3 EASY WAYS TO DISCOVER YOUR STRENGTHS AS A FILMMAKER

I can’t stand the word, "potential”. It means absolutely nothing to me. When somebody tells me that I have potential all I hear is that I’m not currently doing or accomplishing the thing that I’m supposedly capable of doing. You might as well say, “Oh wow, look at all that you haven’t accomplished with your life that you could have by now.”

This is why I believe in goals and personal strength discovery - Daily Personal Growth and Self Understanding. I remembered in college watching numbers of students come in and out of the film program with their dreams of wanting to be a director. I also remember the faculty saying to many of those students, “are you sure that you want to direct? You’re actually really good at this role or that role.” But unfortunately, many of us have potential in a specific area or department that we’re unwilling to pursue because it isn’t what we think we want. Personally, I had no idea what I wanted to be or do when I first entered the program, but I was told and encouraged by people as I grew up that I had the “potential” to be a great filmmaker.

While at Brigham Young University I majored in Film and minored in Business Management, though honestly I truly wish that I had switched those two things around. You know, because I had such “potential” as a business-mind.

I found that the principles taught in business management would help me much more in managing my own film company than many of the ideas I learned in Film School. Classes like Organizational Behavior and Leadership Development would largely shape me as a Business Owner, a Producer, a Director and especially as an A.D. (Assistant Director). Personal Finance, Accounting and Finance actually taught me to Produce and UPM with efficiently run budgets quicker than most of my film classes. Disclaimer: I have to give credit where credit is largely due. The Producing classes taught by Tom Morril and Courtney Russell at BYU were excellent and I would recommend them to any would-be producer or UPM.

What if you spent the past twenty years of your life performing a job that you never knew didn’t suit you? Or the next 20? This was one of the biggest topics we touched on in Leadership Development class in BYU’s School of Business Management. And how would we know? Is there a sure-fire way of knowing if we’re working in the right place or not.

Here are a few of the things that we learned, and I love this.

1 | QUIT FOCUSING ON YOUR WEAKNESSES. FOCUS ON YOUR STRENGTHS.

Many of us spend the majority of our time developing our weaknesses rather than our strengths. Rather than seeking out our strengths and building upon them to make them even more valuable than they already are we tend to look at where we are weak and force ourselves to become stronger.

I know what many of you may be thinking. Aren’t we taught that we’re given weaknesses so that they will make us strong? Yes, but I’m not talking specifically in the spiritual sense here. I’m talking about the God-given resources and human faculties that each and every single one of us has been given to provide for ourselves and for our families.

2 | DISCOVER WHAT ENERGIZES YOU.

Have you ever started working on a project for the first time where you were attached to it in such a way that hours felt like minutes? You were literally energized by that specific type of project even though it seemed like those around you were being drained by the very thought of it?

Let me give you an example here. I was asleep one day when I received a call from a good friend of mine who asked me if I could Co-Produce a project they were shooting. I asked what that even meant. I had never produced before a day in my life. I kindly declined saying, “Sorry, I’m a Director, not a Producer.” Luckily for me my friend was fairly persistent. She said that the Producer on the project just wasn’t working out and that nothing was getting done and that she just needed somebody to kind of help pick up the slack.

I agreed to the project not having any idea what I was supposed to do. I didn’t know this at the time, but I was just about to walk into my new career field. She gave me a short to-do list that morning. She was blown away when the list was completed by lunch time.

“You mean to tell me that you got Restaurant X to donate all the food to the crew, the equipment is already reserved, you locked down all the extras and you even got Tailor X to donate suits to our cast?!”

Apparently, this was a big deal. It had been on the uncompleted Producer’s To-Do list for a week. I felt energized by the challenge of being resourceful and checking off the To-Do list. I loved the newness of talking to different people and being assigned random, non-repetitive tasks. I was also extremely energized by the idea and feeling of actively creating something out of nothing. The job made me feel important. It made my talents feel utilized as if they were just waking up for the first time in years. And I was even amazed myself at how quickly the time flew as I was marking items off of my check list.

So just as I discovered what energizes me, you get to ask yourself, “what energizes you?”

3 | SAY YES TO A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING UNTIL YOU ARE CONFIDENT THAT YOU SHOULD SAY NO.

I’m not a stubborn person by nature. Thank Heaven for that. Had I persisted in telling my friend that I was a Director and only a Director while in college I never would have found the career path that I loved the most. I tried a little bit of everything while I was in college.

I did a lot of Directing, Cinematography, Gaffing, Editing, Motion Graphics and Sound Design before I found that my strengths lied in Producing and A.D.’ing (A.D.’ing is another story). There were a number of people who refused to try any departments outside of Directing and Cinematography because they felt like they already knew what they wanted to be. It never hurts to try something new.

What could it hurt? I’ll tell you what it could hurt, it could hurt your chances of going into work everyday doing what you truly love. Being a Cinematographer is cool, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be the role in life that will make you the happiest. Directing is really cool as well, but will it ultimately make you miserable? Don’t be a Nay-Say. Try a little bit of everything.

This entire Blog should have been written in reverse as the steps were intentionally written backwards. So to recap now that you get the gist:

3 | SAY YES TO A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING UNTIL YOU ARE CONFIDENT THAT YOU SHOULD SAY NO.

2 | DISCOVER WHAT ENERGIZES YOU.

1 | QUIT FOCUSING ON YOUR WEAKNESSES. FOCUS ON YOUR STRENGTHS.


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