Weekend Reads: experience is your best teacher.
Now that we've announced our inaugural 4 Week Collaborative Filmmaking Course, the appropriately titled Tell Amazing Stories, we hope you can barely contain yourself, anticipating all the educational adventure awaiting you starting June 23rd.
Because experience is your best teacher, and community your best classroom.
And while we we’re ecstatic to discover what happens when you’re given the tools and support to mine the energy that drew you—that drew all of us—to filmmaking in the first place, we know too that we can only do so much.
Just as a true thriving community celebrates the unique individual while fostering open collaboration, so too must each person in that community—or on any team—take responsibility for developing and growing his or her own education.
We learn when we do. We learn better when we collaborate. We learn best when we take responsibility for our experience.
In other words: we can tell you that experience is your best teacher, but you have to make those experiences happen yourself.
Which is why this week’s reading list is all about learning through experience: and not about simply finding something to do, but about taking into account what such experience can show you about what it means to be a living, breathing storyteller.
Here are 5 reads we’ve recently encountered that confirm the importance in taking responsibility for all of your experience.
In a sprawling conversation that covers topics as broad-reaching as race, family, friendship, art, and history—far from unexpected, really—the recently passed Dr. Maya Angelou focuses on how finding the difference between “modesty” and “humility” is a matter of not only taking responsibility for oneself, but in taking responsibility for loving oneself:
“You don’t want modesty, you want humility. Humility comes from inside out. It says someone was here before me and I’m here because I’ve been paid for. I have something to do and I will do that because I’m paying for someone else who has yet to come.”
Like the conversation with Dr. Angelou, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s talk with Simon Critchley is a pretty magnificent back-and-forth about everything that makes Hoffman tick, though his voice takes on an especially plangent nature given his passing last February at a rather young age given the long career he still had ahead of him.
In fact, the whole talk is much about the idea of reflecting on your own happiness: what does it mean and are any of us truly happy? For Hoffman, happiness is inextricably tied to taking personal responsibility: by just being fully aware of your life.
“People always say: life is short...as we get older, time does quicken. It’s long and it’s long pertaining to that thought: that the past is not done with you because you can’t get rid of it and so therefore it just starts to drag. You get a glimpse of what you might’ve wanted or what it could’ve been and you can start to have it right here in your life now.”
We’ve written many times before on this Blog about the importance of making sure your story dictates the gear you use, and not the other way around, which is why filmmaker Noam Kroll’s recent paean to technological frugality spoke to us so clearly.
The filmmaker’s most important piece of gear: the beating heart behind the camera.
Kroll’s point isn’t about taking responsibility for your production’s budget, though he does advocate that, it’s more about taking it upon yourself to not let gear become an excuse for not, simply, starting:
Rather than going out and purchasing gear in hopes that you will then finally be ready to actually make something, do the opposite. Start making something and get the gear along the way that you need to make it happen.
Jacob Burak writes about a feeling that is both familiar to us and almost totally new to the human race: the deep-seated fear of missing out. It all stems from our dependence on technology—on our unheralded connectedness.
Being connected to everyone, all the time, is a new human experience; we’re just not equipped to cope with it yet.
According to Burak, the problem with this, besides ever-present anxiety, is the idea it allows in us: a dependence on experience through validation. Instead of actually living in the moment, in the experience, we that responsibility forward, never truly taking it on for ourselves.
We all know the studies showing that end-of-life regrets centre on what we didn’t do, rather than on what we did. If so, constantly watching others doing things that we are not is fertile ground for a future of looking back in sorrow.
Ryan Booth—who, coincidentally enough, will be one of our incredible educators joining us to Tell Amazing Stories—is perhaps known best in some circles for his heartfelt introspection regarding his abilities as a storyteller, so it made sense that he’d be open and honest about his struggles with building himself a demo reel.
It’s not for a lack of trying. It’s not for a lack of content. Nope. Not having a reel has more to do with me than anything else. It’s my own misconceptions.
Eventually he did build an impressive cut of his work, but what he discovered most in the process is that his procrastination was way less about modesty—as Maya Angelou would put it—and way more about not taking responsibility for his own strengths, faults, and experience within the industry.
It’s arrogance to not show anyone anything. It’s arrogance to find nothing but problems with things you’ve shot. There is nothing wrong with seeing areas to improve.
Ready to take full responsibility for your filmmaking education?
Meanwhile, if you have any articles or good reads about education, experience, and taking responsibility for yourself as a storyteller, please share in the comments below. This is what we'll be reading this weekend—what about you?