No more gatekeepers
There used to be gatekeepers. There used to be a way of doing things. You would enter a particular field at ground level. Over several years you would work your way up through the ranks. If you were lucky, you could get to the middle by the time you were sixty.
On your journey to the top, you would occasionally encounter a gatekeeper. A person who would have reached as high as they could go. They would decide whether you could continue the climb. Your future would depend on their favour.
Now, gatekeepers aren’t so much of a problem. The gatekeepers are gone. What was once a vertical climb is now a series of branching paths. The question becomes not how high can you climb but which way will you choose.
Gatekeepers are aware of this. Look at the news media. Why do you think that there has been a crackdown on free speech on the internet?
The term fake news has become part of our vocabulary. Not that fake news is anything new. The news media gatekeepers and they don’t care about true or false. All that they care about is where you go to get your information. They are pissed that it’s not from them.
The gatekeepers are the last wasps of summer. Knowing their end is close they’re angry, desperate and want to do as much harm to those around them as possible.
Gatekeepers no longer hold all the power.
I don’t like giving advice; I’m in no position to be giving any out.
What follows isn’t advice.
If you do consider this to be advice, take it with a pinch of salt. Take taking it with a pinch of salt with a pinch of salt.
I had three similar conversations recently, that’s what lead me to write this post. Hopefully, if you are in a similar position, you can take something away from this.
There are three people. There is an actor, the comic book guy and the scriptwriter. All three of them I’ve had brief consultations about projects they’re undertaking. While their circumstances are different, the theme is the same.
“If only a gatekeeper would notice me and let me in. Then my problems would be over”.
I can empathise with them, that’s what you’re repeatedly told. Start from the bottom and work your way up.
I never liked that approach; if I can skip the line, I’ll try. That was my plan a few years ago. Let me tell you how naive I was.
One in a million
Film director Danny Boyle was in Belfast doing a festival screening of his film Millions. My friend Alex and I managed to find him before the screening and got speaking to him. Alex and I asked him how to get into the film industry; he told us that you start at the bottom and work your way up. Same old story.
Of course, I knew better, tried to force a VHS copy of a short horror film I made into his hands. Knowing that he would see it, understand it for the masterpiece it was, he would hire us to work on his next film.
The absolute gent that he was, declined and wished us all the best.
As years go by I realise how embarrassing the plan was. Furthermore, I’m glad it didn’t work. Only recently I have understood something important.
Skip the line
You and I are living in the best time, pre-singularity post-war.
It has never been easier to get yourself out there.
Technology is catching up with my method.
Breaks down like this, if you have access to the internet and a laptop or phone there is no stopping you from going your own way.
You don’t even need to be original. Diet, for example, isn’t rocket science. Exercise a bit and eat more good than crap. Hardly a revelation but there are people making a living selling dietary plans through their Instagram accounts.
Primarily I’m talking to creative types, but I’m speaking to everyone.
The internet is democratising information.
As someone who has made a film, if I want to make another one I won’t need to go to film school and move countries, I can enrol in an online course.
Whatever you want to do there is a course for that, and you can start learning now.
You can set up your own business quicker than ever through your computer. Set up a dropshipping site or use affiliate links to get yourself a little extra money. The nine to five is going to become a thing of the past with automation. Are you going to be able to get in early?
The opportunities are endless so what are you waiting for?
Acting school is a scam
For potential actors, pay attention.
Actor friends after graduating went on to acting school. They didn’t need to, the whole thing was a scam, and they admitted as much. My friends would say to me that the only reason that they were going to acting school was so that they could get contacts. They were not going to improve their acting ability. They gave several years and several thousand pounds for a chance of getting an agent.
Want an example of how big a scam it is? A friend went to acting school one of their classmates responded to a casting call, was cast and dropped out of acting school. It was a little film called Amistad, and the respondent was Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Again this is worth repeating; acting schools do not make people better actors so avoid them.
Chiwetel was picked because he was in the right place at the right time, the glory of the internet is that you are increasing your chances of being read, being noticed.
Build your own platform. Set up your website, make it your acting CV, do videos of monologues, do something. The more material you have to be seen, the greater your chances of being seen.
Additionally, start stacking your talents. Don’t just be an actor and that’s it work on writing, work on staging your productions be a one-person industry.
Make yourself impossible to ignore.
I was in a band, Mental Deficiency. Musical gatekeepers hated us because we were entertaining. We became impossible to ignore by being awesome and performing to full houses. They had to invite us to play festivals. Nothing makes people compromise their principles like the potential to make money. Use that to your advantage.
What I’m saying that you can reach out to a massive audience. You don’t have to do things the old way anymore. The gatekeepers have abandoned their post so you can enter.
There is no “right way” to do things.
Plot your own path and walk.
When you set your own path, every step you take is forward.