling)? Do you help the filmmakers making films you admire/respect/enjoy? Do you go see films of filmmakers doing the kind of work you hope to create (and for which you hope to have an audience)? Do you rent those DVD's? Do you attend festivals in which you hope your film will play? Do you then see the work of the other attending filmmakers?

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The idea of 'giving what you want to get' is not just a karmic concept, but has real practical viability. I've done it. I've seen it. When you start operating in this manner, it creates a ripple effect. You support a filmmaker, who then supports you. That filmmaker sees the benefit of having supported you and does it for someone else, who will also learn and pass on that energy, and so on, and so on. And if all filmmakers supported the films, filmmakers, festivals, publications, organizations, etc. that they care about, those are the ones that will thrive instead of the plethora of shams, scams and incompetents that currently dot our indie landscape.

It's important to be focused. It's even important to be self-focused, but broaden the concept of self-focus by considering your "self" as part of a larger community. Read other filmmakers scripts. Work on other filmmakers films. See other filmmakers films. Go pay to see films you want to support and/or buy their DVDs. Support meaningful filmmaking organizations and/or participate in their events. Attend/support festivals you care about. In the end, support your community so that it can support you! If you contribute to nurturing and sustaining the things in the world around you that you care about, they will survive to sustain you.

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