Posted by: michellemuldoon | May 18, 2015

Top Five Tips

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I read a lot of top five and top ten advice lists last week, and I woke up this morning thinking, “I’m going to add to the haystack.” Why did I think that? Who knows. It’s a Holiday Monday in Canada and let’s face it, what else are you going to do on a grey Monday morning… laundry?

Without much adieu, here’s my grand list of what gives you the best chance of moving your film career forward. I’m also going to start it with my usual preface, “I could be full of shit, but…”:

  1. Study your craft. Work your craft. Be open to critiques of your craft. Basically, stop thinking you’re the bomb, and work towards becoming one. Only then can you explode on the scene. (Did you see what I did there? Not bad for Monday morning.) The ladder you need to climb in the film industry is so long and high that no matter what rung you’re on, someone is higher. Shoot for that next rung. When you think too much of yourself, you’ll never take another step forward. That doesn’t mean don’t pat yourself on the back or look in the mirror and think, “Hey, I’m pretty good at this.” What it does mean is, there’s always better, and you should keep striving to be the best you can be.
  2. Meet people. Lots of people. This is a collaborative venture. If you think your project is best with you as writer/director/producer/cinematographer/editor, you’re wrong. Find people who are good at what they do. Communicate your vision, and let them do what they do well.
  3. Make content. If you’re a writer and you don’t want to direct, or an actor and you don’t want to write (because you have your hands full working on #1) then go out there and use advice #2 to find the people who can help make it happen. Without content, you can’t craft your identity, and if you’re waiting for someone to make your feature then you’re going to wait a long time. It’s not that simple or that easy.
  4. Be appreciative. If you reach #3 by practicing #1, and that attracted #2, then you’d better say “Thank You” a lot. Otherwise, the experience will be a one-off and you’ll be crafting a pretty small identity.
  5. Know who you are, what you stand for, and live it every day. I received this piece of advice when I coached high school volleyball and it became my life-long philosophy. I apply it to everything.  There are people so desperate to “make it” (whatever that means) that they play the people around them. When I started this journey, I had people walk away from me mid-conversation because someone more accomplished just walked by. I was once invited to someone’s premiere party, only to be ignored because they spent the night focusing on someone who had a job available. (Hint: if you invite people, look for them and thank them for showing up. Point #4)  Here’s the thing, I think those people live in a state of desperation. I don’t. And I don’t forget the people that do.  They aren’t who I want to work with. Treat people with decency. Be loyal and respectful.  Don’t choose the expedient option and compromise your value system. It’s rarely the right choice. It may sound antiquated, but I look for people who believe in the same things I do. I suggest you should, too.

There you have it, my contribution to the great pantheon of top five lists. Take it as you wish. Just remember, we are all defined by our choices. So, try to make the right one.

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