I watched this video about the concept of “making it”, by Carrie Hope Fletcher, the other day and I had a lot of thoughts about it, which I wanted to share. I think these thoughts are relevant to the advice section of this blog, because I’ve found “making it” is a concept particularly associated with the world of arts, and I agree with Carrie that it is a very dangerous and negative concept, both if people think we have made it, like Carrie, or if we think we haven’t.
In the video I linked above, Carrie says that she thinks making it is a really awful concept, because when she supposedly “made it”, aged 20, it seemed to leave her with nothing to do in the future. This is an incredibly valid criticism of the concept, and Carrie wonderfully addresses the need to continue being motivated and ask “what’s next?”. The fact that in the arts, whether as a performer or author, like Carrie, or as a producer, your projects have a defined end date I think is why the concept of “making it” is so linked to the arts: you can arguably have made it when your play is successful, or you’re cast in your dream role or… I leave you to watch her video to get that side of the problems with the idea of “making it”, because all I would be doing is repeating her ideas.
To go further than Carrie’s video though, I think there are two more issues with the idea of “making it”: firstly, that it means something different to every individual, and secondly, that we don’t need to have “made it” at all! These are of course linked, because “making it” by someone else’s standard of what that means is difficult and bad for us, and we certainly don’t need to make it by someone else’s standards of what that means. For example, when I tell people I want to become a producer, I either get confusion (covered in this blog post) or I’ve been met with an attitude that “making it” as a producer is producing a box-office-records-smashing film. Now that is one definition of “making it”, and I congratulate anyone who does that. But we can, and should be proud of what we do with as producers/aspiring producers, even if it is not that.
For me, what I want to do is produce plays which inspire people to think and ask questions, and which help to build a sense of community between people. I will have “made it”, though I don’t like the expression, if I do that, even only once. As Carrie said above though, if I do do that, that isn’t a reason to stop trying to do it again and better! But it’s also true that if I don’t manage that I will still have learned a lot from whatever I do do. Even if I stopped producing tomorrow I would still have made theatre which was wonderful, as well as theatre that was less wonderful, and I would have learned a lot, and to some extent I would have “made it”.
I think it’s really important, especially for people working in the arts to remember that “making it” is a really flawed concept from any side of it – whether people think we have or haven’t. It’s a static concept, and we are moving people: if we have “made it” past a big goalpost, we want to continue doing more, and if we haven’t we’re still moving on our own paths towards our objectives, and passing smaller, but still so important objectives. The media likes to treat the arts and those who work in them as static, pictures and stories for the moment, rather than people at x or y point in their lives. If we have to use the phrase, I try to think of “making it” as something you do all the time, bit by bit, rather than a point you pass, where you have “made it”.
P.S. This is slightly different to the more practical advice I usually try to write, but after thinking about it a lot, I realised how important it was for me to realise this, and so fitted in to my aim to help other people who want to do the same sort of things I have.