Ever since I started getting into animation and cinema as a snot nosed 15 year-old, I’ve been very self-reliant and independent about the whole deal, almost to the point where I’ve been secretive about what I do. I’ve pretty much refused to promote or talk about any of my work or interests to any great extent especially with people face to face in real life.
I grew up in a small town 4 hours away from the next big city and my interest began in animation not because I fell in love with the medium (that came later), but simply because I could do it all myself. There wasn’t anyone in the town who liked the cinema I liked, had similar interests and ideas that I valued, or wanted to work with me to make the kinds of things I was interested in making. I couldn’t rely on anyone so I found ways to not have to.
When I turned 18 and moved to a bigger city to study, I carried this sort of behavior of secrecy and independence with me. Sure I talked to the occasional person at art school about it or a friend or two, but I never went out of my way to seek out and find people doing stuff that really interested me (I met a couple by accident anyway), or even just engage with people and community in the cinema/animation scenes. This isn’t all bad as self reliance and independence can be great and is very useful (you get shit done), however at some point being secretive and clandestine about my work and interests has limited my exposure to different people and ideas working in the animation and cinema areas.
So why have I avoided them; the people and community of a subject and art I’m very much interested in? Mainly because I don’t like 95% of the stuff being produced, made or talked about. The truth is that if you have particular or discerning taste in something, you won’t like 95% of it. This applies to any form of art, be it cinema, music, comics, games, fine art or whatever. Most of the works in any medium you like you’ll consider pretty bad or at the very least, just not for you. And y’know, that’s ok! If you liked or even tried your best to like everything you’d lose the ability to be critical and that’s not something that will help you, anyone else or the progression of the art and by (maybe a long) extension… humanity. The ability to be critical allows for improvement and evolution.
But is that a valid reason to avoid the community and scene at large?
I’ve really begun to question the validity of my actions in avoiding the scene. Even If I don’t like a lot the work in a community of an art I’m interested in, I’m not helping myself by avoiding it. Instead I should get out there and engage with people. At most I’ll find people who have interesting work or ideas that I can learn things off, at the very least I can provide an alternative for others who have similar taste to me (even though they may be far flung).
So I’ve decided I want to get out and engage with the animation and cinema communities. I’m going to try to go to screenings and meetups, volunteer at festivals and generally engage with others in the scene. It’s something I should have been doing for years now but I’ve only just realised that If I change the way I treat the community I’ll be more likely to improve myself and impact it as a whole. No doubt there will be things that will annoy and frustrate me, but to grow and improve as a filmmaker it will help to engage with others.