Good to Great

The space between good and great is quite a bit.

Here is good.

 

 

Here is GREAT.

See that, the space in between?

Most of us get to good when we set out to do something.

“Good enough,” we say.

Like the baked goods Emily and I create together, where we pretend to be our own professional cup-cakery. Or the draft of the screenplay I’m working on now, THE UNTITLED MIND BENDER. I work hard, I put time into, I get it there, and it turns out pretty good.

But to get it to great, where I need the script to be, requires pain.

The space between good and great is painful.

I began to understand this principle in high school, but didn’t have the words to define it. It wasn’t until grad school, 12 years and many life lessons later, that it became more clear for me. Not only did we shoot every weekend my first year of film school, we screened our films in front of our peers, over and over. Everyone saw each other’s process and it was not pleasant.

You had to get naked and get over it, often.

After awhile, after seeing hundreds of short films, I began to notice something:

The students who just “took the criticism,” and didn’t defend their film or ideas with words, but rather chose to go back and re-cut their films, were the ones who grew the most, and the quickest.

I wanted rapid growth.

So I made a conscious choice to take on the pain.

Isn’t it painful to hear criticism in front of others? No matter how nice they make it sound, the underlying note is painful. In storytelling the painful phrases are things like, “I didn’t get it,” “I’m not behind your character,” “I don’t believe this world,” “Do you think you could go back and reshoot that scene all over again?”

Ouch.

Creating something GREAT requires traveling through that space called pain. But I’d rather have the pain, behind closed doors, than on the night of the premiere, wouldn’t you? And to hear the viewers laugh or cry at all the right moments makes all that pain worth it!

Has their been a time when you chose good to great? How painful was the experience, and were you glad you took it?

x and tales,

AEJ

PS I should note, this blog is currently a work in progress. We are not even to good yet. 🙂

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