Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Self Help and Scaredy Cat Filmmakers

What ho, folks.

Stephen Fry tweeted this the other week:

"I bloody knew it! I knew that titty-arsed self-help wank was all hooey. Bow down before empiricism, quacks & mountebanks"

in response to this article about self-help books.

He was being ironic of course. Mr. Fry is someone who has suffered what Churchill called his 'Black Dog' all his life, and as someone who has known well this cagey canine, i.e. depression, I cast my mind back to the various ways of dealing with it that I've come across, one being a self-help book called Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway.

The book was recommended to me by a friend who also suffers depression, and was quite a revelation. Of the several books I've read about the subject, this one really made some good points about what your life could be like with and without depression and that if - IF - you have the choice to gradually think yourself out of it, you can do it. Not for everyone, but then what is? It worked by highlighting the fact that fear drives most of what we do, and if it can be controlled it can be mastered. And my particular brand of depression is based very much around fear. So, feel the fear, and do it anyway. Sure, some self-help books may come across as preachy or happy-clappy and there are a LOT out there, but this one worked. For me, I hasten to add. But then I'm rather suggestible.

The main points I got from the book were:

- Your life has many facets to it and they can't possibly ALL suck at the same time. Your mind tells you EVERYTHING is rubbish quite often when it isn't. You have to look for things to be happy about, grateful for, and you have to do this every day for the rest of your life. Happy people, it says, are seeking happiness. Makes sense.
- Listen to your friends! One of the first questions my counsellor at the time asked me is 'What is your opinion of yourself?' and then 'Honestly, what are your best friends' opinions of you?'. Two very interesting questions.

When your brain starts going 'You and everything around you is shit' it's time to find something else to occupy your thoughts. My various ways include putting on a good DVD, seeing a matinee, meeting someone for coffee, going for a bike ride, taking a U-turn from whatever it was you were doing that was making you feel crappy.

The other interesting site I found today was this one.

Quite a good little article, but this is what caught my eye:

"This world needs more Gilliams, more Gondrys and more films from the ones we’ve already got and less scaredy cat crap from under the thumb of wuss producers."

I couldn't have put it better myself. As an indie filmmaker the great joy is that I'm able to work with some really wonderful people who all have the same interest as me; to create films and tell stories the way we want them, and - since we have no choice - unencumbered by vast sums of money and huge egos. The smaller and more controllable the film, the more personal the process, the closer to the original idea you can stay.

One day I hope to be making 'bigger' films but I hope I never forget to stay true to my roots and original reasons to become a filmmaker; to feel that sense of joy and love for cinema I felt when I was a child, and to work with my friends and fellow filmmakers to thoroughly enjoy not only the final result, but the process. Because it's all about the process innit. You know, like LIFE. Ok ok, enough of that.

Bye now.


Miles said...


Teresa Stenson said...


That's better. Yeah, this is good - bit pink, but good. Better than Myspace Blue.

Yes, the processs - you're so right. I try to remind myself of that as much as I can, cos I do forget. See, you need goals too - but I guess it's best not to get too caught up in them. Hmmm.

Welcome to here, anyway, my dear. (yes - I'm a writer!!!)

Miles said...

Goals, yes, very important of course, having said all that about the process.

If I didn't have goals I wouldn't get anything done. You're right though, sometimes you have to ease off the goals and coast a bit though... but not for long.