There was yet another gem hidden in the latest issue of Filmmaker Magazine’s e-newsletter in my email inbox last Thursday. In the letter from the editor, Scott Macaulay, was a powerful clip from a panel held by IFP this month titled “Storytellers Wanted: Transitioning to Television for Indie Filmmakers”. To set the stage, the panel had reached the Q & A portion and there was one audience member still pressing the ever important question: How is any unknown supposed to break in when it’s near impossible for any executive seeking said fresh voice to even look at unsolicited work?” This might have been just your average film industry panel with suits giving the same answers (“You need an agent. I’ll get in trouble with my boss for looking at your work, even if it’s good.”) but thankfully there was a clear voice of reason from the only filmmaker panelist, Alrick Brown (2011 SundanceAudience Award Winner KINYARWANDA). For those of us who could not attend the panel, I’m so grateful this moment was captured on camera. Anyone with a real desire to join this industry should bookmark it today. Take a look for yourself right now.
Brown’s passionate message rings so much truth that it might be hard to hear at first. I personally fall into the outsider school of thought: “If I’m good enough, they will have to let me in.” This is just not true. There are way too many rookies trying to compete with seasoned players in this game. Most of us will spend many years sitting on the bench, hoping to hear our numbers called. As Brown reminds the audience of aspiring artists and viewers across the internet, we are not entitled to succeed. Yes, it is true there are barriers preventing each of us from “making it”, whatever that definition may be. However, it does no good to tell ourselves it is they who are the problem. That only their racism, sexism, ageism is stopping us from glory.
There are veteran auteurs that can’t get their passion projects greenlit while frat boys are signing million dollar contracts with Universal. To demand or complain that the suits haven’t taken notice of you is simply a waste of breath. If you as good as you say you are, then don’t sit around. Brown even said with his own jump from film to TV, he “went through the back window at ABC” and that his only reward is being able to do work like this again. So use today as a jumping off point. Turn every obstacle into an opportunity to push through some walls.