The Void

James Duvall and coffee cupThere is a void in all of us and around all of that sucks in every negative thought, action and belief that is said to us about us from others or ourselves. This is rough. How do you separate what is negative from what is truthful and needs to be fixed. The hardest part in building our team of filmmakers, has been watching this void devour hopes, dreams and finally actions.

I see it daily in actors, writers, directors, and people just trying to finance a movie. Constantly battling the void, trying to make their movies better or present their films better. It often seems like laying twigs over a hole and throwing dirt on it, then praying no one steps on it and finds the hole again.

Part of the problem is that, imaginary problems. Imaginary problems require imaginary solutions. The problem is you cannot solve an imaginary problem so the imaginary solutions devour all you time. And it is time, not talent, or brilliance that will lead to success. All those other elements that people think are important are not, unless there exist time to put them in action.

James Duval on Mano a Mano

We have all met talented people who are constantly putting time into their boyfriends, girlfriends or both. People who you know could make it. Their relationships become their excuse. Then there those who just run out without prepping for their meetings, with a first draft of a script, or the first pass on a film (this is the twig covered hole) and only feed the void with the on going rejections.

Time is for intelligent thought out action. It is a mathematical formula that surrounds all of our lives and endeavors. Applying it to our hopes, dreams and more importantly actions. What if you knew for a fact this was your only life, that there was no afterlife. How would you treat your time, your dreams and hopes? Your passion would hopefully become the important part in your life.

Appetite is the void. I need this. I need this hour, this moment. What if you needed your success and you found joy in your dream and the efforts to make the dream happen. If you are not finding joy in your dream, maybe its not what you are looking for. I am not talking about the moments of frustration or self-doubt. I am talking about in the moment of when you are doing them.

Cropped Jim CIMG1444Have you ever met a writer who hates writing? Probably will not be successful. Athletes enjoy the pain of training. Professional athletes train a lot. Be a professional. Acknowledge the void; try to feed it as little as possible. Enjoy the good and the bad moments of your dream. Let the bad moments drive you to moments of success.

If at all possible avoid people who will push you into the void or worse encourage you to walk into the void yourself. The successful writers I know, and some of them have had major films, get up every day and write. Just as an athlete will train or exercise daily. This advice works at every level for every creative or action motivator in a project.

To put it simply, those who work for their dreams and work daily are more likely to achieve their dreams. Don’t feed or be feed to the void.

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Hope and the Power of the Dream

Hope and the Power of the Dream

James Duval profile picturesI am not certain this blog will win me friends or not. When you talk about what motivates people you almost have to treat it like a discussion on religion. In some cases it has almost become a religion. How people feel has become from my experience more important than what they do. When this is applied to a life long dream, well how do you know it won’t happen? I can’t predict the future. I can barely predict the present.

I have been involved in hundreds of conversations on how to make it in whatever endeavor people choose. I have met many people who have succeeded. I have noticed a difference between those who try and those who actually accomplish. It falls down to an understanding of how to keep one word in perspective, hope.

Now I am not saying I have accomplished anything. That I believe is for others to judge. On this topic I am speaking only as a person who has observed. When I think of hope I think of in two ways. The most common way is a fear or hope of consequences. Kid wakes up, remembers he had a report do, and then prays with all his hope that the teacher does not ask for it. Sometimes happens. I had a few unexpected extensions. But reality usually was it was due and I did not have it. That is common hope. Then there is hope where you have done everything you can and you place the rest into the hands of the universe and you hope it turns out the way you want it. That is hope where you understood the obligation of your own effort and acceptance of our own human condition.

How does this apply to film, being an actor or accomplishing anything in the film industry? The people I know who have succeeded by my definition, have a few things in common. The first thing is forward motion. Every day, almost every moment they are focus on moving forward. They will get up and write, even if it is bad, They will go to any audition no matter how small or presumably unimportant, they will go out with the intention of meeting someone to finance their film. Even if it is just the slightest part of an inch they are always pushing forward.

The second thing that is in common is acceptance of responsibility for their own success. I have heard at least a 1000 times how someone’s agent or manager is not doing anything for them. I have done that myself. Okay logic question: This is easier for actors:

You have an agent. You have not succeeded yet. So what level of agent do you have? Probably not one that will make it happen for you. On the other hand, if you are responsible for your own success then the agent probably can help you help yourself. Why? The agent is also trying to make it also. This is the reality at the beginning— beginning is, are you successful yet? No? Then you are still at the beginning. Success is a partnership waiting to happen. Now reality dictates that not all partnerships are good. That is understood.

Consequences are a mathematical approach to thinking. If the cow its grass it makes milk. If it does not make milk it becomes hamburger. (sorry for the visual) Hamburger is not what you want to be. You want to be part of a process that leads you to your goal.

In filmmaking it is the understanding that the film comes first, the acting comes first and that constant motion is necessary. If you are treating the process like math and you just keep doing it you will find some measure of success. Success leads to more success. Hoping that you will be a great actor or director, but spending your time not doing things related to actually succeeding in your dream gives you no choice but to hope.

Movement gives you an understanding that you will win and accomplish your life goal. It may not come in the form you want, or even expected. But when you find it, you know it. Making you dream the result of consequences in my opinion is a more likely path to success.

Part of our problem is the word consequences. For many people the word has a bad connotation. For me it is the result of an equation. If you want a different outcome you change the elements in the equation. If you do this you don’t need hope so much. You have understanding.

Decisions are hard. We always want to hedge a bit on them. Just in case we are wrong. The what if I fail fear kicks in. What will people think? When I began this journey with my friends I used to point out that lots of people die before they get to the mountaintop. For me the journey was the justification for the risk. Dying while climbing a mountain is better than standing and only staring at it your whole life. Film is a mountain; if you climb you have a better chance at getting to the top than if you just wish.

The other part of taking the consequences approach is most people around you will not understand, even if they are giving lip service to the same dream you have. When you make it many of them will make up a little lie to justify in their minds how you did it and they did not. The thought of the consequences of their decisions is beyond their ability to accept. You must have had a “special” friend or just got lucky. Success is rarely luck. It is almost always motion. You can walk into success. You can run, crawl and even fall into success. But rarely can you stand into success.

I have chosen to live my dream and to always push forward. As such even against difficult odds, I have manage to make some movies and even get them out. I have found myself to be part of a wonderful team of human beings, Continuum Motion Pictures. I have found myself surrounded by people who want and are willing to move forward with their dreams.

James Duval