“You don’t have to know everything!“,said Barbara Deutsch, Motivational Speaker and Acting Coach. I remember bolting upright in a very uncomfortable straight back chair. The sage advice blew the doors open in my mind and shone a spotlight on my creative voice lain dormant. That was over five years ago in a downtown hotel conference room in Toronto. “You don’t have to know everything!”, is a pithy little maxim that pulled me out of my comfort zone and helped produce, “On a Break?”, my first short film.
The journey on the film making track began when a friend encouraged me to attend Deutsch’s coaching class. “But I’m not an actor”, I had said. “It doesn’t matter. Her techniques can be applied in any profession”,my friend had said adamantly. I was toying with the idea of turning a one pager into a short film. It was a script I wrote for a Dialogue assignment taught by Nika Rylski at George Brown College. She was another inspiring lady with a no nonsense approach to scripting dialogue. I was happy with the verbal exchange between the two characters Jill and Alex. The premise was based on a platonic friendship I had had with a work mate who was trying to hook up between his “on again off again” romance with another colleague. I thought it’d be fun to produce. Why? I wanted to see if I could. “Just keep it small”, I warned myself.
“But, where do I start?”, I asked myself. While, Deutsch’s practical advice unarmed and freed me from paralyzing fear I was still anxious about mounting a production on my own, even a small one. Experience as a Caterer, Assistant Director, and Driver on both non union and union film productions, didn’t allay my doubts of pulling this feat off! How was I going to fit the pieces of my vision together onscreen? And who was I to even think I could accomplish such an undertaking? Someone was brave enough in the audience to ask how they could get started? “Assess your own skills. Do what you can do to get it started. And then ask for help?”, Deutsch said. The light bulb went on. It was ridiculously simple I exclaimed silently shooing away the clouds of doubt gathering in the wings.
On the way home from the presentation, the logistical planning I started came to a skidding stop when I asked how I’d pay for it all? I appreciated Deutsch’s free advice that evening. But, mounting any film production no matter the scale required money and manpower. I had briefly looked into acquiring funding through an arts council. But found, it was more work filling out forms and jumping through bureaucratic hoops than making the film. So, I opted to pay for the production myself. Something a film producer wouldn’t advise. But it was my baby. “I had savings!”,I justified. I didn’t want to work within a framework that risked confining my vision. “You don’t have to know everything!”, I said to myself.
So I resumed the planning. Signing up with mandy.com to cast the actors. Holding auditions at the Second Cup on St Clair. Hiring a Director of Photography/Cameraman who lit the production for a song. Enlisted colleagues at the post office to lend their muscle to move equipment et al. And, filmed “On A Break?” with Samora Smallwood and Jason Tannis sitting in a jeep in a garage owned by a film colleague at Canadian Picture Cars (CPC) on an incredibly cold February night. And then packed up and drove everybody to their car or home. Later I would buy the rights to the song This Year’s Kisses on the soundtrack and record it on Garage Band with a friend playing a rented keyboard in my living room.
I was over the frikin moon I had achieved all this by uttering Deutsch’s truism to get me started! Astounded at all the help and advice I received. Like, Spencer Barclay who shot a television teaser for his father Linwood’s novel The Accident on location at (CPC). Spencer talked me out of renting a lot of unnecessary equipment.
But Deutsche’s maxim is even more profound now I’ve discovered I’m a MultiPod. I can understood why I didn’t ask for help. I was used to doing things on my own. And I confess, I was a perfectionist. It was important to me growing up to have unique experiences and fulfill the many dreams I imagined. I felt I had something to prove. And every challenge I’d have to face alone. On reflection, it was near sighted, exhausting and totally unnecessary to allow myself to spin in this cycle. Knowing I’m a MultiPod has certainly put everything in perspective. Sometimes it was best to work independently. But other times, I think I would have enjoyed the project more if I had asked for help. “You don’t have to know everything”,relieved the pressure of thinking I had to be an expert in order to attempt anything. Now, I value my skill set and delegate tasks better left to the professionals.
On Deutsch’s About Page she posted another great maxim, ”If I can change your thinking I can change your career.” I wasn’t an actor but Deutsch’s approach changed my limited thinking and ejected me out of my comfort zone. Making my short film allowed me to network with professionals and collaborate with colleagues to launch a larger production in the future. And when that time comes, I’ll remind myself to get out of my own way. It’s a no brainer! You don’t have to know Everything!