Being Vulnerable [pseudo-rant, desperate for advice]

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Being Vulnerable [pseudo-rant, desperate for advice]

Post by Guest on Sun Feb 08, 2015 1:00 am

I'm gonna take a detour from our regular broadcast of "Glides Repeatedly Insults Himself" to address something that's been bothering me over the last couple days:

I have a script that I've written, actually the only one I've ever completed (I have tons of unfinished scripts), and it's been the default one I show people whenever they ask for one from me. There's two kinds of scripts I tend to write: absurdist comedic sketches that try way too hard to copy Monty Python (and are horrible), and serious dramatic ones that I never finish.

The reason I never finish them is because somewhere along the way, usually at around page 30, a horrible thought suddenly enters my mind:

"Aw shit, you got way too personal with this. You can't finish this script, what if it gets made and everyone knows what a fuckup I am? I can't have the world knowing how much I hate myself."

The characters (surprisingly rather diverse in terms of gender and race) all hate themselves, all have severe depression, all have suicidal tendencies, and either are terrible with the gender they're attracted to or are asexual. The plots themselves are complete messes. It's a fuckton of dialogue and not much happening, and I'm bad at writing anything involving anything beyond sitting around talking.

Anyway, this one script I've written is probably my personal favorite because it came to me in a dream, and it's the only one that even seems vaguely plausible as a short film. I've tried for the last two years to get this thing made, and have gotten extremely close a couple times. Both times, I'd had everything set up, and then would abruptly chicken out and cancel the entire thing, constantly pretending that something had gotten in the way.

So recently, another opportunity arose to be able to finally make this script that's been dogging me these last two years. I'd finally make my first film as a director (and those shitty ass dinky short films I've made before don't count). The typical film snob response is to ask to see your work, and I don't have anything but this dumbfuck script (no reel, no portofolio, only because everything I've ever shot or written before is crap), and I throw the script at them and leave. I'm actually becoming pretty infamous for just showing the one script despite the fact that I've written a lot of scripts and shot a lot of horrible short films that no one is ever watching.

Latest two people to see the script said it was great. I'm not used to getting praise, so I kinda waved off the compliments, downplayed my achievements like anyone with imposter syndrome would. They expressed interest in making it with me, serving as producer and director of photography. The plan was to shoot it during spring break.

Right before casting commences, I suddenly have yet another panic attack over the goddamn script and call it off a third time. They're disappointed, but whatever, not the only script out there and they have schoolwork to do.

I'm very mad about this. The script, naturally, involves both suicide and virginity (and those two words define me more than anything else, looking up "suicidal virgin" on Google brings you straight to my profile here), and it was a half-asleep soul-baring experience to write it. I don't write from the heart often, which is why most of my scripts are awful. This one time, I wrote something that was emotional, let all my pain and hate out at it, and the result is somewhat decent, all things considered.

I'm scared as shit to film it. I only had one rehearsal, and hearing my words read out loud by someone else, acting as my characters, just tore me up. It was nauseating, every word suddenly sounded like Tommy Wiseau had written it.

I have a phobia of directing. Which is fucking ironic, because it's what I want to do most in the world. But doing so, and making anything half decent, would require letting loose the most digusting parts of myself, and I'm scared that people will know that I'm as much of a loser as the people I'm writing. My scripts are unusual. I can't say they're any good, but they're definitely unusual. And I feel an attachment to the characters I've made up, and they feel like real people to me. Being a director means being a leader, and I've never held a single position of real leadership in my life. It requires people to obey you, and I don't know if I'm the type who can have people do that.

I'm unusual for a director in that my ego is entirely in reverse. I'm egotistic, but I hate myself instead of loving myself.

I'm just a strange person. My scripts are just as fucked up and raw and nasty as I am. They're not sanitary, they're not conventional, and in this case it's not good. I can't write anything ordinary. Nothing I write is extraordinary, they're just very odd and weird and...something.

I'm really scared of failure. I'm even more afraid of success, and having to live up to that success, and being forced to make whatever's next even better. It's easier to be a failure because I'm so scared of making risks. It's why I'll never try to kiss a girl, because I just assume she'll slap me in the face.

I'm not a risk taker, and the only way to succeed in this industry and in life is to love yourself and promote yourself, two things I hate doing. Part of being a director is communication, and as you know, I'm horrible with people. Part of it is being a good salesman, and I can't sell anything to save my own life.

The only reason I haven't dropped out of film school is simply: what the fuck else would I do? Every time I have to show a script to someone and have it torn to bits, it kills me inside. The few people I've tried networking with are openly confused when I refuse to show them any of my work because none of it was filmed with professional cameras. Why show them crap? No one's going to hire anyone based off of DSLR footage for anything important (I could get a reality TV gig if I was lucky).

I'm really discouraged. I don't think this industry is for me. If I have a panic attack whenever I'm given the opportunity to direct and sabotage my chances on purpose, why the fuck should I keep trying to write and direct? People don't want what I have to offer, it has no qualities whatsoever. My other film buddies are literally in love with everything they make, even though it's all crap. "God, this shot is so beautiful. I'm so fucking amazing."

And then they ask why I refuse to show them anything I shoot and the answer is: "It's not perfect, therefore you can't see it."

I'm so scared of criticism that I don't even try. I've actually stopped writing scripts apart from assignments. I deliberately gave up a director role because the writer of the project openly requested that I be taken off.

To put things in perspective: I'd gotten a director position on a short film for a class grade, the writer said I wasn't a good enough director to make the project, and I immediately agreed with her in front of the entire class and helped her find another director. The teacher said he'd never seen anything like that before. I hate myself so much that I'm killing any chance to ever be a director because I don't deserve to be one.

I just don't like it because I know it's going to be torn into bits, because I seem incapable of writing anything good, because I get criticized by the teachers repeatedly for how fucking weird everything I write is. The dialogue and the characters and the plot, all of it is just off.

I'm rambling, I know. This is killing me inside, especially because it's a problem unrelated to my girl issues. It's a self-esteem thing, certainly, due to hating myself and sabotaging myself professionally whenever I'm given a leadership position. Get offered director of photography? Nothing happens, I go and shoot and have a grand old time. But if it's writer or director, the two I actually want, I can't do it. I chicken out and panic and get someone else, because I'm so fucking frightened people will laugh if I slip and reveal myself in my shots or on the page.

I don't want people to know who I really am, what a fucking freak I am. Everyone I know thinks I'm weird anyway, and no matter how hard I try to act like everyone else, people treat me differently, like I'm an alien. I hate feeling so fucking left out of the human race. It all ties back to this.

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Re: Being Vulnerable [pseudo-rant, desperate for advice]

Post by The Wisp on Sun Feb 08, 2015 1:18 am

Hey man, I just want to say that I sympathize a lot with dealing with panic attacks, and fearing the things you want most, and fearing vulnerability. It's fucking hard, and you shouldn't feel so bad for it being so hard.

Do you have anybody in your real life you can talk to about this? I don't necessarily mean a therapist or anything. It's okay if you don't, but having somebody to talk to about it could give you motivation to push through and make that film you're so afraid of making.

People don't have to know that these scripts are based on your life. If you're asked, you can just say they're based on what friends have told you or stuff you've seen on the internet or whatever.

I would say that you should find a way to make that film. You need to feel like you're capable of making something, of finishing something. I know it is hard, I know that your entire being, your body even, seems to resist it. But you can fight your way through it and make it. Reframe it so that you're goal isn't for that movie to be good, but rather to just make it. If you have anxiety or panic attacks when you are attempting to direct it, it may be good to learn some techniques for controlling those emotions: slow down your breath, focus on being aware of your body, relax your muscles all around your body, think of something that is calming and makes you happy no matter what it is (even if it is just a cute puppy dog or a funny Monty Python sketch or something), remember that if you feel overwhelmed you can always talk to us here and we'll be supportive because we like you and are rooting for you. Avoid caffeine and sugary foods before you do anything stressful, be well-hydrated, well-rested, and well-fed. When you're actually directing, focus on the one little step you need to complete that moment, and then the next one, and so on.

And if you can do that, I bet it might end up being a good movie after all. If you can't, there's no shame in that. You have a lot working against you. Just recuperate and try again another time.

Those are my rambling thoughts. I hope you succeed Glides, I really do Smile
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Re: Being Vulnerable [pseudo-rant, desperate for advice]

Post by Enail on Sun Feb 08, 2015 1:02 pm

What about trying to find a midpoint between totally impersonal and the terrifyingly raw, 100% based on you and your feelings scripts? Like, take that personal script and change around the characters a little, give the character that you're most worried people would see your feelings in some traits that don't resemble you at all, swap the most personal bits to a character that's outwardly not much like you. Or for a new script, take those intense, deeply personal things, and put them into a genre that one doesn't tend to think of as being autobiographical - a heist caper or sci fi, maybe. It might be easier to put that really scary stuff out there if you've got a bit of a shield between it and autobiography.

Maybe it would also help if you've got some answers you're comfortable with ready for if someone asks how you thought of it or if something in it is based on you - a vague 'someone you knew once,' something more sociological and distant about the culture shock you experienced around sexuality when you moved to the South. Find ways to put your heart on the table without having to let everyone see it's your heart, and maybe it'll be more manageable.

In regards to putting your work forward and not underselling yourself: you're going to need to practice that. Maybe even come up with some stock responses to praise and criticism, some pitches about your work that don't downplay it, and practice them in front of a mirror until you can say them like you mean them. Practice just saying "thank you," to a compliment without adding a put-down to yourself.   This is something a lot of people have to learn to do - it's definitely something I struggle with - but just getting used to letting those words come out of your mouth without hedging can help.

A Captain Awkward post about taking criticism, and one about not letting your work suffer when your confidence does
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Re: Being Vulnerable [pseudo-rant, desperate for advice]

Post by Caffeinated on Sun Feb 08, 2015 3:01 pm

Glides wrote:
The reason I never finish them is because somewhere along the way, usually at around page 30, a horrible thought suddenly enters my mind:

"Aw shit, you got way too personal with this. You can't finish this script, what if it gets made and everyone knows what a fuckup I am? I can't have the world knowing how much I hate myself."

This, in a nutshell, is why making any kind of art and putting it out into the world is so pants-wettingly terrifying. That feeling of putting something so raw, so personal, so much a naked view of your interior self, just out there to be looked at. Christ. What if people don't understand it? What if they do understand it? Yeah, that's scary stuff.

There are a lot of stories I haven't written because I can't face the idea of people seeing certain parts of me. I think this is a pretty common fear. I remember reading a piece of writing advice once that said that to write anything really good, you don't just write, you open a vein and bleed onto the page.

Glides wrote:
I'm rambling, I know. This is killing me inside, especially because it's a problem unrelated to my girl issues. It's a self-esteem thing, certainly, due to hating myself and sabotaging myself professionally whenever I'm given a leadership position. Get offered director of photography? Nothing happens, I go and shoot and have a grand old time. But if it's writer or director, the two I actually want, I can't do it. I chicken out and panic and get someone else, because I'm so fucking frightened people will laugh if I slip and reveal myself in my shots or on the page.

I don't mean to be dismissive in this suggestion, but if you have a grand old time when you shoot projects as director of photography, why not do that for a while? Work on all the technical skills involved in getting good shots without the wrenching self-doubt of it being your own material. No director has ever regretted having strong technical shooting skills. And while doing that, keep writing scripts. Maybe write them with the explicit plan of keeping them private, as learning tools to use to improve your writing skills and habits rather than looking at every single piece as a potential calling card.

Two other small points: 1.) If someone asks where you got a particular idea, you can say it came to you in a dream. Everyone knows how out there dreams can get. 2.) When people compliment (or criticize) your work, it's important to be able to listen to what they say and accept that they said it, without trying to argue them into sharing your own private view of yourself or your work. This is true for people who think everything they do is terrible and for people who think everything they do is wonderful. Arguing with people's opinions of the work never helps. Best to have some simple replies, like "thanks for the feedback" (good for compliment or criticism) or "I'll think about that" (good for criticism, even if you completely disagree with them) or simply "thank you" when it's a straight up compliment.
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Re: Being Vulnerable [pseudo-rant, desperate for advice]

Post by OneTrueGuest on Sun Feb 08, 2015 3:04 pm

I debated responding to this because I do think you Glides don't want to hear from me anymore but I thought I would anyway.  I dunno.  Maybe I have masochistic tendencies, who knows.

1.  The whole googling "suicidal virgin" and your name comes up thing.  You do know that google uses your search history and your internet history and lists results based on that right?  Yes you come up when you google that because you are writing about it and participating in websites where you write about it.  But I can assure you that when I google it you do not come up at all.  I actually went through the first 10 pages that came up and you weren't on any of them.  Now what did come up?  A whole bunch of other people who call themselves that.  While it's truly terrible that there are so many people out there who feel this way about themselves, there might be some small comfort in knowing you are so not alone.  You are not the only virgin out there and you aren't the only one who has suicidal thoughts.  

And also you are not the poster boy for Suicidal Virgin.  You don't come up in my google search at all.


2. This next thing I'm going to write is likely going to be added on top of the pile of other things I've written to you that is the reason you ignore my existence here on the forum.  And I probably shouldn't do it.  But I hope that maybe by writing it, even if you hate it, even if you never speak to me again, a small part will stick with you possibly in a positive way.  But yes, it's time for more . . . tough love!!!  echo echo echo echo . . .

I'm an author and an actor.  I am also a filmmaker (producer, director, screenwriter). I have encountered many many many many many young artists.  I have heard it all.  And I will tell you your fears and perfectionist tendencies, while maybe rare for your film school (what a truly odd film school you go to if it is so rare) is so bloody common in my experience.  You worrying about being vulnerable in your screenplay?  I literally just had the exact same conversation with a friend about her novel.  You not wanting to make anything until you know it will be perfect?  Went on a blind date with a dude who said the exact same thing.  You deciding not to follow through?  Pretty much most people I've met in my years doing this.  

Being in the arts is HARD.  You have to fight your own ego in whatever manifestation.  You hate your own work.  You never think you are good enough.  Or you think you are the best but then everyone else thinks you're arrogant and that's not true.  You have great ideas but actually following through is really really tough.  Almost impossible.  

And the people who make it in this business?  They follow through regardless.  They have all those horrible feelings you have (you think you're the only artist who hates himself that much?  Do you not know any actual artists?), and regardless they still push through.  Because they want to create that badly.  It's a compulsion.  It's a need.  It's like being a drug addict.  If they don't create then their lives are pretty much pointless.  I know it sounds ridiculous and flaky.  And I will concede there are also some people who are just savvy business people who produce and create junk stuff to make money and do it very successfully.  But most artists are totally fucked up somehow.  That includes me.  Smile  Most of us do our art despite our feelings, not because they aren't there.  We do it because we can't not do it.

And quite frankly, if you don't create, you're not an artist.  You just aren't.  I know a lot of people who talk a good talk, who come up with ideas, and who come up with whole worlds, and who can't do anything but talk about what they want to do.  But they don't ever do it.  And that's the difference.  And yes, you have your reasons for not doing it, but others are just as emotionally all over the place as you and they do.  So what's the difference?  What's going to actually make you do it?  Because right now, the not doing it is very typical.  It's the people who actually do it who are unique.  It's easier to not do it.  As you've experienced.  As hell I'VE experienced.  I've put off doing so many things because it scared me.  Because it just was too hard.  It doesn't make you a bad person not to do it, but it doesn't make you an artist either.

I know where you live is impossible.  And you are rather unique in your small part of the world.  But all these things you've said about yourself, that you think about others, all the vile nasty thoughts about yourself, within the larger scope of the world, it's not new.  It's not unique.  If you were the only person who had dark thoughts out there no one would ever commit suicide.  There would be no literature about self harm.  There would be no films like LITTLE CHILDREN.  If you can embrace that you are actually a lot more like a lot of people out there than you think, then maybe you can get over your fear of people judging you.  If you can embrace that everyone has a dark side that maybe they keep more secret, then maybe you can feel empowered to create films that give people a chance to see themselves.  If you can embrace the idea that others feel like you but have no outlet, then maybe you can see yourself as helping others feel less alone by making your work.  

Once again, if you make it less about you being a special snowflake and more what you can do for the greater world with your art, maybe that might help you follow through.  Because again, all your excuses are ultimately just excuses.  I've heard them all before.  The ones who make it are the ones who list the excuses and then say, "Fuck it, I'm doing it anyway."

And there's your tough love for today.

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Re: Being Vulnerable [pseudo-rant, desperate for advice]

Post by ChrissyOrig on Sun Feb 08, 2015 7:11 pm

Glides wrote:I'm unusual for a director in that my ego is entirely in reverse. I'm egotistic, but I hate myself instead of loving myself.

I'm really scared of failure. I'm even more afraid of success, and having to live up to that success, and being forced to make whatever's next even better. It's easier to be a failure because I'm so scared of making risks. It's why I'll never try to kiss a girl, because I just assume she'll slap me in the face.

I'm not a risk taker, and the only way to succeed in this industry and in life is to love yourself and promote yourself, two things I hate doing. Part of being a director is communication, and as you know, I'm horrible with people. Part of it is being a good salesman, and I can't sell anything to save my own life.

My other film buddies are literally in love with everything they make, even though it's all crap. "God, this shot is so beautiful. I'm so fucking amazing."

And then they ask why I refuse to show them anything I shoot and the answer is: "It's not perfect, therefore you can't see it."

I'm so scared of criticism that I don't even try. I've actually stopped writing scripts apart from assignments. I deliberately gave up a director role because the writer of the project openly requested that I be taken off.

I don't want people to know who I really am, what a fucking freak I am. Everyone I know thinks I'm weird anyway, and no matter how hard I try to act like everyone else, people treat me differently, like I'm an alien. I hate feeling so fucking left out of the human race. It all ties back to this.

Glides, this is perfectly normal for creative people; not everyone, but it is very common. My friend, who is a successful novelist who had one of her books turned into a movie, says "if you're not terrified, you're not doing it right." I agree. The best work I've ever done has been projects that scared the hell out of me. In my experience, the only way to learn to handle the fear is to accept it and move forward anyway, one (small) step at a time.

Also, stop thinking of projects in terms of good or bad. That doesn't mean anything. If someone reads your script and says it's great, what does that mean? Nothing, really. Instead, think in terms of what works or doesn't work, then find a way to get the feedback you need that will be useful. example: if I want a character to be witty and charming, then ask how the reader would describe the character and how close/different their description is, with examples if possible. If they say obnoxious, boring, snotty, then you have some useful info, especially if they can say where/why.

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to stop being scared so I could do some stuff. Then a teacher told me, you can be scared and do it anyway. So I tried with little things, and it got better. I didn't stop being scared, but I learned how to deal with the fear.

Also, maybe not where you are(?), but in left and right coasts, weird is good, different is good, same-old-same-old is boring and ignored. Embrace your weirdness and figure out how to use it to your advantage. Experiment, maybe, with doing a project (writing or directing or something) and taking it to an extreme. It's bound to be more interesting and helpful than copping out of stuff. And please DO NOT EVER put yourself down to a teacher, classmate or ANYONE. No good  comes of it. You don't have to brag or pretend you're in love with your work if you are not. But when you find the way to embrace your uniqueness and ignore stupid people, you'll be on the path. No one can tell where the path goes. Could be major films, could be web series, could be something not invented yet.

You're trying so hard to be perfect. Life isn't perfect. Creativity isn't perfect. As the saying goes: Stop Making Sense.

Go break a camera!

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Re: Being Vulnerable [pseudo-rant, desperate for advice]

Post by Hae on Wed Feb 11, 2015 6:45 pm

Just to cheer you on- if your scripts are anything like your forum posts, they must be FASCINATING. I really hope you produce more art.

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Re: Being Vulnerable [pseudo-rant, desperate for advice]

Post by InkAndComb on Thu Feb 12, 2015 2:55 pm

The way you described your experience, that rawness and vulnerability and that character-driven plot, that's huge. That's something that people get invested in and experience, but I can definitely get hearing your own words on stage making you sick.

In Highschool we did a play that was a bunch of people's personal experiences, all wrapped into one. I wrote a piece on bullying (a real experience), and a friend of mine had a piece on assault. When the actress and actor on stage started my scene, and the first girl got shoved, I panicked and left (the only scene I was supposed to be involved in pseudo-directing). My friend who wrote the other scene got sick to her stomach the first 3 days we had it showing, but wanted it in the play anyways.
It's so personal to have it all up there, and it feels like it opens you up to everyone, but I have a feeling even if the actor's might be like "hey I bet there's some deep stuff in this guy' mostly they are looking at the work as a whole, and are excited to participate in it. It's the same for performance art; very personal, often very painful stuff, but the people watching the performances aren't thinking "Man this guy, so disgusting. These experiences, too raw". It's cathartic for the viewers, and the people involved.

But please take what I say with a grain of salt; I don't have a ton of experience outside of theater and chorus and friends in the arts.
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