Making The Most of Press Coverage of Your Indie Film

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Your film has been securing interviews, features and reviews- congratulations! Getting media exposure for your film can assist in growing your audience, connect you to even more media outlets (we’ll talk about that soon), and can also provide a level of social proof that can build a great foundation for future projects going forward.

While securing media alone is a great way to increase awareness and visibility, did you know that you can increase the longevity of your press mentions? It’s true! Here’s some ways you can make the most of press coverage of your indie film:

Pull quotes from reviews: This is one idea that the majority of indie filmmakers know about and use exceptionally well. However, in case you hadn’t thought about it, pulling great quotes from reviews is an excellent way to give your film the critics’ seal of approval in the eyes of your audience. You can use quotes for your film poster, in social media marketing and for your DVD/Blu-Ray cover. Reviewers are brilliant at being able to review films in a compelling way, and you will always find a deliciously eloquent quote or two to use. Better yet, get in touch with the reviewer- let them know you loved their review and would like to use a quote (or two) from the review for your marketing materials. That way they know to look out for their quote in the marketing materials and may end up sharing your poster/cover artwork/social media post as well, spreading the signal even further.

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As you can see from the Emotional Motor Unit poster above, director Adam Nelson chose to make the most of the reviews of the film by doing exactly what I’ve mentioned- pulling quotes and putting them on the poster. The Apple Park team also chose to have 2 other versions of the poster available; one which only had the above image, title and credits and a version which included film festival laurels instead of the reviewer quotes.

Make it visual: links to your features, reviews and interviews are one thing, but another thing that can have a great impact is sharing screengrabs of the press you have received, especially if you’ve had an overwhelming amount of publicity. It’s a great way to spread the good news via social media, and provides an excellent degree of social proof for your film.

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A selection of press for H2Ow Productions’ Ao-Terror-Oa horror anthology

For instance, with the New Zealand horror anthology Ao-Terror-Oa I was able to collate the press we were receiving and use it to visually demonstrate the breadth of outlets picking up the story. What was particularly notable was that we were able to secure media placements not only in NZ, but also in the US and UK. To reflect that, I chose to  include screen grabs of press from NZ outlets (Stuff, Screenz and NewsWire) and contrast that with the international press (FilmDebate, Daily Dead, Hellnotes, Movie-Blogger, Horror Society). In a glance, whether it’s on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter people can see that good things are happening for the series, not just in their native New Zealand, but also overseas.

Acknowledge all of your press coverage: one thing I see people doing time and again is only mentioning their press coverage if they secure coverage with a ‘big’ media outlet. Of course, it’s fine to let the world know about this, but don’t forget the other outlets who have taken the time to review or feature your film. Yes, it’s exciting to be featured on Buzzfeed or Variety, but there are so many film websites, podcasts and blogs out there who have contributors who work tirelessly to provide interesting content for their audiences that also deserve acknowledgement. And if they have taken the time to review your film or write a feature, they definitely need to be acknowledged! I like Gary Vaynerchuk’s take on it (emphasis my own):

“I’ve been on Conan. Ellen. The Today Show. But I also did a thousand interviews that got one or nineteen or 137 views on YouTube. Max. Why did I do blog posts for so long that only had six readers? Why do I guest on shows with a smaller audience base than my own? Because I’m all about depth over width. I want to go deeper with my community. I want to give back to people who support me.

You can watch Gary’s video HERE.

Have an ‘In The Media’ section on your website: another way to make the most of your press coverage is by including links to features, news and reviews on your website. This also has an administrative benefit for you: by putting your press coverage on the website, you see at a glance which media outlets were responsive to your press requests, so you can make them first priority when you do media outreach for your next project. While I absolutely suggest keeping a media database for each project (which is what we do here), this gives you a quick scan of media outlets to contact first.

Post your coverage on social media: this is a no-brainer, but it needs to be mentioned because sometimes in the hubbub of post-production through to release it can be something that is an afterthought. When you post a review or feature, chances are that contributor or media outlet will also repost your content, thus amplifying the signal. It’s also a great way to say thank you to the people who have given your film coverage and show your gratitude for their feature or review. Gratitude is a powerful thing, and by showing gratitude and acknowledging your press mentions you are building a relationship with that media outlet that is mutually beneficial.

These small steps can have a powerful impact when it comes to audience building, so why not implement them the next time you have press coverage for your film?

 

I Felt Like An Idiot On The Internet…Here’s What Put It Into Perspective

I Felt Like An Idiot On The Internet

As a publicist and digital marketer, I spend a significant amount of time on the Internet. Whether it’s sending off a press release to a media outlet, pitching a potential story, generating social media content or crunching social media numbers, I’m either hooked to my laptop, tablet, or phone. And while that comes with the territory, because digital technology is so ubiquitous in everyday life, I found myself in a bit of a predicament.

The lines between work and life began to blur. I found myself looking at the number of ‘likes’ on my personal Facebook page, the follows on my personal Instagram…and feeling dejected. Why weren’t people engaging? Why did the feeds of people I knew look SO damn interesting compared to mine? WHY was I feeling like such a d*ck on social media?

Talk about a First World problem!

My self-indulgent moping was cut short by a wake-up call yesterday. During my morning shower, I discovered a lump in my breast. Upon finding the lump, I felt a sense of dread that I’ve only ever felt once before. My stomach felt like it had dropped through the floor. We lost my sister in law to breast cancer in 2013, so immediately my mind is jumping to the worst conclusion.

I booked an appointment to see my doctor that afternoon and after a thorough inspection he said that he had no reason whatsoever to believe that there was anything sinister about the lump. I was exceptionally relieved.

Here’s the thing: that one little scare put everything else into perspective. No ‘likes’ are going to help you if you have an illness. No amount of follows on Twitter or Instagram would take something like breast cancer away. Perspective is a very valuable thing.

I’m great at what I do when it comes to social media for work. But when it comes to my personal life, a lot of it is not share-worthy…and that’s OK. You won’t see me dolled up to go out right now, but that’s because there’s a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes every single day. It doesn’t make me more or less worthy than anyone else.

So yes, while engagement levels, shares and other data are important on the business side of what I do, it shouldn’t make a lick of difference on my personal side. I think we sometimes forget (I know I’m guilty of it!) that what we see on social media is what people choose to share with us. It’s carefully curated, even if we’re not intending it to be that way. And how many ‘friends’ do we have on social media that we catch up with in ‘real life’? If a picture I share of my pizza on Instagram gets more ‘likes’ than a picture I took of a beautiful sunset on my DSLR…does it really matter? Am I enjoying sharing content? Yes.

You know, it’s okay to feel like an idiot on the Internet. I think we’ve all had those moments…just don’t stay there. And while I have your attention, check out Breast Cancer Foundation NZ’s breast changes to watch out for. Knowledge is power!

 

We’re Having a Spook-tacular Month!

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It’s been a spook-tacular month at Film Sprites PR in more ways than one! There’s lots going on in the office, so I thought I’d share some of the things we’re working on, as well as some client updates!

It’s been a pleasure to work with horror writer/director Oliver Park for the past few years, and his first horror short, Vicious, has received over 1.1M views on YouTube! He’s currently in LA, talking with studios about the possibility of making Vicious a feature film, as well as talking about other projects. His latest horror short, Still, is being released later this year. You can check out the teaser HERE.

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Just some of the press Oliver Park has received- including being in a Buzzfeed article!

And in a similarly spooky vein, Film Sprites PR is assisting H2Ow Productions with PR and digital marketing of Ao-Terror-Oa. The brainchild of producer Hweiling Ow, Ao-Terror-Oa is a horror anthology linked by one unique element- New Zealand culture. Ao-Terror-Oa was funded by NZ On Air and Google, with the shorts being shown on YouTube. In addition to the 6 shorts, there are 2 mini-series being shown on the H2Ow Productions YouTube channel: Hweiling Watches, where producer Hweiling Ow (who doesn’t like watching horror movies) watches horror while being hooked up to a heart monitor, and Body FX Basement of Horror, where the team from Body FX share their techniques. All of these combine to create 6 Weeks of Horror, starting October 27 (Oct 26 Northern Hemisphere time)! For more information, click HERE. Ao-Terror-Oa has already started to receive press attention from outlets like Stuff, Horror Society, Screenz and FilmDebate.

Another Film Sprites PR client, Apple Park Films, recently made their critically acclaimed feature film Little Pieces available to rent/buy via Amazon Video, where it achieved over 800 minutes of viewing time in the first week of release!

Little Pieces Film Poster

Apple Park Films’ latest short film, Emotional Motor Unit, is also coming to Amazon Video very soon. Emotional Motor Unit is a tale set in a dystopian world where emotions are secondary to output. In order to achieve a writing task, Writer (played by Little Pieces‘ Graham Cawte) will find out what it means to be human by interacting with an Emotional Motor Unit robot (played magnificently by Francesca Burgoyne).

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And as we head closer towards the end of 2017, if you’re releasing your film in 2018 it’s a good time to chat with us about publicity and digital marketing. Our services include:

  • Copywriting (IMDb biographies, website copy)
  • Social media marketing (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook)
  • Press kit and press release creation
  • Pitching to media (both traditional and new media)
  • Crowdfunding campaign publicity, promotion and support

Spots fill fast, so get in touch! Don’t forget, you can also find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn.

And if you’re planning to celebrate Halloween this year- make sure you have a safe and happy time! It’s a good time to enjoy some of those classic horror films, as well as some of the newest releases!

 

Looking After Yourself As a Creative or Entrepreneur: A Self-care Guide

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A few years ago, just as Film Sprites PR was starting to bear fruit, I got sick. As in, really sick.

Initially, I picked up the worst flu I’d experienced in my entire life. On top of that, I also ended up with a chest infection, and as an asthmatic a chest infection is not something to take lightly. Unfortunately, it coincided with a visit from my brother-in-law and my niece. They came down from Wellington to stay with us and do some sight-seeing. But my illness was so bad that I couldn’t get out of bed most of the time. I think I saw my niece and my brother-in-law a total of 4 times in the space of a week. At one point, my niece (who was 8 at the time) was showing me the photos they took at the Antarctic Centre. She turned to me and said, “I hope you can come with us next time.”

That was a moment that broke my heart. I actually still tear up when I think about it. I had been working every hour under the sun, skipping weekends, skipping meals, and my immunity was so low that when I was working at my then day job at the local hospital I managed to pick up the flu. My doctor was pretty stern about the situation when I next saw her. Being a big supporter of my career goals, she told me in no uncertain terms that looking after myself had to be a priority, because all of the efforts I was putting into building a business would come to nothing if something more serious happened with my health.

Since then, I’ve taken her advice very seriously, and as a result looking after myself during contracts has been a priority that is built into my daily schedule.

I know what it’s like as a creative or entrepreneur. You’re so passionately driven to achieve your goals and make your mark on the world that sometimes you make incredible sacrifices which could end up impacting your physical and mental well-being in the long-run. Certainly, if you’re on a film set and doing a night shoot, or working a 12 hour stretch on something urgent it can be hard to slot self-care into your schedule, but it can be done. None of the advice below is new, or complicated- it’s straight-forward, no-nonsense, and you will be aware of these strategies anyway. Now’s the time to take notice of them and make them a priority!

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Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

Yes, you DO need to eat

It’s so easy to skip meals, ignore when you’re hungry and go through the day with an empty stomach, but your bod pays the price big-time. In order for your body (and especially your brain!) to function efficiently, you need to keep your energy levels up. If you’re the type of person who finds themselves skipping meal breaks on set, at the office or during conference sessions so you can get in an additional 15 to 30 minutes of answering messages/emails done, try and break this habit. 3 meals, 2 snacks, lots of water.

And don’t live your life out of a vending machine or your hotel mini-fridge, either! I was a shocker for grabbing a soda and a chocolate bar at 3:00pm in order to try and get over the afternoon slump. When I’m travelling domestically, I take little pouches of instant oatmeal with me, as well as packets of trail mix. Another snack I love is Tasti’s Smooshed Wholefood Balls, especially when I’m craving a chocolatey hit.

Make exercise your BFF

I won’t lie…I loathe most exercise activities. I do. I have to force, cajole and bribe myself to get my gym gear on and break a sweat. However, as much as I hate it, I know that it has a huge amount of benefits that will also benefit the way I run my business. As a busy creative or entrepreneur, it can be really hard to slot regular exercise into your busy schedule, but it can be done. Even incidental exercise has its benefits. Think about investing in a standing desk, suggest going for a brief walking meeting instead of meeting with someone at a café or in your office, or schedule in a block of time at the gym when you know you will commit to those sessions.

In my case, because I’m currently having to do a lot of desk-based work, I have made it a point to get in a 30-minute workout on DVD early in the morning before I start my working day. In addition to that, I stop every hour on the hour, put on a video from The Fitness Marshall on YouTube. One of the benefits of working from my home office means I can do that without looking like a complete idiot! See what works for you. It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you DO IT.

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Photo by Les Jay on Unsplash

Try meditation and mindfulness practices

I say without reservation that meditation has been a game-changer for me, both personally and professionally. I have been meditating every day for the past 5 years, and it has allowed me to cut through stress, get in touch with my intuition on a daily basis, and is one of the most important self-care practices I undertake personally. I went from being a worried, anxious, stress-head to someone who can take on a strenuous workload and still remain calm and happy. When you’re able to get in touch with your intuition through meditation and mindfulness, it means you will be better able to assess opportunities. You will be able to feel in your gut when something isn’t right, and take action as appropriate.

Meditation isn’t hard, and it doesn’t have to be complicated (in fact, it shouldn’t be). Hey, there’s even an app for it now! Try the meditation and mindfulness app Headspace. You can also do guided visualisation meditations to assist you with your goals. There’s a wealth of meditations available via iTunes and Spotify to suit a range of goals. You don’t have to have your butt on a meditation cushion for hours on end to get benefits- even small bites of meditation and mindfulness really help with your peace of mind and wellbeing.

Do a bit of something you love every single day

I know what you’re going to say: “but I love my business/film/gig, I’m doing that every day!”. I know. I hear you, I am passionate about what we do here at Film Sprites PR, but it’s not healthy to make it the be-all, end all. You should have other things in your life that you are passionate about, that give you pleasure and that you enjoy doing. It also gives you social currency with your friends and at conferences or by the water cooler. You don’t want to lament the fact you would love to do something you enjoy but don’t have the time for it!

Confession: for a short period of time, I didn’t go to the movies. I would attend screenings when I had invites or passes, but otherwise I was reluctant to go to the cinema. And this was a very bad thing for someone who runs a publicity and digital marketing consultancy for independent film and whose greatest passion is film and who lives for the experience in the cinema. Even my partner was concerned. “You used to love going to the movies,” he said, “but now I can’t convince you to go.” We currently live a 5-minute walk away from our local cinema, and it still seemed like a Herculean struggle. That’s when I knew I had to make sure I wasn’t working myself into the ground and losing my passion. After taking steps to get a healthy balance back, I’m now back to enjoying what I love, which also means that passion for film also benefits everyone I work with.

But it also meant becoming re-engaged with other things I loved to do, and making sure I integrated them into my life each day. So now, that means things like enjoying a chapter (or two…or three) of a good book just before bed, creating a digital art journal layout, or watching something good on Netflix (speaking of Netflix…how GOOD is Mindhunter??? I’m completely obsessed!).

Even if you’re passionately reaching for a goal, don’t lose sight of the rest of your life, because you’ve got a full life to live!

Handy Resources for Indie Filmmakers

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Following the success of our blog post featuring PR and digital marketing resources for indie filmmakers, we’re back with even more general resources! These are things that are too good not to share. After all, it’s all about working smarter, not harder. Here’s some resources we stumbled across recently that we think you’ll like:

Distribution expert Peter Broderick recently taught a masterclass about the New World of Film Distribution at NZ’s Big Screen Symposium 2017, and it was hugely informative. Thankfully, you don’t have to have attended the session to make the most of his information- check out his post on the New World of Film Distribution HERE.

Want to know what types of low budget films break out? film industry Stephen Follows and Founder of The Numbers, Bruce Nash, bring you a comprehensive report that is well worth reading.

For people in the NZ film industry, ScreenSpace is a free website which acts as a classified ads service for people in the industry. Hire/sell equipment and services, post jobs (crew jobs, acting, etc), and more.

Jonathan and Kieran, the creators of ScreenSpace say: “After always struggling to find either a location, cast member, crew member or piece of gear on every shoot we’ve had, we decided to start ScreenSpace to make it easier for New Zealand filmmakers to connect and collaborate – sharing both their resources and expertise. A service by filmmakers for filmmakers to find what they want, when they need it, and for a reasonable price.”

Another excellent resource for NZ filmmakers is Showtools, a cloud-based production system which makes the production process easier. Better yet, Showtools has easy pay-as-you go pricing…and short films are FREE. Keep track of work hours, crew and rentals, and share product information with everyone easily. It’s a smart, affordable resource to make your film production less stressful and more streamlined.

Whether you’re keen to enter your film into a festival, or need to know how the screening dates of prominent festivals could affect your release and/or the publication schedules for film media, check out this handy guide to key festivals and markets.

And finally- some shaaaaaaaaaameless self-promotion: at Film Sprites PR we’re currently taking on films (short and feature-length) for publicity and digital marketing in 2018. The best time to chat with us about PR and social media marketing for your film next year is right now in order to secure our services. From copywriting for your website and IMDb profile, right through to sourcing media placements (features/reviews/interviews) and social media marketing, we do it all. For the past 3.5 years we’ve provided 25+ filmmakers and their films publicity and digital marketing, and because we focus on independent film we know the media landscape and market for indie films. For more info, download our services pamphlet HERE.

Happy filmmaking, folks!

 

Film Sprites PR At Big Screen Symposium 2017

Film Sprites PR at Big Screen Symposium 17

On the weekend of September 30 and October 1st, people from the entire spectrum of the film industry in New Zealand converged on Auckland to take part in Big Screen Symposium 2017. It was Film Sprites PR‘s first year at the Symposium, and due to the fact that we’ve worked mostly with international films thus far, it felt like a bit of a homecoming. For two wonderful days we were treated to a line-up which included speakers from various threads of the industry, including directors, producers, a casting agent, and writers. There was also plenty of time to network and catch up with old friends (as well as make some new ones).

The theme of Big Screen Symposium 17 was Authenticity and Pretence, a theme which is so pertinent in the digital age. As Big Screen Symposium Director Esther Cahill-Chiaroni notes in her introductory letter which accompanied the schedule: “[i]n an age of selfies and fake news, what is the role of the storyteller and how is it that sometimes ‘making shit up’ enables us to get closer to the truth?” Thanks to the wealth of information given via talks, masterclasses and the keynote address, I know we all came away with our own unique answer for that question.

Participants were spoiled for choice when it came to selecting which sessions to attend, because there were so many tempting choices and so many opportunities to learn even more! In particular, I thoroughly enjoyed the masterclass with writer/director David Michôd. I personally consider his first feature, Animal Kingdom, to be one of the finest Australian films of the 21st century, so to hear about the process behind this film (and his latest, War Machine, now on Netflix) was refreshing. I can definitely say his road to the completion of Animal Kingdom is the definition of “authenticity”, especially when it came to the remarkable performances of his cast, including Ben Mendelsohn and Jacki Weaver.

Equally engaging was the Casting Matters session with casting director Kerry Barden of Barden Schnee Casting. Kerry’s credits include American Psycho, Spotlight, August: Osage County and Winter’s Bone (and that’s a fraction of his credits!). It was interesting to discover the role of a casting director, the interaction between casting directors and the film’s director and listen to Kerry’s anecdotes about working in the film industry.

From the producing side of things, it was a delight to hear from Kylie du Fresne of Goalpost Pictures Australia (whose producing credits include the smash hit The Sapphires and popular TV series Cleverman), and Midge Sandford (whose first project as Sanford/Pillsbury Productions with her producing partner Sarah Pillsbury was Desperately Seeking Susan). One of the really interesting things that came out of both sessions from both speakers was the concept of having a producing partner, and how beneficial that can be from a producing point of view.

As well as publicity and digital marketing, distribution is one of my great areas of interest in the film industry, so it was a real treat to hear from Peter Broderick, distribution expert, leading the charge in the “New World of Distribution”. His knowledge of distribution is so pertinent, I encourage you to go to his website and make sure you sign up to his mailing list. Peter was knowledgeable, but also incredibly approachable and engaging (and let’s face it- I’m always going to like someone who has a giraffe on their business card and penguins on their website!).

I would be completely remiss if I didn’t mention NZFC CEO Dave Gibson’s final address in this current position, where he announced additions to NZFC’s gender policy, which you can read here. It’s a step in the right direction to not only encourage women to participate in the film industry, but to continue to support women currently working in the industry as well.

If you want to see the entire line-up of speakers who attended Big Screen 17, you can look on the website. A massive thank-you to everyone involved in the weekend, from the Big Screen Symposium team through to the speakers, sponsors and everyone working behind the scenes to make things run smoothly. I look forward to attending next year.

Lessons From the Marvel Cinematic Universe

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Recently, it was my 36th birthday (hooray! Or maybe boo…I still haven’t decided). For the past 5 years I have been celebrating my birthday the same way: I have a Marvel movie marathon. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a massive Marvel fan- I love the comics and the MCU equally. In fact, you can hear my own “origin story” on the Cinema After Dark Podcast! In fact, working in the Publicity Department of Marvel Studios was definitely my dream job. But, hey, I love what I do now.

Each year, the selection of films in the marathon tend to change due to the fact that the Marvel cinematic universe grows more each year, but the level of enjoyment is still the same.

You may know that on the blog there is a semi-regular feature about cinematic life lessons (Doctor Strange was one of the films to feature recently). During my Marvel movie marathon this year, I thought about how so many of the Marvel films have a wealth of lessons in them (as do the Marvel comics themselves). So seeing as today is National Comic Book Day, I’m bringing you cinematic life lessons from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. To avoid frustration: SPOILER ALERT! Yes, there will be spoilers. Hopefully there’s a little bit of inspiration for everyone in this post.

Ready? Suit up and let’s get down to business:

Let the past make you better, not bitter: Ahhh, Loki. He’s got more daddy issues than Gamora and Nebula (and let’s face it- they have a right to be screwed up due to the fact that they have Thanos as a father). Abandoned by his Jotun father for being sickly and small, he was taken in by Odin in case he could be used as a bartering chip with the Jotuns (considering he had been abandoned to die by his father, he’s not exactly going to be a particularly useful bartering chip, but I digress…). Growing up without knowing that he was really an Ice Giant and believing that he was the blood brother of Thor, Loki discovers the secret of his heritage to his horror…and things go downhill from there. Cue slaughtering his birth father, falling from the Bifröst, attempting to enslave Earth, faking his death and ousting his adoptive father from the throne of Asgard. Oh dear.

Now, Loki wasn’t exactly snow white to begin with (no pun intended), but the truth behind his heritage solidified his stance. Instead of rising above his untraditional start in life, he channeled his efforts into rage and maliciousness.

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Loki: cold-hearted….literally.

 

But look at some of the other characters in the Marvelverse- Tony Stark loses both parents in his early twenties, Steve Rogers becomes an orphan as well, and even though T’Challa seeks revenge initially after the death of his father, he ends up offering refuge to the man he believed was responsible for his father’s death.

Every one of us goes through tragedies in our lives. They’re painful, unexpected and life-altering. And while it’s so easy to feel helpless, we have the choice to be better, or remain bitter.

This too shall pass:  Who’d have thought the MCU could teach you about impermanence! Doctor Stephen Strange is a hotshot neurosurgeon. He’s pretty sure that his prowess, success and accolades will last forever. He will save lives and be rewarded for it with praise and a hefty salary. That’s what he went to medical school for, right?

But then a near fatal car accident strips everything away. What he thought was permanent was not. On the flip side, when he came to Kamar-Taj almost completely penniless and hopeless with hands that he believed were worthless, he discovers that this was an impermanent state as well. With the guidance of the Ancient One and opening up his own latent metaphysical abilities, he saw that he could again use his hands for something better. He could again save lives but in a different capacity.

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Stephen Strange: from world-famous neurosurgeon to Sorcerer Supreme

Bad things do not last. But neither do good things. Our lives resemble an ocean’s tide patterns: it ebbs, it flows. So what does one do with this impermanence? I’m not eloquent enough to explain it, but I discovered a beautiful post about the lessons of impermanence and the story of King Solomon’s Ring (which is where the phrase ‘this too shall pass’ comes from) over at The Emotion Machine. It really is worth a read.

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When he’s actually opening the door for you but you think it’s a hug… #awkward

Got goals? Find a mentor: Peter Parker has Tony. Doctor Strange had the Ancient One. When you’re learning new skills, or reaching for your goals a mentor is a huge asset. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to traipse through the streets of Kathmandu or be found via YouTube by a billionaire philanthropist playboy. Check out our post on How To Find A Mentor (And Be A Fabulous Mentoree).

With friends, it’s quality, not quantity: in the digital age we’re likely to have a huge amount of friends and followers on social media, but how many good friends do we have in ‘real life’? The most poignant friendship in the whole of the MCU has got to be that of Cap and Bucky. Steve and Bucky were childhood friends who grew up together and eventually fought together after Steve managed to rescue Bucky’s captured squadron in Italy during WWII. They would end up fighting together again in order to keep Bucky from being captured after he was wrongly accused of the bombing which killed T’Challa’s father during the signing of the Sokovia Accords. Even though Steve counts Sam Wilson (Falcon) as one of his close friends, and was close to Tony Stark pre-Civil War, Bucky will always be the numero uno bestie in Cap’s life.

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Steve without Bucky is like macaroni without cheese

As for other prominent BFFs in the Marvelverse? Tony’s got a lot of fame and prestige, and that has a tendency to draw a lot of fake friends. Thankfully, he’s found a cerebral chum in Bruce Banner, the two of them sharing a love of science and tech (even if they did unleash Ultron and have to clean up the mess afterwards). Peter Parker’s got Ned, a massively devoted bestie who ends up being able to help Peter under pressure (and sometimes egging him on to do things he shouldn’t do, like disabling the tracker in his new enhanced Spidey suit and unlocking the full range of features in the suit). You don’t need a million friends to make your life interesting! You’re an interesting person as you are and a few good friends are worth more than a million fakes.

Don’t just settle for what you’re good at: Post- Super Serum infusion (and the melee that followed), Steve was offered a role touring with the USO as Captain America, a patriotic character to help bolster support for the war effort and the purchasing of war bonds. After initial reluctance, he began to shine in the role, the character of Captain America being good publicity for the US war effort overseas. But there’s only so many times you can punch Hitler onstage without getting tired of it. By the time Steve and the USO land in Italy to entertain the troops, he’s pretty much had enough of not being able to fight alongside the troops. So when he hears that Bucky’s squadron is MIA, he defies direct orders, saves the squad…and the rest is history.

You can spend a lifetime doing what you’re good at, or you can stretch yourself further, gain new skills and expand your world even more.

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Gamora and Nebula: taking sibling rivalry to the extreme

Sometimes family are the people we choose: the Marvelverse is definitely a place of family dysfunction. There’s the whole Loki situation, Gamora and Nebula’s fractious relationship (which, when your Papa is an intergalactic megalomaniac who forced you to fight one another is pretty understandable), Natasha never knew the meaning of the word ‘family’ and was trained to be an assassin from a young age, and Peter Quill’s papa was a Celestial! These families aren’t the stuff of dreams by any imagination. Sometimes, instead of having close ties to blood relatives, we form bonds with people that are unrelated to us. We create a family. The most obvious example of this in the MCU is the Guardians of the Galaxy. Here’s a ragtag bunch of intergalactic outlaws, but they’ve banded together as a familial unit (albeit a chaotic one). And before Peter met up with Gamora, Groot, Drax and Rocket, he was welcomed into the fold by Yondu and his Ravagers…even if Peter spent most of his life convincing the Ravagers not to eat him. Of course, by the end of GotG Vol 2 the team have got a teenaged Groot on their hands…ohhh boy…!

babygroot

I’m not sure I’m ready for Teenaged Groot, so here’s an excuse to put a picture of Baby Groot in this post for maximum cute factor. Awwww.

It’s not about the super-suit: it’s cheesy but true: it’s what’s inside that counts. Look at Steve Rogers! Even when facing Red Skull he declares he’s “just a kid from Brooklyn”. Well, that kid from Brooklyn was skinny and small until he was given the Super Soldier Serum via Dr Erskine and a dose of Vita Rays thanks to Stark Industries. But the Serum enhances what is already inside the patient. In Johan Schmidt’s case, it amplified his evil and turned him into the grotesque Red Skull. In Steve’s case it made him faster and stronger. But pre-Serum or post-Serum, one thing remained the same with Steve: he had a good heart and a sense of right or wrong. He lined up countless times at recruiting offices (albeit illegally sometimes), because he was passionate about serving his country and defeating the enemy. When he hears about Bucky’s squadron being captured in Italy, he’s not going to wait for anyone else to intervene when he knows he can help. His good nature may have enhanced his abilities post-Serum, but it was there all along.

Here’s another example: Peter Parker. Yes, he’s got superpowers, but before Tony Stark got involved (and gave him a tricked out new suit), he was saving people in a DIY suit. He doesn’t just have the superpowers, he’s got the brain to match, something that no bite from a radioactive spider could provide. And when he gets into a massive mess and Tony takes the enhanced suit away, he’s left without web options, suit warming and other functions the Stark suit had provided. He’s got to rely on the powers he has, his cunning, and the help of bestie Ned.

spidey

Yeah, you’re cool. But are you “Peter Parker in the enhanced Spider-Man suit, sitting on a balcony, eating a sandwich” cool?

And speaking of Tony Stark, remember Iron Man 3? Tony spent most of the movie without his suit. He has to rely on his ingenuity and an array of home-made weapons. What happens when you lose everything you’ve relied on, including your home and your tech? You summon up your wits, your strength, and everything you have inside you to face the challenge.

Doctor Strange may have become the owner of the Cloak of Levitation, but prior to the Cloak becoming part of his arsenal he was a fast learner of sorcery, using his photographic memory to whiz through ancient texts that would take another student twice as long. He transcended the failing of his hands as a surgeon to become a sorcerer and defend the world from intergalactic threats. This ability had been in him all along, but he needed the right guidance and training in order to bring it to light.

The suit, the tech, the outside trappings….they’re nothing compared to what’s inside us all. We don’t need capes to be heroes. We don’t have to be genetically enhanced or be the child of a Celestial to achieve greatness. It’s all there inside us, an untapped source of power and greatness. Go forth and find your own inner superpowers.