How To Kill Collaborations In A Few Sentences

In May 2014, I was an exhibiting artist with RAW Artists. At the event, I met a ‘visual artist’ who soonthereafter created a great drawing of me, and I shared it online. We didn’t speak again for several months, simply because we were doing our own thing. Suddenly it’s January, 2015, and I happened to share a link to one of my blog posts with him via Facebook.

He wrote me back ‘Thanks hun I’ll check them out later’ which, as we all know, meant he wouldn't check them out, at all. And I was okay with that, but I still added, ‘Thanks, I hope you like them! If you think anyone else will like the project, too, feel free to share! [That link leads to] my blog post about it, and there’s a link to the project page on the blog.’

He quickly responded with, ‘I will we gotta connect again sometime soon I would love to Collab on a project.’ So I wrote, ‘Ooh that would be great!’

I intentionally sent people this blog post link through Facebook because I wanted to disseminate the information quickly, but I opened myself up to very short, poorly-written responses and the liklihood that most people wouldn't take a look, at all. Of course; every social media site has a different use which utilizes a different form of communication.


The next day, January 29, he wrote, ‘yeah would you be down? ill have a art studios rented out for feb an march’

Intrigued by this vague information, I asked several questions, ‘Ooh wow, yeah I’d be down – did you already have something in mind? I mean, when you say ‘collab’ with me what are your ideas?’

There’s a difference between sharing a blog post – an item already created and therefore it does not require additional information – versus sharing information in order to create something.

For example, if I’m sharing a quick link or a brief exchange with someone, I can do so over Facebook. The Facebook message system uses continuous scroll and therefore lends itself to quick, rather unimportant exchanges. You're unable to send one person multiple, different messages, all of your exchanges melded together in one, extremely long, ongoing thread and cannot be separated into individual ’emails.’ Sharing plans and important information over Facebook can easily be lost in an endless thread of information. Therefore, if you make plans to collaborate with someone on a project, or work together in the future, Facebook is not really the proper forum.


If you want to keep contact details and save information more securely – use email. And, if you include the date and topic in the title of your email, it will be easier to find this important information later.

I figured, however, this kid might give me some information through a Facebook message first, and we would then move to email. I awaited his sparkling ideas, but, instead, our exchanges turned into a perfect example of what not to do – how to waste time, ruin a potential collaboration and, maybe, a working relationship.

I didn’t receive any response until February 8 – almost two weeks later. In fact, I wrote him a reminder message, ‘Well if you have a chance just let me know, I’m still interested’ – because what artist wouldn’t be interested in using someone’s rented studio space, right?

He finally responded, but didn’t answer any questions, or explain any of his ideas. Simply, ‘yeah what are you doing 16th or 17th?’
‘Not sure yet! Why what did you have in mind?’ I asked.

Three days later, he wrote, ‘yes / i have a shoot planned / i want you in / i wanted todo a couple of scenes.’

Vague, avoiding my questions and giving me nothing to go on, I wrote, ‘Cool, tell me more! Details, where, when, who else will be there, what kind of shoot…’

The same day, he wrote, ‘well when are you free? / its a bit much to explain via facebook’
I wrote, ‘I may be free on the 17th; did you want to email me?’
One minute later he asked, ‘are you busy the 16th?’

Not only are both my phone number and email address available on my Facebook page for things that are ‘a bit much to explain via facebook,’ but what would be the purpose of knowing my schedule if I hadn't committed yet? Did he expect me to drive an hour into Boston simply to hear his plans? Was this a ‘fuck-around’ project that he was trying to puff-up? You use friends for fuck-around projects, not acquaintances you met at an art event with whom you’d hope to collaborate.

Someone suggested to me that he was trying to ‘sound exclusive,’ as if his work and his time were precious, and he couldn’t be bothered to give me more information; as if it would be a privilege to work with him, and therefore I should drive an hour just to hear his magical ideas. They added that his pseudonym, which is the name of a famous, deceased artist, added to theory that he has a major ego. I just thought he sounded clueless and unprofessional, and this made me think that he wouldn’t keep our plans, even if we did set a date.

I wrote, ‘I hear there’s going to be a big storm Sunday/Monday so I’m not making concrete plans for that day, just in case; I’m an hour outside Boston.’

I expected to receive an email, a phone call – at the least, a brief Facebook message that acknowledged what I was saying, for once, and then maybe a little ‘get back to you soon.’ But no. Instead, five more days passed and it was February 17. He wrote me at 1pm on Facebook, ‘you free today?’ Two hours passed, he added, ‘well let me know when you are / im shooting with antonio.’

I wrote back, ‘I’m not free this week, sorry! I also have no idea where this is happening, and who Antonio is, and what your ideas involve. When you have the time, let me know!’

Two minutes later, I received this response, ‘oh damn you”re not free this week anymore? well alright best of luck to you and your work :)’

The whole time I wondered – would he have actually given me information if I said I was free today? Would he have told me what he was talking about? No, he probably would have given me an address and told me he’d ‘tell me in person' when I arrived – something I had experienced before.

Even if my assumptions were wrong, this is how I perceived him due to his poor communications and presentation.

  1. Does he think this makes him look cool and ‘exclusive,’ as my friend had suggested? The mention of ‘Antonio’ with no last name or link to his work, added to the thought that this was an act of implied exclusivity.
  2. Was his response some sort of attempt at reverse psychology, and I’d suddenly flip a switch to whine and pine for the opportunity to work with him, drive an hour in the snow to discover his brilliant plans, and be part of I-don’t-know-what?
  3. Was he, for whatever reason, intimidated by me and therefore didn’t want to bother? This all struck me as rather odd, because he was the one who had asked to collaborate with me.

This also touches on my thoughts that emailing someone with several questions, all of which they repeatedly avoid, is someone you do not want to work with. If someone can’t provide you with their time, you do not need to provide them with your time. And, if someone is a poor communicator, it would probably be hard to work with them, regardless of how much time they had given you. A great test is, of course, to try and communicate! Send an email and get the ball rolling - if they don't throw it back, leave that ball in their court.

Community Support For Your Art

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!