J. Michael Straczynski – A Writer
A friend of mine is friends with J. Michael Straczynski. I’m not going to explain who he is, you either know or you can look him up on IMDB.
She was explaining to me how she’d been out to lunch with him and (to sum up) how well his career was going and what was happening at that time.
She couldn’t help but ask him about his colleagues of the past. How is it he had climbed so high and the other guys he’d grown up writing with… hadn’t?
He said something to her that she relayed to me that really stuck with me. Truthfully, it’s one of my weaknesses I get to work on from day to day.
He told her it was because he had always stayed teachable. A lot of the other people he’d worked with earlier in his career had decided at some point that they knew all there was to know about their job and that they had nothing else to learn.
Because he knew that there was always something new. Because he didn’t close himself off to input, to learn new tricks, he was always able to grow.
My old band, Betty Oyskin, in the ’90s. Me slackin’ on guitar!
He went on to explain that when someone decides they have nothing more to learn, they either plateau or they slide back down.
You ever hear something you have never heard before but you know is true? And even worse, that you’re guilty of?
In my guitar playing, I got to a place where I was pretty comfortable but when things got too hard, I stopped. I remember in my old band, hitting this wall. I wasn’t willing to take lessons and learn and I stagnated. Accordion was pretty much the same deal. Well, I would be DAMNED if that was the thing that was going to hold me back from being the best filmmaker I could be.
Since hearing that little piece of advice I’ve had to put aside my pride, drop my defenses and really listen when someone had something to say. Even people who may not know as much as you do might have a nugget of knowledge you have not picked up yet. Listen to them and mine that experience for all it’s worth! Sometimes you might not learn anything but better to listen and be open and not get anything than be closed off and miss something.
Sometimes it’s not easy but I’ve picked up so much by paying attention, listening to other people as well as reading books, watching DVD extras, watching other people’s YouTube channels.
Example: I am a DVD extras junkie. I’ve bought DVDs for movies I didn’t even like *coughskycaptainandtheworldoftomorrowcough* just so I could learn what they did.
Skydiving: Abrams style!
I watched the J.J. Abrams Star Trek extras, listened to the director’s commentary and there was a bit in there about how they did the skydiving scene. They put Mylar on the ground so it reflected the sky had the actors stand on it and shot them from above, giving the impression to the camera that they were falling downwards. We used a similar technique (using a greenscreen instead of Mylar, that shit’s expensive!) in our Teleport: Steampunk video. If I hadn’t taken my time out to learn from other filmmakers, I’m not sure we could’ve done the freefall bit.
So, as has been said to me, take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth and listen hard! You’ll be surprised what you pick up.