Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Perfect is an Enemy

No one goes to a rock concert because the band is in tune. They have to be close enough to not be distracting, but being in tune isn't the point.
As creators, our pursuit of perfection might be misguided, particularly if it comes at the expense of the things that matter

(from No one reads a comic strip because it's drawn well).

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Monday, December 30, 2013

You Are More

...always keep in mind that you are not your circumstances. You are so much more than that.

- Emily Grace

And so too are our characters. Knowing your characters' circumstances is needed, but so is knowing who they are aside from them. Rather, portraying who our characters are aside from what the world has presented them matters just as their given circumstances do. Would Hamlet hesitate if he were not the person he is? Would Medea spare her children were she some other mother? These are worth considering, and coming up with an answer for the project you are working on now.

Becomes a bit of semantics to shave hairs between the circumstance someone is in and the intrinsic qualities they have at that moment in their life, beyond the circumstances of the moment. Examining things like "fundamental attribution error" delves more into how people often assume much of someone's behavior is from who they are and not the situation they are in. And sometimes a given situation would lead almost everyone to behave as they do in that situation, and tells us less about who they are than we imagine. For our characters, they are both who they are, and where they are at, make up how they make their choices. Neglecting either would not be a good idea.

For us, in real life, we are not merely where we happen to be right now. You are not your income, your job title, your housing situation, your car or your credits. These things and more are parts of your life right now, but they are not your identity. So breathe, enjoy the moment as you can, and keep heading where you want to go. Good luck and break legs.

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Don't Be Discouraged by People Who Don't Believe

A fatal flaw in the human condition is that even if there is a great likelihood that something is true, we don't want to believe it. A potentially fatal flaw for many creative people is to be brought down by the doubts of others. People without vision will likely never believe that things can change. But once it happens, no matter how great the tectonic shift, they are quick to accept this new reality as the one true reality. Anyone who has ever set out to do something even slightly outside the norm has been mocked, questioned, and ridiculed. Realize that people's doubts aren't a reflection on you, your abilities, or your ultimate outcome. They are just upset at their own lack of imagination and inability to step out of their comfort zone, and you become a walking reminder of those insecurities. Ignore the haters

(from Producer Adi Shankar 13 Rules For Breaking Into Hollywood). Build your work with your coalition of the eager. You can, and already are, doing this.

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Peter O'Toole on Acting and His Process

I'm a very physical actor. I use everything - toes, teeth, ears, everything. I don't simply mean physical in the sense of movement and vigour. I find myself remembering the shape of a scene by how I'm standing, what I'm doing.
I take whatever good part comes along, and if there isn't a good part, then I do anything, just to pay the rent. Money is always a pressure. And waiting for the right part - you could wait forever. So I turn up and do the best I can. The love of it is great, huge and it will be with me forever. I blundered into it, found I could do it well. It has raised me from nothing into something, not a lot, but something. If you do something well and you enjoy it, what more can you bloody well ask?

- Peter O'Toole

Thanks to Sanford Casting for putting me on to the quote.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Crowdfunding 30% Rule

Some quick thoughts for if you're self producing and considering crowd-funding with kickstarter or indiegogo: Momentum in crowd-funding makes a big difference. Start with at least 30% of the goal committed, and success is far more likely.

Consider these study results:

Before launching, try and pre-commit at least 30% (if not more), either through guaranteed pledges or your own personal money

(from Crowdfunding Metrics: The 30% Rule).

You can probably ask friends and family for money once just because they are your friends and family. For any additional times, they better already be delighted that you asked them the first time. In all cases, the key isn't just connecting with your friends and family, but also people who aren't already your friends and family; connect with the people who will be fans. Crowdfunding might be best seen as a way to engage your audience, and enrich their experience, and not used as the central source of financing.

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Monday, December 09, 2013

No Judgements

...when you honor ALL of the journey, and you make no judgements about yourself for anything that hasn't happened or you haven't accomplished yet, you are free.

- Wendy Braun

I've said before: Nobody Knows Anything. A retrospective is tempting as the year wraps up. Remember, the end of the year is an arbitrary marker in time. You still have opportunity to make your goals happen.

You cannot possibly know whether something is good or bad, in any objective sense. If there even is such a thing as an objective good or bad. Not fun to admit, but my judgement is imperfect. I'm guessing yours is too.

Like a "no" from an audition is really just a "not right now", any "failure" is moving you closer to "success;" whether it feels like it or not, we're making progress. Minimally, what we call a "failure" is learning another way "it" doesn't work. Maximally, what we call "failure" is just success wearing a different outfit.

Things that feel like failure aren't. Penicillin, the first antibiotic, was discovered by accident: some mold contaminated a petri dish in an experiment. Technically, such contamination is "failure" for an experiment. The millions of lives saved by antibiotics make Alexander Fleming's discovery of penicillin about as far from a failure as one can imagine. Maybe if you'd been running on time to the audition, you would've been in a horrible car wreck. Maybe booking the project would have kept you from something even better. Our judgements of "success" or "failure" are flawed, and largely not useful. If you catch yourself calling something a failure, notice your judgement and don't allow yourself to think your judgement is "right" in any empirical or absolute sense. A scientist's "failure" lead to millions of lives saved. May we fail that well.

Yes, disappointment can happen. After all, we're invested in our work and our lives, which is good (when we do it in a balanced way). If our expectations don't come to pass, it is not fun. So perhaps work to be more flexible in your expectations (he writes in the third person but really is writing to himself). Be mindful of now and let the future be something you focus on mainly once it becomes the present.

And let yourself off the hook. Worrying doesn't improve things. Worrying about the unchangeable past, regret, really doesn't change things. Great things are not only possible, they're inevitable. You or I may not always see it, but opportunities are coming to us. The universe conspires in our favor.

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