039. The Art of Burning the Ships

Another week down, another week towards a reopening, a rebirth, a renaissance… the fork in the road before us is a similar one that is in front of our entire industry: will we go back to “normal” or will we create the world we’ve only dreamed of. True inclusion. Honesty in the art; not for the money. True celebration of the art… The choice is up to us to enact these goals top-to-bottom. Will we choose to green light stories that celebrate our diversity or will we just attempt to recoup our last year-plus? Will we cater to those trying to go back to a place we once were? One that happens to include (and even celebrate) derision, division, and hate? I say no to that…

It’s said that when Alexander the Great (murderous man that he was) arrived at the banks of Asia Minor, the dissenters demanding they re-board the ship and go back to the world where they were comfortable, where they wouldn’t die in this war they had little choice in. Alexanders sentiment is morbid, but firm: “burn the ships,” he said, “we will either return home on Persian ships or we will die here.”

Now, why am I bringing this up? I’m saying we should “burn the ships” of our previous normalcy. Where black and brown men are shot unarmed and their killers remain free. Where women are paid less than men simply because they aren’t. Where we argue over which room we dispel the waste from our bodies in instead of elevating the minorities and marginalized. Where justice isn’t served unless you can afford it. We should be better than we were yesterday, not trying to return the entire world (futilely) to it. So, burn ‘em. Burn any chance we have of going back to 16 hour days on 2 hours of sleep for a movie to make another billion dollars. Burn the easy road of remakes and retelling of the same tired stories. Burn the disparity of men-to-women as technical directors, designers, technicians, riggers, audio engineers, light board ops…burn the ships, embrace the shores of this new land. One where we all belong and we celebrate that.

So, how do you join in? How do you do your part? Turn your back on the old way, face the new way, and lead where you are. If you’re leading 1 or 1,000, yourself or a crew of 10; celebrate each other, flaws and all. In fact, flaws especially. Serve each other. Be with each other in all things. A wise man once said, “wherever you are, be all there;” so…be there. If you’re the 3rd A2 on a C-level production or if you’re a multi-award wining director…”be ALL there.” When you wake up tomorrow, go out and be there.


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