Facebook friends may poke you, but real friends will push you. They know what you want and what you’re capable of. They don’t let up about your lack of progress. Good friends are a resources, sources of inspiration, and when combined – a loud cheering section.
Trusted friends will challenge you. They know when to slow-walk you to an epiphany and when the moment is better suited to a sharp smack in the face. They can drop all artifice, then drop a bombshell. And you’ll thank them for it. True friends understand your goals and your capacity to work toward them. They help you, guide you, and most importantly they’ll kick your ass when you’re not making the progress you should be.
I’m lucky to have friends like that. They say things like:
- “You’re a really good writer.”
- “Let me know what I can do to help you with your Art Fair project.”
- “You should come here (100’s of miles away) and take some photos”
- “Can you help shoot some studio-style publicity shots?”
They have more faith me than I have in myself. Maybe that’s because they so often only see the final product and not the drafts and the doubts that went into its creation. Or that they never see the project as it is in my mind’s eye, and so they can’t compare it and find all the ways it falls short of my initial inspiration.
Recently a group of them asked me to participate in a project. A video project. I’ve done some video work for them. Nothing fancy, I just recorded performances and added opening and closing credits. What they pitched me was way beyond any video project I’d done before. They were looking for a slickly edited, if campy toned, 90 second spot to play in front of an audience at their next show. When dealing with video, my comfort zone ends with uploading to YouTube so I was nervous.
There were important considerations that I’d never dealt before: the length, the pacing, the voice-over, and the background music. But my friends were asking for help. They had confidence in me. So I had to fake it and pretend that I did too. I never mentioned that I didn’t know how to use After Effects well enough to create the type of animation the project deserved. I didn’t dwell on the fact that I didn’t have a steady cam for smooth handheld shots.
Instead I focused only on what I was able to do. I had good ideas for shots to include in the video. My years watching waaaaay too much Comedy Central would not be wasted. It had given me a good feel for comedic rhythms. Probably most importantly I was used to deadline pressure and could turn the project around in less than a week. This is what I ended up with:
I wasn’t sure I could deliver. But I did. All the things that I worried about. Every nagging doubt that made me want to turn down the project. In the end they all came together. The audience laughed in all the right places! It was a hit. – For the 90 seconds it was on the screen.
It’s great to have such good friends, but that’s not enough. I have to do more to BE that type of friend. It’s important to return the goodwill, respect, and inspiration I receive. I have friends who are creative – talented too. Some of them just need a little self-confidence, some motivation, and occasionally a good swift kick in the ass. I do my best, but I’m not great at being a jerk. Sometimes that’s what it takes. So if I poke you, and not in a Facebook way, just know I’m trying my best to try to encourage you to do your best.