The past several months we've met with many young filmmakers who've approached the Radicate Fund to get their films made. I am all for independent filmmaking, but it's the independent filmmaker thinking that's just tasteless to me. It's as tasteless as cling plastic wrap. I've tasted it. It's tasteless. Trust me.
Many young filmmakers walk into the meeting with this I-am-an-artist-and-you-should-be-grateful-for-knowing-me attitude. It's just boring, man.
Let me illustrate what I mean with an example of a conversation between us and the 'artist formerly known as artist' (afkaa):
Me: You seem to have it all figured out, so why are you speaking with us about this?
Afkaa: We need money for this project and since we're artists we thought you'd be interested in investing in it.
Me: Sorry to hear that, but no, you're not artists. We've never heard of you before you called us over the phone.
AFKAA: We're award winning
Me: Oh, you've won awards
Afkaa: Well, one award.
Me: One award?
Afkaa: Yeah, at college.
Me: (Looking at Afkaa blankly) Ahuh. So, you won one intramural award. I guess we judged you wrong.
Afkaa: No, it was an award for best art project in class.
Me: Oh. And how many of you in that class?
Me: Yep, we judged you wrong.
So for the benefit of future afkaas who call for a meeting with our fund, here are some of the things that tell me you're not really that artist you think you are:
1. You think you are an artist
2. You keep referring to your work as “art”
Over and over and over and over and over and over…
3. You keep referring to art as a skill
If you can't measure it, break it down and set a rational, financially demonstrable deadline, it is NOT a skill. No, paying for your paint brushes, canvases or a block of marble and chisels or glue and odds and ends are merely materials costs for your indulgence/interests/passion. Nobody needs to "understand" your sunk cost fallacy or the painful life you had growing up or what you discovered about yourself during your trip to Mongolia or your 48-second chat with Earnest Hemingway that inspired the work. It is your right to define art however you want and my right to pass you off as a bozo. Nope, cutting off your earlobe is not a skill, either. Sorry.
Basically, the customer does not want to pay someone who says they know what their work is worth and then proceeds to tell the customer that only he/she will know when the work is truly done.
4. You blame anybody you can think of because they don’t 'get' you or your work
- Blaming your customer for not getting you.
Your customer doesn't need to get you. If you think that's important to you then why are you having that meeting or conversation with said customer? Clearly you're the bozo, here.
Wondering how engineers get paid better than you and sighing about how nobody appreciates your art.
Firstly, maybe it's because your art is crap. Secondly, maybe it's because engineers know what art is and are able to dabble in it and perhaps come up with something artistic, yet don't turn into self-righteous pricks when their work is being closely examined.
Blaming your upbringing.
Yes, your parents are stupid – only if they physically/emotionally abuse you. And I mean really abuse you. Other than that, you are the bozo.
You blame your representative/congressman/your president/your government.
Yeah, your government is the bogeyman. With a generally stable government and formidable military. Great cities with good infrastructure. Beautiful nature and surroundings. Good and fun people you grew up around with. Generally decent, if not better, healthcare. Oh wait, none of that is related to art. Sorry.
What? Oh, did you just say your congressman/country doesn't appreciate "art"?
Er, news flash – your congressman/country doesn't need to appreciate your crappy "art", my friend. If you think you have no opportunities and the people around you are hurting your progress, hey, why don't you dig in deep and use whatever sliver of misery – like being born middle-class or living in a country with good nationwide sanitation – you experienced to inspire work others can appreciate*. Didn't you say you thrived on pain and only you knew when your work is truly done?
You use the age old argument that customers aren't willing to pay more and say that they compare your work to those younger than you. But that's a fact, because there are hordes of new talent coming into the market. Just because you (and your Aunt Rose) think you do better work, in no way whatsoever proves the customer
(whom you endearingly consider a jerk)is wrong or doesn't possess the artistic maturity to perceive your work as anything particularly special.
If you don't like the price you’re discussing even, why are you still having that meeting, which you consider a waste of time? If the customer doesn't give you a budget, even after you've asked for one, and you're not pleased about it, er, why are you still having meetings with said
jerkcustomer? Grow the fructose up will yah?!
Look, the customer has options. She has the right to pick what she wants in a manner and form she wants, and at a price she wants. You have the right to not work with her, too, but hey, she’s still the customer, remember? Given the opportunity, those young ones she compared you with are able to do work that's very likely going to be as good as yours. Execution abilities are a whole different argument, though, and we'll save it for another post. That said, you're no better at execution yourself. You're an "artist", remember? Only you know when your work is truly done.
5. You're a “designer*/creative-type” and you work in advertising
Let's just agree to… oh, eff and blind all you want.
You're not artists.
Read that line again if you have to and let it sink it. Stop lying to yourself and making others who are moderately talented, if not more talented (yep, than you) who're able do it all, without delving too much into Photoshop/Indesign knowledge and succumb to campaign idea outsourcing.
Oh, one more thing. The fact that you hangout at fashion events, beach parties and the like with celebrities makes you neither a celebrity nor an artist.
* "others" being the operative word
** You know, the kind of designer that fiddles with CSS and HTML and thinks he's a coder.