Chronicles of a Fledgling Filmmaker: Lightbulb Moments


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A call for submissions from other fledgling filmmakers...

So I had a lightbulb moment earlier this week.

I’ve been writing this column for a couple months now, sharing with you my general history, my successes, my failures, my setbacks and motivations. I’ve realized throughout the process that it’s really rather therapeutic, sitting here pouring everything out on paper for whoever wants to read it. There’s something about knowing that I’m sharing with people who get it, who can read my stories and understand them, empathize with them, laugh at them or maybe even take away something useful from them. It makes me feel good inside, like maybe I’m doing at least a little bit of good for someone else. It’s also a means to bleed out the poison, the dark thoughts that weigh me down and hinder my progress, spilling it all out just to get it off my chest and letting me breathe again. This simple column has become my dumping ground, my inspiration, my motivation, and my link to all those similar to me in the outside world.

That being said, it seems rather selfish of me to horde all this to myself. I started this column in hopes that maybe people would read it, connect with it, learn something from it or find at least a little inspiration in my words. I thought it might be helpful for my fellow fledglings to know that there was someone out there in the same boat as you and willing to speak up about it, to offer tips and advice on how to stumble in the right direction, letting you know that it’s not only normal, but perfectly okay to stumble in the first place. The downsides are not candycoated because I want you to be prepared for the worst, the upsides are celebrated because even the tiniest of victories matter, and all of it is meant to serve as a road map and a support blanket to those walking the path behind and beside me.

But I am one person, one person who’s only partway to where they want to be. I’m drawing this map as I go, and now I’m thinking it might be time to let someone else draw it with me. Here’s the idea:

This, my friends, is an open invitation. I’d like to open the door to you to share your own stories, to tell everyone about where and how you succeeded so we can celebrate with you, to tell us when you’re lost or just in a rut so we can pat you on the back, take your hand and tell you it’s going to be okay. I want to hear how you made it or how you fell, how you took your hits and managed to get back up again, laugh with you, cry with you, or just scream at the world with you at the top of our lungs when things get just a little too hard. I want to give you a place where you can vent and where you can cheer yourself on, or just a place where you feel like you might be useful in helping others find their way. I want to offer you a spot in my little corner of the internet to tell your stories however you see fit, to experience the little modicum of joy I feel every time I say my words reaching someone on the screen.

So if you have a story you want to tell, any trials or tribulations or just a means of offering some helpful advice to your fellow filmmakers, feel free to send it along to coff@colaborator.com. I will read every story I get and try to feature as many as I can, and I’ll leave it up to you if you’d like to reveal your name or just act as an anonymous visitor dropping by to share for awhile.

The only thing I ask is that you keep in mind my status in all this as not a professional filmmaker, but as someone who’s striving to get there. If you’re looking for advice I am more than willing to offer up what I know, but I haven’t “made it” yet. There’s an awful lot I’m still learning, an awful lot I’ll always be learning even when I do reach my goals, which means I am not the person to serve as your guru into the field. I can maybe be something akin to a teacher’s aide though, someone who’s at least picked up a few tips and tricks along the way, and I can certainly be a shoulder to cry on if you need it or a a high five slap when you want someone to validate your accomplishments. Just share, breathe, clap, and walk away feeling a little bit lighter for it all.

**Bonus: Speaking of lightbulbs…for those of you who actually tried to guess what the crazy numbers were on my wall from the last column:

I mentioned that Thomas Edison is a personal inspiration of mine. Why? Read any quote the man has ever been famous for. Read his biography. That guy really is a living embodiment of The Little Engine That Could. He succeeded where others failed not because of his brilliance – there have been plenty of brilliant people who never quite made it in life. He succeeded because he refused to acknowledge that quitting was even a word in his vocabulary.

So the numbers? 1/10,000?

There are several short variations on this quote, but the full version, the one that matters, goes like this:

A reporter once asked Edison how it felt to fail ten thousand times in his creation of his light bulb. His response?

“I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”

‘I will find the way that will work.’ That phrase resonates with me so profoundly that my skin literally tingles whenever I look at it.

One. It only takes one time to make the difference between being a success or being a failure. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall along the way, if you can just get that one, then you’ve made it. It’s giving up before you get there that constitutes whether you’ve failed or not.

One is easy, guys. If we just filter out the ways that things aren’t working, we can get there. It’s only one.