Monday, November 12, 2007

On Insecurity, Part 1

As of this writing, I am 24 years old. That's not that old, but it's fascinating to me to look back even from here. It should go without saying that I'm a much different person than I was when I was 14, and I was different at 16 than at 14, and different at 18 than at 16, etc. What amazes me, though, is how different I am at 24 (about halfway to 25 at the moment) than I was at 23. How much different I am likely to be at 26 than I am now. And I can't even fathom who I might be at 30.

The older readers of my blog (if I ever have any) will be thinking "Well, duh." The younger readers of my blog may not believe me. I know when you're younger it seems like at a certain age you get it "figured out", and you don't HAVE to change because life is smooth sailing. Whether or not that's the case, you change. Every experience you have changes you.

The main thing that changes -- at least, hopefully -- is insecurity. Now, this is not to say that you will never be insecure. As a filmmaker (and therefore an "artist" in some sense) you will probably always be insecure. And, I will argue in this "series" of posts, you SHOULD be insecure to an extent, because security leads to laziness and laziness leads to the death of your art. What's important is not eliminating your insecurities, but channelling them.

Now, first a little bit about where I'm coming from on this:

Where filmmaking is concerned, at least in terms of this generation, I'm what you might call a "late bloomer". Most of my generation started shooting with their family's VHS camera when they were 10 years old, or younger (Ryan made his first short film -- which he refuses to show me -- at the age of 9).

M. Night Shyamalan likes to put his crappy childhood films as special features on the DVDs to his crappy adult films. I could bore you with a list but I won't. The point is, the fact that it didn't actively occur to me to make a film until I was about 17, makes me a relatively "late bloomer".

Looking back, it seems the obvious choice, and it seems like it was "destiny." I never picked up a camera, but I would put on little skits with my siblings, and I always thought of them as "movies", not plays. I always loved movies, and especially visual effects fascinated the bejeezus out of me. I started "directing" my family's Christmas videos when I was two years old ("Okay, so you record the door, and I'm going to burst out going 'It's Christmas!' and run for the presents!"). So it all makes sense to come to this.

Now, also among my generation, there's a common bit of hubris. The phrase is "the next Spielberg". Usually said in the first person. People say it to each other sometimes, I've had it said to me. I don't know that it's true, but it sure would be nice.

Here's the thing. I don't do the false humility bit and I don't like it when others do, either. I know that I am very talented, and very passionate, at what I do. I make no bones about that. But am I the BEST at what I do? Or will I be, when my skills are sufficiently developed? I don't know, and honestly, I don't really think so. I think I can make good films, I hope I can make great films, but no one bats 1000, and even Spielberg takes the occasional misstep.

Still, as I say, I am aware that I am talented, and have been since I was young. And when you're young, knowing you're talented tends to make you a dick. When I was younger, and first starting out in filmmaking, I was a dick about it (some will say I still am, but I'll address that later).

Why? Insecurity.

See, at that stage you still rely on the validation of others to define you (no matter how much you say you don't). So even though you know you're talented, it means nothing to you unless the REST of the world knows you're talented. And this leads to the Better-Than fallacy.

This entry is really freaking long already and I've barely even gotten to my point. Still, I don't want to bore your pants off (at least not unless I'm paying for dinner) so I'll stop here, and we'll pick up tomorrow with the Better-Than fallacy.


node.ue said...

I think it's much better to think you're just average and come into the realization that you're far better than average. It's like getting a present, and if you never really truly believe that you are anything more than average, that keeps you humble.

Daniel Broadway said...

I would have to agree. I believe you are a talented filmmaker, in seeing just the small sampling of things you have done.

I imagine with a bigger budget, and bigger crew, you could really spread your wings, so to speak.

That being said, of course there is always room for improvement. I don't think anyone ever gets at the level they would like to be. Always striving to do better. I know I am.

Bryan Harley said...

I think insecurity can also drive an artist in the completely opposite direction, to the point where you can be extremely modest about your work and not seek or necessarily want recognition. It's a tricky thing, insecurity. But it is true that as an artist you need to be somewhat insecure with yourself. Different people and handle it different ways... introverts and extroverts, perhaps.

Dorkman said...

node: if you never really truly believe that you are anything more than average, that keeps you humble.

I'm going to have to disagree with the notion that humility and failing (or refusing) to recognize your self-worth are the same thing. I think it's perfectly possible to be both humble and self-confident -- in fact, I would contend that it is impossible to be genuinely humble unless one is genuinely confident.

That's actually a good topic for me to address in an actual future blog post. I have to finish out this cliffhanger, but perhaps following that. Thanks for the inspiration. ;)

Daniel (Dan? Pixel?): Thanks. Hopefully we'll be able to find out sooner than later. But yes, one should always strive to improve, I'll get to that tomorrow/Wednesday.

bryan: I think insecurity can also drive an artist in the completely opposite direction, to the point where you can be extremely modest about your work and not seek or necessarily want recognition.

That's true. I should address that when I get into internalizing vs. externalizing. Thanks.

Daniel Broadway said...

dorkman: [i]"Daniel (Dan? Pixel?):..."[/i]

Daniel is fine, PixelMagic is my TFN(and other places) screename, but Pixel can be used too.

Dan...not so much. Heh. :p