For the past three weeks I would wake up on Friday morning with the intention to publish a Videographers Guide entry on what is “it” and for the past three weeks I have failed to publish that article. It seems appropriate since the highly desirable it factor has eluded description from folks who are much more eloquent than I am. Who has “it”? Where do you find ”it”? How do you get ”it”? Questions that if answered can make a significant difference in revenue and relevance. Sadly for each of the past three weeks the best description I could come up with is some variation of ‘you know ”it” when you see ”it”.’ But alas here I am again, this time win or lose I am giving it (pun intended) my best shot. Hopefully I can give a little insight about the Who, How & Where surrounding this age old phenomenon.
Who Has It?
In the documentary on Bob Dylan titled “No Way Home,” someone commented that ‘he (Dylan) just looked at you like he knew something you didn’t,’ That description accurately describes those folks who have “it”. There seems to be an effortless confidence that comes from being in on the joke. As it applies to my profession, the filmmakers who seem to have “it” seem to do everything right. From their framing, to their composition to just having a knack for being at the right place at the right time. They seem to interact effortlessly with their subjects and manage their environments with effortless grace. This person has an eye for what works and what highly desirable clients want. What are their secrets? For starters it might be comforting to know that such effortless grace takes years of hard work to achieve, and maintain. Pentagram’s Paula Scher is known for how quickly she works and responds to her clients who feel like they are not getting their money’s worth by stating that “[Her Designs] are done in a second in 34 years… every experience and every movie and every thing of my life that’s in my head.” It’s an eloquent explanation of what “it” is. ”It” is the culmination of years of developing ones taste into an instinctive split second decision. Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink is a great read on this process.
How Do I Get It?
Early in my videography career I considered myself a person of good taste who had a good eye, however in hindsight I see that many of my videos left allot to be desired. The footage was shaky, the sound was inconsistent, the editing was sloppy. Today my work is much more polished, much tighter, and maintains a level of cachet that is also reflected in the quality of clients in my expanding portfolio. So what happened? Experience is what happened. The phrase There is No Substitute for Experience is one of the most accurate truisms there is. Over the years I learned through observation, trial and error what is acceptable on a professional level and strived to replicate that in my work. The time tested technique of copying. Simply seeing what it is you like and reproducing it is how I got better. Steve Jobs once said… “Good artist copy, great artist steal.” This phrase is brilliantly examined in a well thought out and entertaining web series titled Everything Is A Remix.
Where Do I Find It?
So what are some ways to find good material to copy. I suggest that you develop a resevoir of material that you can resource on a regular basis. My routine for this type of material sourcing has been a daily ritual for about 6 years. I start my day between 6:00 and 7:00 am by browsing my favorite blogs and twitter contacts for material that gives me some insight into what is happening on the New Media front. I have become pretty adept at quickly being able to parse the good from the bad from the ugly. This is how I train my eye to recognize what ”it” is.
In the end just like there is no substitute for experience, there is also no substitute for talent. Though it might be true that some people just have “it”, and some people don’t… in some ways the point of this article is to dispel the misconception that if you have “it”, you don’t need to work as hard at your craft. The fact is the opposite is true… having “it” should be a launching pad for allot of hard work to come as well as platform from which you can begin to develop and train your eye. And for those amongst us who just don’t have the magical “it” factor, you can always hire someone who does ; )
Trevor “Trevz” Bayack is a Brooklyn-born filmmaker who approaches his web pieces as mini documentaries. Recognized as a member of the 2008 URB magazine Next 100 for pioneering the “video blog” Trevz continually makes his pieces shorter, sharper and ever more shareable” Follow thenewpop twitter feed for more.