Brene Brown said something that really resonated with me as a filmmaker as I constantly navigate advice, naysayers, critics and "experts".
“A lot of cheap seats in the arena are filled with people who never venture onto the floor. They just hurl mean-spirited criticisms and put-downs from a safe distance. The problem is, when we stop caring what people think and stop feeling hurt by cruelty, we lose our ability to connect. But when we’re defined by what people think, we lose the courage to be vulnerable. Therefore, we need to be selective about the feedback we let into our lives. For me, if you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”- Brene Brown.
Beware who you take feedback, advice and guidance from. Sure, negative comments hurt but why are we often putting stock in the hurtful or critical words of people who are not even in our arena?
If you are putting your art out into the world, there are going to be critics. I see friends who have popular podcasts that are getting negative feedback from random listeners (it is bound to happen since you can't please everyone), filmmaker clients who have almost quit because of the doubt and discouragement of people close to them, even filmmakers taking courses from film "experts" who have never even been on set or produced a film from start to finish.
I say forget about it.
Now I am not talking about constructive criticism, probing thoughts or advice from an industry professional who is "in the arena". I am talking about the passive aggressive, backhanded comment, or the person who tries to steal your genuine excitement who does not truly know our industry and have experience in it. It's that person who has a strong opinion sure but that doesn't mean their opinion has to be your truth. It's cool. Label it an opinion and move on. Do not let them shut you down or even waste your creative energy worrying about it.
Three things to do when this happens?
1-Consider the source- If they are not in the arena as Brene says, why should it really matter or derail you? You need your creative energy for more important things...like you and your art. If they aren't in the arena, perhaps there is a reason.
2-Remember your Why- Why you have created this may be completely different than their why or what they think your why should be. Stand firm in your intentions and vision and do not let others sway something you believe as your personal truth.
3- Uplevel- Surround yourself with other filmmakers who are in the game and know their stuff. Learn from just surrounding yourself with them and stay focused on the informed insight that you should be paying attention to versus the polluted opinion disguised as truth. There is truth to the old saying about you being as good as the people you surround yourself with.
Believe in YOU! It is the one ingredient you most have to put your art out into the world and have others believe in you too.
Good to see you in the arena!