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Pants On The Top

Photo Source : Sweety High
Before you expect anything, this is absolutely a non-fashion related writing. I met an interesting photographer the other day through work. Recently, we're involved in a project where we engaged him to be one of the jury panels in a show that we produced. What I like about him is that his whole appearance is the contradiction of what people will think of who he is. I think contradiction is not the right word. What I mean is his appearance doesn't show his character. You won't expect him to do things that he does, and he does it like nobody's business. And I like that. He crashes all your expectation. 

The other day we talked about marketing and creative business in general, and how now it seems like all the player in the industry always put the word 'content' in every job role they have. We talked about our experience encountering with a new name that people created for producer role. He said something about being creative when we talked about something that I can't remember, and it's kinda stuck with me. "If I put my pants on top and my jacket at the bottom and say it's creative, it doesn't become creative just because I say it". He always have this one killer liner for almost everything. His words remind me of this article about stupefied culture in a work place written by Andre Spicer that I read sometime ago on Aeon magazine (I love Aeon!). 

Photo Source : Nouvelle Nouveau via Pinterest
The article reads 'You Don't Have To Be Stupid To Work Here, But It Helps'. How I wish I wrote that piece. It chronicles the digital era of business where it's so easy to see what your competitors or other people doing. And by that, it means that it's also easy for us to follow the wrong or unsuitable path, just because everyone else is doing it. 
One of the most common tactics is doing what everyone else is doing, even if it is wrong. If your competitor introduces a new strategy, do the same – no matter how wrong-headed it might be. If another competitor starts a Total Quality Management initiative, follow suit. It’s often advisable to copy iconic companies such as Google – even if you are in an entirely different industry. If you call it ‘best practice’, you might be hailed as a genius. When it goes wrong, you can say: ‘Well, everyone got it wrong.’ Andre Spicer - Stupefied
What resonates with me the most from Andre Spicer's essay is what he said about if looking good is more important that being right, then it's where stupidity dominates. I worked with a small company for a short-term freelance work before where I experience this sort of things. Where when to sounds like you know what you're doing (by using some fancy English words) was rewarded and become more important than actually know what you're doing and get the job done. Where when you're being honest about your capability was seen as a sign of incompetency, while lying your way and nod to everything your bosses say was interpreted as showing capability. Where when you love red, while your boss loves blue was translated as you do not respect your superior rather than simply, having a different taste. 

The things that I mentioned above are not the accurate picture of the company culture, but it gives the idea of what's the management and the leader of that said company values. The result from all that culture that's built was a place full of yes-sir people, which often (if not all the time) means taking one away from reality. Because they don't want to hear what they don't want to hear. 

Photo Source : Escuyer via Pinterest
I feel lucky because I feel supported in my workplace right now. My bosses encourage people to learn by their mistakes. My EP always has the patience to teach me and guide me through the stuffs that I don't know yet - and he knows that in the process of learning I will make mistakes. You don't get labeled as dumb if you raise your hands and ask questions rather than making things up from the things that you do not know about. 

I see this a lot with the young interns in our office. A lot of them (the ones who usually don't feel suitable for the work as an intern because a lot of time you will find yourself transcribing rushes rather than producing or writing a show as what they expected from the internship - apparently it's such a huge shock for some of them that interns do not actually produce a show, because there's someone there who called a producer with 10 years or more experience) coming with the mentality of they already know everything (I think this has something to do with being young in this high tech century).

So when you tell them to do something that they think is beneath them and they don't see the point of them doing it, they will have the guts to talk to you and present you with 50 reasons why they shouldn't do it. Then, when you give them a chance to do things that they think at their level, but they actually have no freaking clue of what they're doing, they will gladly nod their head and say they're on it. And when you return their work and tell them what they do wrong, they will stare at you as you're mad. 

My point is, as the photographer said, don't wear your pants on top. I always say this to the interns who were/are under me - seize your opportunity, ask questions if you don't understand, and no task is a small task. I don't know everything, but there are things that I know way better than them because of experience. I encourage them to speak up and share their ideas because I want to create a collaborative and encouraging working environment.

I think the problem in the younger generations right now is that they want an instant result. I am not a production manager just because I just say it that I am a production manager. I can proudly say that I earned it. I earned my title, starting from the bottom. I've been in their shoes before where I spent hours and hours transcribing rushes, while at the same time doing extra work and try to help on anything that I could get may hands on, just to get a chance to be allowed sitting in a production meeting and observing the EP, SP, Directors trains of thoughts.

I was there before making coffees for meeting and photocopying all the production book while the producer didn't even look at me or even call my name when she needed something from me. I served my time and worked my way up. I remember the time when my EP called me on the last day of shoot in one of our travel show production. I just finished wrap the shoot that day, and got back to our hotel where he was there waiting for me. I was a production coordinator at that time. He asked me to go out to the lobby with him, he put his hands on my shoulder and he said while smiling,"Now, you're truly are a production manager." I earned my pants. 

1 comment:

  1. Love love love this commentary! I think this is especially relevant as we look at this age of media and trends and content creation. So glad to hear that you're working in such a supportive environment :) -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

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