On Friday June 8th I had the pleasure of attending a conversation between Ted Hope (Producer/Partner/Founder, Double Hope Films) and Eddie Burns (Writer/Director/Actor) during the 2012 Vimeo Film Festival where they discussed how hugely important failure was in the creative process. They discussed the importance of embracing failure in creative work, with postcards from their own personal dark days—jobs that went wrong, ideas that fizzled out, expectations decidedly unexceeded—and exploring how failing miserably is crucial to artistic achievement (and even finding happiness).
For all accounts it was inspiring to hear two very successful filmmakers talk about their failures. Each told stories of projects went wrong, movies they thought would never see the light of day and the paralyzing effect of failure and how they overcame it.
Eddie talked about how the success of THE BROTHERS MCMULLEN (his first feature) and then SHE'S THE ONE (his second) gave him a sense of confidence that left him paralyzed after his third movie NO LOOKING BACK flopped. It paralyzed his writing for 3 years. He thought he needed to write a hit based on Hollywood standards. Eddie ultimately realized that telling personal stories and spending those "12 days on set" was what really brought him joy. He found happiness and went back to telling the small personal stories that got him the success in the first place.
Ted talked about the importance of remain humble no matter how successful you are. He told stories of placing high expectations on his work after his previous successes and the feelings of failure that consumed him when he did not live up to those expectations.
Eddie's advice: Do what you do because you love it. Keep creating. He spoke of the advice someone once gave him in regards to not letting negative reviews stunt your creative work. It's like when you break up with someone. If you fall for someone else you don't care what your ex is doing... but if you are single and you find out that your ex is with someone else... there's a problem. You have to finish a project and then start the next one and fall in love with it. If the reviews don't go your way it won't be so devastating because you are already working on something else that brings you joy.
Ted's advice was to remain prolific. Don't just think about the project you are creating.. think about how you are going to sustain the process of creating. With over 70 feature films produced, Ted has lived by his advice and found a way to keep creating.
I found this overall to be very inspiring, reminding me that I need to continue to press through my failures and use them For The Win.