We All Secretly Want to Be Movie Stars

And other truths I learned by making tiny films.

We All Secretly Want to Be Movie Stars
Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

It started over a decade ago. One of my sisters came up with the idea to create a birthday video for one of my other sisters (I have a lot of sisters). It would contain personal messages from all our family and friends. I warmed to the idea and picked up an actual camera — yes, we used to use them in those days — and began rolling.

I quickly found myself absorbed in the process of editing and discovered that I loved seeing a movie come together. I also found that there was much to learn along the way.

Allow Your Positive Instincts to Override Your Doubts

There are countless reasons not to work on something you’ve always considered bringing to life — whether it’s a small initiative or a monumental dream.

It will definitely take away time from more productiveendeavours. You might discover that you don’t really enjoy the process. The end product might not be as good as you want it to be (this is more than likely, especially when you begin).

Even so, you can choose to be a person who finds ways to make things happen. It may mean you need to scale down your initial vision, ask for help, or take a route that’s different to the one you originally intended.

The birthday videos I enjoy making require the cooperation of many people. Often before I begin working on one, I worry that I’ll be annoying others by asking for their time and constantly sending them reminders to submit their footage.

However, the worst thing that can happen is that they say no. The truth is that if you are prepared to be patient, understanding, and appeal to people’s better nature, they will often surprise you.

We Crave an Outlet for Our Joy and Creativity

It’s amazing how enthusiastically most people respond when you put out a message asking them to participate in a collaborative video, especially when it’s light-hearted in tone.

They’ll come up with highly original costumes and bust out their best dance moves. You’ve given them a license, just for a few seconds, to be silly and dramatic and pretend they’re in a Bollywood movie. It’s not a chance we often get.

For almost as long as we’ve been around as a species on this planet, our spirits have thrived through singing, dancing and performing with others. In a time where many of us spend much more time consuming than creating, it’s especially powerful to feel like part of a communal endeavour, particularly one that’s designed to surprise and delight a person you care about.

You don’t need much to build something beautiful.

Friends, a laptop, access to the internet, the clutter around your home (including that striking purple wig you bought for a costume party and thought you’d never use again ) — when it comes to most creative projects, these will get you further along than you might think.

It can be curiously satisfying to figure out how to work with a limited number of resources.

Bringing People Together is Extremely Powerful

These days, our family and friends are scattered far and wide across most continents. Even Skype calls happen less often than we might like (and they still feel too impersonal to me).

I often marvel silently at how these little films stitch together people who have never met (and perhaps never will) for a common purpose. Wouldn’t it feel amazing to spend an evening with all the people you’ve ever loved?

While it’s unlikely that all those you care about will ever be present under one roof at a given time, the magic of technology can bring a lucky recipient of a birthday video a little closer to that reality.

It’s worth learning when to disregard people’s advice (including, of course, mine).

You are likely to receive an endless stream of external messages you receive about how to build on a small project from well-wishers and from social media. In the midst of these, please remember your gut. It’s a wonderful organ and probably deserves more of your trust. In the end, you’re the one who’s best placed to decide whether or not you want to earn an income from a hobby or significantly change the manner in which you carry it out.

It’s high time for us to stop focusing on money, scale and the number of followers as the sole measures of an idea’s validity — we also need to consider other currencies, such as how much peace, flow or joy may result from whatever it is that we want to bring to the world.

As a friend of mine pointed out recently, it’s worth leaving aside all other considerations for a little while and giving yourself the time and space to find out what you sincerely want to make or how you wish to be.

Following your inclinations in that respect will make you, at the very least, the star of your own movie. Given the times we live in, it may also be something of a tiny but beautiful rebellion.

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