The thing that I like best about podcasting is hearing people’s back stories about why they got into the independent arts business. As a relative outsider myself, they’re even more compelling when they involve someone making the transitions from being a fan to being an active contributor to the indie community.
Malise Hulme has such a story and it’s a good one too. I’ve had the pleasure of working with her a few times over the course of the past year. A consummate professional, she is always the first person to extend help to any indie artist that asks for it and is one of the most cooperative and reliable people that I’ve met in the process of doing my show.Malise, the floor is yours…
From Fan to Producer:
by: Malise Hulme
by: Malise Hulme
Until a few months ago, I was happily on the ‘fan’ side of indie movies and webshows industry. I neither expected, nor even considered, any possibility of myself being on the other side of it all: behind the scenes, working with the people who make the things I’ve enjoyed so much, helping produce them, heck even starting to plan for my own!The road that got me from there to here: well that’s a whole tale in itself, and not what I’m here to talk about right now. Today I want to tell you about my experience in becoming a producer, a PR hack, a social media guru, a creator, a peer, a colleague – working with those I was previously a fan of.
There are, of course, a few potential issues with stepping from one side of the screen to the other. Pulling back the curtain to see how everything works can be problematic. This is the Wizard of Oz syndrome – behind all the fancy visuals, there’s just a guy pulling switches, and he’s not all that impressive to look at in comparison.If you read the rest of the Oz books, though, turns out he’s a nice guy, and he does eventually become a pretty good wizard, given the time and the opportunity. Maybe there’s something in that. The making of a feature, the people involved: if you’re expecting it all to be large and grand and impressive as the tricks make it look, then you’re going to be disappointed. If instead, you expect human people working hard, things going wrong and needing to be worked out, and a final product that has taken time, trouble, effort, work, and a ton of passion and love – then you’re getting somewhere.
It’s worth noting here that I am a storyteller, although never previously in this medium. I write the occasional book, so I know the hard work that goes into the finished product. However, I normally write alone, not with a whole bunch of other people: to date I have never worked with the authors I’m a fan of, even if they’re friends: I possess no practical knowledge of how films and webshows are actually put together. I’d had some fun supporting the odd person/project I was a fan of, but behind the scenes? Nope.So here I suddenly was – completely unexpectedly and, to my mind, out of nowhere and for completely unfathomable reasons – on the other side. Not just anyplace on the other side, I was now a colleague, even a friend, to people I had previously been a mere fan of. More even than that, I realised I was now supposed to be on an equal with people who are incredibly, and multi, talented, with years of experience.
Now, as a fan – I’m pretty happy with chatting to those whose work I enjoy. They’re humans too, and if I’m interested in them and what they do it’s usually because they’re talented and decent people. As a fan, no problem.As an inexperienced newbie with only a fraction of the skills and talents that the rest of 8 Sided Films possesses in ridiculously large amounts? Now that’s different. Suddenly finding out the struggles, the process, the amount of work – and the responsibilities I had gained myself to all these people? Cue panic! Worries about whether being behind the scenes would ruin my experience in front of it? Honestly, they never even touched me: I was far too busy worrying about letting down people who had decided to trust me with an awful lot!
In some ways I’m lucky. As has been pointed out to me many times, I tend to jump at a chance to do something cool and just dive right in with both feet. This was useful, because by the time I was starting to worry about thigns, I’d already jumped in and started going – no way I was going to back out then!There’s another way in which I’m lucky: I cannot exaggerate one iota the level of awesomeness contained within the cast and crew at 8 Sided Films. Just watching them has been more than enough for me to learn an awful lot. Had questions? Always answered, never mocked. In the past few months I’ve learned, grown, become confident enough to step out both within the company, to start defining my role and finding my place: but also without, to support others and even start my own projects. I’m sure one day I’ll even feel like I am, in fact, an equal to these people – but in the meantime, I continue to grow.
Working with them on Sass X Acceleration and Quantum Theory is proving to be quite the experience. Managing the social media, trying to keep track of what people are doing so I can support it, chatting to fans and to anyone else I happen to come across, it’s all a lot of fun. Learning the problems and the pitfalls, knowing when things aren’t going as well as hoped: this is adding to my understanding of how much work it takes to put something out there – and how brave you have to be to even begin, way before you open yourself to criticism with a finished product.Learning how to assert the practical side of my brain before the emotional one; to learn that the others in the group are trusting me; to start trusting my own ideas; to realise that the insane amount of energy they all have is something I possess too, because I have a passion for the projects and the aims and the missions: to realise that I may have found something that I truly love and want to keep doing: these have been major themes over the past few months. Waking up every day and knowing that, whatever else is going on, I can use some of my time to go things to help people are deserve that effort, and in helping them help others, all by doing something I’m loving: hey, nothing’s perfect, nothing goes right all the time, with all of this comes responsibility: but when it’s worth it, it’s worth it!
Being an author, even though I will read something occasionally and my inner writer will chip in the odd comment, I’ve mostly learned to simply read something and take it for what it is. Whether I like the book or not, knowing the work that went into creating it and getting it to where I’m reading it – I have nothing but respect for that, and for everyone involved.Similarly, on the inside track at 8 Sided Films, on Quantum Theory, on Sass X Acceleration, on all the things to come – I have no doubt that I will enjoy watching the things we make even more because I know what went into them. In fact, looking at something that I know and have seen be worked at and made, something I had a small part in making as good as it could be: I think I’ll enjoy it more than ever.
Pulling back the curtain isn’t for everyone. Making the transition from watcher to producer, fan to colleague – they’re things to be careful if choosing to do. I have no problem admitting that I remain somewhat daunted and suffering from inadequacy when I look at the people I work with – but actually, I’d be more concerned if I wasn’t. It means I’m working with people I can learn from, who are great at what they do, who it is a pleasure to know and work with, and with whom I can grow and become something more.It’s not the thing for everyone, and I took a big chance in putting myself in a position where I am on both sides of those lines. It could have gone quite wrong (and technically still could): but the only thing that has ever fired me up, inspired me, and gotten me as excited as writing those stories always has, is working with these guys. I think I’m good – and I can’t wait to show you the great things we’re all making!
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