Avoiding "Disaster" as an Artist



The Poster

I think you’re smart. In fact, when I finally pressed the "Export Movie" button for my latest film "Wreckage," I was counting on it... or rather depending on it. I knew my story would confuse some people. And I knew it wouldn’t suit everyone’s taste. And yet, I was determined not to spoon-feed the story to my audience.

During production, many people from cast and crew and even my wife urged me to drop more hints and explanations to the story, fearing that some might not follow it otherwise. I considered their opinions and thanked them for the ideas. But in the end I went with my gut.

When it came time for the premiere exactly ZERO people had seen it who didn’t know the story already. And now I was going to debut it to over 1000 people! I won't lie, this is when the doubts began to creep in.

I envisioned a frightening scene trudging out of the theater with 1000+ people avoiding eye contact with me and whispering to each other “what. was. that?” Before the movie began people would ask “are you SO excited?” I’d smile and reply “yes, very excited” but I know I must’ve looked like a scared puppy. As the movie played I tried to sneak a peek behind me to examine the faces of those watching. I couldn’t quite tell if their expressions were that of intrigue or suspense or confusion or distaste. And when the final credits rolled and we all shuffled out I was SO nervous what the response would be.


Walking the red carpet

THIS IS ART

One of the ways I encouraged myself on that day was to repeat the mantra that “this is art!” And because it’s art does it matter how people receive it? Was I being overly concerned about people‘s acceptance and appreciation for my film? Shouldn’t I just don my beret, turn my nose up and say “if you don’t like it tough cookies.” I suppose so. But that’s not really me. Because in addition t being an artist, I’m a pleaser. I like to make people happy. I like to make people think. I like to encourage people. And yes, I like people to like me and my work. So while I do get a lot of satisfaction from the craft itself, the opinion of others does have value to me. Does that make me less of an artist? I don’t think so.