There are times where I get really down and unmotivated. I don’t want to say that I’m depressed, because I don’t think it’s a chemical thing. Those days, I don’t think I’m good enough. I always say that I am my own worst critic. Sometimes, it’s a good thing when I’m editing and reviewing my projects, other times it’s horrible when I try to rationalize a pass on a competition or my low feedback scores.
I’ve been like that since I can remember. I was always hard on myself to do well in school and sports. I wanted to get top marks and I wanted to be the best in basketball. I wanted to prove to people who thought that I wasn’t good enough or “strong” enough to accomplish these goals wrong. I attribute a lot of my successes in life to that drive I had, the motivation to say “just because I’m hearing impaired, doesn’t mean I can’t succeed”.
I had a few great teachers in high school that pushed me and encouraged me to do well, but I’ll never forget my TV Production teacher, Mr. Toland. Before I took his class, I was still on the fence about going into the industry. I knew I wanted to do something with writing and storytelling, but I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make it in the film industry. During his class, he taught us different roles and aspects of working in the film and television world. We got to work with newsroom professional cameras, a switchboard and graphics maker. We also learned how to edit on both AVID and Final Cut Pro. It was more hands on experience than I imagined.
I thought I was doing great in class. Most of my projects were A/B-level. But, when working on my last few projects, Mr. Toland’s feedback grew more critical. For instance, one time I thought my editing was going well, he came up to watch what I had finished, and said, “It could be better, try again.” He said at that moment it wasn’t A-level material.
Let me be clear about this, not one of my teachers had ever told me to “try again” or “you can do better”. I’d always got “This is good work. Keep it up.” or “You didn’t meet what was required, better luck next time.” So when he told me this, I cried. I was devastated to think that maybe this wasn’t the right career for me. After a couple breaths, I took his advice and continued to edit and work harder on my short film. My final edit got an “A”.
I learned something from him. I learned that even when you think you’ve done your best… there’s still more to work on. I learned that final drafts are never final. It was the push I needed to continue down the film path and I carried it with me as I went off to college.
Sometimes I feel like giving up after I get a rejection email, but then I remember what Mr. Toland told me, “It could be better, try again.”
I’m going to keep trying… again and again… until I finally get it just right that someone will say, “Yes.”
Upon researching for this blog, I learned that Mr. Toland has retired and that particular course is no longer being offered. It hurts me to think that future students from my school won’t get that awesome opportunity I had with hands on experience on set. I don’t think Mr. Toland even remembers me as a student, but I’ll always remember him. Hopefully someone as great at Mr. T will go in and fill that void.
Until then, my advice to the aspiring film students at MHS: don’t give up on your dreams, find a way to learn, work hard, and remember, you can always improve your work.