What do you think of when you hear the word authenticity? If you're like me, it makes you feel all warm and secure inside. Why? Why does that word have so much power? I think it's because today, there's not a lot out there that is authentic! Think about people you meet each day. Can you tell when someone isn't being straight up with you?
It may sting a little at first when you don't get the answer you wanted, because for most people it's easier to just bend the truth and tell you that your work is amazing, rather than hurt your feelings. On the flip side, I dare say someone who is authentic in a response to you will likely be asked for their counsel again. Why? We are drawn to people and things that are true and real.
Social media is all around us, and we live in a status update world. Are all those posts and updates authentic? I don't mean are they real in the literal sense, I mean is the emotion, thought or belief behind them authentic?
Social media is a powerful tool, but it can also serve to isolate us. How many times have you seen the post of food shot on a plate? Is the emotion here, "Look how blessed I am to be enjoying this incredible meal, I only wish you could share this experience with me!" Or...is the true feeling, "Don't you wish your life was as cool as mine and you were eating this right now!"
Social media is like cleaning your house up thirty minutes before company comes. We always want to put our best foot forward and come across in the best possible way. Sometimes, however our social posts can serve to hurt us or our brand by looking to phony or obnoxious.
Authentic connections are something that we hunger for in our life, but unfortunately they are rare. In the business of being a creative or filmmaker, I think that we have to be honest in the stories we tell for our clients and to our audience, but also honest to ourselves in the way we go about choosing our projects and telling those stories. If we don't believe in the story we're telling, you can bet the farm that the audience won't care either! Our attitude as creatives shows in our work. Emotion is the driving force in being creatively authentic.
Why do we love certain movies so much? Think of your favorite film, now ask yourself why you love that film. I bet a flood of emotion bubbles up inside. There are a couple of reasons for this emotion.
Two films come to my mind right away. I was only five years old, but I still remember seeing Star Wars in the theater with my dad. I also remember taking our son to see Finding Nemo as his first experience at the movies. These are powerful emotions that stick with us forever.
The other reason a film sticks with us, is because there was something in the story itself that felt real to us. We relate to characters more when the writing speaks to us. We remember specific scenes in our minds because of the way the DP shot it, or the way the editor made his or her shot choices. You can hear a song and instantly an experience plays back in your mind. All of these things are triggers in our brain because they were real to us.
Now that summer is almost here, you can't help but think of the movie Jaws. As a creative, do you think this was a movie about a shark terrorizing a town, or was it more about the human relationships that formed inside a very stressful situation?
There had to be strong characters and strong dialogue in order for that movie to stick with us, and the filmmakers knew this. You can only see a surfer being eaten by a shark so many times before it gets a little old! All of that true human interaction within the town was wrapped up inside a shark movie!
As we all go on to tell amazing stories, never forget to really look for those authentic moments in your work that will resonate with an audience. Maybe it's lighting, maybe it's a song choice, a line of dialogue that gives you that feeling in your gut. It's all combined to result in what makes good films great! We are setting the tone, and must always be true to ourselves and to our style.
The artists from the renaissance period never worried about what was in at the time or what was selling. They stayed true to themselves and painted from the heart. Don't ever be afraid to put yourself out there and take chances based on what you believe in, don't ever be afraid to keep it real!