As an independent filmmaker, the most important thing I can receive from others is encouragement. This may seem naïve in a profession that heavily relies on equipment, networking and capital; however, without encouragement, I believe all the resources in the world are futile.
The prefix “en-” connotes a transformation into another state. It is also used as an intensifier heightening said state. To encourage, then, literally means transforming a person into courage, or intensifying courage within them. Imagine that! What a powerful thing to do for someone – transform them into courage, a state where they will face adversity with resolve and grit.
Unfortunately the opposite is also true. To discourage means transforming another into the opposite of courage: cowardice, weakness, fear. It’s often said that one negative comment can override one hundred positives. I personally believe silence is a form of discouragement as well. In other words, to not encourage is to discourage. There is no neutral ground in my experience: you either encourage or discourage.
Conferences, festivals, and workshops have proliferated with the recent rise of independent filmmaking. As an aspiring filmmaker who has attended such events myself, I strongly believe most attendees are unknowingly there for encouragement. By acquiring knowledge, hearing testimonies, and making connections, desperate filmmakers want to be told they can make their movie. Unfortunately, events are impersonal and temporary, thus, many attendees soon find themselves at another event, seeking another dose of encouragement.
Why don’t we encourage one another more often? It can cost no more than a few moments of our time. It’s crazy how trivial things on Facebook receive dozens of “Likes” and comments while one’s hopes, dreams and ventures receive little response. And what about YouTube – oh man! The absolute dumbest, most asinine videos generate millions of views while well-crafted, beautiful works are relatively unseen. As a result, stupidity is encouraged and beauty is discouraged.
Please don’t misunderstand – I realize there is a place for everything, even a video of a salami sandwich doing the Macarena. I’m simply questioning the sheer discrepancy of appreciation between nonsense and art. A Like on Facebook encourages, a positive comment even more. And a Share, wow, that’s gold! But how often do we do that for people who really need it?
And the argument that Facebook and YouTube are simply places to unwind, goof-off and relax is a poor excuse. The proof is in the pudding: prominent folks constantly receive encouragement. Their endless self-promotion is frequently met with countless Likes, comments and shares.
Independent filmmaking is often difficult, bleak, and impossible, thus, encouraging a filmmaker can radically empower them. With your interest and support, you bless them with the confidence, hope and strength to persevere – you transform them into courage!