I’m a film major. Specifically, I’m aspiring to be a film editor. It’s something I’ve been working at since I was 15-years-old, and I have never been so certain about what I want to do in life.
Nothing has ever dissuaded me from pursuing this dream, but you might be able to imagine some of the slightly intimidating reactions.
“You’ve got your work cut out for you!”
“You’ll probably end up in L.A.!”
Hang on a minute…
I’ll admit, a career like this will definitely not be easy, but it can lead to an exciting journey. All the way to California, though? Let’s get that degree first.
Every potential career comes with some challenges. Whether it’s finding that internship, getting your foot in the door with a big company, or something a little closer to home, hours worth of homework and five hours of sleep (if you’re lucky) every night.
But no matter how different your goals are and how diverse the paths laid out in front of you may be, they all have something in common: whether or not you are motivated to keep going and how far you are willing to go.
Recently, I stumbled across a blog written by a music producer named Michael Beinhorn, titled, “The Work Ethic and Breeding Stillborn Artists.”
Beinhorn has most notably worked with the band Soundgarden on their most popular album, “Superunknown.” As it was related to my favorite band and favorite singer, of course I had to read it.
Based on his time with the band’s lead singer, Chris Cornell, in the studio, he recounts how Cornell used to come in and sing for as long as eight hours, only stopping when his head started to hurt.
Any time something didn’t sound right to him, he would immediately speak up and re-record a song over and over until he was satisfied. In order to build up his voice, he would actually scream at the top of his lungs until the screaming turned into a musical pitch. The result of this intense work was one of the most successful rock albums of the 1990’s.
In my case, my sessions involved staring a computer screen down for six hours straight just to get one segment of a video right, my fingers typing and clicking away until they became sore.
If a project meant a lot to me, I would stay up until 4 a.m. to finish it. Yes, I am a perfectionist, but in my defense, so was Cornell in 1993.
Obviously, not everyone can relate, but those who are just as compelled to reach their goals most likely share the same amount of determination. Many singers, artists, businessmen and women, filmmakers, have all stared down a similar cliff, wondering whether or not to jump, to take that leap of faith, knowing the risks but wanting so badly to get back to the top on the other side.
However, what happens when they realize there’s a safety net at the bottom of the cliff?
Hence another “stillborn artist.” Beinhorn argues that too many children have become coddled and therefore can never reach their full potential knowing that they have a crutch. If the work they need to accomplish in order to achieve their goals becomes too difficult, they know they can depend on either a plan B or other people to do the rest of the work.
How can a person reach their full potential if they’re willing to give up easily? Like Beinhorn asked, what if someone like Cornell had been told he did not have to try as hard as he did?
I do have a safety net, and I am fully aware of it. And that safety net can easily cost me my motivation. If a career in film editing becomes too hard, I could resort to a plan B, which is another potentially high-paying job that I may not love but that helps pay the bills… or my future student loans.
But I am still just as motivated as I was when I was 15-years-old to become a film editor, maybe even a skilled and respected one. I don’t expect to win any Oscars, of course, but I would like to do what I love for a good part of my life.
And that’s why a safety net is not always a bad thing. There is a possibility of crashing hard, down to the very bottom of a hole that will take so much time to climb out of. Whatever you plan to do in life, you need a safety net, but if you become too comfortable when you land, you will never want to climb back up and try again.
You may never reach the other side, and you may never truly be as happy as you were when you had a dream in mind. So do not be afraid to take a leap of faith… or two or three. I promise it will be worth it in the end.