The pleasantest things in the world are pleasant thoughts: and the great art of life is to have as many of them as possible.
Pondering the Happy Filmmaking conundrum, I feel there seem to be two target groups: on the one hand those who feel stuck in a treadmill job (inside or outside the creative industry) who are longing to get to the things they are really passionate about, on the other hand those who already do what they are passionate about (I count myself to those lucky ones) but are in need of maintaining the balance in order to make this work. Either by making sure that the figures add up and the dream job is also the one that pays for you living the dream, or by making sure that you don't burn the candle on both ends and find yourself burned out.
The Zen for Ten challenge of the people from Do What You Love for Life is one of those things that helps to maintain the balance and at the same time aims to free you up to find out what you really want to do in case you are not doing it yet. The daily email is already on Day 2, but you can dowload the free pdf with all the materials and complete the ten days at your own leasure.
Today's motto was "Make space and simplify" - which couldn't have come more timely for me. This is my de-cluttering system. There is nothing like a bit of a life detox to free yourself up for new projects... Happy Zen!
Interested in composing music for film? Indie film maker Sibylle Meder shares some valuable advise! Sibylle is a filmmaker of fiction and non-fiction projects. 2014 will see the premiere of her feature documentary The Island Bus. Sibylle talked with Local band on all things film in this revealing interview.
Click the link to read an interesting article pointing out some of the things that might be obvious to those working creatively - but still not the norm in society in general.
"Creativity works in mysterious and often paradoxical ways. Creative thinking is a stable, defining characteristic in some personalities, but it may also change based on situation and context. Inspiration and ideas often arise seemingly out of nowhere and then fail to show up when we most need them, and creative thinking requires complex cognition yet is completely distinct from the thinking process."
Carolyn Gregoire then gives examples of 18 habits of creative people.
I especially like "They lose track of time" - one of my favourite parts abourt being creative. Not a popular one with your social network - the real life one. I am still working on a balance between immersing myself in a film edit and showing up in time for the cinema date or giving the cats their dinner.If you have a solution, please let me know! :-)
I find that only a few things in life are as exciting and stimulating as the energy boost you get from creative work and working in a team of like-minded creatives when things go right. It can feel almost physically addictive, because it is certainly releasing a lot of happy hormones. I tend to compare my own experience of this with the act of swimming (and pounding the waves smoothly with your limbs) or body surfing - being engulfed and carried by the elements around you, yet in control of them,
It's what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi called "the flow". The flow happens when a person is fully immersed in what they are doing. When actors play off each other and merge with their roles, they are in the flow. When you film a documentary scene and you manage to frame exactly the right action at exactly the right time, you are not thinking only and pre-planning shots, but you are in the flow, you react to what is in front of you and you control the camera with your reaction but that again provides more for you to react to. I sometimes don't realise anymore that camera and my arm are separate. It is almost like turning into that hybrid being where the arm supports the machine bit that feeds the eye - David Cronenberg would like that.
It is a state to cultivate and even practice as it is so essential for creating useful work - yet it isn't always easy to manage. As we know, filmmaking is to a great part scheduling, planning, calculating and in general being very adult and rational about things - lest they go wrong.
Being an adult is also a bit tiring - I don't know whether you had noticed. At some stage, you start to become standoffish and short, giving commands and feeling like people around you either don't realise what's important or treat you somehow wrong. In other words: if you are being very, very rational for very, very long, you will paint yourself into a corner of unhappiness.
Enter a tool that I am finally discovering to its full potential and which I realise is extremely useful on the quest of being a happy filmmaker: meditation.
I had wanted to start with meditation for a long time, but somehow didn't quite get the hang of it. It worked, sort of, to sit still and try and let thoughts come and go, focussing on the body - but somehow I hadn't really got the right guidance.
Then I stumbled over a website that appealed straight away to the busy, multi-tasking geek inside me:
I signed up for the guided meditation practice that the guys over at Get Some Headspace offer and I admit it, probably mainly enticed by the wonderful animations across the site and the fact that they even offer an app for my phone.
On a more serious level, the fact that Andy Puddicombe, the Headspace founder and fully ordainned Buddhist monk, set out to bring meditation to über-busy Westerners intrigued me. And they got me hooked.
I am about 4 months into the experience, where their year-long daily meditation program now delves head first (literally!) into the realm of creativity. There are lots of thoughts, feelings and insights bubbling up - and I am planning to share them here once in a while.
Today's mediation, which was the second of a series of visualisation techniques, made me think about that energizing effect that creativity has on the body. Interestingly enough, meditation ties in very nicely with that - as it can have the same effect. It is also extremely good for recharigng your batteries: like a hot foam bath for the mind.
Learn How to Get Award-winning Authentic Performances from Actors!
"A must read for any serious professional." Mark Rydell, Director, On Golden Pond
Internationally acclaimed LA Times Bestseller, in it's 9th Edition Translated into German, Japanese and French Demystifies directing feature films at every level. Required reading at prestigious film schools internationally. Recommended by A-list directors Directing Feature Films is perhaps the most practical and accessible approach to film directing ever written.
... So far the blurb on Mark Travis's own website - and he is right. The book is an amazing read, full of insights into the creative process of both those behind and in front of the camera and - at its essence - a how-to communication manual to create an atmosphere of collaboration on set.
I found it a page turner, like having your directing coach telling you stories of his own experiences and at the same time anticipating common obstacles you will find on your journey. (Co-incidentially, the first editions had the title "The Director's Journey".)
Some of the most exciting exercises and suggestions I found to be his advice on how to handle difficulties on set, e.g. how to come back to a point where everyone still agreed and find a way forward from there, and the approach to casting.
It is a book you can have on your bedside table, as you will be reading it over and over again. Once is definitely not enough, so much knowledge and advice can be found between the covers. Though it is essentially for fiction filmmakers and a lot of it deals with script analysis, as someone working in non-fiction you will still get workable ideas for how to approach work with a crew and on the psychology on set.
Comes highly recommended from yours truly!
You see things; and you say, "Why?" But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?"
What is the first thing that comes to mind when I ask you to describe a typical filmmaker? What is the work environment you picture?
All too often, there will be ideas of selfish and authoritarian producers, manipulative directors, "difficult" actors and snobbish and cynical technical crew only waiting to see any of the big wigs fall.
While this is fuelled by some - admittedly entertaining - satires about the "business" from within the business (off the top of my head I can think of "State and Main", written and directed by David Mamet who I suspect likes a good story about intrigue and betrayal), there seem to be a great lot of people working within the industry who are anything but back-biting monsters.
In fact, those people I am thinking of are in it for love - they do what they do with a passion - because if they did it for the sure paycheck or the riches to be earned, they would be working another job. They also do it for the people they want to work with, and the art they want to bring about. They love filmmaking and they want to be happy doing it.
I am one of these people. And I know a whole lot of others who would whole-heartedly agree.
It doesn't always work out well and happy - which is partly due to the crazy hours worked, the tight finances, the "fear" of the audience and its supposed whimsical taste. And some of those filmmakers who seek happiness at some stage quit the industry and open up a B&B or become a yoga teacher. While I love B&Bs and always enjoy the company of yoga teachers, the greatest love of my life (well, one of them ;-)) is filmmaking, creating images, especially the moving one.
But I also decided to live my life happily.
So this blog is to explore the ways in which you (and I) can combine the two. Because, as one of the most inspiring people I know rightly says: what you think, you become.
Films can inspire, filmmakers can inspire - and they also need inspiration to keep going.
Instead of bemoaning the state of the industry, here is to a collection of thoughts, ideas, programs and resources for the Happy Filmmaker - to keep you fuelled with your passion and let you work that passion in ways that benefit yourself, your environment and "the industry" alike.
It is a random collection of the things I find on my path to be helpful, and I hope you enjoy it and will find inspiration, too.
Keep creating tiny miracles of moving images on screen!
A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.
A lovely friend sent me this link this morning and while I might be romantic and emotional and so on, it's not often that a TED talk brings tears to my ears. But this one did - he sneakily puts in the tear jerker for any of us who would like to keep a roof over our heads and food on our tables right at the end. All in all, a very fortifying watch. Enjoy!
And after you have watched, you will probably want to check out Patreon as well: www.patreon.com