Set your own bar
I do a fair amount of reading and studying when it comes to the craft of filmmaking, among other subjects, primarily because I’m simply looking for ideas to generate in my mind that my style. I often find, however, many articles suited to an audience that wishes to simply mimic another director or DP’s style. I’ve never been one to follow the flow and am often found swimming upstream; against the grain, as you will. I don’t ever intend to be like another director. I’m unique and I should develop my own style.
I follow this model in other areas of my life. In canine disc, I have trained with almost ever upper echelon trainer in our sport today, pulling information and techniques from each of them but I do not train or perform like any one of them. I have developed my own unique methods for accomplishing my goals. Does that make me an expert? In my mind, not even remotely. I don’t consider myself a “pro” at anything as I am continually learning. I still consider myself a “rookie” in all disciplines in my life.
Being a pro, in my mind, means you have reached the upper tier of your learning and you can go no further. I do not believe that is ever the case at any juncture of my life. I am a continual student and do not pigeon-hole myself into following only one teaching. I will never know or learn it all. There is something to learn every day. There are new ways to do things; new methods, new thought processes, etc.
I’m not one to always follow the rules either. I tend to take a realistic look at what my resources are and make the most of what I have available to me. I don’t have the best camera, lights, discs, dogs, etc. I have what I have and I do with that what I may. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m continually successful. I fail more often than not but it tends to leave me unscathed. I move on, learning from that failure and trying a different solution. I don’t want to look or have a style that can be related to another. I am unique and there will never be another like me to ever set foot on this planet. There will those who come close but never one that is truly, exactly like me.
I find that those whom follow another and mimic styles exactly tend to be swept under the rug quickly and quietly, never having reached their full potential or set their own standard of what they find as excellence. Though, there are times where excellence has to settle for simply being good enough. This comes in several aspects of life.
In filmmaking, as I journey further in this process, oftentimes one must simply settle for a “good enough” shot. I hate “good enough” in general but in many instances, my “good enough” is better than someone else’s “excellence.” It’s all a matter of perspective, really, but we should all strive to find our own unique style without being labeled akin to another. That is not to say I’m perfect or know everything or even know enough to make a blip on Hollywood’s radar. It is to say that I ultimately do not care what a critic may say, be it in filmmaking, graphic design or canine disc. I set my own standard. I create my own style. That’s what works for me and in it’s own right, it is it’s own, unique form of perfection, flaws and all.
The long and short of it, be you. Find what makes you tick; what makes your heart pound with exuberance. Wade through the endless sea of criticism, cynicism, hatred, disrespect and jealousy to find your own flavor; your own beat.