To All The Dreamers: 5 Letters to Keep the Young Artists Moving Forward

Letter #5

“Dear Dreamer,

I’ve barely begun my career but I guess I’m old enough to make a half-decent reply to this. So okay, let’s give it a shot:

For a minute, I was afraid you were going to be yet another brashly confident young person out to conquer the world but I see that you have seeds of doubt and that, my friend, gives you an edge. Uncertainty is a gift. Now allow me to nip this destiny thing in the bud because I used to think like you.

Belief in destiny is the most crippling thing you can do to your ambition. Maybe when you’re successful you can say “I was meant to do this” but that’s a logical fallacy in the world of critical thinking. Have the humility to accept that the universe is not your personal genie but always temper it with a good sense of humor. Look at this link. See how tiny you are? That is your place in the universe. Why would a seemingly infinite space composed of dark energy and matter care about your dreams? It doesn’t because it can’t. It’s just dark energy and matter, like your grimy, worn out tsinelas.

Should we give up since no one’s special anyway? Of course, not. What humility leaves you with is a frightening amount of choice and responsibility. And that’s when you begin to grow—by embracing fear and uncertainty head on, by taming your will and becomingresilient. Bit by bit, mistake by mistake, you’ll begin to know which parts of your life you can control and which ones you leave to chance.

No one is meant for anything but you have to know what you are good at. Then do everything you can to improve and grow. It is not a recipe for success but it will build character. And character, as a wise old man once said, is destiny.

People will always fuck with you no matter what. They may do it intentionally or unintentionally (personally, I’d watch out for the unintentional ones because they’re usually stupid people) but someone will always be there to ruin your flow. Chin up. Brace yourself. Getting fucked with is part of the game. If you really love what you’re doing, you’ll keep doing it. It will get exhausting from time to time but that’s what vacations are for. After a while, you’ll acquire enough mana to cast the shield of dedma around yourself. With enough dedma skills, you’ll acquire dignity.

Who says being an artist and being realistic are mutually exclusive? They go hand-in-hand. To do your art, you have to survive. To survive, you have to make a living. Sometimes you can’t make a living with your art so you have to do something else. Sometimes you have to sell a bit of your soul and that’s okay because you can always buy the damn thing back if you want to. A real artist will find a way to keep doing art while being smart enough not to starve because of it. You already have a good head start by being independent. Some have a good head start by being born rich. They will have more advantages because they won’t have the problem of survival. Whatever. Earn money ideally within the sphere of your passion. Your advantage is grit. Grit leads to conviction. Conviction leads to integrity.

High five! I didn’t have formal film training too but I buried myself in books, films, and experience (many of them embarrassing). I still do. Just remember that you can’t have good craft without solid theory. Some film school snobs think my films suck and that’s okay. Dedma shield ON. A good number of their idols didn’t go to film school anyway so they’re just being young assholes.

When I was younger I was just as dumb in my overconfidence as they are now. That’s just how it is. There will always be a subset of young people who think they can do better than the previous generation, and there will always be a subset of older people who think the obsessions of young people are baduy. So quits lang. Although cool si Carly Rae. But I digress.

Keep failing and moving on and you’ll realize that success is just knowing what to do when you get lucky, which is something I keep telling people. You overcome the nightmares by waking up and moving on with your life. All it means is you have to put yourself in a state of constant preparedness—learn, create, experience—so when that tiny window of opportunity comes you can take it and run like the wind. At the beginning of one’s career, it’s all about saying yes to many things….

Deserving’s got nothing to do with it (and, yes, I’m quoting Clint Eastwood). It’s only when you grow older that things change and your life becomes all about saying no to many things, which is kind of where I am now.

Thank you. I’m glad to be of use but I’ll never be comfortable with this. I only have one big success and a few small ones. Even if I gain more huge wins, tomorrow I might still fail big time. So I’ll never take this for granted. And I still dream of quitting this noisy, heartbreaking, ego-filled business one day.

I am a musician who turned to filmmaking. That’s like a happy dream on top of a frustrated one. I never planned any of this but I do remember that when I was your age, I would sometimes break into tears because I wanted to get into filmmaking so bad. There were so many things I wanted to say. Kadiri talaga yung drama pag bata ka pa. But I guess that’s necessary fuel.

Anyway, this is long enough. Just don’t starve, don’t be an asshole. Be kind and grateful. Don’t do drugs, eat your vegetables. Remember you’re living in an uncaring, grimy tsinelasso keep saying yes to things for in the future, you will learn how and when to say no. Good luck and I wish you all the best. I hope to see you one day kicking ass, killing it, slaying, or whatever word it is you guys use today for awesomeness.

[fist bump]

JT”

| Jerrold Tarog, Director of Heneral Luna | December 30, 2015 | 10:56

www.jerroldtarog.com

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