What I’m Doing: Things That Scare Me… Film Independent Film Forum

Eleanor Roosevelt reportedly said, “Do one thing everyday that scares you.”  Although maybe she didn’t.

For more courageous people, this might be a tall order. Who’s got time to go skydiving or go down in a shark cage every day?

So maybe it’s fortunate for me that my bar for fear is not set so high.

Off the top of my head, in no particular order, here are some things that I fear:

  • Breaking rules
  • Calling people
  • Asking for things
  • Being pushy
  • Being rude
  • Being annoying
  • Cutting in line
  • Tooting my own horn
  • Selling myself
  • Spending money on things that might not be worth it
  • Looking unattractive
  • Sounding uninformed
  • Regret
  • Getting older
  • Driving fast
  • Falling forward
  • Failing
  • Making someone angry
  • Hurting someone’s feelings
  • Being yelled at
  • Conflict
  • Being dismissed
  • Rejection

Clearly, I should get a medal just for leaving the house in the morning: I call people… sometimes, I finish a short story and send to a dozen literary journals…every year or so.  And hey, I drive on the freeway at night,

Still, in my quest for fame and fortune (and by that I mean my quest to pay off my school loans by doing something remotely related to the training for which I took them on), I’ve decided it’s time to up my game in this arena. To wit: I recently signed up for two different industry events: The Film Independent Forum and the American Film Market.

The Film Independent Forum is two days (plus an opening night screening) of panel discussions and presentations, with networking lunches on each day.  For this event I was mostly scared it would not be worth the money. $200+  for two days? My most expensive pair of boots didn’t cost that, and I’ve been wearing them for six years. I was worried it wouldn’t be worth my time–that I would be bored and wish that I had stayed home and written pages of my screenplay.  I feared that the networking would be painful–a bunch of people on the lowest rung of the industry agitatedly trying to find the few people on a higher rung to help pull them up. I dreaded the idea of talking to one of the people on the higher rung and seeming to them like one of the lower rung people begging to be pulled up.

Now that it’s over, I can tell you how it went:

Was I bored? Yes, once or twice.

Were there awkward conversations with people hoping I would help produce or finance their movie? Actually, yeah, a couple.

In my conversations with guest speakers did I feel like I might be irritating them with dumb questions and if they could they would escape? At certain points, yes.

Was it worth it? Absolutely.

It was worth it because I was fascinated more than I was bored, and because I mostly enjoyed my conversations with my “bottom-rung” peers, who, when I get close up, I see have worked hard to accomplish what they have so far (often more than me), and who have skills even if they are yet to be recognized by a larger public, and who share my interest in the craft.  Because even when I felt like my questions might be taxing to the industry guests, I was okay with myself for asking.  All my life, on film sets and stages, in classrooms and conference rooms, at front desks and in life, I have been helpful and shared my knowledge and information–even with people who are irritating–so I’ve decided it’s okay to let someone else have a turn.

And it was worth it because it was really educational. The organizers worked hard to provide a variety of information and opportunities to interact with each other and the guests, and they made a huge-ass book with case studies of various independent films that I am still reading. It was worth it because in a weekend I feel like I’ve stumbled on a whole new vocabulary, and made me ask my myself new questions about my responsibilities and my role in my artistic life. It’s inspired me to give some real thought to the difference between  dependence and independence in the film making process.

I think that’s worth the price of admission.

Here’s a post about Jill Soloway’s Keynote from the Forum

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