When I use the term ‘community support,’ I’m giving a very generous description to the ‘support’ you receive from “friends” on social media sites, such as Facebook.
I remember back in the beginning, when you'd add your classmates on Facebook and connect with them through ‘notes’ and ‘pokes.' You generally shared your life on that website. Over the years, it has both evolved – and devolved. You go online and add a ‘friend’ to your list of online contacts - a “friends” list now full of acquaintances you met just once, briefly, in passing, and with whom you wanted to share your art. Your “friends” list is, in fact, full of anything but. Think about it; if you’re adding people willy-nilly in order to share your work – others must be thinking the same thing – and they don’t always return the interest.
Two years ago I was in pre-production for my short film ‘Ice Cream For Breakfast,’ a four-minute short focused on childhood naivete and gun safety. As a film student with little to no budget at the time, I went through my list of recent film contacts in order to find my crew. In fact, I managed to find two crew members right in town – I'd even attended high school with one of them!
We assembled a very small crew, but were slow going with cast and locations. I posted on numerous film sites, my blogs, and reached out to people on social media sites – like Facebook. I created a ‘casting and locations’ call on a film site, too. I realized that one of my three crew members was not assisting in the cast and location search, so I wrote:
“Hey! Can you post the casting call around? I thank you!”
He responded in several two-word messages, ‘Ah, right.’ and ‘No problem.’ I sent a quick text, “Hey, I hope I’m not annoying you about the location thing – it’s my weak point, and if we don’t get a location, well…that would make shooting difficult, haha.”
And he responded with something I found to be rather unusual:
No worries, thing is that I’m going to need locations, actors and whatnot myself and I’d like to keep my statuses dedicated to the subject matter to a minimum because I don’t want to spam people and potentially have them block me. I’ve had to block a few people myself for that reason.
The most confusing aspect of his thought process is the fact that he's a cinematographer - the camera guy. He doesn't make his own work, at all; he'll always be a crew member on someone else’s team.
I responded, "I didn’t think posting 2 posts in one day would be spam, but that is unfortunate. Alright, well thanks for doing what you have.” Which wasn’t much.
He said the posts ‘build up’ and he’ll be ‘needing things in the future’ – and he didn’t want to turn-off the people on his Facebook friends list. He added, “People constantly seeing me posting about needing things? It gets annoying after awhile. That’s why I’d like to refrain.”
So I wrote back, "I don’t think you understand; you shouldn't constantly say you need things, everything is a trade-off. If someone allows you to use their house, you do something for them. Or, if you utilize someone’s skills because you need them on a shoot, they may very well need your skills on another.”
Admittedly, I think it’s a different mentality coming from film school – and this kid came from business school, which was evidenced by his response, “Well, although I am excited to be working with you on your film, for free, mind you, I signed on as a DP, not a producer. I did not write this script, it was not my idea. Therefore, I do not feel like it is our film.”
This is where the problem lies – or, rather, two problems:
1) When you think that your social media posts are annoying people on your ‘friends’ or ‘subscribers’ list, you should wonder why these people are on your ‘follower’ list, in the first place. Friends and supporters should not be annoyed with your posts about your own work; if they are annoyed, they can either 'hide' your posts, or remove themselves from your ‘friends list.’ If they choose to do the latter, you may want to consider the fact that it’s not you – it’s them – and they clearly aren’t someone you’d want to work with, anyway.
2) When someone is brought into your project and doesn’t consider being a crew member enough of a role for them to share and promote the project – don’t work with them. This is someone who would be most likely to block the ‘annoying’ posts about your work, and delete you from their friend’s list – because, hey, they’re not involved in your work, so why should they take an interest, let alone support you, at all?
The kid told me that he asked several friends about locations, but wouldn’t post it online. He added:
Also, one last thing that came to mind, if I was able to secure a location, would that not earn me producer credits? Please don’t mistake my disinterest in producing for disinterest in working on your film. I will provide lovely camera work to the best of my ability for your film. That is why I’m doing this. I love camera work.
I explained that sharing a link to an online post didn’t mean he was a producer, but I told him I'd list him under ‘locations’ if he managed to simply share the social media post and it landed us a location. Either way, there would be no film without a cast and locations, and he’d have nothing to show, at all.
I told him I was shocked that my two-sentence request to share a ‘locations and casting call link’ was so blown out of proportion. He then wrote me a long message, to which I never responded.
Ok, my mistake in my misuse of the terminology. Thanks for clearing that up.
In terms of blowing things out of proportion and being shocked, that is an experience that we both share in regards to this conversation apparently. From my point of view, I explained why I was not comfortable with using my Facebook as a resource, but it was not left at that. I laid out how I was able to help you with your project and I felt like I was being asked for more.
Anyways, now that we have cleared up our working relationship, let this negative conversation melt away like dirty snow from a driveway (oh yeah, I can write too) and therefore, rediscover how grand each other are! And yes, I will let you know when I receive emails and attachments.
And for the record, if I signed on as a production assistant, I wouldn’t argue if you asked me to extract chlorophyll from your lawn or provide crew members with a bubble bath. My point is that I am a hard worker, but I won’t do anything that I am not prepared or able to do.
And for the record, I actually know how to extract chlorophyll. It’s really easy.
We completed the film over a period of two days, and parted ways.
It’s now been over two years, and this kid still hasn’t done much; I suddenly thought of him because he seems to be doing behind-the-scenes photography work on a local student short – and I know the student.
If you want to share your art in the future, what's stopping you now?
I don’t know if it’s the fearful thought ‘what will other people think of me?!’ – a fear that others will think you create poor work, or that you're narcissistic for sharing your work. Maybe the person is just shy – or naive – and doesn’t understand the importance of sharing their art.
Well, whatever it is that makes so many artists hide their work, forgo business cards and websites, remove themselves from social media and refuse to share their work online – they hinder themselves, their work, and their potential. They also hinder the potential of any productions of which they are part, and they also damage potential working relationships.
Many artists don’t make it because they don’t have even a basic understanding of business – but everyone can use social media. Check out deviantArt, Behance, Format, 500px, YouTube, Vimeo, SoundCloud, Band Camp, any number of art forums, Tumblr, and thousands of other sites!
You should share your work – post about it – shout it to the world! Share all the work of your creative friends, too – friends in need of funding, support, simple encouragement – even sharing an event, though you may not be able to attend.
When you support others, others support you.
And, if someone finds the news about your work to be ‘too much’ and ‘annoying,’ they aren’t someone who supports you – so find people who will! Forget the term ‘annoying’ – you’re doing it right; network, branch out, and share your art!