Prince Charming and Other Fairytales

Fairytales can hold a powerful sway over us.  As a child whose father had just died, I cried for years.  Not knowing what to do, my mother told me that when I grew up, I would meet Prince Charming, who would sweep me off my feet and make-up for everything I’d missed.  I stopped crying and turned my head toward the future.  You can bet that letting go of that fairytale took a toll.

Here’s another fairytale I think is equally destructive.  A filmmaker that I recently overheard on a discussion list said he was planning on offering streams of his movie for free and getting 600 million people to view it.

600 million.  That’s nearly twice the population of the entire United States or about 25% of all internet users on earth.

His question on the list was what platform to use.  No queries about how to attract 600 million viewers which he evidently saw as realistic, only whether to use Vimeo or YouTube.  Another post responded that if he expected to reach over 600 million people, he should post information about his film on a few websites!

Where do filmmakers get such ideas?  I am sorry to say, from consultants such as myself, who talk about them at film festivals, and then charge very hefty sums indeed to “teach” people how to achieve their dreams.  Never mind that everyone gives up the effort in a matter of weeks or months since full-time social networking is grueling, and even if accomplished day-after-day-after-day, will only yield an infinitesimal fraction of such a number.

Here’s what I don’t think is a fairytale: some filmmakers have a realistic chance to reach millions of viewers (though probably not 600 million), and more importantly, to make history, change lives, win awards, etc.  Many other filmmakers will also make history, change lives, and win awards, as well as help support themselves through the sale of their films to libraries and academic institutions, for a relatively small outlay of money and time.

The real world offers so much more than fairytales ever could, but only when we come out of our fantasies can we discover the opportunities waiting for us.

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