Recently, as we’ve traversed the web, we stumbled upon the great work of Nathalie Sejean, a self-described audio and visual storyteller (probably how you describe yourself, too). Her blog, Mentorless is full of terrific advice and insight into the creative storytelling process.
Every once in a while, Nathalie runs a program called Accountable, “the program for people who want to cut the BS and MAKE a film.” And when Sejean says “cut the BS,” she means it: Starting February 5, 2020, Mentorless participants will have 25 days in which to make a short film.
With Sejean as your guide, you will receive creative constraints, a deadline, feedback and support during that period. And, perhaps most important: you will be accountable. It’s like having a coach for your next film. And why not? Athletes have coaches, actors have coaches, business people have coaches. Why shouldn’t filmmakers?
We got the chance to interview Nathalie, who explains more:
Why did you start Accountable?
I created Accountable almost 2 years ago now when I realized that filmmaking was one of the few artistic jobs where you often had very little practice before the moment you needed to shoot your "real" project. While the Internet and cheaper equipment have made this storytelling art more accessible, the amount of content shared daily online and the access to knowledge and awareness is paralyzing a lot of people today, aspiring filmmakers as well as established ones in a creative rut. I'm a big believer and user of creative constraints and accountability. It is proved that by making yourself accountable you raise your chances of hitting your goal by almost 90%, which is an insane number. And adding creative constraints are a simple but efficient way to let someone play within a canvas and find out about who they are as a filmmaker, where are their weaknesses and their strengths, so after Accountable they can develop their strengths and decide how to tackle their weaknesses. Accountable became my way of offering an option to the community that I hadn't seen yet. It's not about winning a price, or gaining exposure, it's about working your creative muscle while making a film on a tight deadline and with constraints, and realizing that you can do it.
It's been an empowering journey for all the participants and very rewarding so far for me too.
Who is Accountable for?
To put it simply, Accountable is for anyone who likes to say they want to make films and is not making any and have decided to take control of their creative journey. Accountable is for the storytellers willing to invest in their craft and eager to push themselves. So far, the majority of the participants fell into one of three categories: "aspiring filmmakers" (meaning people educated in filmmaking, loving filmmaking but who have never dared making a film for a whole host of reasons), "procrastinators" (people who always find a good reason not to do it and realize they need support to break their pattern), and working filmmakers in a burnout (at various stages). We often think that the hardest part is to make a living as filmmakers, but the truth is that once your passion becomes your paycheck it becomes easy to stop taking risks and having fun doing it after 5, 10 or 20 years. It's hard to admit we are in a burnout, especially when it comes to creativity. Accountable is a safe space for them because it's anonymous and you don't have the peer pressure of uploading your work online for everybody to potentially ignore it. You can create and fail and produce something minor that can become the seed for something bigger.
In your post from May 8 “Geniuses Work More than Others,” you touch on filmmaking as only part of the creative process. The other, equally essential part, is distribution/getting eyeballs on your work. Will Accountable expose short filmmakers to this aspect? If not, do you have or recommend other programs that do?
No. Accountable is about putting your creativity to work. It's about being in the trenches and doing the work not to produce a masterpiece, advance your career or finally produce the screenplay that is (collecting) dust in your drawer, but doing the work to become a stronger filmmaker before you need to be a strong filmmaker on set for a big project. If you end up producing a masterpiece during Accountable, amazing. But we need a space to create and be supported without the pressure of getting into festivals or making a million views on YouTube or Vimeo. This is what Accountable offers.
There are plenty of programs that tackle all these other aspects of a filmmaking career. The one that will work for you will depend on what you need, at what stage you're at in your career but one thing is for sure, if you don't make films you'll never need any of these other aspects.
For more information or to sign up for the next Accountable opportunity, visit http://accountable.mentorless.com/join.
Follow Nathalie on Facebook @mentorlesspage, on Instagram and Twitter @mentorless