Cynicism Won’t Make Movies

As a filmmaker, it’s easy to make excuses for why you aren’t making movies. Maybe you don’t have enough experience, time, money, connections, friends or [fill in the blank with your best reason HERE.]

A few weeks ago, I found myself watching a Superman with some Hollywood acquaintances. At the end of the movie, one guy started blabbering on about why the movie was horrible and why the filmmaker should call it quits. Then his wife joined in and suddenly everybody starts criticizing Hollywood, other movies and people.

The conversation escalated into a cynical bitch session with bullet-points as to why screenwriting work is hard to find. Keep in mind these are all people who make a very nice living in entertainment. But based on the conversation, you would have thought they dug ditches for a living… Ugh.

If you’ve been in this game for any length of time, you probably met these people. If not, you will. These people are frustrated with their current work. And instead of writing more and doing more to level up their careers, they find it easier to embrace cynicism.

This is a trap for all of us. And the thing to remember is, cynicism won’t make movies.

Here is the filmmaker challenge:
For the next 30 days, force yourself to stop complaining and refrain from voicing anything negative.

The reason for this exercise is simple. If you can do this, you will stop talking and start doing. And the ongoing goal is to ask yourself the right questions. One of my favorite filmmaking questions is, “Given the resources that you have now, what is the movie that you can make this year?”

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Comments

  1. Diane Lansing says

    Thanks Jason,
    It’s funny that I kept this article on my desktop for the past week and just reading the title made me smile. Now that I’ve read the article, I accept the challenge and will keep a positive attitude, and, KEEP WORKING. I fall down all the time and get up and get back to work. Not miraculously, the writing progresses and I hopefully pump out better scripts. I also enjoy my creative process very much and feel sad for those who suck the life out it for themselves.

  2. MARKT11 says

    TOTAL AGREE…I’m one of those complainers, but also a supporter of the biz, and more along the lines of someone with MFA film school; previous low bud spec sales and mostly indie crew work on my resume. I also happen to be a union and non union ditch digger, carpenter, heavy construction laborer, kitchen grease filter cleaner ( at nights, while writing during the day, and no…none of this was union) forest ranger, fence putter-upper ( out in the middle of nowhere and too many barb wire cuts to mention, army soldier and more ditch digging’ concrete mixer / carrier for masons. And thru all this, I was writing fiction until screenplays took men and film school accepted me. I have friends and strangers I’ve met who ARE in the HWD system; making great money and have never gotten their hands dirty outside of film school. A lot of their work isn’t good, let alone great. And friends who are union crew workers, won’t even mention working their short non union days…but are also, the first to complain all day long on a set and never show gratitude for where they’re at in life. They sure as hell know what’s wrong with today’s movies, dir. , writers, etc.

    You see where I’m going with this?

    Until the complainers in HWD TRULY do know what it’s like to dig that ditch; get their hands dirty; struggle to put food on the table for themselves and /or families…they’ll continue being the spoiled kids they are. They DO NOT KNOW what it is to have a hard life. They WILL NOT work harder on their craft, because their complaining is expected of them by their fellow peers in HWD, and once they’re in the HWD system…it’s hard to get rid of them. And if they all complain together, then they’re all backing each other in the same boat…and that’s who they open doors for. Fellow boaters.

    I am not a cynic…if I expect the best from myself, it’ll be easier for me to associate and work with and for those who do the same. The great thing about this digi-world, age we all live in now? It’s made for workers-creators like myself. All the dig. cameras, lenses, software, etc…gets better and cheaper. Distribution opens more directly to global auds., without anyone in between Of course…it does mean the responsibility is in my hands for that success in today’s world…time I got back to work. Get my hands dirty. 2 new specs in 60 days; finishing up a third by tomorrow morning; two polishes on previous specs; scouting, casting, shooting a spec trailer for a spec pitch on my own coin for under 2k; meeting w/storyboard artists…all with a full time 8-5 job with the STATE.

    AMAZING…what soap and hot water can do to clean some dirty, hard working, calloused laborer’s hands, who happens to have an MFA in film production, and dug a lot of ditches to pay for it on his own.

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