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Avoiding Unnecessary Stress In Film (and the Arts)

Much of the way people enjoy the arts is changing in the midst of the Coronavirus. With music venues around the country closing (or unable to open), and ‘Made for TV’ becoming more and more like it’s big-picture cousin, media is being consumed differently.

Having spent 20 plus years as a film and television producer, with experience on over 40 films as a Producer, Financier, Consultant, UPM, and Line Producer, I’ve seen my fair share of the ups and downs of this industry. With that in mind, I wanted to lay out some helpful tips on avoiding unnecessary stress in the film industry.

Art Vs. Self-Expression

There’s a difference between art and self-expression. While this may seem trivial off the bat, it’s actually an important thing to keep in mind when trying to bring your feelings, passions, and skills to the masses. Things need contextualizing, and it’s not ‘selling out’ because you want to find a way to package something in an intelligible manner. This can actually help you down the road, too. Sometimes people will burn out because they think nobody likes what they have to say or show, but often it’s due to the fact that people can’t interpret or understand what the artist is trying to express. Studying things like cinematography, scoring, and basic principles will go a long way, both for getting your foot in the door and relieving the frustration of burnout that comes from “why don’t people understand me?”.

Rejections As a Teacher

Another thing we all know but don’t internalize is the fact that rejection is going to come your way. Two things to know when it comes to rejection: (1) don’t take it to heart and, (2) learn to take it to heart.

What do I mean?

Rejection is going to come, but that doesn’t mean your work isn’t good. With that said, apply your critical thinking skills when you do get rejected and think, is there something I can do, on the other side of this finished work, that can either improve this project or improve my future work? Asking for critical feedback is also a great idea. The more you can separate ‘you’ from your work, the more you’ll actually be able to give more of yourself to it without the fear of rejection dictating your self-worth.

Nothing Is Sacred?

Well, not really. But don’t allow your work/art/project to become so sacred that you’re afraid to touch it. Learn to get your hands dirty and dive in a little bit every day. Work on that project without the fear that you’re going to come back to it the next day and hate everything you’ve created. Learn to be less impressed and more involved.

While far from exhaustive, I hope this list helps you know you’re not alone in the struggles of ‘making it’, and ‘making it’, as you grow in your career, begins to look more and more like striving for excellence and loving every minute of it.