Sunday, April 25, 2010

What Are We Doing?

If you're here reading this blog, it means that on some level, creating is probably important to you. If you've made it to this second sentence, it almost certainly is.

I'm pretty convinced that there is nothing like the act of creating to bring out the best and the worst in us. No one can look at the great sculptures and paintings and be completely unmoved. We read amazing books written by the masters and weep and laugh and are changed. We watch films that transport us, uplift us and inspire us to be better than what we are.

And then there's the ugly side. We embark on the journey and are immediately beset by doubts and assailed by our personal demons. It seems like the entire of creation moves itself to test our fortitude. And a very large percentage take it as a sign and give up.

Maybe you're there. Maybe you just started and feel like the pounding's started. Maybe it's already occurred and you've "given up" but can't let go completely (you're still reading this, right?). Maybe you're hanging on by your fingernails, looking for inspiration to help you along.

So, here's my contribution to that journey, for what it's worth. This path may be uncomfortable. It may, at times, even be painful (usually because we make it so, but that's a topic for another blog). It is, however, amazing. It's transformative. It's a refining process, both for our art, and for us as people. I believe that it brings out our divine potential.

And I'm not sure that this process should be easy. The difficulty of the path is there, not to keep us from going forward. It's there to test how badly we actually want it. What is it worth to us to be able to move others with our art?

So, what are we doing? Part of this journey is artistic and personal. Another part of it is making sure that what we create actually makes it out into the universe. Creating something that no one ever gets to see is kind of a pointless act.

We want to affect others with our work, right? In order to do that, we need to make sure that they have access to it. We need to survive, right? In order to do that and have more time to create, we need to get paid, right?

Yeah, I know it sounds like it shouldn't even be included in a conversation about art, but without promotion, we're dead in the water. We need to research the best ways to make our work visible. Cover/poster art, press kits, trailers, web presence, platforms, branding. It's all part of getting to the point where we can spend our lives creating. Promotion isn't a dirty word. It's our best friend.

Time for the plug. If you aren't doing what I'm talking about, you can get some ideas by going to our website: Take a look at what we have to offer.

Want to do it yourself? I encourage it! Not sure about that? Give us a call or shoot us an email. You'll be amazed at what we can put together for you.

Now go out and create!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

As If That Weren't Enough...

We've worked. Hard. We've put in countless hours, agonized over minutiae that most others wouldn't even blink an eyelid at, sweat blood and tears.

And finally, after what seems an eternity, we're finished. Our baby's done. Our novel, script, short film, feature, whatever--is complete.

Aaaaaahhhh... Time to stretch a bit.

Congratulations! You've done something that many, many hopefuls never do. You have made something where there was nothing before. It's truly amazing, and you deserve credit and accolades for it. Doesn't matter the format, genre or medium, you have done something truly worthwhile.

And there you sit, thinking, "Okaaaaaay... Now what?"

You have just run smack-dab into it. You know. That wall. The wall that so many have committed figurative hari-kari against, by running into it at warp speeds. It is the wall that is not-so-lovingly referred to as (cue scary music)... self-promotion.

C'mon, you knew it was coming. Or maybe you didn't.

Somehow, as we're in the midst of creating, we manage not to think about it very much. Or if we do, it's this very short, very magical interlude between creation and success beyond our wildest dreams.

I'm going to hazard a guess that, out of all of the completed works of art out there, at least 97% have never seen the light of day. They are pushed (with a heaping helping of shame) to the deepest, darkest corner of the drawer or closet. We may, occasionally, dust them off and lament the death of the work that no-one-ever-had-the-chance-to-enjoy. Then we'll put it back and do our best to forget.


There is another way.

It is the path of self-promotion, Grasshopper.

I know, the magical belief that we SHOULDN'T HAVE TO is strong. So strong, in fact, that we resist this stage of artistic development almost instinctively. But gone are the days of patronage. No knight on shining armor (or naked lady astride a horse, not to mix metaphors too badly) is going to swoop down and hit our project with the mystical sword (or wand) of success. Not gonna happen.

Nor will posting our novel, or script or project up on some random blog do it either. Again, great step in the right direction, but we're still falling short of the mark.

We need to open our hearts, our hands and, yes, our mouths. We need to get it into anyone's and everyone's hands that is willing to give it more than a cursory glance.
Put the sucker up in a blog or website, sure! Then drive traffic to it like it's the freakin' Jersey Turnpike.

Yes, it's uncomfortable. No, it's not impossible. You can do it. Really.

And here's the other thing: you don't have to do it all on your own. Yeah, it's that time again. Time for me to do my own bit of self-promotion. We're really good at what we do. Don't believe me? Check it out for yourself. We promise you'll never get a hard sell from us. Just an honest assessment and a true desire to help.

And look for some wonderful new developments from us in the near future. We're working on some amazing products that we will be unveiling within the next week or so. I'm telling you, it'll be worth reading about! Until then, keep dreaming, keep creating, and keep PROMOTING!! :)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Crazy Voices

So, if you've followed my Twitter stream at all, you know that I'm a writer and filmmaker that is involved in helping others to promote themselves. I've worked with a lot of people in the industry (both publishing and film/television) and there are some things that I've noticed about those that are successfully working in their artistic fields and those that are not.

We all know that talent is important. We feel it. We know that quality matters. Of course. Problem is, we can ALL point to absolute crap that's been published or filmed. Then we look at our own stuff and think that it's at least as good as any of that. So then we're in this weird place where we flip flop between arrogance and insecurity. Our stuff is good enough to be out there, but we haven't had the success we want yet. Our judgment must be compromised. Or we're jinxed. Something.

Thing is, talent does matter. It just doesn't matter the most. Dedication, consistency, persistence, determination are all things that ultimately may be more important than talent alone. I've seen too many people that I didn't consider to be talented succeed and continue succeeding, that I have to believe that talent is only one variable in the formula for success.

Oh, here's something else for the talent purists out there. Talent can increase. When Kim Basinger started her acting career, it was as a Bond girl. Her performance was less than memorable. But she was attractive, she was dedicated, she was determined. She persevered, and eventually got to the point that she won an Oscar. She worked out her problems and hangups on the big screen, by doing the work.

All of us have voices in our heads. Negative voices that scream that we're not good enough, we'll never make it, we're dooooomed! I've already said that talent isn't the determining factor in success, and I think that most professionals would agree with me. What seems to me to be the determining factor is whether we can manage our self-destructive tendencies. Can we corral our inner demons that are constantly screaming silently at us in our heads?

What keeps us from being the kind of people that demonstrate all of those scary, scary qualities I mentioned earlier? You know. Dedication, consistency, persistence, determination? Do we exhibit all of those traits? And if not, why?

I've found that most people that we typically think of as "lazy" or "procrastinators" are actually just scared. They've got voices yelling at them that if they really TRY and then fail, they've truly FAILED. FOREVER!! Easier to just sit back on their heels and engage in a little self-destruction. When we put it into those clear terms, of course they don't want to do this, but in the moment, it's easier to just... lose track of time.

There's another trap. It's the "push forward at all costs" trap. This group realizes that hard work is necessary to succeed, so they will kill themselves, working without sleep to get their work "finished". Problem is, it's never finished. Once they get close, they either start working on a new and exciting project, or go into OCD mode, polishing, polishing, polishing... and never getting it out there.

Neither way works all that well. The successful authors, screenwriters and filmmakers out there work consistently, putting time aside everyday to work on their passion projects. Most started out doing this while holding down at least one full-time job. No excuses. Put it on the page. Five to ten pages a day of writing is a good goal to work up to. That's about what professional authors do, and that's what we want to be, right?

But the most important part is actually writing. Putting fingers to the keyboard and pounding out words. Yes, craft and structure matter, but getting craft and structure is, once again, secondary to ACTUALLY WRITING!! The voices in our head will come up with all kinds of reasons to keep us from doing it. If we realize that it's just our fears creeping in, and that the only way to become whole is acknowledge those fears and work through them, we can find consistency in our work. And joy. Joy is good.

One final word. Patience. It's a marathon, not a sprint. Now go out and create!! And as you create, remember that the time will come (and actually is probably now) when you will need to promote. And we'll be right there ready to help you.