“If you feel safe in the area that you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth, and when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.” David Bowie
So that was David Bowie there with a message that I’ve had pinned to my wall for at least 2 years now. I always thought I need to talk about that on the show. There’s a key in that message that will unlock success for some of my listeners. Since this is episode one of season 8 and season 8 marks a slight change in format to smaller more edible shows, I felt it a good topic to bring to you today.
But what’s it all about? What gallery? Where? What the hell is he on about? I realise all the more these days that this show is listened to by an international audience and I try to control my accent somewhat as a result and this idiom may not be something that you recognise in your culture. An idiom btw and I had to look this one up myself - is a phrase or expression that typically presents a figurative, non-literal meaning attached to the phrase; although some phrases become figurative idioms while retaining the literal meaning of the phrase.
This particular idiom, to play to the gallery derives from the mid-17th century when the highest seating in a theatre was called the gallery, and it was here that the cheapest seats—and the least refined members of the audience—were to be found. Playing to the gallery simply means acting in an exaggerated or histrionic manner, especially in order to appeal to popular taste. To do things that one thinks will be popular among many people instead of doing what one thinks is right.
Bowie speaks here about artistic integrity and taking risks and that’s why it’s relevant to creativity, productivity and success. More and more these days I have come to realise that playing the same old tune, not taking risks and staying in our comfort zones, in general, is not a fast track to any form of success. A few episodes ago Abo Demi Demi said the same thing. He said Comfort Zone is a very beautiful place but no one is growing there. /
Be YOU. Don't be someone else. YOU are a unique individual. Be proud... rock it loud. Apolo Ohno
When Bowie says “It’s terribly dangerous for an artist to fulfil other peoples’ expectations. They produce their worst work when they do that.” He is issuing a warning to every one of us. I don’t want you to miss it though as it’s an easy one to dismiss. If you are looking for success on say YouTube or social media and you do exactly the same as everyone else you are never going to stand out. You are never really going to shine. You can practice and get better at certain things but if you aren’t taking risks you’ll only ever be someone who is competent. Competence is good, but for real high-level success, you want to be stand out as brilliant.
He goes on to say that “If you feel safe in the area that you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth, and when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”
He’s talking of course about getting comfortable being uncomfortable. About getting just far enough out of your comfort zone to begin to stand out. I see this in filmmakers all the time and it’s why I kinda hate short film schemes, not that I even bother applying for them anymore. I’ve been on one though and we were encouraged in my opinion not just to play to the gallery they even showed us films that had been successful with an inference that these are the sort of films we should be making. For me though the exercise was one in perpetuating boredom. The films we were shown were in many ways exceptional but they’d all been done, some of them done to death in fact. They weren’t edgy and although perhaps they once were, they certainly weren’t anymore.
There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate - the genetic and neural fate - of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death. Oliver Sacks
I am not going to go on and on about this today. I am still learning this new format and adapting and improving it.
In whatever you are doing creatively, whether it’s making films, writing them, acting in them or whatever, if you are an artist of any type I want you to do yourself a favour and don’t wear yourself out trying to please everybody. Your time on earth here is too short to do that. It seems that politicians these days are more interested in playing to the gallery than exercising a real influence on world events but the ones that stand out to me are the ones that are fixing the stuff that matters - That are talking about the stuff that others aren’t. The artists and music makers that stand out are the ones that produce something familiar but unique to them, the filmmakers that I see getting lifted up from low-budget hell are only the ones that produce something that is stand out as brilliant and unique.
Call to Action
Your call to action is to listen to the advice of David Bowie and take it on board. Don’t just passively move on and keep doing what you have always done. That way leads to mediocrity and never to success. Remember what you were once passionate about and actively try to bring your own uniqueness to the work you do by stepping just far enough out of your comfort zone that you are beginning to grow. Bowie’s advice matters – and if you want to hear it again I’ll play it at the end of the credits.
Next week's show talks about being a jack of all trades. Is this a good thing or bad? Listen in to find out more.
I’ll end today with a quote from Herbert Bayard Swope who said I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure - which is: Try to please everybody.
Now take control of your own destiny, keep on shootin’ and join me next time on FILM PRO PRODUCTIVITY AND SUCCESS!
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Alix from Switchblade Cinema currently working on their feature Kill Your Lover
Season 8 Executive Producer: David Richard Thompson
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-IPF- Support Parkour Teachers Teaching Globally… a fundraiser (Including 12 video clips of some of our Peace Through Parkour Ambassador teachers and others)
Thanks: A Himitsu Music: Adventures by A Himitsu
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