Filmmakers, are you a fan of Pixar movies? Thank Steve Jobs, building design and teamwork.
Here’s a piece of trivia: 1986, having been forced out of Apple, Steve Jobs bought a small computer manufacturer named Pixar. The story goes that in the year 2000 he moved the company to an abandoned Del Monte canning factory where there were separate offices for computer scientists, animators, and executives. Jobs scrapped it, made it one vast space and put a cafeteria, coffee bar and mailboxes at the centre of the building. Why? Because he knew that when people run into each other, when they make eye contact, things happen.
Steve Jobs valued teamwork.
So here’s another question for you to consider; Do you ever feel like you are working so hard and never getting to the next level? Putting yourself out there, recutting your reel, calling around to see if someone knows of any job possibilities? Your brain goes: “I will never work again.” or even “Should I change careers.”
I was there. I was exactly there. We’ve all been there and anyone who hasn’t is either very fortunate or a great liar.
2009 – Shane and I were just starting the Hurlblog, had two children in school, Shane was all over the world working on blockbuster movies. That left me to shoulder the responsibilities of two parents.
That was when it happened – a good friend of mine asked if i wanted to join her entrepreneurial group and you know what, at first I turned it down – I thought, “between taking care of my family and launching a new business, where in the world would I find the time to join a community?” – I was trying to be the hero, trying to shoulder the burden and make it work on my own. Inside, I was maxed out, or at least I thought I was. And then it occurred to me that it was not going to get any easier through me doing the same thing every day and hoping for a better outcome.
You might not have kids, you might not have that same lifestyle, but you know what, I bet you have chosen to fight on alone, like me, like a brave soldier, a John Mcclane rather than allowing anyone else into your world. Filmmakers are renowned for it – not wanting to share their ideas in case someone else steals them. I totally get it! However, the turning point in my life, the absolute pivotal lesson and the reason why I’m writing this is to make you aware that if you embrace community, the results are incredible. My friend asked again and I said “Why not?”
Initially, I had feared that I didn’t have the time to spare. Well.. I didn’t find the time, I made the time. I made this my utmost priority. I made it to that meeting and it changed my life.The Star-preneur group that I was invited to be part of
“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
From that moment, I was no longer an isolated, movie widow, mother of two working on a new business that could have crippled myself and my family financially. I was part of a team. A team that helped each other, that listened to each other’s issues and gave advice, gave help, gave resources, gave everything I needed and even things I didn’t know I needed!
There’s 7.7 Billion people in the world – none of you have experienced anything that someone else hasn’t, none of our problems are unique and none of them cannot be overcome by collaboration.
What’s more, you are all creatives – you’re reading this because you are a film fanatic, a filmmaker, a visionary just like the rest of us. However, your skillset and your imagination make you unique and in the same way, if you have accepted that inalienable truth then you have to accept that you have shortcomings, right? Your shortcomings are likely to be someone else’s strengths! Why would you hold all of that talent inside and deny yourself the opportunity to develop and improve, to build and to create, to learn and to grow? Here’s the truth of the matter which you might find difficult to stomach: you can’t do this alone. None of us can. The second that you become conscious of that fact your eyes and mind will open, your work will go from insular and one dimensional to something stratospherically better.
Embrace the opportunity to be part of a team.
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” – Henry Ford
Here’s your next proverbial stumbling block. You will likely, having read this post, want to be part of a team and that’s an awesome start. You will likely go onto facebook and type in “filmmakers” and then your city or country afterwards and receive about 50 different groups to which you’ll have to ‘request’ and then wait to be accepted. Groups that will occasionally say “GAFFER REQUIRED FOR STUDENT FILM – ALL MEALS INCLUDED” or “ANYONE KNOW AN EDITOR?” or “MUSIC VIDEO, CAMERA AND CAMERA MAN REQUIRED”. Let’s be real here – these are not likely to be supportive, collaborative groups that I’m talking about and to them, teamwork is short term.
These groups are not likely going to listen to your creative ideas. They are not going to proffer opinions and ideas that will take your spark and make it into a raging inferno that encapsulates all that you are and all that you can be. In two words, they are short term. That’s not collaboration. Collaboration should make you breathless with excitement and make you feel that everything is possible – it should grab you and catapult you, unflinchingly, into a whole new galaxy of opportunities. They should empower you to no longer say IF and WHY, but WHEN and WHY NOT.
The same can be said for networking meetings – you’ll be invited to hundreds of these every week. They’re pretty pointless. Aside from the dearth of complimentary coffee and cake, you’ll find a bunch of people invested in their own self interests, throwing business cards around like confetti and asking the same open-ended “what do you do?” questions to every person in the room until they find someone they think is of influence and then they latch onto them like a limpet.
BEWARE this! Avoid it like you avoid a fender bender on the freeway. Our world is full of sycophants – every walk of life is, but the film world…packed full to the brim of them. You’ve seen them, people who will tell each other how amazing they are, who will do anything, say anything, write anything to get somewhere. You don’t need a cheerleader and if you do, welcome to the highest plateau that you’ll ever reach.
Why would you do that to yourself? This will sound like it came off a bumper sticker on the back of a Toyota Corolla, but it is imperative that if you want to make your dream work, you embrace the ethos of teamwork, you surround yourself with people who will motivate you, inspire you and will lift you onto a higher plain; dreamers, believers and people who have become successful through pushing themselves as hard as you want and need to be pushed. Moreover, don’t put yourself down to the point where you don’t contribute – as much as you value other people’s points of view, they value yours’ – own it and have your say. Be part of it!
For just a few examples of some good filmmaking community websites whose members have a tried and tested history of collaboration and good advice for each other take a look below:
indietalk.com/ – A forum that focuses on Cameras & Lenses, Screenwriting, Cinematography and Post Production. The members share good practice that saves money for smaller, independent filmmakers.
Johnaugust.com – If you’re a screenwriter then this site will be manna from heaven. John August achieved his place amongst Hollywood royalty with his screenplays such as Tim Burton’s films Big Fish (2003), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), and Corpse Bride (2005). Here you can submit questions and get feedback from a working professional.
Filmmakeriq.com – Film Maker IQ is a group of filmmakers who discuss a range of topics in a forum about the whys and hows of filmmaking.
I can’t mention these few without bringing into play our new site which was designed around the collaboration ethos that I have set out in this blog. Hurlbutacademy.com is due to launch imminently and, letting you all into a secret, my favourite part of the whole site is a world map on which we have plotted the location of every member of the academy. Now, the opportunity to collaborate becomes tangible – you can literally see how many other filmmakers are in the city that you are working/living. Not just that, these are Hurlbut Academy members – each and every one having a profile that shows their credits, their showreels, their specialty. You are now effectively vetting who is going to be part of the team and the collaboration that you are setting up.
A collaboration with some of the Hurlbut Academy members
This is the social network that the film industry has pined for since social networking began. It exists because we built it, we built it for you and we built it because we want people to see how wonderful the world can be when we let people in and work together. I’ll leave the last word to one of our many Hurlbut Academy members who can attest that teamwork does indeed make the dream work –
“Last week I got a call from the NFL network asking me to work on a last-minute spot. A year ago, not only would I not have gotten this call, but I would have turned it down flat. I just didn’t have the confidence back then to take on the new filmmaking challenges. But Hurlbut Academy has changed all that. Not only did I take the job, but thanks to some great advice from other members, I’ve already gotten a request for more work.” – Jacob Hamil
Josh Ausley – one of our Academy members