Identifying the Most Important Supporter of Your Creative Career

Forget _Overnight Success_And Embrace the Long Game(1)

We’re moving towards the end of another year, and (gulp!) moving into a brand new decade. As well as pausing to reflect on the holiday season, December and January are often a time to reflect on our dreams and goals, and looking at how far we’ve come in the past twelve months.

With that in mind, I’ve been writing some posts that veer away from film publicity and social media marketing and more towards motivation and inspiration for creatives (check out my previous post about why “overnight success” is anything but), to hopefully help you get into a really great headspace for 2020. This post is no exception.

outdoor filmmaking

In the past on the blog I’ve discussed the importance of creating your own “Creative Brains Trust” to help you with your career goals and creative projects. But even before the formation of your Creative Brains Trust, there’s one person who is the most important supporter of your creative career. Have you guessed who that person is yet? Flip your phone camera to the front-facing view, because it’s YOU.

Does that sound cheesy? Perhaps, but hear me out.

Supporters, mentors, fans, friends…they all come and go. You may achieve success in one area and find a flock of supporters suddenly rallying to your side; some with the purest of intentions, and some who are drawn to ‘fame by association’. Fortunes can ebb and flow. Regardless of your outside circumstances, you need to back yourself 100%. You need to back your vision and your dream when nobody else does, or will. The reason? If you don’t back your vision, it’s hard to get anyone else on board to do so as well.

Being your own best supporter also gives you the resilience to get through the tough times. It’s extremely hard to keep going when outside circumstances aren’t favourable, and that’s where backing your vision and your talent comes in. I’m going to get a bit ‘woo’ for a second: some practitioners of the art of manifestation say that in order to help your desired circumstances to manifest, you need to believe in the desired outcome, regardless of evidence to the contrary. A bit of healthy delusion? Perhaps, but it gives you more resilience when rejection emails land in your inbox, a deal falls through, or nothing seems to be moving forward.

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Does that mean you don’t listen to healthy advice from people in the know? Absolutely not. If someone is telling you that this isn’t a good avenue for you, or there’s a better option, then you listen. It means that you adjust your sails and shift course a little to accommodate more favourable winds. It doesn’t mean you give up on your dream or yourself altogether.

Another reason to be your own best supporter is because although humility is vital (and I’ve met so many incredible creatives who have a massive amount of humility), sometimes we can be our worst enemy when it comes to putting ourselves forward and showing the world what we have to offer. In the course of my career I’ve spoken with filmmakers who were reluctant to crowdfund because they felt funny about asking friends and family for money, or were reluctant to promote their work. Believe me, I completely understand! But one of the benefits of truly backing your work and what you have to offer to the world is that you will be able to pitch yourself to anyone. Imagine bumping into someone at random who could become a vital creative collaborator or help fund your work, and you have the confidence to talk freely about your work and what you bring to the table. That’s quite a good skill to have, but sometimes it can be SO difficult to put it into words.

Let me share my own experience: it was two and a half years into running Film Sprites PR, and I was a guest on a filmmaking podcast. It was a great experience, but when the hosts asked me about why filmmakers should use Film Sprites PR for their publicity, social media marketing or crowdfunding strategy and promotion, I didn’t really have an answer. I was a creative, energetic publicist who had the benefit of also being a cinephile, I’d helped filmmakers achieve their goals (including media placements internationally, growing their social media audience and raising thousands of dollars through crowdfunding), but I couldn’t articulate anything about my own abilities enthusiastically. I realised at that point that I didn’t back myself…and that was a tough realisation.

Untitled design(88)

It was, however, a huge kick up the butt. And it produced some interesting results. I got re-focused. I started to back myself. As a result, as I was backing myself, other people were backing me too. I put myself through a sort of self-belief boot camp, which then led to the writing of this post on strategies for reluctant self-promoters. This post then led me to write a similar article on how to best promote your work as a reluctant self promoter, which appeared on The Big Idea‘s website. As a result of this article, a producer at Radio New Zealand contacted me to see if I wanted to discuss the article on the RNZ (yes please!). All of that came from backing myself and being my own best supporter.

That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been dark times. I’m sure we’ve all had those dark teatimes of the soul at one point or another, right? I think it comes with the territory of being a creative: we have a huge capacity for creating good, but our brains are so nebulous that we’re also prone to going down dark rabbit holes as well. So when times are lean, things aren’t progressing or opportunities that seemed promising fall through, I just remind myself what I have to offer, why I started in the first place, and what I aim to achieve in the future.

And that’s the absolute best advice I can offer you, too. If you have to carry it around on a small card in your wallet, put it on your mirror, or use it as a mantra, then do so: remind yourself what you have to offer, why you started in the first place, and what you aim to achieve in the future. It also serves as a really good quick pitch during networking situations as well!

So, are you ready to slay 2020? I am.