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  • Writer's pictureNicholas Buggs

Persistence Is The Mark Of A Successful Filmmaker - Insights from Musician/Actor, Korby Lenker

Korby Lenker, Actor/Musician

"The number one thing, way more important than talent, is persistence."

- Korby Lenker, Actor/Musician

In our Conversation with Korby Lenker on the MAKE IT podcast, Korby talked to us about how to bridge the gap between filmmaking talent and filmmaking success. He explained to us that talent isn't everything and that persistence is what will ultimately help you achieve your goals.

It's easy to read this quote and ask, "Well, persistence is great but if you don't have talent, how can you be successful?" That's fair. Talent is certainly key to everyone's success. But let's go a bit deeper so we can get to the heart of Korby's advice.

Persistence is "the firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition".

We would all agree that the life of a filmmaker is full of difficulty and opposition. As our good friend and producer Stefanie Black told us: "...this business is chock full of negativity and comparison and many things that can topple you." Writer and coach Shannan E. Johnson tells us: "Hollywood is the largest gated community in the world." In our own experience, we have worked with mercenary crew who came, saw, and collected a paycheck without ever looking back, leaving us with a subpar product that we couldn't promote.

No matter how talented you are, the filmmaker's journey is wrought with challenges that have brought many talented people to their knees. We know plenty of talented actors who have been passed over for parts. We know plenty of talented directors who have not been honored for their work. We know plenty of talented writers with screenplays on the shelf. We know plenty of talented producers who can't find distribution for their films.

Talent is likely the most abundant quality out there in the indie filmmaking world but success continues to elude so many indie filmmakers. This is why Korby says that there has to be something more important than talent, that there has to be something that can break down the barriers, shrug off the difficulty, and overcome the opposition. Filmmakers can't survive on talent alone. They need something more.

Persistence. "The firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition."

Persistence doesn't mean beating your head against a brick wall over and over again. If you recall, Einstein's definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results." Persistence is about the unwavering pursuit of a goal all the while knowing that the journey doesn't follow a straight line. It's about finding unique and creative ways to beat the odds when the odds are stacked against you. It's about forging new paths when the old paths are hard to find or lead to dead ends. Persistence means taking "no" for an answer in one place, but learning how to turn it into a "yes" somewhere else.

So, how does a filmmaker demonstrate persistence in a meaningful way without feeling like they're going insane? Well, it all comes down to the "course of action" that a filmmaker takes to get where they're going.

We believe that persistence in filmmaking is all about charting a course of action that addresses the three core principles upon which we founded Bonsai Creative: Be Better. Be Creative. Be Engaged. Let's break it down:

Be Better

This principle is about obstinate continuance along the path of education. There is always an opportunity to learn whether formally through guided training or informally on set. Continually seeking and taking advantage of opportunities to learn can make us better at what we do and at who we are as individuals. It is through continual education that we improve our value to others and the quality of our work.

Be Creative

This principle is about obstinate continuance along the path of expressing our creativity by making things that the world can see. Art lives at the heart of the content creator and it is by creating and sharing that art that we continue to validate ourselves and our purpose in the world.

Be Engaged

This principle is about obstinate continuance along the path of community engagement. As a filmmaker, your art isn't for everyone. Your art is a representation of the thoughts, experiences, beliefs, perspectives, and desires of specific communities. By continually searching for, identifying with, and engaging the right communities, you will build audiences, collaborators, and champions for your art.

Through great persistence in each of these areas, filmmakers at all levels of talent can find their way to success. The road has never been straight and narrow and the journey is far from easy, but "firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition" is certain to yield positive results to the filmmaker who strives to be better, be creative, and be engaged.

If you'd like to hear more great insights from our filmmaking friend Korby Lenker, we invite you to listen to this episode of the MAKE IT podcast. You can also check out all the great things that Korby is up to these days on his website:

As always,

Be Better. Be Creative. Be Engaged.


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