Increase Your Disdain For Authority


(Alex Le May) #1

I’ve never been a guy who can work in a traditional corporate environment. I tried it once; it didn’t go well. I never understood the politics one had to get through before you could get to the work, or all of the corporate jargon that came along with having that kind of job. Terms like “let’s silo that for the next quarters paradigm shift” (I’m not kidding. I heard someone say that and I wanted to set their car on fire).

Working in big media is no different. Often, it’s conservative corporations with a ton of aversion to risk and an old-school version of hierarchy. There is often very little room for experimentation so I always found myself breaking the rules and asking for forgiveness rather than permission. I soon developed a bit of a reputation as, for lack of a better term, a ‘bad-boy” in the office. I think that probably happened to me in grade school as well.

I kept fighting my need to push the boundaries and the limits of the rules. I kept thinking I was doing something wrong. My self-esteem took a hit. Then I thought, “hey, roll with it”. So, I leaned into it and admitted that I didn’t belong in that kind of environment. From then on, I knew I had to create my own work and have my own voice and not have to ask many people for permission. Doesn’t mean I can’t work on a team, just means that team has to be super collaborative and willing to take a risk. Since then, I’ve found my center and a hell of a lot more satisfaction in the work I do every day.

So, if you’re a filmmaker or series creator who wants to do their own work have their own voice, the one thing I can say is develop a healthy distain for authority. Break some rules, steal some silverware, and make some effing noise. For me, when I started doing that my work got noticed more. People wanted to work with me. At first, I didn’t understand why, then it came to me that was occurring because I was picking a side, taking a stand, defending my position. Suddenly there was more demand for my work.

As you move forward in your filmmaking careers, I beg you do it your way while still maintaining a collaborative approach to the work. Every now and then, pick an intellectual fight. If you have an opinion and you stand by it, your work will get noticed a lot more often than people who are going along to get along. People who try to stay in the middle. People who play it safe. Filmmaking doesn’t reward safe. It rewards the risk takers, the shit-stirrers, and the ones who have something to say.

In the end, find your voice, be yourself, build a great team and by all means, take a towel next time you stay at a hotel.


(Meg Carroway) #2

This is a really interesting perspective but I have to wonder- is this universal for unknown filmmakers who aren’t white men? This isn’t a knock on you at all, Alex, because I’m learning so much from your articles, but I know even from the recent Hollywood harassment outings that women are often blacklisted or rumored to be “difficult to work with” when all they’re doing is trying to stop being sexually harassed, and that’s not even mentioning the women who simply have the confidence and intensity traditionally attributed to men and who are thus labeled as “difficult” because of heteronormativity. Makes me think of this Lexi Alexander post, actually:

Can you speak to how women, POC, LGBT+, and neurodivergent filmmakers can disdain authority without being marked as “unhireable”?


(Alex Le May) #3

Hi Meg, Wow! You have brought up such a great point and asked the right questions. I want to be sure I answer you directly and honestly. You are 100% correct, Woman, people of color, LGBTQ creators, and anyone who isn’t a white dude, are and have been sidelined, marginalized, under-paid and yes, blacklisted. But, as Lexi says, the only people who get heard ( forget funny for now) are people who get real. Now, more than ever, it’s time to get real. We watch CEO’s, politicians and anyone in power sacrifice any moral authority they had because they don’t want to lose money or lose their job. NONE of them take a stand because they mistook the bottomline for morality. So what I would say to you is, if the price for you working in this industry is staying quiet and keeping your head down, I respectfully ask you, what have you won in that instance? Staying quiet and not rocking the boat is the surest way to turn your career over to the decision making of others and most likely, to people who don’t have your best interest in mind. It is the surest way to guarantee the industry stays locked in it’s blindness.

Look at what Wonder Woman was/is. A female director who took a stand both from a business point of view and from a creative one. That film was her statement to the industry that woman are here and are demanding justice. That film was her statement and a big FUCK YOU to the industry. She proved that films helmed by and about strong woman are VERY profitable. She now has a huge audience and a very big megaphone. My friend Alexandra Billings is on the Amazon show Transparent. She takes a stand every day by not only being on the show, but by doing a frequent Facebook Live posts about fighting for who you are and what you need. It exacts a price which she gladly and bravely pays and her career keeps getting more amazing. Why, because she demands it.

You hear me say it all the time. Audience is power, so start building your audience now. If you have an audience they can’t ignore you. You don’t need them to make your career. You need an iPhone and an internet connection. I mean that.

Thank you for bringing this up. sincerely! I’m geared up! Hey @Bri_Castellini, we should do something with Meg. Meg, let’s make a video. I have an idea.


(Meg Carroway) #4

Thank you so much for the response, Alex. I’m too busy to help with anything but I would LOVE to watch something you and @Bri_Castellini do on this topic- I think she and I are basically the same if her articles and our conversations are any indication and she’s wayyyy better on camera :slight_smile:


(Alex Le May) #5

My pleasure. Good luck!


(Bri Castellini) #6

:heart: & I’m always down to hear an Alex LeMay idea!


(Alex Le May) #7

Awesome! It might be something cool for the community and socially relevant for sure. Let me wrap my head around it and get back to you after the holiday. Cool? Have a great week and talk soon.


(Alex Le May) #8

Hey Meg, Can I read your comment in a video I’m making around this subject? I can keep you anonymous if that makes you more comfortable. I just want to use it as a point of departure to open up the subject.


(Meg Carroway) #9

Sure! Anonymous please :slight_smile:


(Alex Le May) #10

For sure. Many thanks!


(Evie Marie Warner) #11

In addition to having a healthy disdain for authority, you also to have the money to get a descent camera (i can’t even afford and iphone) lighting equipment, etc. Everyone I know in Ohio, gets work b/c they have some of their own equipment. Everyone I know who is successful, they had poeple who cared to being with. They had social medience followers, friends whateer, who would share stuff and watch it. I tried doing a daily vlog once. Yeah. audience crickets. After managing to scrape by making four films by the seat of my pants some times, and my short playing in several small festivals across the country, I have had to accept the fact that I am always going to be a nobody in this industry. Audience is power. I don’t have one to begin with that I can exploit, that I can use to build a bigger auddience.


(Alex Le May) #12

Hi Evie - I hear a lot of defeat in your post here. It’s never about access to equipment. You managed to find some to make 4 films. It’s not connections, most successful filmmakers started in small towns and are from poor families. I understand you tried a vlog and it didn’t work. Just putting video on YT usually gets the results you got. Maybe YT isn’t where you should be. I wasn’t born into my career and had no advantages coming up in the industry when I started making films in Indiana. I never thought of failure as failure. i looked at it as an opportunity to learn. it was simply data.

My concern in your post is that it will be virtually impossible to build your career with that level of self-doubt. You don’t have a camera or marketing problem, you have a mindset problem that is literally keeping you where you are. Until you find a way to change that, I fear you will find yourself in the same place. I know I’m being direct, but I’m not doing you any favors if I’m not honest. Read “The Power Of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. It’s a great start to help you out of this dark spot.


(Bri Castellini) #13

Also @Evie_Marie_Warner, check out the Duplass’s brother’s first film- budget of $3. Went to Sundance. Looks like it was filmed on a potato. :slight_smile: