• DeAara Lewis

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Keep in mind that I’m an artist! And I’m sensitive about my shit…

For many people who know Eryka Badu you may remember her famous words in the now infamous Fuck-Em-Girl anthem “Tyrone”:

Keep in mind that I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my shit…

And oh was my sensitivity to my shit tested this week.

Yesterday, I got an email from a publicist I had been possibly interested in working with to promote “Tricks” in Washington, D.C.,  he bluntly said he would not be able to take on the project.  This came as a shock because he was somewhat excited about it when I called initially.  He offered no explanation, the email was only two sentences long and I pretty much read between the lines.  Which probably included budget, the subject matter of my film, him not really understanding my audience and predispositions about a movie with a title called “Tricks.”

Now, for folks who read my blogs often, you know that I am not entirely thrilled to work with publicists, because I have had bad experiences with them.  And I am strong believer in nobody knowing or championing your project better than you.  I also know that some people may not have the time, the expertise or the know-how to handle a publicity and marketing campaign; so a publicist may be a good route to go (provided you find a good one who is passionate about what you do).

Anyway, needless to say, I was a little bombed after receiving the email, my confidence slightly shakened.  Was I good enough?  Have the past three years been a complete waste of time?  Am I a good writer?  A good story-teller? Why is this taking so long to pop off?  Will it pop off?  What will I do if it doesn’t?  Am I going to have to work this dead-end job for the rest of my life?  Will I ever realize my dream?  My mind was racing by the minute – because of one email with two sentences from a guy I had never even met.

I then had a conversation with my fiance’ following with a conversation with my God brother and they both reiterated the same thing – look in.  You see, when I first started working on “Tricks”, at first I looked out.  I looked OUT for a cinematographer, I looked OUT for a line producer, I looked OUT for a script supervisor, marketing consultants, publicists, musicians because that what I thought was the right thing to do.  However, when these people I would find would let me down (and they ultimately would), out of desperation, I looked in – and this has multiple meanings.

I found my cinematographer on Craig’s List, however when we met, I had already seen his work, we had graduated from the same program at the same college and knew many of the same people and he has since become one of my best friends.  I looked OUT for a line producer, the one I initially had decided to go with, moved away and I only found out through a blast email that they sent to all of their “friends.”  So I turned in, and found the most organized and accountable line producer that anybody could have, we were members of the same group and I saw her weekly in a class we both attend.

I looked OUT for a script supervisor, but when all of the ones I interviewed revealed their “flaky” nature (i.e. not returning phone calls, not showing up to schedule meetings, etc), I looked IN, and my younger sister who had been wanting to help all along became the most anal, calculating script supervisor that you can imagine (and that’s a good thing).  I looked OUT for musicians, went through several prospects, all of them were flaky and not reliable.  Then I looked IN, and realized I had two of the most committed and talented musicians right down the street – my sister and my nephew.

And most of all, when I have had doors closed in my face, money messed over, confidence and work attacked when I went OUT looking for other people’s approval – I then looked IN – and realized my opinion of myself is the only thing that really matters.  No one is going to fight as hard, work as hard, cry as hard, and laugh as hard as me when it comes to promoting my work and believing in myself.  Sometimes I forget this and have to be reminded to look IN.  And now I realize that I am my best publicist, I am my best mouthpiece and the people who do champion and promote me do so because they see themselves in me and I in them.  And when you love self, you can easily see yourself in other people who also see and love themselves as well.

So I write this to remind every artist, every dreamer, every entrepreneur that you are your best cheerleader.  If you depend on other people to pump you up, you will have no control over when they decide to bring you down.

Please pass this message along to anybody you feel needs to hear it.


One Response

  1. Hey DeAara! Sorry about the news, but the article is fantabulous. I realize one of the most important things with surviving-financially-as an independent filmmaker (of course, I’m still low-to-no budget) is selling myself. Right now, I am the ONE who will market my product better than anyone else can and since I’ve been in sales all my life, I know it will pay off in the end. Your movie title reflects artists’ “positions” in entertainment. When it comes down to it, we’re all tricks and prostitutes. Don’t mean to offend anybody, but that is the way it is…..and everything is so political. Even the film festivals we submit our films to. I think every “serious” artist asks themselves, “Can I do this?” “Am I supposed to be doing this?” “CAN I make a living just doing this?” or some variation, and yes, we can, so long as we believe in ourselves and NEVER EVER give up. I HAVE to make films, I DONT have a choice. I’m either gonna die rich or poor, either way, I’m still going to be an independent filmmaker. Good luck. I havent seen the film yet, but I will be purchasing my copy when I can. AND I CANT WAIT! Oh, and this is the time for indie filmmakers! There is movement for us. Venice Film Fest selected 17 new and second feature director’s this year! What a risk and what a statement! This is our time! Hang in there! peace+k

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