Taking the deliciously easy shortcut, as opposed to the terrifyingly uncertain, uphill marathon is always tempting.
One of the BIGGEST lessons I'm learning, every day, is NEVER be tempted to give in to compromise. Don't let being afraid stop you producing your best.
It's not easy to maintain that perspective.
Currently I'm in the thick of first-time producing. It has not been a speedy or smooth process. Many of the scheduling delays have been due to factors outside of my control, some of them have
been due to my own mistakes and inexperience. And some of them have been due to other people. As the going gets tougher and tougher, a little inner voice begins to whisper that lowering the bar
of your vision would be a heck of a lot easier than continuing to struggle uphill.
Then there are the external voices of compromise from other people who tell you that you are being difficult, unreasonable, or you just don't get how the system works because you're not "really" a producer.
Okay, so - what's a producer?
To my mind (and it is only my mind, not the textbook definition) a producer isn't just the person who starts the film (finds finance, pulls together talent, keeps stuff going), but they're the one that FINISHES it, too. And finishes it to the standard that their team and their investors/backers deserve.
I've heard quite a lot of "there isn't a way to do that" in the course of the journey. Rubbish. There's ALWAYS a way. It just looks like that terrifyingly uncertain, uphill marathon we all want to avoid. Every problem has a solution, but we often don't like the look of the solution very much. So we find a different solution. We compromise.
Fear of looking incapable (otherwise known as ego) can often cloud our judgement regarding compromise. Asking for help can be construed as weakness. A while back I had to make a significant judgement call. I needed help with the production process for my current short film. I had run out of contacts. I had run out of ideas. But I wasn't happy with the options open to me as things stood. I needed someone outside of my network, someone who knew a LOT more about producing and filmmaking than I did.
I knew of one person who would have the experience I needed to tap into, but he definitely wasn't in my network circle. His last film has been shortlisted for an Oscar nomination. He set up and runs the world's largest screenwriting festival. He had (literally) written the book on guerilla filmmaking. I'd spoken to him in person once, at a networking event on crowdfunding. He'd also backed the film I now needed help with. By contacting him I ran the risk of not only being rejected on the grounds that I was stepping above my level of networking (yes, that does happen), but also admitting that everything wasn't 100% tickety-boo with the film he'd contributed money to. I honestly believed I had a lot more to lose than gain by asking him for help, but I felt compelled to reach out to him.
Suffice it to say that after five false starts sending the email, I did eventually contact Chris Jones
The rest of that particular journey will be blogged about separately as we embark on the next stage of production together. But not only did that email help me raise the bar SIGNIFICANTLY for my team and my film but I now also have a supportive, patient and generous friend.
So, I am learning to face the fear of not compromising. Of embracing the long-haul, the marathon. I'm learning to engage with the challenges, field the criticism and keep my eye on the prize.
The best film possible for my team.
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