I recently received an email from a fan that I thought I would share with all the independent filmmakers out there. This is something that we may have to deal with from time to time.
Dear Mr. Pirro,
I’ve been a fan of your work for many years and I respect your opinion, so I’d like to get your take on this. I’ve been an independent filmmaker for about 10 years. I’ve made shorts and features. Some have gotten festival recognition and some haven’t really gone anywhere. What has come to bother me over the years are derogatory comments from people who feel compelled to condemn what I have done. I hear comments like, “nobody will ever see these films,” or “you’re wasting your time,” or “why bother doing these movies?” I know it shouldn’t matter but I find these comments hurtful and discouraging. I’m sure in the decades you’ve been making films, you’ve gotten a few derogatory comments. How do you keep your spirits up when you do? Thank you.
Name withheld by request.
Here was my reply:
Dear Withheld (that’s a long name),
Thank you for your letter. First of all, let me tell you that there is nothing wrong with the way you feel. Films you make are your children and how can someone not be affected by negative comments? However, here’s the antidote: Look at the source of the comments. I would be willing to bet 1/2 all my assets (which are considerable), that at least 99% of these comments come from people who have creatively accomplished way less than you.
Let me explain. We are kids in a sandbox. We’re having fun. We are doing what we enjoy doing: being creative, expressing ourselves, entertaining audiences. Maybe we’re making a living at it, maybe we’re not. But regardless, we are enjoying our life. I dare say that the people who feel a need to condemn whatever we’ve accomplished are either unsatisfied with their own lives, are in a go-nowhere job, have few real relationships, if any, or are just living a sad life and trying to up themselves by trying to take you down. Would you really care if someone who never bathed told you that you smelled bad? I hate people whose job isn’t making films telling me what film is worth making.
Anyone who is successful in life knows that a key to success is making people feel better about themselves, not worse. Positive actions attract positive people. Negative actions attract losers. This is why I can get the same actors, crew, artists, technicians, etc. to work on my movies whether there is a budget or not, over and over again – many going back with me over 30 years. They do it because they have a positive experience in being a part of a fun project. Anybody negative gets exiled out of the Pirromount universe immediately, and there haven’t been many since I choose my associations carefully. I have relationships that have lasted decades. I bet these people who put you down don’t.
You will rarely hear Spielberg, Scorsese or Cameron condemn anybody’s work. It’s not in their character, and it’s rare to find that in the character of anybody who is successful (ok, excluding Donald Trump maybe). One thing I’ve learned over the years is that whoever puts down what I do, whether they’re a postal worker, pool cleaner or crack-whore, none of them appear to be happy about where they are in life. If they put you down as a bad filmmaker, or dismiss what you do entirely, you can take solace in the fact that they are most likely a failure at life. And that, my friend, you will never be as long as you continue to create.