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Some doors are best left closed. George R. R. Martin

This is the fourth and final short test episode that I am doing this season so if you have any feedback to give on the format of these new style shows please get in touch via the official website or twitter @filmproprodpod or Facebook @filmproproductivity!

I often talk of opening and closing doors on this show but it’s been something I’ve also got into several conversations about lately so I thought it worth a special mention on one of these shorter episodes. Hopefully you will agree.

Generally, when I talk about opening and closing doors I am talking in terms of taking on too many things. As discussed in the last show you need to ruthlessly prioritize what you are getting yourself into and the best way to do that is to always be prepared to turn down what at first may appear to be an opportunity. My default answer to most in inverted commas “opportunities” is no, simply because I already have a lot on my plate. It’s only financially rewarding opportunities that are given a pass on that one.

My commitments are what I call open doors. Any unfinished projects or promises or affairs that are not yet settled. If I am going to take on a new task, I generally speaking like to have closed another one first. For example, I have just had a message from the director of Mercy Falls, on which we will be shooting pickups next week, but I am currently pushing through to complete two episodes of this podcast. I replied with a text saying I’ll call him this afternoon, but I will put this episode to bed before I do that. If I were to call him right now, this episode would be interrupted and it may take me half an hour to get back into the right frame of mind. It’s not imminent, or urgent that I speak to him as its to arrange a meetup later in the week so I chose to complete this first. I’d love to stop and chat but I am forcing myself not to.

On a broader scale I no longer commit to too many projects either, and every month I have someone wanting me to come onto a project with them, unpaid, often a writer or an actor with an idea that would like to do a film with me but from experience I know that these projects very rarely work out. I have I think upset a good number of people in recent years as my default answer to this, even if I know the person well is no. I simply can’t keep getting into bed with people that want to do projects as these doors open and sometimes will never be closed until months or years of my time have been sucked into them. Opened doors on which I have little control to close on my own could go on till the point where I have to forcibly shut them incomplete and that always creates bad feeling.

I know plenty of people who have never learned to open and close doors and they are they live in a world of overwhelm. They have so many doors open in life that they cannot get anything done. When someone comes to them with a new opportunity they jump right in – but you’re not doing anyone any favours if you say you’ll help someone else out and then do can’t find the time to help. Saying no to opportunities will solve this problem, because let’s face it not every opportunity is an opportunity.

And some people will open the door of opportunity for you, say an actor with an idea for a short film, but in effect when you type every word of the script as they are useless, and arrange every element of the film, handing them a producer and a co-writer title in the process then they are bringing you no opportunity at all. You could have spent all that time and energy on your own project, so why didn’t you?

When opportunities come to me I always look at them with a cold eye. Is there an opportunity here? Is it something I want to get involved in? Is the person that approached me any good? Why should I do this? If I do this, what impact will it have on my own projects, on my life, on my bank balance etc? I say this to actors all the time when a low budget casting comes up. I say you are auditioning the filmmaker. I say check them out. Have they got talent? Have you seen their work? Is it any good? Would you’re doing this film benefit you or would it actually slow your career down?

Close some doors today. Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because they lead you nowhere. Paulo Coelho

Of course, not every door should be refused. Sometimes opportunities will come along that are “once in a lifetime”. My biggest regret was turning down the opportunity to head over to Canada and get onto the set of Stargate SG1 in the nineties. I turned it down as I had a lot going on here, and the local opportunities were coming thick and fast. I’m sure I could have fitted that trip in, which came to me through someone on their stunt team but I regretfully gave it a miss. I think though if I’d turned down a few lesser opportunities here, and taken a break I could easily have fitted it in. I am a bit more attuned these days to recognising the real opportunities that come my way and far more committed to opening my own doors, or doors to my own projects than I was then.

I’ll end this short show there, but urge you to keep as many doors as you can shut as you go through life. There’s sometimes nothing worse than an open door that’s a drag, an incomplete project, an incomplete productivity loop to steal away mental energy and slow you down. If you are opening any exciting new doors, always make sure that you close a few old unproductive or incomplete ones along the way.

Your call to action is to do just that. Are their any incomplete loops, open doors in your life that with a very little effort you could close and lock shut? Get closing them right now and watch your productivity, your mental health and your goals begin to blossom.

Next weeks show is all about To Do lists, which I’ve always thought should really be called Do lists, to take away the doubt. Please join me for that but -

I’ll end now with a quote from Alexander Graham Bell “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

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

• The music you can hear right now is Adventures by A Himitsu

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Thanks: A Himitsu Music: Adventures by A Himitsu


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