I go through little spells of doubting myself: what type of work I’m doing, how hard I’m working, how GOOD I think what I’m doing is, and most dangerously: what other people are doing. Then I made a list of a few of the people I’ve worked with this year so far…. Donald Miller & the Storyline team, Dave Barnes multiple times, Ben Rector, Steve Moakler, and Brandon Heath. All people who if I’d have seen this list a couple years ago I’d be psyched just to shoot ONE of them.
I have a job where you are judged by the end product. Then, the reaction to whatever you create is responded with “AWESOME!” or “I don’t get it” or the worst yet, “Hm. That’s nice.“. So, if I sent my little project out into the world and the response is indifference, then my brain tends to take the joy out of it by how “great” or “ungreat” it is. Don’t get me wrong, I’m just as thrilled when I find out that lots of people have enjoyed something I’ve done, and I think that the point is that even with the positives, letting those be my sole joy is fleeting. I’m so pumped to get to do the work that I do, I’m freakin proud of it, and I feel lucky to do it for a living.
So, that being said– here’s some of the things that have come from that just this first 4 months:
DONALD MILLER/// “CREATING YOUR LIFE PLAN” http://www.creatingyourlifeplan.com/
For our next one-take video, we decided to go UP. Literally. On one of the first frosty mornings of last Fall, we took to the roof of Steve’s house. We didn’t know until he climbed up there, that it was covered in ice. Tall roof + ice + guitar = no bueno.
Needless to say, it ended up being a hilarious part of the video– then Steve gave a great performance of a new song of his: Wide Open. (WATCH THE ONE-TAKE HERE)
After we shot, we all stayed up there for a few more minutes because it was so peaceful… here’s a few more images from that morning.
I steal my buddy/roomate/singer extrordinare Josh Harrison (Gabbard) for photos on occasion. Ok, so maybe a lot.
It was around 4:30 and about 30 minutes before the sun was going to set in that “still-kind-of-depressing-because-it’s-still-winter” time. Josh got home and I decided to drag him along to shoot some photos as the sun was setting. We shot a few black and white photos last winter which was a fun little exercise, so decided to do a repeat. I wanted to limit ourselves though…
one camera, one fixed 50mm lens, no clothes changes, no lights/flashes, no plan, and about 45 minutes. We drove to a small area in the 12th South District of Nashville and came out with these:
These are usually way over-thought…. ok, so…establish a tone. Funny? Serious? Stuff the posts full of stock photos of lonely, ironic balloons floating above wistful landscapes or two babies in grown-up clothes holding hands? Quote as many obscure authors as I can?
To have something, though, you’ve got to get over the “firsts”.
Anne Lammott in her book Bird By Bird talks about how your first drafts will always suck. There’s always the sharp pang of inner-dialogue that tries to hold you back–
“This is going nowhere, drop it.”
“What crap. Seriously. Crap.”
“You don’t have to create anything good. You’ll get paid either way.”
Or a personal favorite, “This is nowhere near as good as so-and-so’s.”.
I had an experience when I was watching the Coldplay Live 2003 DVD back in early high school. It’s a beautiful, black and white, mostly behind the scenes rock-doc about the Rush of Blood to the Head tour. I had gotten into video/film a few years prior, and was just beginning to think of it as a legitimate career path– something that was fun to me. So, while I watched Chris Martin do his “injured bird hops” around on stage, and millions of fans singing along to something that a few mere men recorded– I realized two things:
1: Rock stars will always be cooler than film stars.
Truth. Not saying that certain people in film aren’t incredibly cool, but besides a few top-shelf actors and really recognizable stars in the film industry– rock bands and lead singers will always have the cool factor. (Sans, Don Draper and crazy psycho mental problems of some large musicians.)
2. There’s no success formula for doing what you love.
Don’t go for the same type of break that Coldplay got. Or Spielberg got. Or anyone you know got. If someone’s done it before, then people have already seen it. You know what there IS, though? Work…and a freakin’ lot of it.
In the DVD, the band told how they came to be: all coming from different places, meeting each other, and then just STARTING. Before they all met and started working on what was soon to be one of the most popular rock groups of all time–I wouldn’t be surprised if they were at a place in their lives where they were frustrated. Maybe at that point of time they were working at a bar, or singing for a small coffeeshop audience, or crumpling up their first drafts–throwing them away.
Coldplay became Coldplay from combining special talent with extraordinary work. I’m sure the first few shows of theirs sucked.
But they were not ok with staying OK.
It’s been 5 months now since I quit my full-time, salary job with people that I enjoyed and learned from. Great idea during a recession, right? Among a few different reasons; I got comfortable in the pursuit of work I wanted to be doing. I started feeling stale; only to the fault of myself. Not just work, but personal life as well. Friends that were around me during that year can attest to that. I really wasn’t myself. I wasn’t TRYING. It was the most burnt out I’ve ever been.
Still, tepid water only draws moss and mosquitos.
Since I’ve moved onto full-time self employment, I’ve shot in 6 different states, directed a promo for a professional BMX team, directed five short-form spoken-word pieces, submitted my first pitches and linked arms with Revolution Pictures, shot university promos, been on sets with Carrie Underwood, Kellie Pickler, Wade Bowen and Justin Bieber, directed an EPK for Idol-finalist & Sony artist Casey James, shot for a TV sizzle reel being pitched to the “O” network, helped friends with Kickstarter videos, landed two cover-shoots for Music Row Magazine and Playback magazine, felt the monetary pangs of starting a business, and spent entirely too much on coffee.
I’m not saying that to show what all I’ve done–I’m saying it because I definitely would not have done those things if I stayed where I was. I’m excited to have worked and collaborated with producers, art directors, editors, music artist and executives, DP’s, actors, and writers. Blessed to build teams, and excited for the future.
You may be exactly where you need to be. Don’t buy into the over-romanticism with quitting your job just for the sake of the freedom. That’ll get you a lot of debt and lean-cuisines. But, if you know what you want to do, or if all you know is that you’re NOT doing what you want to now…