Me + 7 Things I Learned About Life by Making my First Short Film
Hi, my name is Alan Wurman and I am a ___________. In this blank space, I would normally write my college degree or work position. But lately, I have been asking myself ¨why?¨. Why do I need to define myself inside those boundaries?.
Somehow we have been raised to think that once we grow up we will become ONE thing. ¨What do you want to be when you grow up?¨ That´s what they asked us, and we had to give one answer, we had to choose. but why?
If I had to define myself I would say, I feel like a very creative person and I am passionate about literally everything. In the traditional way, I have a degree in Creativity and Communications, another degree in Film Scoring and another one in Music Production (The last two from Berklee).
Here is who I really am. I was the front man of an Alternative Rock band called ¨Sofia¨ for 7 years back in my home town Santiago, Chile, I've worked in Musical Theatre as an actor in Chile and as a composer in New York and Japan. I helped design and create Cuponatic.com the 3rd largest online coupon store in south america (Groupon is the first one), I've started 2 companies, worked as a sushi chef in Australia, I've worked in an Ice-cream stand, I've worked in a hot dog stand, I've sold toys at fairs, I have toured the US with my Electronic Pop band ¨People The Kangaroo¨. I've composed the music for films in Hollywood. I have been on all the continents and traveled to more than 40 countries. I've done a 360, front and backflip on my snowboard. I have taken off a plane and I've jumped off one. I've been in business meetings with government officials in China with 10 bottles of wine on the table, each bottle worth $500, and I have stayed and worked the rice fields in the house of Tibetan monks with no electricity nor shower. I have performed my own songs in front of a stadium with more than 25.000 people, I have conducted a 40 piece orchestra, I have taken a 24-hour train without knowing the destination, I have been pointed a gun to my head and I have slept on the street. I have seen lava more than once, I've seen a natural birth in person and I've seen a person's last breath. I could keep going for a while but what I'm trying to say is that I am in love with life, I think everything is worth the experience and everything is a miracle.
Any way. In a formal way, I could say, after a long fight with myself, I have become a musician, I live in LA now and I am making the living by composing music for films and producing other artists. Yet, every time I am working on a film, I get this feeling inside of me saying:
- ¨hey, you should make a film, you know you want to¨.
But then there is another voice inside of me that says
- ¨Wait, you are a composer, not a Director, you need a degree to be a Director¨
I said to myself, you can do a film... you just have to do it, and then it will be done!
Months passed, I watched a bunch of tutorials, I read books on scriptwriting, Short filmmaking, film directing etc. But I COULD NEVER START.
So, what I really want to share in this post is how the learnings from making my first short film can be translated into any dream or itch that you might have about trying something new, something that is not part of what you ¨should¨ be doing according to your career, religion, social status, age or according to any walls you have surrounded yourself with.
#1. Life is a Journey, not a destination.
Whatever you have become so far, an architect, a Salesman, a Nurse, a Mother, anything, that is not the end of it. You have the freedom to redefine your self over and over again until you are dead. In my graduation speech, the girl who spoke for my entire generation said ¨We are not done changing¨, and that sentence will be true until the day we die. Whatever you are right now it´s not your final destination. If you have an itch for painting, playing an instrument, languages, art, traveling, psychology, writing, acting, building rockets or maybe you were born in a high-class family and you never had to work in a McDonalds and you wonder about the experience. Go do it! Do not let your degree or your job define you.
In this society we tend to specialize because that is the best for business, but not because it´s actually the best for you. The best for you is to follow your heart, and your heart will keep changing directions. Your dreams will change with time, don´t be afraid to let it change course.
#2. Get involved with other people who have done it
When you see something being done, your brain takes that thing and moves it from a ¨unreachable level to a ¨reallity¨ level. Let´s say what you are trying to do is a backflip on skies, the moment you see someone else in person do it, suddenly that thing becomes doable. If your goal is to travel to Ghana but you have never met anyone who has done that trip, you will be afraid of it, but trust me, the moment you speak or hang with someone who has been there, your fear will drop to half and you will see it as a doable thing, which brings you 50% closer to getting it done.
When I figured out that I don´t want to die without ever making a movie, I became obsessed with tutorials and books about it. But in time I realized that I needed to surround myself with other people who know more about it, people who have done it!, so I looked online for production teams looking for an assistant of any kind. In my free time, I would volunteer for Production Assistant jobs. This way I got to see how it´s done and I automatically felt like ¨OK, it´s not impossible¨ and I also realized many things that I need to get and learn in order for my goal to happen.
#3. Get started now!
Ok, this is cliché but it´s true. if you feel attracted to something, just go for it, there is no other time. Of course, I don´t mean quit your job with no plan and start working as something you have no idea about, but what I'm saying is ¨do something every day that get´s you closer to your goal¨, this is the only way your goal will be achieved.
I know it never seems to be the right time to do it, but you got to start, otherwise, guess what will happen, LIFE, life will happen and you will never do it. My mom is a very spiritual person and she always told me, ¨anything that doesn't move, rots¨, and that goes for relationships, money, jobs, ideas, food. The only way for something to grow is if it´s in motion, including you as a person, so, MOVE, go do, don´t leave it for tomorrow.
#4. Make peace with the fact that your first try will most likely suck
I think this is one of the main reasons it is so hard to do something new. ¨What if I suck¨. You don´t want to disappoint your self, you don´t want to disappoint others, you don´t want to be embarrassed. You know what is that? fear. Fuck fear. Einstein wasn't always ¨Einstein¨, Da Vinci wasn't always ¨Da Vinci¨, but most importantly, think of your first attempt as ¨The first one of many¨. If what you want is to write songs, you need to know that your first song will suck, otherwise, you will never do it, trust me. If you want to learn a language, you will be bad at it, but you need to know that is part of the process. Whatever you do, just remember that you will keep changing and this thing you are doing is not the final result, it's only the journey!
#5. Get it done
Yes, Finish it! whatever it is you are doing, if you are trying to write a novel, bake a pie, create a new product, make a painting, build something, program a game, or anything, FINISH IT!. I can not be more emphatic with this. Finishing a project is maybe THE most important part of the process, why? Because of many reasons. Number 1. it will allow you to have a clear line between before and after doing it. This means, you will be able to sit down and revise your entire process and realize what worked and what didn't work, so that the next time you do it, you can be better at it, make fewer mistakes, and improve the things that need to be improved. Number 2. Because, let´s say you wanted to write a script, after you've finished your script, guess what? YOU ARE A SCRIPTWRITER, yes! even if the script is 1 page long, or it sucks. In your brain, in your subconscious, you have redefined your self and this will give you the power to do it again with way more confidence. So whatever it is you are doing, don't leave it halfway, finish it!
#6. Share it!
OK, I will be honest with you. In my case, I haven´t shared my first short film yet!!!! And to be consistent with my own advice I will share it here (: But! I know this is a must. Why do I know this?, well because becoming a filmmaker is not the first dream I pursue. I did become a professional musician and showing other people your songs was a tough and important step in the process.
Sharing your work will force you to have a quality standard line for your next project, meaning you will force your self to do a better job next time. Even if you think of your self as someone who doesn't care what people say, human behavioral studies say that people are more likely to do what they promise if they say it in public. By publishing your work, you are saying publicly that that's the best and the worst you can do, so you are making a promise to improve, and that's essential for moving forward.
Another reason why you want to share your project is that whatever you did, it was made by a version of you that will never exist again. What I am trying to say is for example, if you did a music video, that piece of work represents the person you were at that period of time, but once you have done other 4 music videos you will look back and feel the ones you did before were bad, or don´t represent you as a video maker anymore, so If you don't release your work right after you do it, you will never share it, you will be stuck, and remember, if you are stuck you rot
And finally, a third reason to share what you do is that you will get to see people reactions, get valuable feedback and talk about it with others which will also help you improve and motivate you to do more of it. I can´t explain the feeling of watching people's reactions when I play a new song or the comments on a new music video, it´s really something that pushes you to do better and more.
#7. Do it again
My goal is to make a movie, I started by doing this extremely ridiculous and short short-film, with no crew, no dialogue, no budget. But now I wrote other 3 scripts, this time with dialogue, with confidence and little by little I am starting to see the idea of making a movie closer to my reach. I know that all I need to do is keep going, make another short, then maybe another one with a bigger crew, gain some credibility as a filmmaker and yeah, we´ll see where this goes!
I wish you all a good journey on whatever it is you are starting, just remember, that's not the end of it, it´s always the beginning.
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