Inside the Producer’s Corner with Suzanne Lyons
This is a series of articles that film producer and best-selling author Suzanne Lyons (listen to her interview here) will be writing over the next 6 months. I personally asked Suzanne to share her knowledge, experience, and motivation with you the IFH Tribe. Whether you are a director, producer, cinematographer, screenwriter or editor I think you’ll get a ton out of this series. Check back every week for a new post that will help you on your journey as an indie filmmaker.
I’ve produced/exec produced twelve feature films to date where I’ve worked with hundreds and hundreds of people and in addition I’ve taught entertainment industry workshops to thousands and thousands of folks over the years. There is one thing I hear all too often and it drives me crazy. “That’s just the way it is!” “Suzanne, the market is shrinking,” “Women over forty just can’t get good roles in films,” “Investors are not putting their money into films anymore,” “I’m so new to the industry, it’s going to be impossible to get a paying gig.”
And here is the best one, “None of it’s my fault, it’s “JUST THE WAY IT IS.” This makes me crazy! And I hear it so often, I’m beginning to think it’s an epidemic. Although I’m not a doctor, I’m going to go ahead and work on the cure for this disease called “What-Is-Itis.”
Here’s a perfect example of how we stay stuck in a certain mindset and become convinced that it’s just the way that it is. Until 1954 authorities claimed that the 4-minute mile was impossible if not lethal. Roger Bannister believed otherwise and on May 6th of that year he ran the mile in 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds. Runners of the past had been held back by a mindset that said it couldn’t be done. When the limit was challenged a paradigm shift occurred and within months runners were beating the new record.
I’m going to explore this fascinating issue and suggest some possible cures, ideas and alternatives for this insane epidemic.
10 Tips to Cure “What is Itis” (aka How to Stop the ‘THAT’S JUST THE WAY THAT IT IS’ Conversation)
1. WHO’S THE AUTHORITY
Who said that’s the way it is? Who’s in charge here? The answer whether you like it or not is you. You are the one living the reality that you’ve created. Not your Mom, not your boss, not the industry, not the government. So, start to catch yourself when you hear yourself thinking or saying, “that’s just the way it is.” It’s a great inquiry to take on. Possibly one you’ve never ever thought about before today.
2. BELIEFS ARE ONLY HABITUAL THOUGHTS
For the longest time, I thought that my beliefs were real… carved in stone, real. It sounds crazy, but true. And as you know, habits become reality soon crystalizing to the point where it really really is our reality… or so we think. Perception is not reality… perception is just perception. We get locked in our thought processes.
Just realizing that beliefs are nothing more than habitual thoughts is so liberating. I took on an exercise a couple of years ago where I would look at all of my believes that I thought over a two-week period. I even wrote them all down. And, here is the scary part, at the end of the two weeks when I went over all the believes I had written down, only around 15% were actually mine.
The rest were beliefs that I had ‘inherited’ from my parents, my grandparents (and probably their grandparents!), my religious upbringing, my teachers and no doubt the culture and community I was brought up in. It was a life-altering aha moment!
3. “THE TRUTH” CAN KEEP YOU STUCK
The scary thing is that when we think that what we think is true, it’s sort of like having our foot nailed to the floor. It becomes our permission slip to get ourselves off the hook. We feel justified in blaming someone or something outside ourselves, leaving us powerless. It’s sort of like dancing to a tone that isn’t even playing.
And whether we realize it or not, it takes its toll… physically, emotionally and spiritually. We get to play it safe by ‘being stuck’ but it’s certainly not a very fun place to play. On the surface the payoff may feel good… you get to stay inside your comfort zone where it’s safe. But is the cost really worth it. Let’s take a look.
4. THE COST
I recall in the early 90s arguing with my coach at a Landmark Education workshop. I was so committed to staying small and playing safe. I was literally arguing for my limitations. She wasn’t buy any of it. She saw me as far bigger than I saw myself and she had me take a long hard look at the cost of staying stuck. What a wake-up call! If you want to shift from someone who says, “that’s just the way it is” to someone who’s fully in control, fully responsible, you have only to look at the cost.
If we’ve got what-is-itis, we’re alienating people, we’re jeopardizing our self-expression, aliveness, potential, possibility and we’re missing out on joy, love, fun and expansion. And after all, is that why we’re here… on planet Earth and of course in the entertainment industry. I could go on here, but I think you’ve got the picture loud and clear. Is the cost worth it?
5. BEING RIGHT
Just think about this one for a minute. For most of us, we’d rather be right, than have relationships! We’ll go to war (literally) to be right. The damage here is that we tend to kill off and alienate a ton of people just to be right. We spend countless hours canvasing others, collecting evidence to validate just how very right we are.
“Isn’t my boss a terrible person?” “It’s getting harder and harder to find a job.” “Showrunners only hire their friends.” “Everyone’s out to steal my ideas.” Finding agreement for these fantasies consumes so much time and only reinforces our ‘what-is-itis.’
6. CHOICE IS FREEDOM
There is no choice in ‘what-is- itis.’ You may think there is, but the problem is that we’re making choices based on and in support of our “that’s just the way it is” belief. What we think is true further reinforces the foundation on which we built the whole thing to begin with.
There is no choice… no freedom standing there. You can’t use your old beliefs to guide your present actions. Changing the way you think of something (or someone) transforms and expands your world giving you the ultimate freedom of choice.
I recommend you take some time with this distinction. It is probably the most powerful inquiry you can take on and the most important distinction to master. As an exercise for the next month look at the choices you’re making and see where they are coming from. Are they based on past believes and therefor knee-jerk reactions or are they coming from your true authentic commitments?
7. CREATING REALITY
I have talked about this distinction in previous articles and I think it fits perfectly here as well. We all need to realize that we get to say what’s so. We have an internal experience of the words we speak and the thoughts we’re thinking and thoughts and words have power. YOU get to say… YOU get to create your reality. YOU get to write your story the way you want it to unfold.
I love the Abraham-Hicks quote that pretty much sums it up, “You are the vibrational writers of the script of your life, and everyone else in the Universe is playing the part that you have assigned to them.” Isn’t this perfect.
You get to create your life as you want it. So, let’s all create the most magical amazing life ever. One of my other favorite quotes, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away.”
8. HAVE A ‘COME AS YOU WANT TO BE’ PARTY
In his book, “The Success Principles,” Jack Canfield talks about a party he attended that was literally life changing. The party was called ‘come as you will be in 5 years.’ It was all about envisioning where you would like to be 5 years into the future. He said they “were to dress the part, talk the part and bring any props that demonstrated that their dreams had already come true.” That’s my kind of party! Call your friends and plan it, now! I can’t think of a better cure for ‘what-is-itis.’
9. A NEW PLACE TO STAND
If everything that I’m saying is sounding a little too familiar maybe it’s time for a personal paradigm shift. As I often tell the participants in my workshops,
“if your conversation is not empowering you, make up a new one.”
It’s not like there’s any truth to the first one anyway. Trust your intuition 100% of the time and choose to stand there. When I attended an incredible educational health week in Malibu a couple of summers ago I met the acclaimed doctor and scientist Barry Morguelan. He went so far as to say that all human suffering stems from the gap between who we think we are and who we really are… our potential.
10. TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY
I mean FULL responsibility. 100% responsibility… 100% of the time. I know, that hurt. Too bad. It’s time. This is an adult conversation I’m having here and since you’ve made it to Tip #10 you’re obviously engaged in this conversation. So why not take this on? Be fully and totally responsible for creating your reality. I promise you miracles!
BONUS: A paradigm shift can take time. So be patient with yourself. When you catch yourself playing small, making excuses, arguing for your limitations or retreating to your comfort zone, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just notice it, be conscious. The more you start to notice it the more power you will have over it and the quicker the shift will take place. In my next article, I’ll be talking about goal setting and giving you great tools to keep you inspired, expanding and on purpose. Until then, stay present, be conscious and dream big!
Suzanne Lyons is President/Producer of Snowfall Films, Inc. having produced/exec produced 12 feature films to date. She co-founded the Flash Forward Institute which focused on teaching the tools of business needed to market oneself in the entertainment industry. She recently launched a game-changing online course called Indie Film Producing Masterclass with Suzanne Lyons. She’s the author of Indie Film Producing: The Craft of Low Budget Filmmaking published by Focal Press. She has also hosted over 125 informational videos on the film industry. When time permits she does private career and business coaching. Suzanne is originally Canadian and lives with her husband in Los Angeles, CA.
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