AKA: how two FatChix failed their way to success - and learned to like it.
Failing is a surprisingly difficult thing to do. At least, it is if you have some level of OCD and are trying to make it as an artist in a pragmatic, unsympathetic society.
But failing in and of itself is also an art form. There are good failures and bad failures, and mastering them is how we finally figured out how to quit our jobs and make money as full-time artists. Learning how to fail into success is THE most important lesson we could leave you with, so we decided to start our new project with it.
Now, you might be saying to yourself, WTF does that mean?
Well, it means that when we started out, we sucked and we didn't know it. We weren't professional. We had no idea what we were doing. We had zero dollar bills (this is still true, just more manageable #thanksnyc). And the worst/best part was that we believed our art was AMAZING. We thought we were original and interesting and had a lot to offer the world, but the world just wasn't listening, so - F the world, we would just do it ourselves.
Someone - and don't ask me who because I can't remember now - once told me that in order to be successful as an entrepreneur or even as an artist, one must be wildly passionate and incredibly deluded.
I think this person was a genius.
It's true. You do have to be wildly passionate about your work to make it through all of the boundless rejection letters, the slammed doors, the cancelled gigs, the cancelled checks, the ulcer in your stomach every time rent is due, and that deep, inner and unexplainable sorrow every time you read another story on Facebook about one of your 'normal' friends buying things like houses when you are still buying dollar store underwear because it - like you - is 'slightly imperfect'.
A lot of times, we worry that our followers and even some of our friends think we are just having the BEST TIME EVER.
And sometimes, we really are having the BEST TIME EVER. Any time you see us on set, busting out a camera, or writing a script, it is pretty much guaranteed that we are having a blast. That ain't no lie.
But most of the time, we are drinking diet coke (stop judging us - it's delicious. Also, Coke & Co., wanna hit us up?) to stay awake and pounding Tums because the fear of never knowing where your next paycheck will come from gives you nightmares and ulcers.
THAT FEAR IS REAL, PEOPLE.
And it burns right through the lining of your stomach. I like to call this fear the "Make-Shit-Happen-Or-Die" Diet Plan. Because you will lose weight on it. And brain cells trying to figure out how to fail less and succeed more.
That fear is a real dick. It is also your best friend, you just don't know it yet.
You go out and get a regular job because said fear is, indeed, a real dick.
You are now going to have a hell of a hard time sticking to your regular 9-5 job and pretending not to hate every single person that shoves their tedium onto your desk so they can do 'important golf things' while you sit on your ass contemplating the mysteries of life on their dime.
Let's just be real for a sec.
You will inevitably find the 'regular' hours of a 9-5 totally irregular for your particular body/brain set because you (A) despise monotony and (B) would rather be almost anywhere else.
This visceral need to push back against a system that does not work for you is the first sign that you have begun to fail.
You're not as motivated.
You feel stuck both in life and at work.
You suddenly lack ambition.
Your relationships have begun to shift as a result, and you feel impotent.
It's not because you are bad at your job (even though you definitely dream of quitting constantly). And it's not because you can no longer cover up that gnawing feeling in your gut that life was never meant to be confined to the same four walls everyday.
You probably don't even fully understand why you just don't give a fuck about anything except going home to watch T.V. anymore.
And THAT, friends, is because you have failed without realizing it. You failed to ignore this vital truth:
You aren't cut out for the 'regular' employment system.
And that's okay!
We aren't cut out for it either! Most successful artists and entrepreneurs can't hold a job for more than nine months - the same time it takes to make a baby. But in this case, the baby is your soul screaming for release. And your perceptions are the lady parts that have to grow and adjust so that you can plop that soul baby out and finally get some relief.
It's harder than you think to change the mental brainwashing that you have believed all of your life.
You think: if I pursue my art full time, I will never make any money and be broke forever.
The truth is: it IS difficult. But it's also one of the best things you will ever do for yourself. EVER. And the freedom of finally being in charge of your own life? There's nothing like it.
You think: if I try to be an actor/singer/dancer, I'll have to quit my job right away to make it to enough auditions and then I won't pay my rent and HOMELESSNESS will happen.
The truth is: if you do what you can on your days off, you will eventually come up with either a game plan or the means to do it full time. And you won't be homeless. Calm the fuck down.
You think: I'm not good enough. I keep getting rejected. And I don't have what it takes.
The truth is: whatever it is you love doing sets your soul on fire and you will not be happy until you try so hard that you fail your way right into success.
And that's where we come in. Little known fact, we started our company in 2012 after knowing each other for just a year (when it's right, it's right).
When we began, we had no equipment, no money to buy equipment, a half-finished script, no production experience, a lot of rejection letters, and were whiling away our time in babysitting or retail jobs - both of which involve people younger than you screaming at your face all day.
We were depressed. And we needed a win. So, we worked on finishing that one script, not having any idea on how we would produce it someday since the line budget is about $70K/episode - LOL #DREAMERS. And once that was finished we just... sat on it. For four years. In fact, we are only just now beginning pre-production for that pilot we wrote ages ago because when you fail into success, you just refuse to give up. Ever.
In the meantime, we haggled our way into a production class and learned the basics... for a year.
When we couldn't put the lessons we learned to use because we still had no money for equipment, we decided to beg. Hard. For favors, for snacks, whatever. We started building a network of artists that we could hopefully pay someday by practicing with them and getting our feet wet.
Then, we put together a little short film. It had one location, cost us about $3K to make (rentals, man), and could at least serve as an example of us not totally bombing the whole "I want to succeed at something" thing.
So, two out-of-work actors put their heads together - and their wallets - saved up the $3K needed for their short film over the course of 12 months (no, really, v broke people over here), and made the thing.
Except that everything went wrong.
Two of the main crew members cancelled literally last minute. There was a problem with the insurance. Emilia wasn't even sure if she could get back to the city from Minnesota because of the weather (#newyorkfails). We got the wrong freaking truck type, so we had to load everything out - THREE (3) giant bins worth of equipment - by hand and then roll each bin to set from the street. In a blizzard. In the middle of the night. And get up to shoot at 4:30 AM.
And that is just a running thing with us, apparently. Something always goes awry at the last moment and we just have to find a creative solution or the minor failure becomes a legitimate failure.
MINOR SETBACK < ACTUAL FAILURE
Actual failure is saying, "Fuck it. I give up. I can't get the equipment to set and now we have no audio person. Screw everything!"
A minor setback is saying, "Females are strong as hell, and I will lift the fuck out of this freaking bin until I have conquered it and claimed it as my slave! Fuck you, snow. Fuck you, uneven sidewalk. I'll learn how to mix this sh*t myself. Thanks Google, you magic robot! Now I sort of know how to run sound. Whatever!"
GIVING UP = FAILURE
TRYING = FAILING UPWARD
FAILING UPWARD ENOUGH = SUCCESS!*$!#!^@*!!
I would like to take this moment to appreciate Jermaine (shown above). #beautiful #loveyourself
The important thing to notice in that rant above is that each step didn't happen overnight. We didn't learn how to run a set or craft a project from scratch quickly. We took the time that was appropriate for us. We couldn't go back to school, and we both struggle with authority figures anyway, so we had to learn everything by doing it ourselves. Which took us four very long, very frustrating years, filled with self-doubt that never goes away, a fiery sense of rebellion every time we wanted to quit, and, at times, debilitating depression that rendered one or both of us paralyzed with fear.
Fear of the unknown, man.
It doesn't even exist in the physical world, but it sure tries to fuck you up.
Luckily we had each other to depend on, but a friend or parent or even an online community can help. Talk to your friends. Be real with people. We promise - they will get it. And you'll feel a million times better afterward.
So, how do you replicate our method of success via failing?
Try until you can't try anymore and are forced to give up.
Try so hard that you wake up one day surrounded by the things you bought and disgusted by them because you could have invested all of the cash into your own short film. Or into your headshots. Or your website. Or whatever it is that you know you need, but are so afraid of failing, you keep buying other crap or drinking or smoking to fill the void.
TRY UNTIL YOU AREN'T AFRAID TO FAIL ANYMORE.
If you still aren't sure where to start, the first step is always the hardest and the simplest. It begins, of course, with you - your insides. Your beautiful mind. And your terrified heart.
We've outlined a fairly decent year-long course for you to follow if you want out of your old life and into your dream life*. Complete one step per month and DO NOT skip ahead. Learn to love the time it takes to complete each one, and you will find yourself completely changed by the year's end. Try to speed things along, and you will likely find yourself slipping into old habits. Break a leg, darlings!!!
(1) Love Yourself. You have to embrace your imperfections. Learn to love your weird nose. Your wiggly tummy. Your wide hips or curly hair. Love your body. Love your brain, the way it keeps you up at night. The way your mind traps each and every bad thought and plays it over again to remind you that you failed, yet here you are - still living. Still breathing. Learn to love the fact that you can fail, and still succeed.
(2) Try a little. Stretch your limbs. Walk around the floor of your office or store or apartment a bit longer. Move your body - not to shrink its shape, but to revel in it. Read books instead of status updates. Try to expand your mind. Scroll through the list of ideas you've always wanted to bring to life. Step away from your phone. Listen to the little voice inside your heart that knows what you're meant to do. Dim the little voice inside your head that tells you that you can't do it. Try a little to see your own unique brilliance.
(3) Embrace the fear. Welcome it home. Tell it that while it is a welcome guest, it is not your master. It does not exist without your permission, and you - only you - are the master of your capabilities. Fear is necessary. It spurs you onward toward greatness. But be wary of giving fear the reins, for it is a wily devil without a conscience. It will lean against your mind until you find the weight of your own thoughts too heavy to lift higher than a stupor. Embrace, but do not coddle the fear as you would embrace, but refuse to coddle yourself.
(4) Begin. So difficult to do, and so few people manage to do it. But, in truth, this is the first tangible step toward success. Write the script. Write the song. Learn to play. Learn to act. Audition. Take a class. Take the picture. Take another. Film a scene for free. Build your resume while building your life. You are learning just how magnificent you can be when you give yourself a chance. You are growing. You do not have to let go of your old self, but already your skin may feel too tight. You may recognize that some of your old patterns held you back and you might begin to work on those. You may simply recognize that you are freaking badass and never gave yourself the credit. You may also recognize that it's still hard to say that to yourself. You might feel that your script or class isn't going as well as you imagined. But as your horizons begin to clear, the fog of old perceptions will lift. You will see that to begin is just the beginning. To begin and fail is one step closer to succeeding, love.
(5) Share. You are not alone in the way you feel about your limitations. Nor are you alone in your wish to succeed. Sometimes, we have to share our ideas - and our hearts - if we want to break into a world of artistry. Because that's all that artistry ever is, really; it's just people expressing the same feelings as other people in a way that moves them. When you share your ideas, you gain the experience of those better than you. You work with those that can inspire you. And you build a web of like-minded animals that will help you out of the cage you've trapped yourself in over the years. Share and draw the hopes of others to you. Share to lift up and let go. Share and the group succeeds with you.
(6) Believe. Forget your doubt. It will ride you daily. It will not forget to impinge upon your motivation at every opportunity, but you must remain stubbornly deluded. Do not give in to fear's best friend: doubt. Write a list of things you are absolutely certain of every day, but have yet to see. For example, we talk about our future warehouse full of artists and equipment daily. It just doesn't exist yet, but that doesn't mean it won't exist in the future. Believe in your future, not in your past. And work damn hard to get there.
(7) Take a dip. Delve into the world in which you wish to fully immerse yourself. Do not do this all at once, or you may find your mind too weak to handle all of the 'newness'. Simply put a toe in the waters of the unknown on the weekend. Start collecting your rejections as what they really are: medals that show how truly brave you are for trying at all. Really, most people cannot even do that much. Look at how magnificently courageous you are to have tried! When you've collected at least 50 rejections, buy yourself a nice dinner or a new hat and take yourself on a date, because you, angel that you are, deserve it. So, take a dip in the murky waters of your new life, that life that exists just beyond what terrifies us most.
(8) Deny. Live in responsible denial for a while. Don't go crazy and buy a tour bus, but live comfortably in the fact that you are going to succeed. Everyone that matters knows that persistence, not talent, is the key to success. And people that don't matter tend to place very little value on the former, and everything on the latter. That's why those people are living out of a garage and drinking light beers every afternoon. Who cares if you are talented or beautiful or well-connected? As long as you are trying, you will succeed. It does not matter what your 'look' is or if you were never the lead in high school. You will succeed if you simply keep going. And that's statistically correct, so brush up on your math skills while you're at it. Success stems from denying the impulse to throw in the towel - even when the towel sucks.
(9) Fail Harder. Your mind is starting to rewire itself by now. You should be feeling a new spring in your step. You have been FAILING. Doesn't it feel wonderful? Nothing else in your life has changed but YOU. You are changed. The fear of failure has begun to lessen. The excuses you once hid behind are slowly diminishing. You recognize that it was you, not your lack of talent or tools, that held you back all this long while. So fail harder. Reach further into the scary unknown. Schedule more auditions. Ask for more gigs. Start telling more people what you're up to - they may have work for you. Make a small, but genuine commotion. Because you are doing it. This is what it feels like to do it. To fail. And to live.
(10) Get Loud. Turn up the volume on your small commotion. Revamp your version of you. If that means new pictures or a new website, so be it. Save up the funds, and invest in your newer, braver self. This is not a joke: when I was afraid to fail, still sticking to my desk job and praying I'd save enough to quit someday, I took that quiz on Pottermore? The one that sorts you into a house? And it gave me Hufflepuff. I was fine with that, Hufflepuffs are wonderful. One of my best friends is a Hufflepuff. But two years later, when I'd all but forgotten about it, my roommate told me to take the test again. I meant to take the one for the new American houses because... NEW POTTERMORE TEST -YES PLEASE. But I clicked on the regular one while doing something else and proceeded to take the same Hogwarts test as before without realizing it. This time, I was a Gryffindor. I told my fellow Hufflepuff friend that the test had changed. And she told me, "No, it hasn't. You changed. Didn't you notice? Your answers changed because your reactions to situations are totally different now than they were. You're braver. And happier. The test is the same." I felt like someone had hit me over the head. Learning to fail makes you more adventurous. So speak up. Tell people what you're up to. Involve your network in your journey. As long as it is coming from a genuine place, people want to hear about it. Start realizing that you are a star if you believe yourself to be one. The world will listen and think you are a star, too. #hufflepuffforever #weloveallthehouses #weheartjkrowling
(11) Break Up with Easy. It's time to have the talk. There is no such thing as 'easy' when you are trying to bring a dream into the real world. Grieve for the ease. And let it go. Walk a bit further. Stretch your arms a bit higher now. Re-double your efforts. You're strong enough to take it; you are so much stronger than you used to be. You think you might fall short, but you won't. Let go of the last bits of your old friends, Fear and Self-Doubt, that are holding you back. You can do this. You can fail better and faster and stronger now. Those failures will keep pushing you higher and higher. Be steadfast in your failing. You're almost there.
(12) Rejoice. You have now spent one whole year failing toward a better life. You may have noticed your work at your day job is slipping here and there as your mindset shifts from working underneath of others to working for yourself. You have managed to gain new friends and a new understanding of who you really are and what you really want out of life. You realize now that your fear of failure, while common, is nothing but a lie your mind once told you to protect your tender heart. You have failed. And probably succeeded quite a few times along the way. And now you must begin the process again. Attack your life from a new angle: start a blog, write a book, paint a portrait. Post about it. Revel in learning something from scratch. Who knows? It just might be the secret to your ultimate failure: success.
Our hope for each of you is that you learn to embrace who you are. The greatest rejections in life are the ones we give ourselves. But we at FatChix Films want you to know that you're fine. You're perfect. And you're brave enough to do the things you are afraid of most. Just try a little. You might surprise yourself by surpassing all of your wildest dreams.
*FatChix does not claim that you will have an Oscar by year's end, bb. We aren't unrealistic. But this plan will help you realize some of your potential by getting you out of your fear zone and into action. If you find yourself truly struggling, please reach out to a professional for some much needed love. xoxo.