Trust: a remarkable art form that leads to remarkable art
As a director I have discovered that, making great work doesn’t come down to me, at all, it comes down to the team around me and I think that the sooner a creative leader can realise that their ‘genius’ alone can’t produce mind blowing work, the better – for your blood pressure’s sake.
Yes as a director you’re responsible for casting the vision, but it’s a fine line between protecting the vision and suffocating it.
A vision, in my opinion is like a ‘living thing’. You might have heard the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ well, it takes a large, coherent group of talented and likeminded individuals to raise a vision. A vision, grows, develops, needs care, attention, and a myriad of different people with various talents to rear it into its fully formed self. One person alone can’t carry the burden of a vision; it’s the reason why Frodo Baggins had Sam and all the other guys. And, while it might be extremely tempting to take complete control and do everything ‘your’ way – I’m here to say that no good can come from the mindset of ‘one brain to rule them all.’
I have had to learn the art of trusting others with ‘the vision’. It’s not an art I’ve mastered yet it’s something I’m in the process of refining. But, having embarked on the adventure of trusting people, I have continued to be blown away with the results that have come from collaborating with and trusting others.
One incredible example of this happening is on a current project that I’m overseeing for Bus Stop Films (www.busstopfilms.com.au) ‘Heartbreak and Beauty’. My job is to be ‘creative director’ and basically make sure that all the creative elements of project come together seamlessly.
The project exists to give my 13-filmmaking students with an intellectual disability the opportunity to create a professional short film. In deciding what to do we opted to make an experimental film to allow everyone the opportunity to convey something in the finished product. Right from the get-go I had no idea what this film would be about or say to the world. I left it up to the students and trusted that together, they would make something meaningful. Over a six month period, they have developed poetry, visual metaphors and dance moves to convey themes around the pain and joy of relationships.
What my beautiful students have brought to the development of this film is magnificent, their poetry is honest, thoughtful and profound, and the direction they are giving to each other is detailed, interesting and ‘their own’. To facilitate this piece of cinema is proving to be very rewarding. In giving my students the space to collaborate, they have had the opportunity to convey, very honestly their perceptions, thoughts and feelings towards the relationships they have, have lost or want. I’ve never once put a lid on the potential of what they could do and now, I’m so excited to see it come to life. Almost as excited as them.
The moments where I step back and let my students have the place to choose and make decisions for themselves is where the magic happens.
So, if you’re working on a project and are in leadership, don’t get burdened by it. Bring a team together and then, trust them – don’t let the vision be corrupted by the fear of losing control, or the desire to have control. The most beautiful things are so often done when we can place our trust in others and let them rise to their potential.
And now, for some quotes from those who have achieved much, through the power of collaboration:
“When I was a kid, there was no collaboration; it’s you with a camera bossing your friends around. But as an adult, filmmaking is all about appreciating the talents of the people you surround yourself with and knowing you could never have made any of these films by yourself.” – Steven Spielberg
“You don’t make a movie by yourself; you certainly don’t make a TV show by yourself. You invest people in their work. You make people feel comfortable in their jobs; you keep people talking.” – Vince Gilligan
“As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” – Amy Poehler
“Filmmaking is a miracle of collaboration.” – James McAvoy
“Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” – Mattie Stepanek