Monday, October 27, 2014

Sucking is Part of the Process

A scene from my "Calls of the Wild."

In the fall of 2009 (OMG, was it THAT long ago?!), I spent 3 months learning about independent animation from Bill Plympton. I completed a 30 second film (see sidebar at right to view it) of which I was proud.

I was proud that I conceived, storyboarded, made an animatic, animated, colored, painted backgrounds, composited, added sound effects and music to a film in the required time (only half of the class made completed films). All of this was a first for me. The sacrifice was unprecedented for me, too. I didn't clean my apartment for 3 months (much to my mother's dismay.) I pulled one all-nighter and worked between 7-8 hours on the weekends to get it done.

But it appears that others weren't as impressed. My classmates voted a less-complete film ahead of mine. A former colleague didn't understand what was happening in the film. Two or three film festivals rejected it.

Guess what? None of this matters. As another, more gracious, former colleague said, "It's a good first effort." And he's right. I can't be expected to make a Pixar-level film on my FIRST TRY.

As children, we didn't fear failure and making mistakes. We recognized that we couldn't do something well until we tried it over and over again. Sadly, as adults, we develop the mindset that everything we do is to be perfect even when we're new to that activity.

A scene from my "Calls of the Wild."


One only gets better with PRACTICE. Adults seem to only understand that concept when it comes to athletic pursuits. Otherwise, we think we're supposed to be experts on the first try. I think it has to do with the nature of work. We're not allowed to make mistakes at our jobs without being considered incompetent or putting our continued employment at risk. So we develop this "I must be perfect" mentality that is impossible to live up to and is detrimental to our development.

I've embraced Adult Toy Story as a "practice" film.

This is my first time doing lip sync.

It won't be perfect.

This is my first time making a 5 minute film, TEN TIMES LONGER than my last film, so it'll take TEN TIMES LONGER to make.

This is my first time working with a sound engineer.

This film won't be great like the work of the students at Gobelins or Cal Arts, but it'll be great for my skills at this particular time AND it'll be a huge improvement over my last film.

And the film after this one will be even better!

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