I have just returned from the amazing Guadalajara Film Festival where I was a guest at their industry days. There I saw some terrific movies and met dozens of incredibly talented Latin American filmmakers – each at the festival pitching their projects and looking for co-production partners.

Sitting on the long flight home (via Dallas) I had pause to consider and reflect on film talent and the big difference between Latin American filmmakers and their filmmaking and screenwriting colleagues back here in the UK. Here’s the difference I think: In LAtin America as here, many filmmakers go to film school. What I encounter day after day here in Britain are ‘talented’ screenwriters and filmmakers who moan and complain about the fact that their projects aren’t being funded, how their careers have stalled. This constant complaining is something I didn’t appreciate until I was on the long flight home.

I then spoke to Tiska [Teesh-ka] Wiedermann, Head of our Postgraduate Film Degree who told me she too has heard this all before – but from her base in Toronto. There was something that resonated with me, but I just couldn’t figure out what it was until Tiska sent me a profound email.

Tiska pretty much sums it up for me, and hopefully you too. You might want to print this out and hang it on the wall where you work, or stick it on the refrigerator door to remind you what it is really all about every time you start feeling sorry for yourself and head to the kitchen for some comfort food.

Why Film Talent Sucks

by Tiska Wiedermann

You don’t get a medal for being talented.
There isn’t an academy award for ‘innate talent’
You get a medal for squeezing your balls and ACHIEVING something.
Every single talented person who got recognized did so because
they overcame their fear and created something magnificent  = TALENT + FEARLESSNESS
OR
They shut up, didn’t complain, kept their head down and worked harder than anyone else  = TALENT + SWEAT
OR
They worked a room and convinced people they were talented  = TALENT + charisma

Talent alone doesn’t mean anything

Talent doesn’t make you special.

Everyone has talent.
90% of people just squander every opportunity to use it.

You don’t get executive roles for being talented
You get those roles for being fearless (even while you’re fearful)
For pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone (even when it’s scary)

For being a leader that others want to follow (even though you want someone to tell you what to do)

For taking personal responsibility for your own life (even though you want to blame others)

You don’t get a leadership role if you refuse to leave your room.

You don’t get recognized or get a title if you spend your time complaining you don’t get recognized or get a title. duh

Please don’t talk to me about talented people

I don’t give a fuck about talent
I only give a fuck about people who go out and try

You see: The Latin American filmmakers are working their socks off to get their projects made. They are working under the kinds of duress and disadvantages we don’t suffer from in Europe. They’re hungry. They’re doing it. They aren’t sitting back waiting for the sugar daddies and mommies to come along. They’re making their movies come hell or high water. And that is why the Mexicans are dominating the world of film right now. The reason why we say they have talent is because they produce results.

They prove what Tiska says is right. Talent sucks. It doesn’t matter. what matters is actions.

Do me a favour.
That great movie you’ve been thinking bout? And telling everybody you want to make?

Please stop thinking and talking about it. Just do it.
While you are at it, check out Raindance Raw Talent’s new Project Incubator.

About 

Photo Credit Jay Brooks / BIFA 2015

Elliot Grove is the founder of Raindance Film Festival and the British Independent Film Awards. He has produced over 700 hundred short films and also five feature films, including the multi-award-winning The Living and the Dead in 2006, Deadly Virtues in 2013 and AMBER in 2017. He teaches screenwriting and producing in the UK, Europe, Asia and America.

Raindance trailer 2017

Elliot has written three books which have become industry standards: Raindance Writers’ Lab: Write + Sell the Hot Screenplay, now in its second edition, Raindance Producers’ Lab: Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking and Beginning Filmmaking: 100 Easy Steps from Script to Screen (Professional Media Practice).

In 2009 he was awarded a PhD for services to film education.

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