What does it take to declare artistic independence? To decide that you don’t have to wait for the industry, for anyone, to allow you to be an artist? To take command of your career and express yourself independent of an industry that just doesn’t have the capacity to take care of you?
This is an industry that will celebrate you when your film is up for an award. It will chase you when you have a million YouTube followers. Hell, it’ll even take credit for the pilot you just had picked up. But in the meantime, waiting for the industry to seek you out—wherever you might be—is tantamount to giving up.
What does it take to change that? To have the industry chase you instead of you chasing it? To be in tangible command of your career?
It takes you getting off your ass and making something happen. It takes you creating something. Something by yourself, with a group of friends, with colleagues you don’t even know yet. It takes rethinking your place in this business, believing that you deserve to be here, and claiming your seat at the table. It takes giving up any need for permission and granting yourself license to write and create whatever you want. It requires that you put yourself out there, that you take action, even if it’s baby steps, to be the master of your own mad invention.
And isn’t it tempting? Terrifying perhaps. But tempting. Waking up to something that you love to do every day. Writing all night until you can’t see straight, and coming out the other end with a magically transformed script. And then workshopping it till your friends say, “Just shoot the thing!” And you do! And it’s really good. Or even if it’s not, even if it sucks, you learn a shitload about filmmaking, and then… do it again! And after a bunch of tries, you create something that strikes a chord in the hearts of many.
That’s how it works. That’s how work is born. That’s how relationships are forged. That’s how a solid career is built and sustained. That is success.
Nobody can take that away from you. Nobody can tell you what to write or make. At least not until they pay you enough money to earn your attention. What you write, what you create, what you bring into existence, is yours. And it feels so right.
And these days, in the current climate of this business, the only way to combat the frustration of not being seen, the only way to rekindle the spark of excitement that cemented you being an actor in the first place, the only way to keep the flame lit for the long life of your career, is to make work.
Making work can happen in so many different ways. Putting up a play with a group of your peers. Writing and shooting a short film. Writing your screenplay. Blogging about what you love to do. Creating a comedy video or a series of sketches for Funny or Die or YouTube. Producing a podcast series. Etc…
Start with considering the possibility. What turns you on? What are you burning to say? What’s your story? Now, what would it take to sit down and just begin to write?
It simply requires beginning. Start with an idea. Meditate, daydream, set aside designated quiet time. Seriously, just give yourself 10 minutes of quiet and see what comes up. Afterwards, write.
Or if you work best in partnership, find collaborators and write with them.
You are more than an actor who waits for the email that tells you to go to an audition in Santa Monica at 5 p.m. for one line in a commercial. (And we’re not knocking that; it can pay the rent for a year!) But seriously, it’s soul crushing.
You’re more than that. You’re an artist. A creative force. You need to exercise your artistic independence. You need, in fact, to create another career, one that expands your self-expression and your productivity. The industry requires it. Your creative growth demands it. You know you want it.
Every actor we know who has taken their talent to another dimension has found deep satisfaction in creating their own work. They feel gratified, giddy even, in having taken that step, and they won’t ever turn back. They’re accomplished artists. And most of all, they’re happier, more empowered people. And, funny enough, they’re better actors for it.
It all comes around. Shouldn’t you be making something?
Here are some BGB Actors who’ve taken action and created something, often many things. Take a look as they talk about their journeys as writers and filmmakers, artists who are creating their own work. These are storytellers who have stepped into their Artistic Independence. Take a page from their stories… and DIY!