On Music Videos

11 Apr

I’m directing a music video this weekend; it will be the 3rd of my career though the first was a school project and to varying degrees, depending on the day, I think it doesn’t “count”.

Music videos aren’t something I thought I’d be doing. I don’t love music videos. The last entry on a very short list of music videos that I love was probably “Toxic” by Britney Spears, directed by Joseph Kahn. I don’t hate music videos. Before 2002-2003, they were an inalienable part of my daily routine.

Yet, here I am, less than a week away from directing my next music video and the most interesting thing to me is how completely excited I am.

A large part of my development as a director has been discovering my voice & the root of my desire to direct. For me, I’m completely interested in and fascinated by people. People & their stories are an endless source of intrigue. Music videos are interesting to shoot because they present so many possibilities. You’re bringing a story to life, even if it’s not necessarily the story being told in the song.

It’s fun and challenging and it never ceases to pushes my creativity. I think this is love.

Led by Example

22 May

Six years ago, my mother was chronically unemployed. This was a woman with a Master’s Degree and a proven success rate. This was also a woman that wasn’t getting hired, offers, calls or responses. So she did what any sane person would do in that situation.

She panicked.

I’m joking.

She calmly got up each morning, sat at the computer and wrote. She wrote on her blog, she worked on a novel, she filled out job applications, she wrote proposals, se wrote curriculum. She just wrote.

The most important part of her sitting and writing was the faith that led her. It was a sight to behold and it was a great lesson for myself & my siblings to both witness and experience. That same faith has seen her in the last four years go from unemployed writer/educator straight into Director of Curriculum for the Banner Schools. That same faith saw her go from sitting at a broken down computer writing to traveling for work with a brand new MacBook Pro. That same faith has seen her change vehicles, develop hobbies & friendships, and witness constant growth in her career.

I’ve been thinking about that time a lot lately because it was one of the few miracles I’ve witnessed in my life but also because every morning, I get up, sit at my computer & write.

Failure

10 Feb

I failed.

It was a failure of epic proportions. The show didn’t turn out the way I wanted. My deficiencies were glaring. I was very obviously overwhelmed. I made promises that I’ve yet to fulfill. I owe money to a lot of people. The deep shame I feel doesn’t seem to be enough to cover the damage that I have done. I let people down. I let myself down.

I failed.

I question my ability. I question my aptitude. I question my “talent”. I question my capabilities, my understanding, my vision. I question myself.

I failed.

What I am beginning to truly understand is that one cannot exist without the other. It is failure that opens the door for us to succeed and it is inevitable that pursuing greatness, pursuing success will lead to much failure.

In investing, some investments are known as “high risk, high reward”. Success is such an investment. You can’t earn $100 million if you’re not even willing to invest $10 million. There is nothing wrong with “low risk, low reward” investments. In fact, any broker or salesman will advise you to invest at your comfort level. I had to ask myself what I wanted in order to know what I was willing to offer.

It’s been said that what you put into something is what you’ll get out of it. I disagree. If an investor breaks even, she doesn’t consider that a rewarding investment. She got out of it what she put into it. An investment is only as valuable as its returns, its profits. So, if I’m not getting more out of “it” than what I’m putting into “it”, something’s wrong with that. I think the Universe works that way. I could be wrong, but I don’t believe I am.

So, I failed. And I failed in a big way. But that is what greatness does.

I thank God, and everyone that He sent to me with that lesson. It has been learned. Thank you to you all.

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed” – Michael Jordan

My Black Hole

25 Jan

I tend to make what I’m feeling. If I’m sad, my story is about a sad woman. If I’m confused, my story is about a confused woman. Wronged, a woman wronged; elated, a woman elated and so on and so forth.

I’ve been working on an idea for a web series about two women, both dealing with a great loss. The women experience the loss in different ways and at different times in their lives. The women’s emotional journeys are different also but the one similarity is that they are seeking to find themselves.

It should go without saying that I was experiencing a loss of self when this idea came to me. Creating is how I get clarity; it’s how I understand my feelings and how I find peace.

My delimna begins when my feelings change. I’ve yet to discover the ability to write the same story when my feelings are different. I know that working with feeling & consistency is the difference between a creative person and a professional artist. It’s not something I care to admit but I’m more of the former than the latter.

This is particularly true for me as a writer. I can direct it at any time but writing it once the feeling is gone has proven to be on the impossible side of difficult.

I am determined that it does not remain that way. I want to see this show actualized and I think it will be very special. I’m working on developing the tools that will make that a possibility. Stay tuned, there’s a show on the way!

Storytelling

17 Jan

My younger sister is working on her essays for college and this question caught my attention: what are the characteristics of powerful stories and storytellers?

I’ve been trudging through a treatment of a long-form series I want to shoot and thought answering this question might inspire me. I was right. This is my answer…

The characteristics of the most powerful stories and storytellers are as elusive as they are precise. To be powerful, a story must stay with the viewer or the reader once it is no longer in front of them.

Characterization is key. It is a great writers’ responsibility to develop characters that audiences can feel and then make horrendous things happen to them. When characters are gray, a flawed hero, for example, or a villain with a heart, it is almost impossible not to be drawn in. People like to feel and people like to have their emotions stirred. They like to cry, to laugh and to get angry.

Great stories always have some form of love present. Love is the greatest of everything this world has to offer and every living thing requires it to survive. Every living thing has also suffered at some point in the pursuit of it and knows the extent of its power. When this can be depicted in a story, it propels that story.

The powerful stories and storytellers are bold. They confront an issue that is real and offer an interesting or unexpected view. They blur the line between right and wrong and challenge our thoughts and feelings of certainty. They are marked by their ability to capture human nuances and to portray emotional honesty.

Finally, they have just the right touch of the intangible magic known as imagination. Every great film, television series, stage play or book has been elevated above the crowd by the storytellers’ ability to imagine. Imagination is the red thread that runs through the fabric of a great story.

…I’m sharing it just in case it inspires you too.

Be Fearless,
E.

Confidence

11 Jan

The Washington Wizards began playing basketball this season on December 26, 2011. Until last night, they hadn’t won a single game.

When some people lose, it becomes easier to lose. When you lose 2 games in a row, it becomes easy for that to be 4 in a row. With every loss, your confidence gets chipped away more & more. With every loss, it seemed as though the Wizards played less & less effectively. They stopped believing they could win.

The Chicago Bulls won their first game of the season. They lost the next game by a pretty large margin. They went on to win their next six games before losing by another pretty large margin. After losing, they come out to win. After winning, they come out to win.

When they come out to win, they win. They play with the confidence that they will find a way.

Whether or not it is justified, I’ve felt like the Washington Wizards. I’ve felt like a team on a losing streak. I’ve felt that sluggish performance that comes with knowing a loss is imminent and the despair of feeling like I’m going to lose so why bother trying.

I know that I have to get my confidence back if I want to play well. It’s the only way to win. In the 9 wins the Bulls have recorded, some of them looked like certain losses: the score was down a significant amount and there wasn’t much time left to play. But one or more players believed that they could still win. And that’s exactly what they did. So, confidence. I need confidence. I need to know that, “no matter what the score looks like, I can still win this.”

I’ve got to get my confidence back.

I’m inclined to think trying has a lot to do with it. When you’re on a losing streak, it’s hard to muster up the courage to try. When you’ve tried & failed, trying tends to be low on your to-do list. But, I honestly think it’s the only way. It’s the way to build confidence, especially because that first try takes a lot of mental pumping-up.

I’ve got to get my confidence back.

I’ve got to try.

My Writing

14 Nov

I have never had a shortage of ideas. I run into trouble with the writing/execution because, in my estimation, I was born a director but not a writer. For the past couple of years, I’ve complained as much as I can about needing a writing partner. It seemed to me the lack of a partner was the key to why I could never execute the script for an idea.

Last night, I finished my 2nd painting. Though, the first one was just an exploration of brushes and colors so, my 2nd could really be considered my 1st. Anyway, painting allows for a freeing of the mind. While I was painting last night, it hit me that, for most of my ideas, I have no idea what they are about. I normally get my ideas in the form of who or what. If my idea is wrapped around “what”, the first thing I do is flush out the “who”. But for most of my ideas, scripts, completed films, I’m at a loss to answer the simple question: “what’s it about?” I hardly ever know.

But that’s so important. Knowing what it’s about keeps the theme consistent throughout the story. In marketing, I believe that is called the red thread. And when it comes to red threads, I’ve completely missed the ball! But I’m not going to beat myself up about it. In fact, rather than lament the past, I’m choosing to be excited about the present and the future. I’ll keep you posted on my highly anticipated execution!

Be Fearless,
E.

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