You Are Responsible For What You Create

BY ANNETTE LANGE

Creativity, art, storytelling and cinematography  is a fascinating world with seemingly no limits. It can heal, harden or soften hearts in ways nothing else can. With this ability comes great responsibility.

CREATIVE FREEDOM

Most of us are fortunate enough to be allowed to create whatever we want. As wonderful as it is, it also creates the potential for danger and room for abuse. Hence the stigma of artists seeing themselves as above society’s rules and seeing no need to abide by them.

This entitlement for creative expression is often a breeding ground for selfishness and not of use to anyone. The options for artists to create are limitless and should by all means be explored, because it can simultaneously be a breeding ground for beauty.

MANUFACTURING CULTURE

Creative freedom shapes a culture and its humanity. One could almost say artists manufacture culture, because they help define cultural attitudes.  Art, (in this case film), is the most accessible form of art and is not exclusive to certain social classes or ages.

There are countless movies which have impacted society and led to a change of law, culture or perspective. To name a few, after the release of Fatal Attraction, divorce rates dramatically decreased, Anti-interracial laws were abolished at the release of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Philadelphia provided a platform to discuss the taboo subject of HIV/AIDS, and the Star Wars saga was undoubtedly a contributor to popular culture.

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OUR RESPONSIBILITY

And as present and future culture manufacturers, we have a responsibility towards our audience for what we create. Don’t simply create something without taking its consequences into consideration.

Filmmaking is hard work. And if you’re already putting so much effort and work into it, why not make it about something that will contribute to the betterment of humanity? Think about what your story promotes.

NO COMPROMISES

I’m not advocating you push for a certain message, because then your art becomes manipulative and self-promoting. It’s not your responsibility to change the whole world or create something which is forced. By all means, don’t produce something that is not genuine. Don’t compromise your uniqueness, but ask yourself if your uniqueness is being used to edify your audience.

MY PERSONAL INSPIRATION

A wonderful example of someone who has a great balance of art, personality, edification and truthfulness is Taika Waititi, director of Boy, What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilder People and  and most recently Thor: Ragnarok.

Waititi doesn’t apologize for who he is, but he doesn’t use his uniqueness to prove himself to anyone either. His stories are relatable and humorous, but they carry so much emotional weight. It doesn’t feel like he is trying to push a message on his audience, but they are left with food for thought, or at least a softened heart.

CONCLUSION

Your viewers are responsible for what they take away from the movie as well. But you’re still responsible for what your audience gets to see.

It is a great gift to create, and I admire everyone who is bold enough to create and vulnerable enough to show it to others – but, just be aware what your audience is left with when they go home after having seen your film.

You have the power to be an inspiration – whether is it temporary or long term – so let it move your audience to contribute to the betterment of humanity, no matter how big or small.

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Check Your Heart: How Do You Celebrate The Victory Of Others?

BY ANNETTE LANGE

Being an actor simultaneously requires extreme vulnerability and an extremely thick skin. When auditioning for roles, you’re the product you’re promoting, and so it’s easy to take rejection personally and evaluate yourself against the other candidates.

This in turn, will make room for discouragement and comparison and ultimately transform into resentment and bitterness – not a place you want to get into, for your own sake and for the sake of others.

Because of this, it is important you continually check your heart and motives. A good way to check if you’re heading in the right direction is asking yourself the question:

Am I able to genuinely celebrate other people’s (or, in this case, actors’) successes?

We all know envy is not a positive virtue. Once it takes hold of you, it spreads like cancer. If you need a visual reminder, watch Amadeus and look at the effect envy has on Antonio Salieri’s character.

I can’t promise you its absence will be a guarantee for a successful acting career, but what I can promise is it’s necessary for the sake of your own heart and creative life.

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.

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At the end of the day, you’re responsible for your own heart and actions. And as an actor you don’t want to numb your sensitivity through subtle jealousy.

I find the art of acting and creative storytelling so beautiful, delicate and precious. If done well, actors can change and heal the hearts of their audiences through their own vulnerability and honesty. They can explore, challenge and reform humanity like no other artform.

What I find inspiring about films and plays, is the teamwork it requires to realize a vision. The entertainment industry is all about teamwork and that is, in my opinion, what life is all about. Realizing dreams together through community, cooperation and relationship with one another.

This requires humility and choosing to love one another even if we don’t feel like it, celebrating one another’s successes and being united in an attempt to make this often cruel world a bit better.

I’d encourage you to be on guard against feelings of resentment and jealousy, even if they seem subtle and take action on your behalf to combat it with love and turning it into a motivation to pursue more excellence in your own creative craft.

 

Should “13 Reasons Why” Never Have Been Told?

Written by Charis Jackson.

Creatives, how do we know when we’ve stepped over the line creatively?

13 Reasons Why, is one of the most popular shows on Netflix right now, but should we be watching it? Should it have been filmed? Or even created? These are the questions tossing around in my head at the moment.

The story follows Hannah Baker, a young girl who experiences severe bullying and trauma to the point where she commits suicide. She leaves behind several cassette tapes for a selection of classmates explaining why they and the choices they made are the reason why she ended her life.

13 Reasons Why, which was inspired by the book of the same name, written by Jay Asher, has come under an unexpected attack by several mental health organisations around Australia and the US. They’ve urged teens and young adults to avoid the show because of the extreme graphic content.

I have to say, I’m torn. On one hand, I completely understand their concern. However, as a writer, filmmaker and creative, I was impressed with the story and their willingness to show the raw situations and even the actual suicide.

In the featurette, 13 Reasons Why: Beyond the Reasons, producer Selena Gomez said, “We wanted to do it in a way where it was honest, and we wanted to make something that could hopefully help people because suicide should never ever be an option.

But now with organisations like Headspace, issuing warnings to younger viewers, I have to take another look at the role of the creative in all this.

In an interview with Channel 9’s Today Extra, Child Psychologist Dr. Michael Carr-Gregg stated, “It’s essentially an audio-visual manual for suicide.”

Can it be true? Can a story impact the world in such a negative way, when their aim was to bring awareness and give less power to these horrible situations?

When talking about the choice to film the actual suicide, Brian Yorkey, Executive Producer said, “We worked very hard not be too gratuitous, but we did want it to be painful to watch, because we wanted it to be very clear that there is nothing in any way worthwhile about suicide.

The job of a creative is to speak where others can’t. Creatives have a way of putting words to how people feel. Growing up, I was always impressed with how songs and shows could put words to feelings I couldn’t explain and because they were able to express them, it helped me grow in maturity, but I have to wonder if we can go too far in revealing truth.

More than anything, what 13 Reasons Why reminds me of, is the importance of our words and choices. This is a central theme in the show, but also is being revealed in the backlash it’s now experiencing. Where they aimed to tell the truth and give people a hope there were other solutions than suicide, it now appears they’ve only brought further damage.

In one news source, Headspace said they’re receiving more calls and emails which are in direct correlation with the show. Obviously, they’re concerned, but I can’t help wondering if the show has actually done more good than harm.

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There were many times during the show, where I kept hoping Hannah would tell the truth, that she would take her communication teacher’s advice and tell people when they’d hurt her.

Recently, I had a small argument with a friend. As a teen and young adult, my usual response to these kinds of situations was to internally shut down. When my friend asked if I was ok, instead of shutting down, I told her, with no aggression what she’d said, made me feel like I didn’t have a right to voice what I was saying. I was surprised by how easily the situation was resolved once we’d both calmly spoken the truth.

And this came as a direct response to my experience and the lessons I’d learned from watching 13 Reasons Why.

In a Vanity Fair article, Nic Sheff, one of the writers of the show talked about his own experience with depression and his attempt to take his life. He recounts while he was trying to take his life, a memory of another woman’s story of how she’d tried to commit suicide, came back to him and stopped him from going further. “The whole story came back to me in heightened detail.” He said, “It was an instant reminder that suicide is never peaceful and painless, but instead an excruciating, violent end to all hopes and dreams and possibilities for the future.”

Ultimately, creatives have the responsibility and duty to impart wisdom and truth to their audience. It’s their gift and their curse. Sometimes this will be received well, other times there will be backlash. I have to trust as long as I’m owning this responsibility and doing everything I can to be sensitive and ethical in what I create, then I need to let the rest take care of itself.

I think we need to give the creators and storytellers of 13 Reasons Why a break. Maybe organisations like Headspace are receiving more calls, but what if it’s because the show has given young teens hope they can turn to someone? What if the show has impacted people to seek help because they’ve seen how many people were horribly affected by Hannah’s decision.

Suicide is never ever an option. I’m no psychologist, but don’t you think the more we bring things into the open, the less power they have to control us? This is exactly what the creators of 13 Reasons Why were hoping to accomplish. I think instead of seeing the growing number of calls and emails as a warning, we should see it as a hope and the fruit of their labor, because the fact of the matter is, people are reaching out for help.

Regardless, this discussion is good for us creatives and independent filmmakers to consider, are you being responsible with your art?

If you or anyone you know is in need of help, please reach out to organisations like Headspace 1800 650 890, or Lifeline 13 11 14

This article was originally published on Christian Today.