Friday, November 27, 2009

Best Advice I Received While in Film School: Playing With Others

Last weekend, I attended a career seminar hosted by my alma mater. While the advice was superb all around, one key phrase lit a light bulb in my head: collaboration with fellow alums. Cue "a-ha moment".

As young people, we live in a constant world of competition. It's a myth that my generation needs such a self-esteem boost that the "everyone is a winner" manta is a standard. Even as a little girl, I was told to stand out from the competition.

Competitiveness drives our reasoning behind many of our life goals. If we don't get into one of the big-three schools (That's USC, UCLA, or NYU), or if we don't land that mailroom position at William Morris, we are doomed to fail in life. One sidebar: there are very few industries where people literally beg for low pay, substandard benefits, and office worker abuse like the entertainment industry. But that's the Industry for you!

Our competitiveness may just be a by-product of our capitalistic society. If that's the case, then collaboration just sounds plain socialist. Socialist or not, film is a collaborative art, even if pro-auteur theory fans don't want to admit it. Collaboration was something my film professors had preached throughout college, and for good reason.

When I collaborate, I learn to listen. Listening is an underrated skill. It allows me to gage various points of view, while encouraging everyone to work towards a common goal. It can be frustrating, yes, but also loads of fun. Not to mention, if you crew on someone else's film, he or she might return the favor. Industry collaboration works like the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

So the moral of my story: Kindergarten was right. You really should have been graded on how well you played with others.

Happy Filmmaking.

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