As some of you might know I started up my own company last year together with a former colleague of mine. I was expecting hard work – which it has been – and some challenging moments, which also have appeared from time to time. What I was hoping for, but didn’t fully dare count on, was the greater flexibility this would allow me regarding possibilities, job offers, people reaching out to find collaborators and partners etc.
I’m delighted that this flexibility has not only emerged, but also been more inspiring than I could’ve hoped for. Right now the greater challenge is to prioritise between different possibilities; unfortunately declining a number of interesting proposals and invitations, simply because there’s not enough hours in the day or days in the week.
One of the assignments I however was happy to say yes to was mentoring at the Documentary Campus Masterschool, focusing on the cross media potentials of each documentary project accepted into the Masterschool. As I’m writing this blog post I’m on my way to a three day workshop in Sheffield where we’ll dive into 15 different documentary projects together with half a dozen experts from different fields.
One of the most important aspects for all of these projects, and consequently for next to all other pieces of content that are being produced and distributed right now is to shift the mind to the realities of the new content world, radically changed since just 10 years ago. We need to think a lot more WE and a lot less ME when content is being created and shared.
I love this video excerpt by the late great Orson Welles, a guest on the Dinah Shore Show in the 70s, as he talks about working the audience:
”A great many-headed beast lurking in the dark” was an apt description back then, and remained fairly accurate for the next 30 years or so. The thing today is that there’s no one lurking anywhere anymore. Everyone is fully out in the light, supporting, confronting, discussing, reworking and repurposing any kind of content or story they find interesting, amusing, offensive or something else. This is a shift in mindset that all of us – documentary filmmakers as well as anyone else creating something – need to address.
When I say “think WE”, I really mean we. Whatever kind of content you create there’s not going to be just one person involved. There are the backers or collaborators. The financiers and the partners. The audience and their audiences. There are a lot of people that can fit into the “WE” of a story or a piece of content.
That’s the mindset I would encourage any creator to adapt – to, from the start, adapt ot a “WE” regarding any project. The other partners in the “WE” might not even be aware of your project or your story yet. But when they do become aware, the fact that you have been developing it with them in mind will make it all the more inviting for all of them to enter into your story world and contribute as you’ve intended all along, since the routes are laid out already.
For some good examples of how to directly and continuously address your audience (and thereby beginning the process of creating your own community, a thing of immense value) head over to Twitch. There, you can watch some of the best gamers and game streamers today create live content on the go, while interacting with their audiences, their “tribe”, continuously. The best of them do it very naturally, handle heckling or spam in a mature (mostly) and thoroughly deflecting way, view the world as a collaboration between them and a great number of other people, while still retaining clear strategies and goals for their output.
Whenever you start creating content, remember it’s WE and never just ME.