C is for confidence worth 20 points. Can you project confidence? Not false confidence. Obviously, your confidence should come from God and not your evaluation of your talents and skills. In this industry, perception is reality. If you are not confident about yourself being a filmmaker, others will not take you seriously. If God has called you to work in media and entertainment, then exert your confidence. Remember the famous line as it applies to producers: “I have several projects in various levels of development.” This can be an absolutely true statement as long as there’s a few thoughts in your head or perhaps a few things written down. The point is do you have the confidence to sell it?
A is for attitude worth 20 points. The wrong attitude will sink your career. Nobody wants to work with difficult people. I have hired a lot of crew members over my career. I can forgive a lot of things. But I will not bring somebody back who has a bad attitude. That’s like throwing gasoline on the fire because it can spread throughout your crew. The media, film and television business is no different than any other aspect of life. It’s all about the right attitude. Are you willing to serve others and start at the bottom? If you have a servant’s heart, you will have the right attitude to make it in this business. Are you good at making adjustments and adapting to difficult situations? Your attitude will be the determining factor.
D is for drive worth 20 points. Can you outwork everybody else? The media business requires long hours and dedication. If you are looking for a 40-hour week, you have chosen the wrong career. A couple of years ago, I worked with an intern who was a fourth year media student. Her plan was to be a television journalist. The problem was she discovered in order to do that she would be required to work long hours including weekends. She wanted her Friday and Saturday nights off to go out with her friends. Do you think she found a job in her field as an anchor or reporter? If you are not ready for long hours and working weekends, change your major now. In the film business, a typical day can be 14 – 16 hours. Remember, the advantage you have is your youth. The question is do you want it bad enough.
F is for focus worth 20 points. Can you be laser-like in your approach to your work? Seeing the goal at hand is the secret of focus. In the media business, there are all types of distractions. First you can start believing all your hype that you are special or that the rules don’t apply to you. That can lead to bad lifestyle choices as well as to the people you hang around with. All of this is a distraction and will cause you to loose your focus. You can find a lot of successful, talented people who no longer work in the film or television industry because they lost their focus.
P is for a plan worth 15 points. Have a plan. Then have a backup plan. And then again have a second backup plan because in this business things change fast. You get the point. You have to have a plan. Preferably a good one. The whole point is just writing a plan makes you think about the process. It makes you an active participant in your career and not merely a bystander. And, frankly, people will be more impressed with you if you have taken the time and effort to actually develop and write a plan for your own professional and personal development.
X is the unknown factor worth 40 points. So what’s the X factor? It will mean different things to different people. Some people call it fate, chance, coincidence, dumb luck or destiny. For Christians, this is God’s plan and purpose for your life. After all of your hard work and effort, it will probably be the X factor that will determine whether or not you actually make it in this business. For some of you, this may be hard to fathom. All of the other elements get you close to the finish line. It’s the X factor that takes you across the line.
Obviously, the X factor works in your favor if you’ve been called to be a media missionary. But it’s not guaranteed. You must do your part so God can do his part. That means you have to work on your attitude, your confidence, your drive and your focus. You’ve studied hard and are knowledgeable in your craft. When you have done all this, the X factor kicks in on your behalf. On the other hand, if you are just trying to coast in, don’t expect the X factor to do much for you.
T is for total. When you add up all the factors, what number do you need? Remember this is only a theoretical calculation with a possible 305 points. You need to be over 200 points. I consider between 200 and 220 to be marginal. In fact, anything over 220 would put you more in the safe zone.
So how did I make the evaluation? For example, talent is worth 50 points. Anything under 17 or below, it’s not happening. Between 18 and 35 is marginal or average. For 36 and above, you are showing visible signs of talent in some area such as directing skills, writing, producing or acting.
So where do you stand? If you’ve done the work, attained your degree and really applied yourself, chances are you have one true talent that you excel in. That would put you in the upper half of the top third. You probably have three or four categories that you are somewhat efficient in. You would score in the lower end of the top third. You also have three or four categories in which you are adequate or average. That would put you in the lower or the middle end of the middle third. And most students have one category in which they have serious problems. In this case, you would score in the lower third. The trick is not to score in the lower part of the bottom third. So when you add it up, for most students, you are within striking distance, but it is often the X factor that will determine whether or not you make it.
Now ask yourself if you have what it takes to make it in this business. What do you have to work on and improve? More importantly, what are your strengths? Remember, you don’t have to be good in every factor, just excel in what you are good at.