When posting about my life on the internet, my comfort zone usually lies in the range of an Instagram picture with a crazy rap lyric, usually Drake, for the caption. That’s the safest bet. I’ll also always share the latest video project. Occasionally, there’s something that doesn’t fall into those two categories, but it’s rare. I’ve never been a vlogger, I’ll leave that to the pros. And I most definitely have never been a writer.
With that being said, I feel like I found myself in my head more than ever this past summer, and really the last six months. I would without a doubt consider this period of my life to be the one with the most personal growth, both in film and in my faith. While I’m only 22 and still have so much to experience, I thought I would share a few things that I’ve learned and am still learning along the way.
Life is crazy, and life is beautiful. I think one of the most important things to remember is that it’s both the ups and downs of life that make it that way. Wherever you find yourself in life right now, I hope that some of these lessons can meet you in the right place.
This is what film has taught me…
BE A GOOD PERSON
I saw a tweet a while ago by someone named Adam Grant that really stuck with me. It read, “If you think you have to be an asshole to be successful, you might be an asshole. There’s a big difference between being demanding and being demeaning. Great leaders don’t undermine people – they elevate them.”
Being a good person is so underrated these days, especially in the film business. I feel that the common misconception is that people think you should be able to work your way up the ladder to the point where you can rightfully be an asshole.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from these past few film experiences, it’s that it pays to be a genuinely good person. Nobody wants to work for/with someone that they don't respect. That means caring about each person on set, the people who are sacrificing their time and talent to help you create something special. When you’re working with people that you already care about, it makes it that much easier, and that’s something I’ve been so thankful for.
Remember where you came from and where you started. As things progress and start to pick up, there will always be more people watching with more of a careful eye than you think. Don’t allow them to say that you changed or sacrificed your morals to put yourself in a better position. If you started as a good person, then finish as a better one.
THE TRUE GRIND
You hear people talk about the grind all the time, which I feel like can mean a lot of different things to different people. For some the grind is working two part-time jobs while trying to take college classes at the same time. Respect. For others it’s a gym selfie with a few too many “100” and flame emojis. To each his own I guess.
I feel that I got a very small taste of what the grind means this past summer, which taught me that you have to truly love film and the creative process in order to try and get where you want to be.
You have to work when you don’t want to work. While I always prioritize a few days break after a shoot to clear some headspace before editing, even then it can be tough to dive in a few days later. I’ve never once regretted doing it though. There’s nothing worse than having projects that need to get done loom over your head, and there’s nothing better than seeing that export bar hit 100%.
You have to take a thousand “No’s” on the chin in order to get the one “Yes” that you need. Whether it’s location scouting, trying to find actors/actresses, or scrapping a shot for a music video because an artist isn’t feeling it, you’re going to hear “No’ so many times it'll make your head spin. Take it, move on to the next solution, and make it work. Looming over all those “No’s” will only put you in a negative mindset.
You have to make sacrifices. There’s plenty of times I wish I could’ve been with friends or family instead of figuring out a location for a shoot or staring at the dance floor of a wedding for 2 hours to catch the sparkler send off. That’s the side of business that’s not for everyone, but making those sacrifices will pay dividends in the end.
You have to troubleshoot. Don’t sit around and twiddle your thumbs while someone else figures out an issue. There’s nothing to kill morale on set like a director who shies away at the first sign of trouble. Dig in, go to plan Z if necessary, and find a solution.
Most importantly, you have to want it. You have to want it really bad. With that being said, I firmly believe that you can still enjoy life and have fun while pursuing your goal. It’s crucial to find that healthy balance of work and other things or you’ll drive yourself crazy. But at the end of the day, never lose sight of that end goal.