Control and Collaboration in the Arts

As a person who writes movies and television scripts, I look at a film or a show differently from say, my mom or my sister, in the way that my brother who is a musician listens to a song. I see action lines, scene headings, look for character arcs, and cringe at on the nose dialogue. And as someone who is only recently learning that I cannot control everything (nor do I need to), I got to be very precious about my work, believe, perhaps correctly or incorrectly, that no one would be able to properly convey what I had in my mind and put on the page on to the screen. Therefore, I would have to write, cast, produce, direct, edit, and promote all of my projects on my own and breathe somewhere in the moments in between. That was the only logical answer.

But that’s just ridiculous.

In no way am I saying that you cannot go out there and execute your own creative work from start to finish. I am only saying that the likelihood that you yourself will be absolutely, positively, one hundred percent happy with any creative work that is in its essence a collaborative process - and survive with your sanity intact - is incredibly slim. Much less so if it is a combined financial endeavor where you are not the only one calling the shots because, well, it’s not only your money that’s looking at a return on investment. That’s why you hear people constantly making comparisons between source material and an adaptation or hear mumblings in film circles that a project “wasn’t what the script read”. There’s also the project’s reception to consider. You could very well be one of the few who is completely satisfied on all levels with what you put out into the world and then when it’s out there, people have an opinion decidedly different from your own as to its value. Again, that is out of your control.

So, where am I going with this? I’m trying to tell you to let yourself off the hook a little bit. Every time you get bogged down about whether your work is good enough or every time you get too precious about your work like I have done in the past, remember that in the end, there are always going to aspects of your chosen creative journey that are not in your hands but that doesn’t mean it isn’t something you shouldn’t pursue or something that you have to do all on your own. Share your work with someone you trust to give their honest opinion to aid you in your growth or seek out alternatives if the thought of handing it to someone you know is more daunting than allowing a stranger to review it. You can find my thoughts and recommendations on screenwriting contests that provide notes by clicking HERE for Part I and HERE for Part II.

Another thing I would suggest is to network. Why? Didn’t you just say to get feedback from the safety of my desk? Yes, I did. But there’s a reason I’m saying this as a separate point. Maybe like me, you love telling stories but maybe you have no desire to be the one behind the camera directing the film or show in question. Attending networking events or participating in social media outlets specifically for creatives will allow you to become familiar with others in your preferred industry as well as their work and they may be someone you’d want to collaborate with or they can point you in the direction of someone who might be looking for a project just like yours. It can also help you decide if what you’re pursuing is actually something you want to continue pursuing and I think that’s worth discovering before you invest time and/or money in the chase of a career you realize too late in the game you don’t actually want. I can tell you from experience, networking events can require you to be quite assertive because people are vying for time with whatever executive is there that can possibly help them climb (which, by the way, is a terrible way to go about networking but, I digress) and if that sort of energy makes you uncomfortable to be around period, probably not your scene. Be open to networking in unexpected ways, too.

For example: Micah Banks, one of my first friends when I was living in Hawai’i, produced a song that a local DJ, Kay Rich, was playing on the radio here in California. At Beary X-Mas in 2016, my brother (Felix from Boom Boom Brady) introduced the two of us and I have since had the pleasure of working with Kay Rich on a couple of music video sets and on community projects. While helping Kay Rich with the CenCal Slap Summit in 2017, I met FYR who formally introduced me to Ren Rock who gave me my first shot at videography. Did you connect all the strings? Great.

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The idea that a life of art is a lonely life is only true if as an artist you never intend to grow. Art is collaborative. But more importantly, art is an exchange of ideas and of energy.

How do you collaborate with other creatives? How do you network? Let me know in the comments below!