As I type this, filmmaker (and all around hilarious guy) Kevin Smith is in the midst of an epic Twitter discussion about what he views as the secret to success in both the movie business and life in general. I couldn’t agree with him more, so I thought it was worth sharing on this site.
The whole Smith tweet rant began when a man in Texas sent him this simple tweet:
Smith’s response was a flurry of tweets which couldn’t be contained in a mere 140 characters. I took a moment to transcribe his tweets into a slightly easier to read narrative which you can see below. It’s great advice and well worth a few moments of your time:
Here’s the secret. Everyone always asks in regards to how I did it (whatever “it” is when asked).
It doesn’t even take TALENT to do what I did; I’m living proof of that. All you need to do is identify what you love to do and monetize that. If you like jerking off, sell your sperm or wank for porn.
If you like dogs, monetize your canine interest. Lazy motherfuckers like me will always pay someone to wash his dog(s). Some people will pay you to babysit ‘em!
If it never feels like work, it’s NOT work. Life is mutable; the rigidity of working for someone else doesn’t allow for much flexibility. So create your own ideal universe. That’s all I’ve been doing now for nearly 20 years.
I didn’t want to have to go to my relatives houses if I didn’t want to – as my parents would make me do when I lived with them. So I wanted to find a way to be able to say “I’m not going” for which I wouldn’t catch shit. Being a filmmaker seemed like an excellent excuse to not go to relatives houses if I didn’t want to.
So I got into filmmaking, and 1 day, I was able to say to my parents “I can’t go to Aunt Virginia’s this weekend; I’m making MALLRATS.”
So my parents couldn’t give me shit for not going to visit relatives with them, because I was balancing multimillion dollar budgets for movies about boys giving stink palms & seeing boobies out in Minnesota. Ta-da!
The secret to a successful life is hardly a secret; it requires you to be self-centered as all fuck, is all. So long as it’s not at the expense of others, make yourself the center of your universe. You only get to do this ONCE, so try to take as much stress out of the process as you can. Why stress out in some office wearing clothes you hate, when the REAL stress lies ahead, as we face an inescapable grave. Doubt I’m gonna go quietly into that good night, so I’ll save the stress for then.
Sadly, as far as I’ve learned, we can do NOTHING to alter death; it’s GONNA happen. But life? We can shape & change the fuck out of life!
Sometimes, the path isn’t direct. S’like folks who start movie websites: they just love movies. Not sure what their end-game’s gonna be, but writing about them & hosting trailers is a start, right?
For some, the end-game will be to make a film. For some, just having people read what they have to say about a subject they love is good enough. Regardless, the smart ones will always find a way to earn off it. Because once you’ve got a taste for working for yourself, doing what you love doing? You’ll work 10x as hard as any brick-layer or paralegal, but you’ll NEVER feel it, never recognize it. And let the cranks cat-call from the sidelines; they lack balls of any element, let alone brass.
Case in point: this isn’t a debate at all – this is just advice. It’s subjective, so it can’t be wrong. Yet I’ve seen a Tweet or two from cats who wanna debate the advice, criticize it, or mock me for it. They’re the equivalent of the pantomimed losers in the bar Baldwin told us about in GLENGARRY: “Oh yeah. I used to be a salesman. It’s a tough racket.” Tip your excuse-lubricant & scoff all you want, Slappy; must be working out for you.
Ignore the flock of Wah-Wahs, focus on what you love to do, and earn off it. And remember: once you get paid to do it, doesn’t matter whether someone thinks you’re good at it or not; opinions pay imaginary rents, kids. You get paid to do it, you’re a pro.
The work is long & will take you away from lots of other people & things. But you will never know/feel/realize it’s work – not until you look back. This Sundance marks 17 years since the CLERKS debut changed my life.
But from the moment we got our foot in the door, the workload intensified a thousand fold. And I never noticed – because I loved it so much. For 15 of those 17 years, I didn’t stop. Cranks will tell you I’ve been living off CLERKS forever, but that’s dismissive self-deception.
We got our foot in the door & I never stopped. And while the changes were imperceptible to some, each time out, we worked a little harder at developing the various muscles of storytelling. In that analogy, RedState is the most physically fit of all the stories I’ve told. It’s the sum total of nearly two decades of hard work (for which, most times, I was handsomely overcompensated, monetarily & otherwise).
And it never felt like work when we were crafting them. What made them feel like work was slugging it out with jackasses over opinion, or getting by the fear-driven gatekeepers who finance, market, or rate the stories I’ve tried to tell. Like hockey, film used to be a simple, fun game that grown-up kids loved to play. Then, someone figured out how to make a buck off it. Now it’s a business.
Rage against the darkness all you want: at the end of the day, it’s called the movie BIZ. Bitching about that fact’s akin to bitching about sharks in the ocean: if you’re stepping into the surf, you’re stepping into the food chain. Don’t be a dummy: make sure you’re in a boat.
Start with a small boat and one day, you realize you’re Cap’n Stubbing. Or in my case, Cap’n Crunch. Then you can put a dog in a sailor suit & cock-block French pirates.
It’s summed up on this dopey yoga wall hanging the wife has in the house that I only really understood this year: MAY YOU REALIZE YOUR DIVINITY IN THIS LIFETIME. That’s worth working for.
It took me 40 yrs, but I finally realized my divinity in this lifetime. Not talking “Clapton is God” or Lennon’s “We’re bigger than Jesus” when I say this: but we can each …hell, we SHOULD… each make of ourselves… a god, for lack of better expression. And I’m not talking the drag some kid into the woods and cut his heart out bullshit; I’m talking about finding for ourselves the same reverence the faithful reserve for the divine.
And what better to shoot for than mortal divinity? And not that angry god bullshit, either: if the X-Men taught me anything, God loves & man kills.
Now THAT’S well said. Smith, who you should absolutely follow on Twitter, is still tweeting out more wisdom and I’ll continue to update this post as long he does.