Tai at Camera, photo by Solomon Oke

IMPROVING YOUR CHANCES OF GETTING WORK

You are dedicating your life to developing a career in filmmaking (or any of the creative freelance industries). You already have basic skills that are useful on a film set and you are a quick learner. You have a will of steel, a flexible schedule, endless energy, and you’re good at promoting yourself. So why would you want to spend time doing a self-evaluation? What does evaluating yourself have to do with getting what you want out of life?

If two people have similar basic skills and life experiences, and neither start with any professional contacts to help them network, what factors might make one person more successful than the other at getting jobs and advancing a career?

In this Self Evaluation video BYFC students identify areas they have felt least confident in, and share how the MAKE A FILM course has helped them to become more self-assured and assertive in presenting themselves and their abilities to others.

“Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.” - August Wilson, playwright

WHAT SCRIPTWRITING TELLS US ABOUT OURSELVES

What if I tell you — You’re the main character in the script that you are writing of your own life. As any screenwriting teacher will tell you, a well-drawn character needs to be multi-dimensional, with conscious goals and unconscious needs. The character’s own dark past and hidden shortcomings that be part of what will trip him up and mislead him in the pursuit of his goal. This is also what will draw us to him as an audience. When the protagonist is about to do something embarrassing or wrong or fold to the negative forces, we want to shout at the screen, “Don’t do it!”.

You need to learn to be an objective witness to your own life, becoming more aware of your own patterns and hidden concerns. Not just so you can shout at yourself “Don’t do it!”, when you are about to do something embarrassing or wrong or fold to the negative forces. Rather than just being in reaction to what you have already done, you want to be able to anticipate your possible missteps, so that you can consciously reorder your footing and set off in a new direction.

If as a storyteller, you are still struggling to create believable, multi-dimensional characters, it might follow that in your own life you are not aware of your own buried parts, even as they trip you up.

THE WAYS WE FALL DOWN

There are many different factors that can affect success. Hard work and technical skills alone will not get you more jobs. You must also master the art of selling yourself; getting on with diverse kinds of people; dealing constructively with criticism; improv problem solving; committing to continuous learning; and understanding your own mood swings. You can’t control what happens on a set or how people treat you. If you know yourself though, you can control your attitude and response.

The simple truth is we are all unbalanced, whether or not other people can see the places where we fall down.

When you fall down, do you quickly jump up and run in multiple directions, not taking time to notice what hurts? Or do you get paralyzed after a fall, and retreat internally in shame from the goings on happening around you? Do you think evaluating yourself is about sinking into the depths of your guilt and inadequacies? What if doing a self-evaluation is about opening your eyes to the patterns and options of human behavior?

UNDERSTANDING OUR PATTERNS OF BEHAVIOR

Screenwriting teachers teach that there are universal patterns to successful storytelling. In our MAKE A FILM CLASS series, I also teach my students that there are understandable and universal rhythms to human behavior. Some people try to understand human behavior through astrology. One of the systems I reference is Chakras.

According to yoga philosophy, we all have specific types of energies located in different parts of us. There are seven primary energies*, and they correspond to different parts of our being in the world:

1) Root Chakra / Base of spine (Emotional issues: Survival in terms of shelter, food, and financial independence)

2) Sacral Chakra / Lower abdomen (Emotional issues: Sense of abundance, well-being, sexuality)

3) Solar Plexus Chakra (Emotional issues: Self-worth, self-confidence, self-esteem)

4) Heart Chakra (Emotional issues: Our ability to love, joy, inner peace)

5) Throat Chakra (Emotional issues: Communication, self-expression of feelings, truth)

6) Third Eye Chakra / Forehead between eyes (Emotional issues: Intuition, imagination, wisdom, ability to see the bigger picture and make decisions)

7) Crown Chakra / Very top of head (Emotional issues: Inner beauty, spiritual bliss)

*Reference: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-91/The-7-Chakras-for-Beginners.html

To better understand how chakras operate, think of a car. It has an engine. It has a steering system. Seats. Storage area and so on. Each is for a different purpose, and all together they equal a car. Our breath is to our body what gas is to the car.

From the time we are children we tend to spend more time using particular types of energy, while avoiding using other types. This could be due to our parents or teachers praising us for doing certain things and criticizing us for other things. Physical and economic issues might have limited us. Maybe growing up we did not get exposure to books or to physical activities or to views of how other people lived. It is understandable that we are unbalanced as adults, even if we don’t know it.

DOING YOUR OWN SELF-EVALUATION

With a car if key parts are under-performing the car will not run. The owner will be forced to take his car to a mechanic. As a human being, key parts of us might not be functioning well, but we just lean on our strengths to keep us going – until our strengths weaken and we stop running. Think of a self-evaluation as your car tune-up to increase your performance and the pleasure of your journey.

This lesson concludes the 3-part series in which I have focused on the personal development of the individual student. See:

Lesson #1) Finding the Grain of Truth (Tips on Dealing w/Criticism) http://www.wearebyfc.org/uncategorized/a-thanksgiving-greeting/

Lesson #2) Learning to Sail Your Ship in a Storm (Tips on Being a Great Production Assistant) http://www.wearebyfc.org/uncategorized/lesson-2-learning-to-sail-your-ship-in-a-storm/

I invite you now to answer for yourself the Self Evaluation questionnaire that I give to our students. (I also welcome your suggestions if you have areas you think should be added to our questionnaire.) After students fill out the questionnaire, I ask each of them to share two of the qualities that they feel are their strongest, and two that they think they need to develop more. I suggest you do the same.

Then spend a little less time focused on the areas you are most confident in, and more time exploring the areas where you feel uncertain of yourself and your abilities. Almost any area — from self promoting to receiving criticism to time management — you can google and find self help tips. When you face up to your “demons” on your own accord, they are not as scary or bad or unmanageable as when they sneak up and trip you.

MAKE A FILM CLass

wishing all a hopeful and focused future,

Trayce

Brooklyn Young Filmmakers

NEXT WEEK: We will be posting our first Film Case Study, POINTING FINGERS, that will include two script versions, story analysis, and a discussion guide about the making of the film, and the short film. A free mini-course!

NEXT MONTH: Starting in January we will post a series of online scriptwriting lessons using the script we are developing for production in our current MAKE A FILM Class Series.

“This organization has received funding from the JPMorgan Chase Regrant Program, administered by the Brooklyn Arts Council”

“This Program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council ”

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