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This episode is sponsored by Petra Kolb

A time of crisis is not just a time of anxiety and worry. It gives a chance, an opportunity, to choose well or to choose badly. Desmond Tutu

Well here we are at the last show of season 10, and it’s been a tough one for me I must admit, as I was only able to batch record perhaps three quarters this season before it smashed right into another project of mine, my short festive horror film, The Traveller. Typically I’ve completed the first pass on the edit just as I come to record this show which reminds me of that Star Trek quote “Mr. Scott, You've fixed the barn door after the horse has come home.” I’ve no real justification for using that quote other than that I like it.

In last week's show I revisited good old Demi Demi with three more motivational messages from the man, which we can all learn from. If you missed it, please go back and check it out. 22 minutes of good advice!

Winston Churchill said, “Never waste a good crisis.” I had planned today to cover something like 5 lessons learned from shooting a creative project in 2023 but after careful consideration, I have decided to focus on just one of them. I often refer to this a turning bad luck into good luck, but from a slight scratch of the surface of the topic during my research this is more commonly referred to as turning a crisis into an opportunity.

In a time of crisis we all have the potential to morph up to a new level and do things we never thought possible. Stuart Wilde

I can give you at least a couple of examples of this from The Traveller, and both come from problems we had when locking down locations as both of our main locations had issues as the days approached during which we had to shoot on them.

The first of these was a Petrol Station at Arrochar. Now the people we were negotiating with will adamantly deny all this but here it is as I experienced it. We had three weeks of conversations about the location, all along the way with them saying that they couldn’t see any issue with it, but as things unfolded, we never seemed to get any closer to having it actually locked. After days of risk assessment, providing proof of insurance, two location visits, permission from the landholder who was leasing them the place, and a lot of schmoozing we got to I think it was pretty much the day before and still didn’t have it locked. We, of course, were pressing them for this but even on that morning we received another email from another level of management, this one in health and safety saying, they didn’t see it being an issue. That afternoon however with less than 24 hours to go and a whole team of people standing by to shoot, we got a message which effectively said no. Or rather it said we can shoot, but we can’t use our own cameras, we cant use batteries or mains power, and we couldn’t go within 4m and 20 cm of any of the pumps. Given that the door to the petrol station shop was approximately 4m 20 from the nearest pump, this effectively meant we couldn’t use the location anyway.

Simultaneous to this we were in negotiations with a park in Glasgow to get access and to shoot the day after we were to shoot at the petrol station. Again, we’d provided everything that was required of us including more detailed risk assessments and at no small expense a five-million-pound insurance policy.

At almost the same time as we lost the 1st location, it came through to us that we couldn’t use this second one either, although it wasn’t entirely clear why.

This was all a phenomenal nightmare that interrupted the flow and time frames of everything else I was arranging at that time including, although certainly not exclusively the recording of this podcast’s next few shows.

The petrol station loss was a clear and total one as the parameters they had set out for us insured that it couldn’t even be recovered, at least not in so short a space of time, so we immediately started looking for an alternative. I had discussed with Neil and Christina prior to this the idea that the scene could equally well be shot in a roadside coffee van or burger van so we started thinking of that sort of thing. It was our lead actor Paddy that suggested a location I’d visited just a couple of weeks before, so after a night of virtual recceing for alternative locations we went straight there the next morning. It was pretty darn perfect as it happens, and as I looked about I realized that the scene would likely work absolutely fine there it wasn’t perhaps as compact a space as I’d have liked but it was an excellent alternative. After a quick negation and a short delay as we waited for permission from head office, we walked away with a deal to shoot there on the Friday. This was I think the Thursday, my days may be off a little, and some £300 lighter, we had locked locations. The fee however not only covered our use of the far end of their car park, but it also covered all food and drinks and the use of their toilet. Yes, it was more costly than the original but it was far simpler to pull together and I can tell you now, it worked perfectly fine for what we were doing and was an excellent location.

You never have real changes unless you have a time of crisis. Milton Friedman

As for the second difficulty, locking down the park, I took the bull by the horns and went in and spoke directly with the manager. I think on that one there had just been a little miscommunication, perhaps they hadn’t quite read what we’d sent them, or they perhaps never actually thought we were serious so it was easier for them to put the whole thing off. I was aiming for dry weather and couldn’t predict what it would be the following week but I agreed to the costs and moved the date. As it happened, we had a perfect night for it, far better that the weather would’ve been like on the initial day that we wanted to shoot.

Another thing that happened that was a bit of a crisis as it meant we didn’t complete on that day due to lost keys, but I went in the next, begged for brief access for myself and Neil and we shot a few things from the night before, we simply wouldn’t have had time to do otherwise.

So, all of these problems, all of these crises effectively led to a series of better opportunities. Even the delay in waiting for access to the park gave us better weather and the opportunity to prep even better for that day. The crisis though was very real and quite stressful, to live through, but we simply refocused, kept good comms going with everyone, and solved things as we went along.

Times of crisis, of disruption or constructive change, are not only predictable, but desirable. They mean growth. Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.Fyodor Dostoevsky

We're often judged by how we do in times of crisis and it’s something that over the years I have become better and better at.

It’s a skill, and it’s something that can be learned.

Navigating life’s challenges and crises can be a painful struggle. In the moment, it’s hard to see how tough times can ever lead to growth and opportunity.

But, as it turns out, the mental fortitude required to turn “lemons into lemonade” is a very valuable skill to develop. Research even shows that, “hardiness is the key to the resiliency for not only surviving, but also thriving, under stress. Hardiness enhances performance, leadership, conduct, stamina, mood and both physical and mental health.”

The cucumber is bitter? Then throw it out. There are brambles in the path? Then go around. That’s all you need to know. Marcus Aurelius

Here are a few thoughts on how to turn a crisis into an opportunity.

  1. First, take a deep breath and collect your thoughts. It’s all too easy to let panic and stress control your thoughts, but allowing those emotions to take over won’t lead to growth. When your mind spirals and catastrophizes, breathe deeply and remind yourself that this moment will pass. The phrase THIS TOO SHALL PASS in fact, is what has got me through my darkest times.

  2. Reach out to others for assistance. Sometimes you just can’t do it all yourself, so reach out to those that you trust, and seek advice. Without the direct help of Christina, Neil, and Paddy when these difficult situations arose on the shoot I would have really struggled to find alternative solutions to the problem. Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed when by simply asking for help you can increase your odds of resolving the issue.

  3. Don’t allow your perception of the crisis to cloud your judgments. When crisis strikes, you might feel like your life is over and that there’s no hope for a better future. Realistically, that’s probably far from the truth. People bounce back from disaster every day. You can challenge those perceptions and you can bounce back, too.

  4. Use this time to re-evaluate your plans. Sometimes, difficult experiences are the perfect wake-up call and catalyst for change. So, when crisis strikes, use it as an opportunity to think about what you really want out of life.

  5. Remember that you can’t control the past. Accepting that we can’t control the past can be a bitter truth to accept. But, it’s impossible to embrace the future while obsessing over past failures and mistakes. Don’t allow yourself to feel helpless or hopeless, - simply remember that you can control your actions. Focus your energy on future possibilities and keeping a healthy mindset, and you’ll be much closer to turning crisis into opportunity.

  6. When faced with chronic issues and setbacks, learn how to look at the bigger picture. Some crises are acute and will only happen once. Others are more chronic and happen throughout your life. Things like depression, anxiety, struggles with self-esteem, and other long-lasting dilemmas can occur throughout life. To move beyond the cycle of struggle, practice assessing your own emotions and behaviors without judgment. It will be much easier to objectively assess the bigger picture and see a path forward.

  7. Accept That Crisis Will Happen. This is my mindset whenever I go into anything new. It’s a stoic philosophy. You’ve probably heard that frustrating-but-true maxim that the only constant in life is change. Crises are unavoidable. Whether it’s a relationship breakdown or getting fired, we will all face some kind of hardship in our lives. But adapting how we view and approach these struggles might actually allow us to turn them into something meaningful.

  8. Learn from mistakes. Perhaps the simplest of all opportunities born out of a crisis: grow as individuals and organizations as a result of dealing with the disaster.

  9. Have a backup plan. Anticipate (think negatively). I kinda got tricked into believing all was well. I didn’t have a backup plan ready to go, just some ideas about it. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security, and have a plan just in case important things fall through at the last minute.

Let me end this one today by adding that change and growth rarely happen when we’re comfortable. Growth and fundamental levels of change only tend to occur when we are out of our comfort zone. So we might look at the crisis as a blessing in disguise, albeit an unwanted one. At the heart of turning crisis into opportunity is mental reframing. You don’t have to ignore the reality of the situation, but you can change how you view it. Use the experience of being out of your comfort zone to seize opportunities.

Out of adversity comes opportunity. Benjamin Franklin.

I must end it there as I have a shoot to arrange for Sunday and I’m out of time, but I urge you to look at the stoic philosophies that delve into this topic. Look to Marcus Aurelius or Seneca for some great advice on this stuff. Aurelius said “Demand not that events should happen as you wish; but wish them to happen as they do happen, and your life will be serene.” – Let that be your motto when it comes to times of crisis, and remember the words of Seneca too - To bear trials with a calm mind robs misfortune of its strength and burden.

So I’m going offline again for 12 weeks. I tried the show weekly for a year and I don’t think it's necessary to do that anymore. I have shows going out bi-weekly for the next 14 months on the youtube channel @filmproproductivity3443, or just search Youtube for Film Pro Productivity and it will appear before you.

I will be looking for a new Executive producer and 12 new episode sponsors before season 11 airs with episode 137 on the I think it’s the 14th of May 2023 – Although I may have miscounted that one. Exec producer is £150 for the season, name in the show notes of every show with links, and listed in the end credits of each show. Sponsorships are on an episode-by-episode basis and cost just £15 for show, name, and links in the credits and name at the to of the show in the form of this episode is sponsored by… Payment made by Paypal. Please get in touch if that’s of interest and if you love the show and genuinely want to hear more episodes please leave me a positive review on Apple podcasts.

I’ll end today with some words from Rudyard Kipling in his poem IF who wrote “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you” he says, then “Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it”

Now take control of your own destiny, keep on shootin’ and join me next season on FILM PRO PRODUCTIVITY AND SUCCESS!

  • The music you can hear right now is Adventures by A Himitsu and the exec producer this season is Christopher McPhillips from Artos Digital

  • You can view the show notes for this episode on the official website

  • You can follow my personal account on Twitter and Instagram @fight_director or follow the show on Twitter @filmproprodpod or on Facebook @Filmproproductivity

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Season 10 Executive Producer: Christopher McPhillips from Artos Digital

2-time winners of 'Social Media Agency of the Year' at the Prestige Awards; Artos Digital specializes in marketing communications, coaching, and personal branding. Owner Christopher McPhillips launched the business from his home in Bathgate and now works alongside his wife, Electra, for specialized event management and fundraising. Enjoying a broad portfolio of clients over the years, ranging from established enterprises to start-ups - a good fit for Artos Digital given their adaptable and agile approach. Christopher and Electra have combined their talents for three significant clients this past year: Reconnect, an SCIO who runs the Regal Theatre in Bathgate; Pro2 Wrestling in Ayr; and Puppet Animation Scotland in Edinburgh.

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A Himitsu

Music By: Music by A Himitsu

Track: Adventures by A Himitsu

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