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It’s Up To Filmmakers To Make The World A Better Place

It's Up To Filmmakers To Make The World A Better Place

Every once in a great while, someone comes along and shows us we have not really been recognizing the reality of the world we are living in. People tend to speak of this as “disruptive thought”, subtly implying that this clarity may not be a good thing — at least for some. Certainly Freud, Marx, & Einstein have been leaders in this field, but equally disruptive has been the community at large, as we recognize that our group think might well be a bit wrong headed. Now it is being recognized that the traits that make good filmmakers, traits that haven’t previously been championed in other fields, may just make the world a much better place.

I was so fortunate when I met and fell in love with my wife, Vanessa. Among the many gifts she has given me is a vigilance to make sure that I grow and become more thoughtful in all my actions. Among this focus is a greater attention to my emotions and general empathy. Although I have struggled in some areas, I have always felt comfortable applying those aspects to characters on the page and screen. Perhaps this is because those skills are always rewarded in development, and generally by the critics and audience. People appreciate it when films help us connect with one another both on the screen and later, off.

Often when I am speaking to filmmakers they express dismay that their skills appear to be so non-transferable. “What else can we do than make films?” “Who would ever need the skills that we’ve developed, other than other filmmakers?”. Well, it seems like the world is now waking up to the fact that those same skills are needed everywhere and both politics and business are in desperate need of our gifts.

NYTimes OpEd contributor had a must read piece last week entitled “The New Humanism“. Of course, Vanessa tipped me to it. The article distills a great deal of thinking being done in many fields, but when Brooks laid out the new necessary attributes, he might as well have been speaking about much of the creative community:

Attunement: the ability to enter other minds and learn what they have to offer.

Equipoise: the ability to serenely monitor the movements of one’s own mind and correct for biases and shortcomings.

Metis: the ability to see patterns in the world and derive a gist from complex situations.

Sympathy: the ability to fall into a rhythm with those around you and thrive in groups.

Limerence: This isn’t a talent as much as a motivation. The conscious mind hungers for money and success, but the unconscious mind hungers for those moments of transcendence when the skull line falls away and we are lost in love for another, the challenge of a task or the love of God. Some people seem to experience this drive more powerfully than others.

Isn’t it nice to know that your skills and talents are needed? But, dang, it is a bit of a heavy responsibility to try to make the world a better place. We’ve got a lot of work to do. Maybe if we all woke up an hour earlier…

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mike newman

ted, thanks for the encouragement, i don’t have the fortune to live in the bubble you live in. it’s easy to remain hopeful when you’re living in an artist mecca like nyc and surrounded by visionary artists. in the land where i live nobody gives a shit about the arts, rather very, very few people truly care and it’s hard to find hope in a land that’s saturated with so much hopelessness and lazy indifference towards the creative process. i’m surrounded by consumers, not creators and everyone is pushed towards being the former.

also, it’s almost impossible to be a leader in this industry unless you have a lot of money, a lot of luck, and/or a really big ego. i have none of these three so i don’t even bother thinking in terms of being a leader.

the more i think about it the less i want to be a leader. i’ve met a so-called visionary filmmaker “leading” the way and he’s in a worse position than i’m in. the real bummer is that he has had a lot more previous success than me and yet none of it seems to matter. he’s trying to do some really cool things, but this industry rarely rewards people based on merit and hard work, it rewards nepotism and ass kissing first and foremost. if this “visionary” filmmaker can’t succeed in this crazy industry, then what’s the point? once i experienced this i realized this industry is hopeless and it’s not helpful to be influenced by an unrealistic hope.

i hope you understand how extremely lucky you were to get into this business before it became extremely oversaturated with content and with way too many people trying to break into it.

Ted Hope

That’s a beautiful line Dan. I am going to tweet it (and give you credit). Thanks for that story, Kathleen — also beautiful. And I put the Dan Pink book on my Wish List, Kevin. Really though I just wish for more time.

I really do think films make the world a better place, Mike. Don’t give up hope. The filmmakers I know are everything but lazy. Which is not to say I don’t desire all of us to work harder too. It’s a fragile place we dwell, yet we seem to think we and it are all iron, or even stronger. I think the more we lead, the more others will follow. Set the example and don’t ask of others that which you are not willing to do yourself. It is not easy and it doesn’t happen over night.


I would recommend the book “A Whole New Mind” by Dan Pink for more on this subject. It talks about how the skills one learns as an artist are more important than ever in getting along in the world.

Dan Coplan

All I can say is that all my films have been made with a purpose.

Artists are the pathfinders for humanity, we open the doors of the mind to new wonders and possibilities in our existence.

I continue to march to the beat of this drum.

Kathleen Carroll

In the summer of 1969, in a hotel in Moscow, a real-life scene took place in front of my very eyes that convinced me forever of the transformative power of films. Outside of my hotel, in nearby Red Square, you could feel the constant tension and oppressive atmosphere of the Soviet Union. Inside the hotel, a luncheon in honor of the one and only Lillian Gish was generating nothing but feelings of good will. Just to be sitting in the presence of this gentle and incredibly unassuming silent film star was a thrill in itself. Suddenly, a very distinguished looking Russian gentleman rose from the table. Lifting his glass, he said to Miss Gish, “I want to toast you for all the beauty you have given me for so many years.” His eyes filled with tears as he spoke.

mike newman

i’ve always believed that filmmakers could make the world a better place considering how powerful of a medium motion pictures are, but it’s just idealistic thinking. i dream of a world where films make people think and reflect and get off their lazy asses and do something positive, but i know this isn’t realistic.

Mark Savage

It’s encouraging, Ted, that there is life beyond filmmaking.

I always knew that, but I didn’t dare utter it.

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