Posted by: Noni | June 4, 2010

A Happy Coincidence!

As I sat sifting through my emails, a new one arrived.   I opened it before it had a chance to get all comfy in my inbox.   Here’s what it had to say…

From: LinkedIn Groups
Group: Film TV Professionals
Subject: New comment (1,036) on “MEMBER INTRODUCTIONS…”
13 years ago we started a production company. Today we have distribution, management, a seven picture financing deal and a wealth of in-house projects and resources. We got it all because we kept working with our friends and we love movies, not money. Anyone who needs help making their way feel free to email me. Happy Shooting!
Posted by Tyler Ross

Wow!  “…feel free to email me.”  Guess what I did?  I sent him a direct message via Linked In.  Here it is…

Tyler,

(I) Love what you had to say in the group.   Sounds like you may have read Tony Hsieh’s new book,  Delivering Happiness.   Ironically I’m reading it now and will write a full review for posting Monday (the books official launch day)    Please have a look at my profile and let me know if I can be of service in any way… I love to work and don’t care about fame or fortune. Good old fashioned collaboration makes my heart beat strong!

Take care,
Alison

I wanted to connect with Tyler immediately.  He recognized the importance of Tribe.    I had forgotten all about tribe but thankfully I’ve been reminded twice in the past week.  First by Tony in his book and now by Tyler in his introduction on a business networking group we share.
I pay attention to things like that.  Messages or themes that repeatedly present themselves are signals from the Universe that we need to change something.  I started the process of examining my life.
What does tribe mean to me?  A group of individuals forming a deep connection for common goal or purpose. How does that apply to me?  Historically, I’ve been blessed.  I’ve had many amazing experiences with tribes.
F-Stops - Where 16mm  meets 45 caliber
Years ago I produced an ultra low budget feature film called F-Stops.  We had limited time, total inexperience and an extremely challenging project.  I posted some ads and a string of desperate interns arrived at the door.  (my 2 bedroom beach pad had been converted into a production office.)  I needed lots of help.  I wanted to attract and retain talented crew but I had nothing to offer.
Wait!  Why was I doing this movie??? Because I believed in it.  It was my job to spread that belief.   I looked at the tools in my arsenal.  We had a trailer we had shot for use as bait to hook an investor.  I figured if someone like the teaser enough to give us the funds, why not use the same technique to attract cast and crew?
I set up a comfortable viewing area in my home/office where I could pitch the project.  I invited every respondent (regardless of their suitability or qualifications)  if they weren’t right for the cast or crew perhaps I could use them for focus group research or to spread the word.
As each candidate arrived they were escorted to a seat and the VHS (yes it was that long ago) was popped in.  They sat and watched the video while I sat and watched them.  I looked for excitement, enthusiasm and any signs that would indicate they loved the concept.  Afterward, I interviewed them each briefly and asked what they had to offer.  I gave each person the chance to create their own niche job within the project.    After a while, I didn’t have to sit and watch the recruits as they watched the demo, the earlier indoctrinates stepped in and took over.  A cool thing was happening… we were forming a tribe.
One of the interns was given the duty of preparing a group meal in the midday.  We’d all stop and share food together, (usually hot-dogs or quesadillas or soup and sandwiches) then we’d all venture out for a walk on the Venice Boardwalk; 20 minutes of fresh air.  The rule was that everyone had to clear the office during lunch.  It was mandatory to take a break whether they wanted to or not.
When we returned to the office and resumed work there was renewed enthusiasm and productivity soared.  The environment was inspiring, fast paced and lots of fun!  We had less than 6 weeks to prep a feature film (a task many deemed impossible) with complex logistics and 22 locations around Southern California.  (Did I mention no one had any experience?)
After several weeks a close friend stopped by to check on the progress.  He wandered around listening, watching, coaching and suggesting.  My tribe of newbie, wannabe filmmakers shone bright under his scrutiny.  After a while he came to me and exclaimed, “You’re running a cult here!”  I told him we were making a film and it had nothing to do with religion.
“No” he said, “These kids would do anything for you.  They’re working for free, bringing their friends in, and offering up their worldly possessions for use in the film.  It’s exactly like a cult!”
I had a good laugh then explained that we were a team (tribe) and that the only way we could hope to finish the film was by banding together and doing our best.  No matter what happened, we would have fun trying.  I was having the time of my life!
Looking back now I am truly amazed at our success.  We made that film.  After the wrap party I rearranged the furniture and re-claimed my home.  It felt oddly empty.  The interns, cast and crew all went their separate ways and we wished each other well.  A few kept in contact but eventually we all drifted our separate ways.
The film got finished and went on to win some nice awards but ironically it never sold.  It was a fabulous film.  Lots of clever jokes to offset the shocking tragedy… a pinch of romance and even a car chase…
I couldn’t figure out what the problem was.  Why wasn’t anyone interested in picking up such a great film?  Our  success in completing the shoot relied on a team working together, selflessly and harmoniously.  Once the principal photography was done the tribe disbanded and the project suffered.  The collective energy was gone.  It’s only recently that I’ve been able to fully understand where we failed.   A tribe had formed with the common goal of making a movie.  Once the cameras finished rolling there was no common interest and the tribe disbanded.  In retrospect, we should have focused not only making the film, but marketing and selling it too.
Now as I start a new project, I’m careful to hand pick my tribe.  I’ve been reminded of the importance of connecting with like-minded others, and also of having a clearly defined goal and purpose.  Just as Tyler boasts in his announcement to the group…
“We got it all because we kept working with our friends”

Team, tribe, friends, colleagues, associates… Are these terms interchangeable in your workplace?

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