I’m sure anyone not living under a rock knows all about the NBC drama with Leno and Conan. If not, I’m not getting into the details of it, so you should Google it and come back later. The whole situation was so depressing for me. I hadn’t watched much late night television at all in the last year or two because of my school and work schedules making me get up early. So in a way, I kind of contributed to Conan’s demise. Although really, I don’t believe that. NBC killed him by having Leno in primetime and ruining the momentum of late night, but that’s beside the point. I grew up mainly watching Conan. In high school when I had the ability to stay up super late and still get up super early, I watched him every night. A lot of late night editing sessions saw me rendering to the sound of Conan’s show.
His final show last Friday was fantastic, but his monologue near the end was heartbreaking and poignant. For someone who had just been screwed royally, it was the classiest thing you could have imagined coming from him. This was especially important in my opinion:
“Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism – for the record it’s my least favorite quality, it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen. I’m telling you, amazing things will happen.”
I’m not exactly an industry expert, but I’ve seen a lot of cynicism in the video industry. It seems very easy to fall into that state of mine with the nature of video. A lot of video companies fold, especially in recessions. There aren’t a lot of jobs to go around. Hollywood is filled with cynics and cynical thinking. In the entertainment industry as a whole, it’s impossible to read a single article, review, or blog without some bit of cynicism about the whole idea. It’s really unfortunate to be surrounded by this.
We all love what we’re doing, or we wouldn’t be doing this. Obviously the majority of us are not in it for the money. But between trying to find (and hold down) a job, fighting for work, dealing with clients or producers, finding our creativity, or just trying to do something amazing, it’s so easy to be cynical. And we shouldn’t be. We should be HAPPY that we know what will fulfill us in life. We get to create for a living and make art that will change other people, whether it’s a feature film or a how to video for the web. We have the privilege of creating something no one has ever seen before. We’re going to have ups and downs, and once we accept that, I think taking each day one at a time and not falling into cynicism would be much easier.
The other part of the quote I feel particularly strongly about.
“Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen. I’m telling you, amazing things will happen.”
We all have expectations for our video careers. We aspire to different levels..joining the ACE, getting a film distributed, shooting a scene with an amazing actor, whatever. Some of these things will happen, some of them won’t, and most of them won’t happen just how you thought they would. I’ve always had a strict plan for my life, simply because I found it easiest while I was in college. Now that I’m out in the world, I’ve found that having big goals in mind and living each day is the best plan of all. Certainly I want to achieve a lot of things, but if I don’t hit one specifically exactly right, am I going to wallow in self-pity? I sure hope not.
And this business has a tendency to get a bit ugly. Tempers flare up, stubbornness comes out in full force, feelings get hurt. It’s so competitive. It’s easy to talk down to people because they don’t know something that you learned. The industry as a whole is cut-throat and always will be. But I don’t need to be like that. I’m competitive, but not mean-spirited. I’m not going to lie, sabotage, or steal to get my way. I’m following Conan’s advice.
But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.
That’s how I’ve tried to live so far, and it’s worked out. I want to keep that state of mind as I get deeper and deeper in the industry. Kindness. It’s key to my success, I’m sure.