Money. The single biggest factor that motivates almost every action undertaken by people. Also one of the biggest enemies of many artistic endeavors on a small scale – either there isn’t enough and the artist has to take on a side gig as a beggar, or there’s too much of it and the art becomes an extension of money. Either way, one of the biggest struggles for the art community is obtaining money. As a result most of the help in a creative project isn’t quite compensated enough monetarily.
I’ve had my hand in trying to get projects going for the longest time. However instead of trying to get qualified professionals for any of them, I sought the cheaper route to benefit me. My strategy was just to find people with too much time on their hand (regardless of skill) and employ them to my endeavors so I wouldn’t have to worry about paying them. Throughout several of my propositions, I have attempted this and it has had the same outcome – people are initially interested (“What a cool idea!) but that soon turns to apathy because in the end there’s nothing for them to gain. In each of these projects, I was just thinking of what I would gain from this. Exposure, experience, tangible marketable product for my own reel. However, there are always people who also want these same sets of outcomes. If I just stepped back and looked at the idea of aiding other people while aiding myself I could of actually had something up and running, with the potential of getting money in the future to also repay their help. Now this may sound like basic knowledge (get an actor for an acting position), but there was always the fear of adding to the stack of nonpayment. The dreaded stack of opportunities that encapsulate the arts world and cause the field to be considered a hobby pursuit.
The reality is even though I don’t want to add to this pile, I should at least take into consideration that I still should try and help other artists display their work. People who don’t have a reel to market themselves with, people who don’t have displays that show what they are capable of (much like me). Instead of trying to find people who were in the same boat as me and can use the experience and had the time, I was just going after the people who just had the time, but didn’t need the experience. Which leads to people who are put into roles they may not actually feel right with, causing them to become disinterested in the actual project.
A while ago, I remember reading an article about Johannes Haushofer (This one in fact), who as you can read from the article has two PhDs with honors and does a whole bunch of other great stuff. Anyway, in an attempt to show he’s human as the rest of us, he created a failure resume that listed everything he was rejected for. Since I was in the middle of the ever popular game show “Millennial minded angst” I decided to connect the concept to my own life. I’ve started a fair amount of projects that have usually ended up in the dreaded pile of failure, but since I am massively unsure of what I actually want to pursue in life I thought why not write them down and find some sort of common denominator.
Without going into all the extended detail, the basic break down of list in the simplest fashion, my projects roughly translated to:
- 4 comic books
- 1 radio show
- 5 web series
- 1 book club
- 1 entrepreneurship
- 1 short film
- 6 Miscellaneous art-centric projects
First and foremost was the role of a producer – however I also had to wonder if I was cut out for the role of producer. Sure you can practice and build skills in a talent normally seen as a gift, but then you always need to be aware of your own personality and limitations and how to translate that to a job. At what point do you realize that what you want to pursue is unnaturally what you’re capable of? As an introvert who thrives off indirectly working with people, maybe not. But as someone who loves making schedules, lists, and generally organizing, maybe yes (seriously when the Film Festival came into town one of the most exciting moments was looking at the proposed schedule and planning out the itinerary). Now a producer requires someone who can get all up with people and enjoy that whole networking thing. Then it also requires having organized plans and setting them forth.
Now with all of those ideas, you would think one of them would stick longer than the conception process; but sadly none of them quite got to the finish line. Or really into the race. Or really in the contending rounds (the farthest I’ve actually gotten was with the short film in that I at least had auditions and a (failed) IndieGogo campaign). It made me wonder if I was at least trudging in the right path. Me, like any other person who was tasked with the responsibility of choosing a (lifelong) career at an age when the prefrontal cortex wasn’t even fully developed, that maybe we still don’t know exactly what we want to do. So what’s a solution? I thought back to one slightly successful endeavor that I undertook, which was the “Blind Date” with a Book event I held at the library. One major factor with this event was that I had help from a librarian who was just as excited about seeing the event through as I was. Without the help of her pulling in more books, advertising the event, and pulling in patrons around the library the event could have been me sitting there with eight boxes of books that I would have to carry out afterwards.
That’s the one major aspect that I forgot was most careers don’t exist in a bubble. As much as I wish I can just do all the roles myself and churn out what I want when I want, it’s also just not the most practical means. I have one set of skills, and when I find that other magical person with the skills I’m lacking, we can just fuse together into some grotesque super enigma that can overtake anything. Then once we find some other person and harness their abilities, and keep continuing it until we make one of those giant robots made up of smaller parts with people behind the controller. Most importantly of all, actively realizing your fluctuating role of a student helps at this stage. I just needed to take a step back and realize that there’s still do much for me to learn before taking on a role I’m unsure of. Unless that role is the President of the U.S, since apparently anyone can somehow take on that role with no pertinent knowledge of the field (with the appropriate privilege applied).