Dreams never die. That, my friends, is the whole problem with them.
I’m not kidding.
Dreams are images of a perfection we wish we could have. Like false idols, we preserve them. Dreams are immune to natural selection… and evolution, I tell you, is the key to success. Dreams don’t die because we don’t let them. Plans, however, die all the time. Whenever a plan fails to meet the demands of the moment, that plan gets immediately scrapped. All the resources and all the energy that went into executing that plan get broken down, retasked, and in no time at all they’re getting fed into a whole new plan that serves your goals much more readily.
For most people, myself included, the threat of failure is a terrifying proposition – and once a plan is properly formed, there’s no excuse but to follow through with it. Planning things is scary. Nothing ever goes as planned. Once initiated, plans will inevitably lead to failures of every description.
A dream is really just a plan that’s too scary to actually make or follow through with. This article is about finding the courage to do it anyway. There is no skill more intrinsic or basic to the filmmaking process than this.
Listen to Tennyson E. Stead tell his ‘Arriving in L.A. story here.’
As a finance and production executive, I worked for 10 years in independent film development. As a storyteller on stage and screen, my history goes back 20 years to the East Coast theater community. I’m a produced screenwriter, an award-winning director, and I have lots of plans for the future.
How do I approach them?
For one thing, I write everything down. I make lists.
Making a solid plan is all about giving yourself options and prioritizing action. Rather than get hung up on whatever idea or ambition is the newest, fix your sights on a goal that’s achievable. At the same time, do something that gives you new resources to use. This is true on every level and scale. Every day, I make lists of things I need to do before the day is done – and as I follow through and finish the things on that list, I’m thinking about the larger picture. When I make phone calls about my movie, I’m thinking about the movie as much as I’m thinking about the phone call. Writing this blog was on my list of things to do! Why am I doing it? For one thing, I’m hoping you’ll notice the IndieGoGo video at the bottom of the page!
Check out (from Quantum Theory) America Young’s
Film Courage article
‘Every Short Film is Too Long‘
Whenever you think of something you can do to bring your dream closer to reality, write it down immediately. Even if it’s something simple. Even if it’s stupid. Taking notes gives you a catalogue of goals that are within reach, and that open up possibilities.
When I need to solve a problem and I have no place to start, I go back to my notes and review old ideas. Frankly, I almost never use them. Particularly when it comes to storytelling, I get better all the time. Yesterday’s obsessions are almost never as interesting as what I can do today. At the same time, I see how I solved a particular problem or answered a specific creative impulse, and the core of whatever story I was telling at the time will often wind up offering me a solution to my problem.
For me, creating The Starmind Record was a creative response to the worst year of my life. I’d lost my job and my apartment, and I was living on my friend’s floor. I wanted to make something my actors and my audience would love because more than anything, I wanted to prove to myself that I wasn’t powerless. That in mind, I had the notion of launching a kickstarter campaign to purchase a few little cameras, some lavalier mics, editing software and some costume pieces and basically make something out of nothing. Obviously, I needed a story I could tell with those limited resources. Investigative documentary journalism was a clear solution to the problem of production value, and I knew I wanted it to involve an element of science-fiction. Things went from there. By the time I launched the kickstarter, I’d written two drafts of the series script.
In The Starmind Record the character of Dean, a man who is possessed by an intelligence from beyond the stars, was taken from an idea I had about extra-terrestrials speaking to us though children. All these kids were being herded into research facilities by the military when all they were trying to do was prepare us for our first visit from space. Frankly, the script had issues. I’d written several drafts, and it wasn’t working… but taking some of those concepts and applying them to an even more intimate story with even higher stakes turned out to work really well.
Quantum Theory evolved from the question of how to take all the fantastic people, resources, and fun we found making and screening The Starmind Record, and to use them as the catalyst to bring an audience into movie theaters.
Do you think that’s as far as my plans go? Give me half an ear, and I’ll tell you plans for my future that I promise will strike you as beyond ridiculous and far, far beyond my reach. Then, I’ll tell you all the smaller plans that support those goals, and demonstrate how a man like me can get there in half the time it should take. And you know what? That plan won’t even work. I know it won’t! Things change! Life happens! But it gives me a great place to start. It works now, even if I know it won’t later.
In choosing goals, I set myself up for success. In following through with them, I create it.
I used to be a dreamer. When I was young and I felt completely powerless, I would lie in bed and imagine other worlds in a desperate bid to escape my own. Back then, I would imagine so hard and so diligently that those characters and places would begin to feel real for me. Not anymore. These days, I’m too busy actually creating them!
Trust me, it’s better.
Ladies and gentlemen, I wish the same for you.
If you’d like to find out more about me, my ensemble, and my stories, we welcome you to our online community at 8sidedforum.com and please, please support our upcoming feature, Quantum Theory. Quantum Theory is the story of two brilliant, goofy, passionate women of science who invent a technological means to alter and shape the very universe itself…and we are currently running an Indiegogo campaign in support of a webseries that will bring these characters to life! Please support our show and follow Quantum Theory’s development at here and at Quantummovie.com.
Tennyson E. Stead is a writer, director, and producer of film and transmedia. In his childhood, he spent all his time building cardboard spaceships and rescuing his sister in them. These days he does basically the same thing.
For any production to realize its full creative and financial potential, every creative element must reflect the overall goals of the project. Every great collaborative work was produced by a team of talented people, united by a common intent.
8 Sided Films and the 8 Sided Forum represent our collective stewardship over the stories born from intent too multifaceted, specific, or unique for studio production, and our commitment to honoring that intent as the foundation for a more personal relationship with our audience.
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Check out Tennyson’s prior Film Courage articles: