This is the thing. Whilst it’s true some people are philanthropic, most people are not going to let you do what you want without you first giving them something THEY want.
This applies in all walks of life, from relationships and sex, through to the world of school and work, ESPECIALLY money. Life is a series of negotiations and compromises. That’s how human society works – and probably, a lot of the animal kingdom too. We certainly see this element of bargaining in our cousins in ape society.
But we all know this, really.
Yet, when it comes to creative endeavours, ego can take over. Ego in itself is neither positive or negative; we all need one, especially in the arts when we HAVE to believe in ourselves, especially when no one else will, or we begin a completely new project. Without an ego, we would quite literally never create anything, never mind get out there and peddle it.
Ego becomes a problem then when you feel you are owed something. This may happen because you feel you’ve been working for a long time (“I deserve a break”); or you feel your work is similar to someone else’s (“If they like X, then they SHOULD like my project”); or maybe it’s not like anyone else’s (“MINE is original!); or maybe you are underrepresented (“I am a woman/ disabled/ BAME/ LGBT – they SHOULD let me in!”).
I’ve got every sympathy with the above (I’ve thought some, if not most of the above too at one time or another; I’m only human!), but let me be clear:
No one owes you anything.
There are inescapable, universal truths no matter WHO you are when it comes creative works. Whilst SOCIETY marginalises some and champions others, the actual act of creativity is entirely democratic. It doesn’t matter who you are. If you can dream it, you can do it.
Getting it out there can be another matter, it’s true. Yet my time in this biz has shown me:
– Talent is a given
– Relationships are key
– If there’s a glass ceiling, smash through the f***er
In other words, if you’re a talented individual who has a great concept and cultivates those all-important relationships (and most of all KEEPS GOING), you WILL break in … You can’t not. Just remember:
Concept + Audience = Worth
As creators, audiences make us live and die by the end product. That’s all they see and they might imagine all sorts of things about it that may or may not be true, but that’s the way it goes.
Yet it’s not about who we are as creators. It’s not even whether audiences LIKE our work!! Rightly or wrongly, the ultimate measure of worth for our work – and us, as creators – is actually MONEY:
Would audiences BUY tickets to this film?
Would audiences BUY this book?
If people in the know think audiences WOULD buy your work – great! GREEN LIGHT. And you’ll probably get to do more, too. (Remember, these people measure your work’s potential worth by its CONCEPT. This is why concept is everything).
IF people think audiences WOULD NOT buy your work – probably because the concept is not good enough, or does not grab them ‘enough’ – try again. (Note how a “great concept” can be anything; it doesn’t have to mean “selling out”!!).
It really is as simple as that.
It’s not just the industry itself that thinks this way, either. The general public do, too. How many times have you heard someone on Twitter crowing about a flop, or celebrating its success at the box office? They may even try and take credit for knowing about popular films FIRST; or they may try and keep others AWAY from films they deem “bad”, ie. “Don’t spend your cash”. It’s always about the money.
So, stop caring about who YOU are. THEY don’t care, ‘cos they’re interested in the money. Far from this being depressing, this is actually liberating, because you can now DO ANYTHING YOU WANT, as long as you give them what they want, which is:
A great concept, which is “worth” an audience.
So, stop trusting to “luck” or bemoaning your shitty lot on social media. Instead, learn about your industry. Road test those concepts. And create great work, that the industry and audiences CAN’T IGNORE.