How a Painfully Shy Introvert is Running a Highly Collaborative Business.
"10AM on Wednesday at Kavarna? Of course, I'll be there." I hang up the phone feeling confident, as there was no stuttering and no awkward silences. Phone calls are getting so much easier. I take my new planner and jot down the surprise set up I had just made.
"Third meeting with yet another stranger this week," I think to myself, "A stranger who values my work."
I need the constant reminder. As someone who would much rather stay at home and read self-help books and listen to Natalia Lafourcade all day long, convincing myself to go out and make connections has been a battle. I love people, I just can't stay around them for too long.
Working in a creative field, I meet and make friendships with people fighting for similar dreams - constantly. As in any job, it's always more about who you know, and how strong that bond is. Making friends was incredibly difficult my entire life. Extroverts would adopt me and bring me into their circles, or I would hang around with my coworkers. Surrounding myself with like-minded individuals was rare. Actually, for the longest time, I didn't want to be near anyone like me.
I decided I wanted to direct and produce videos and films since I was in elementary school. I didn't know it would require this much of my social energy back then. I just wanted to create visual stories that people would enjoy. As I grew up, my confidence in my social skills dropped dramatically. All I had to be proud of was my love and determination for film making. I read book after book on directing, acting, and funding your own films. I self-taught on videography, photography, and editing. I wrote stories and scripts and hoped no one would read them but me. I spent so much time alone, and I wanted it to stay that way. I was doomed to feel lonely my whole life, so why not stay optimistic and make use of that.
"I'll just be an Ace. I'll be great at everything by myself. It'll be my revenge for being so lonely."
Being an Ace, being good at everything, it just wasn't possible.
I learned a bit too late that this field, this creative field, is all based on COLLABORATION. The best way to become great at everything was doing exactly the opposite of what I did my entire life.
As soon as I started my mentorship with Creative Edge Productions(2015), I felt extremely uncomfortable. They could so tell. I remember them leaving a note to my student services person after it was over, that yes, I was very determined, I was there on time, I was ambitious, but I had a hard time working with other people. I was better off working on my own.
Getting comments like those were common in my entire professional life. Hardworking, yes, determined, yes, creative, yes, but way too quiet, way too shy, not assertive enough.
"You're too quiet to lead Jocelyne. Maybe you should think about being an editor."
These comments hit me like rocks to the chest. My entire existence was based off becoming a director, becoming a leader to creative projects. I could never settle to becoming just an editor. I wasn't even that good at editing, I just learned it because it's part of my 'be good at everything' agenda.
Then it clicked. My overly optimistic and positive mind didn't let me give up. I could never hate myself for the way I am. The only way I made it through so many obstacles in life was because I embraced my introversion. I had to learn how to push through the fire in my chest every time I talked to a stranger, yet not change myself completely.
I'm going to be a quiet leader. It will happen.
I messaged a local band - 7000apart - They were just starting out, I had gone to high school with them, and their music inspired me. What was just a spur of the moment decision, grew into one of my first of many professional friendships. Amelie and Jon not only let me direct their first video, they had me work with so many people to create it. That's when the word collaboration first came into mind. The video turned out so good because I allowed myself to work with so many people. Not only that, I got myself into a relationship with this couple that I still can't believe is real. They are so supportive, creative, and inspiring. They have been there to encourage me to continue making friends.
Producing this video helped me gain the confidence to work with other people. I ate up my ego and as soon as another band asked me to film their video, I asked for volunteers to help out. To my surprise, many people I knew were interested in helping out. I gained more experience leading small crews to shoot these low budget videos. It was nerve-wracking at first, but eventually, it became natural. Most of them were friends, or people curious about film making, which meant I still did most of the work by myself.
Eventually, I ran into bands like The Dirty Martinis and Rändi Fay. Their ideas, concepts, and wishes were bigger than any others I had worked with. This was my chance to expand my collaborative circle. I worked at the local news station where I met steadi-cam operator - Kenton Barber. I have always done cam op by myself, but what if I let someone else, someone who's own passion is operating a camera, to do it instead?
He shot both videos so well -SO well- that they both ended up at the Wildwood Film Festival. Rändi's Supernatural ended up winning best music video.
Collaboration works. Not only does it shape my business, but I also grow so much more as a director/producer. There are people out there that love only one thing and do that incredibly well. How could I possibly stretch myself to do everything myself, when there is talent everywhere?
I continued to include more talented, creative people whenever the budget allowed it. I worked with Max Hauser as my Cam Op and Nate Haban as my DP. Two great filmmakers who probably had this collaboration situation down a while ago. Through spending 15 hours with them both, I learned so much more about production than I did in my entire mentorship. I also worked with wonderful photographers such as Megan Johnson and Laura Henderson.
They have brought quality, relief, and fun to my shoots. Many others who have helped this past year such as my best friends Vanessa Alvarez, and Oscar Leon, and more, teach me how to become a better leader.
Here is the best part: When my social battery starts running out, there is a whole crew out there ready to help. I no longer have to worry about appearing awkward, bored, or rude because there are so many people to keep the energy going. Sometimes those same crew members tend to take care of the socializing for me.
Two years into this business, and now I sit here planning for my biggest collaborative event yet -- A Fashion Show.
How did this shy, scared, introvert with no fashion sense, end up the lead to a fashion show in Green Bay? I'll have to thank Vanessa Vee for that.
I am still really, really awkward, and people still ask me to raise my voice. It's all about learning as you grow. I've been sending emails, texts, making calls, meeting with groups, with strangers -- skillful strangers. Before every situation, I have to take a deep breath, or a friend (Thanks Nessa), but I am loving it all so much. This is exactly what I was made to do.
Being born an introvert has certainly made running a business difficult, but it has also taught me so many skills that I wouldn't have gotten otherwise. This fashion show is all about including local designers and shops, and it's success relies on the participation of many strangers. I've already been working with an incredible group of people: Models, Stylists, Designers, Photographers.
I am so incredibly excited to watch the models walk down the runway, surrounded by our supportive community. The ultimate collaboration, the pillar of business, it will all come to life on Oct. 18th.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me not only these past two years but also my entire life. I hope to keep making the small verdict in elementary school a reality. I hope I continue to grow out of lonely shell, and keep my arms wide open. I keep meeting amazing people, and I am more determined than ever to become that quiet leader.
See you at the show :)!
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