I regularly introduce myself as a filmmaker. This is better than telling people how I actually make my money (corporate “films”), and it’s not entirely untrue. But it is a better label for what I want to be than what I am.
“Filmmaker” appeals because people pay attention to films. Films matter. People model their lives on the movies. My ego really likes the idea of making something that changes how people see the world. I’m very susceptible to the idea that I can make people better by telling them a good story.
I suppose now would be a good time for a movie quote that has changed me personally:
A year from now, ten? They’ll swing back to the belief that they can make people… better. And I do not hold to that. So no more runnin’. I aim to misbehave.
— Captain Malcolm Reynolds
I’m not alone in convincing myself I can make people better. That premise shows up in every religion, every government, every law that we pass. It’s a very seductive concept. It’s also wrong. I hold with Mal here; the only way people get better is if they make themselves so.
As a younger man, I was arrogant enough to believe I could tell people how to solve their problems. I’m quite good at solving problems, and it’s especially easy to solve problems that aren’t your own. If only the world would just listen to me, we wouldn’t have global warming or a financial system that is about to collapse. Death and taxes would no longer be certainties.
I could go on, but the fallacy is quite obvious: I can’t fix the world or anyone in it by making a movie. But I still want to. So what kind of movie should I make?
I make movies to inspire. It’s not about a specific message; my movies don’t have prescribed learning outcomes. Instead, what I hope to do is to create the conditions for growth. People carry the seeds of their improvement around with them; if I want to influence people for the better, all I need to do is provide fertile soil and they will change themselves.
All of this is why I choose to introduce myself as a filmmaker rather than a businessman. Being a “filmmaker” speaks to what I have to offer the world: The ability to inspire spiritual insight and growth, whatever direction that may take. I may make my money shooting corporate videos, but that’s not what I do, it’s not my calling. My calling is telling stories that let my audience see the world through new eyes. As far as I’m concerned, that makes me a filmmaker.