Control

June 13, 2008
 
Robert Genn
 
I was having a conversation with a friend in the movie business. In his world, producers, directors, actors, sound technicians, grips, are all trying to get some
form of control of both their art and others around them. If they don't, they can be waiting by their phones from here to eternity, confined to the dead-letter office of movie history.
 
Control is one of life's principal actions. Parents, kids, husbands, wives, bosses, employees--all attempt some level of control over one another. In the self-motivated world of private art-making, control starts with self-control. Artists who master self-control also find the means to control--at least to some degree--their quality, and their destiny.
 
Self-control is self-management. As a part-time volunteer mentor of painters, I often run into talented folks who just can't find it. For them, lack of self-control can be the worm that spoils the apple. Habit-retraining methods such as the recently mentioned "Early Morning Club" can spur creative growth as well as the bottom line. Here are a few ideas on control:

Wear two hats--the boss hat and the worker hat.
Regulate time for yourself and use it well.
Respect the work of others who are not like you.
Organize your work area and strive for order.
Learn efficiency and study your motions. 
Diversify dependencies--dealers, agents, venues.
Diversify capabilities--don't burn out in one medium.
Control distractions with firmness and respect.
If possible, delegate some activities to assistants.
Learn to hold your baser instincts in check.
Try to limit ego and prejudice--knowledge is power.
Dominate yourself, or someone else will.
Have no guilt for energetic play.
 
It's been my observation that most highly evolved artists strike a balance between studentship and workmanship, between humility and ego, between freedom and control. As my movie friend said, "It must be so cool to be self-employed." I asked him what he considered the most important thing for getting along in the movie business. "Neither an ogre nor a patsy be," he said.
 
Best regards,
 
Robert
 
PS: "The main detriment to movie art is the presence of the 'committee.' Painters who can struggle on their own know not how blessed they are." (Ed Bakony, Film director, educator, walking encyclopedia of film)
 
Esoterica: You may have noticed that many high-profile and celebrated artists are not in control at all. Rather, they're products of their dysfunction and the result of someone else's control and hype. When I talk about "evolved artists," I'm talking about artists who live in the here and now, who wrest quality from themselves during their own lifetimes, who live and love well, and through the power of self-management, thrive. While some sort of remarkable luck or screaming talent aids some artists, self-control is at the root of most successes.