Last weekend I was at a post film festival party. Everyone was having a good time, talking film, dancing. The typical college-party scene. One of my classmates got a little too drunk and started venting. I like gossip and strong emotions as much as the next girl, but he was starting to lose it. He went on and on about how hard his week was, and how upset he was over a project that he couldn’t do successfully, and how he felt truly like a failure. It was tough to watch. He embodied what we (the filmmakers) keep internally. He was saying things we all thought, but we pretend we never deal with. We provided support, obviously. But still, watching someone have a creative breakdown is terrifying.
Today in my production class, we were working on a lighting project. We were given a painting from Michelangelo and we had to recreate the lighting. As my team and I set up lights and tripods, we talked about other projects, and random ideas floating around our heads. One girl started talking about her screenwriting class. She was so negative. “I can’t write.” “I hate my work.” “It sucks and its never going anywhere.” “I don’t even try anymore.” I couldn’t believe my ears. Her self-doubt was overwhelming to even listen to.
These two encounters dealt with such a strange sense of negativity and doubt, and I was so confused. First, doubting your work happens, and is totally natural. Projecting that you’re disappointed with something you’ve done is natural. Expressing hatred and laziness is different. Expressing that you’re giving up is different.
I am so passionate about filmmaking that when I’m confronted with a challenge, I figure out how to hurdle it, not turn around. The challenges are what keep me sharp and on my toes. Giving up isn’t even considered. Coming back around from my own criticism to see the talent and potential in my work is when I tend to thrive.
When others get down on themselves, I will try lifting once. If it’s a regular thing, I can’t do it. I have to avoid their negativity. Since I’ve started studying film, I love that I get to be surrounded by wildly passionate and intelligent individuals every single day. They’re strong and confident and sure. Their determination and creativity is contagious, and because of them, I feel stronger. If I wasn’t here, I wouldn’t have the confidence for writing that I do. I wouldn’t feel so strongly about acting. I am tenacious and bold because of my peers, and I can’t thank them enough for it.
If you are negative. I have to go. I spent so many years doubting so many things about myself and my talents. Looking back at the past four years, I am so sad that I didn’t grab the reigns and write as freely as I have been able to in the past few weeks. I cannot let your doubt and your concerns and your inability to see the goodness in your art spread to my limbs.
Don’t think that I don’t care about you. The two that were expressing doubt are fantastic people with vivid minds, and were in moments that they couldn’t see it. We’ve all been there. But there has to be a line.
Fake your own confidence. Be proud, yet be willing to learn. Work hard. Study. Learn terms and watch films. Practice your craft. Be critical, not mean. Be patient. Be determined. Trust yourself. Let go. Make art.
If you don’t practice, or admit to me that you have given up, or aren’t willing to try anymore, I refuse to be sympathetic. Writers block is for those who are blocked for a moment. Throwing away your pen is different. Pick your pen up and scribble until you find your way. Fiddle with your camera and lenses until you find the shot. Don’t stop working because you aren’t pleased with your outcomes. Struggle through.
I avoid negativity, because creatively, I am at such a wonderful place. I’m living in this fantastic vision of a world where my writing is being filmed, and I’m acting, and I’m so happy. I’m so strong. I acknowledge why I’m here and what I’m going to do. I won’t let your doubt get me doubting.