Defining Yourself- A SXSW Story

At this year’s SXSW conference, I had the pleasure of meeting two very enthusiastic, bright and extremely nice women while I was waiting to attend a session in the Hilton.

But I will admit that it was kind of awkward at first.

I saw their badges and said something like, “Oh, so you’re filmmakers.” and one of the women responded, “No, we’re students.

I was a bit confused and asked, “But you’ve made films, right?  You’re in film school and all.

The woman responded again and said, “Yes, I made a film, but it wasn’t very good.

So you’re a filmmaker!” I said, ecstatically but at the same time not to try to embarrass her but rather encourage her.

I then proceeded on a rant about how “good” and “filmmaker” are mutually exclusive.  You can be one.  Or the other.  Or both.  The example I used was: let’s say ******* *** (a Hollywood hack) and the super-talented Jason Reitman were both standing in the same room and someone yelled, “We have an emergeny.  Is there a filmmaker in the house?

Both Jason and the other person would go running.

The hack wouldn’t even pause a second and might even run over Jason! (who is clearly the better filmmaker)

The point I was trying to make to them was that you have to own what you do and the only way you can even take yourself seriously is by starting with that.

We then talked about films, title sequences and all sorts of other stuff and had a nice chat.

As I was leaving one of the women said to me that she was going to take my advice to heart which meant a lot to me, seeing as how I hope I can impart some level of wisdom to the next generation and not just fill their heads with random stories about the like.

I left her by telling her that I had heard Tony Hawk talk about how when he fills out an Immigration Form when he’s coming back into the US, under occupation he is always so happy to write, “Professional Skater.

Not “CEO.”  Not “entertainer.”  Not “athlete.”


I hope that helped them and I hope that soon, both of these women will be making amazing movies (or title sequences) and/or doing whatever it is they find their passion in and owning it.

Footnote: as good as my advice was, my friend Allyson had even better advice during an interesting conversation with a woman on her flight to SXSW.  The woman talked about wanting to be a professional blogger.  My friend Allyson suggested that she start by writing herself a check every week to blog.  To pay herself to blog. . That way she’s gonna have to work to earn her money and she’ll own it and be it.


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2 Responses to “Defining Yourself- A SXSW Story”

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