when to say no to an opportunity

April 10th, 2024

When people don't want to work with me, it hurts.

I think it hurts more than how good it feels when people do want to work with me.

I struggle with this. I want people to see my work, and wonder what could happen if they collided with me, for something; for those same people feel changed after coming into contact with me, or my idea. When this doesn't happen, I start to question my validity. If people see this thing, and don't go on a desperate search to find me, did it matter? Would any amount of validation in this form even provide to me whatever I'm looking to feel?

There's a feeling I get when I see something I think matters. I know that "matters" may read as pretentious, but I truly believe theres a difference between art and things that contribute to a sort of digital landfill. I often cite watching Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) as the first time in my (adult) life that I identified that certain things matter, and other things don't; and that I desperately need to contribute to the former before I die.

Enormous, multi-million dollar productions are important in a more blatantly obvious way, though. But production value, or even visual fidelity, have pretty much nothing to do with what matters and what doesn't, to me at least.

Take this video by GoodNeighborStuff (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdwchohlMjI)

The only thing going on here is Kyle Mooney being better than everyone else at making videos for the internet. This video matters so much to me. For years it infiltrated my vocabulary; and the small mannerisms I would add to jokes to make them funnier. Much of what Kyle has made has had a similar effect. This matters because it left me better off than before I saw it. It left me feeling shame, that I hadn't come close to making something this funny, and inspiration, that someone made this, which means I can make something, too. Those two feelings, shame and inspiration, have worked together in me like vital organs.

So how can I contribute? How do I start making things that matter?

For me, part of the answer seems to be knowing when to say yes, and when to say no.

When people don't want to work with me, it hurts. It hurts because I want to feel like I've proven myself in a way others don't want to deny. In a way others feel magnetically drawn toward. So when people want to work with me, I mostly say yes. If I say no, what if this was the thing that led me to the thing that would finally, maybe, matter?

I've followed this rubric too many times at this point. I won't find any meaning at the bottom of some commercial. Or in any of the projects we do to keep the lights on. Or the ones we take so that someone will respect us more.

There is validity to the idea that reps are important, and you can cut your teeth on shit you hate, as you gear up to create the things that will truly matter to you one day- but eventually you hit a point of diminishing returns. I can make anything, now. Most people can, way earlier in their career than they think.

The easiest way I've found to identify when to say no, is to ask yourself, "on the other side of completing this project, will I have added something to the world that I felt was missing?"

If the answer is "no", than for me at least, this project gets me no closer to where I truly want to be.

If the answer is "yes", I ask one more question - "Does its addition to the world come with the ability to say something I want to say?" If the answer is "no", I've probably just found an idea better off in someone else's hands.

It is incredibly privileged to be able to say no in the first place, and I recognize that. But I hope to inspire the idea that you have the ability to say yes, to yourself, every day. Donating just a bit more time after a day of working on "no" stuff to feed the little idea gremlins that scream in your head all the time.

The more shit you put out that looks like the stuff you want to exist, the sooner that will become the stuff you get to make all the time.

Assuming it's any good, I suppose.

who care ..

February 28th, 2024

When I was naming this website, my first thought was to just use my full legal name. I've never thought of my name as having that cellar door quality to it, I don't really have any branding of any kind, or even an artistic moniker. "envy" has been a gamertag of mine for a long time, but "Directed by envy" reads like I drive an anime wrapped Honda Civic.

And "Videos.com" was taken.

So now what?

This idea that I couldn't start posting work until I found the perfect way to present myself revealed itself to me. Why do I care? I'm prioritizing how people perceive me over the thing I actually do. The only thing that really matters is that I make shit. A cool reel, the perfect bio-none of it is what makes me or my work, good. None of it is even the work. So, makeshit. Both a pseudo-brand and a reminder to myself.

When I was starting out, I was really scared to admit the things I didn't know. If someone I looked up to (or even a peer I felt competitive with) used some jargon or made a reference I was unfamiliar with, my gut was to just play along and hope they didn’t challenge my ignorance. I wanted my strengths to shine through and my weaknesses to remain a secret. I was insecure. I didn't want to look dumb, stupid, bad, novice. I wanted to be afforded opportunities, and not looked at as an amateur, incapable of being trusted with meaningful projects.

But I was an amateur. And in many ways, I still am.

There it is again. This is kind of the same thing as thinking too hard about how I present myself online. I cared more about people believing I was capable of something than I cared to actually demonstrate capability. Not even just that, I wanted approval more than I wanted to make things. That sucks ass. But acting that way doesn't represent some irreversible quality about myself. I feel like a creative person, who wants to show my ideas to other people. The armor I wear outside of that can be removed.

I've grown substantially since dropping my ego (albeit, not all the way) and being willing to ask questions, accept feedback, and chase after my own ideas above all else. Besides just growth, I'm having fun. That's what this is supposed to be. Fun and fulfilling. A perspective only I could possibly have, bottled and delivered. A form of artistic expression.

Caring about something is all the justification you need to bring something into the world. It's ability to go viral, or make you look cool, shouldn't be valued more than its ability to make you laugh, or how much your best friend would enjoy it. When your motivations are generated almost purely externally, you rely on the world to grant you the opportunity to succeed everyday.

So if you are trying to make something, video or not, don't try to make something that people will accept as valid. Make something you think doesn't exist yet, that demonstrates why you love something or what you find funny and interesting about something. If you care about it, show people. If you do your job right, you will find others who care too. Or even better, they might feel the thing that motivated you to make some shit in the first place.

We've got a big mess on our hands!

September 21st, 2023

You are on your computer, and every time you move your mouse arm too far to the right it gently scrapes the corner of a bag of Sour Patch Kids with only the sour dust left inside it. You overextend your reach in an attempt to push the bag far enough away from you that it will no longer just barely touch you in that way you hate - but it accordions back. The only reason this bag is there is because it was the only spot on your desk that doesn't look like one of those AI generated "name one thing" images, and also it's fine because you're totally going to throw it away in like an hour or two, tops. Your desk looks like one of those coin-catapult arcade games and one more coffee cup with the remains of yesterdays latte in it will send a sea of garbage onto your floor (and you won't win any coins).

You are me. And it's starting to feel like no amount of calendar reminders or disgusted houseguests is going to change the way you are. Or uh, the way I am?

I'm having trouble keeping track of my stupid device so for now on, I'll be me and you stay you. A horrible thought, I'm sure.

Shame is something that is vital to (at least my) growth and motivation. If I wasn't around the corner from it constantly, I'd probably wouldn't make any videos that are worth watching or like, know where Denmark is on a map. However, being a semi-famous podcaster has fucked this all up for me. I used to make something and feel like shit when no one wanted to watch it, like the goddamn American I am. Now, validation is something I can press a button for everyday. A tweet about Elon Musk exploding brain-first, a joke on the podcast calling myself "Blow-me Hawk", a narrative short film I slept on the floor to finish; all generators of a very similar amount of heart emojis and attention now.

This is bad. It is harder to outsource my shame now, I have to grow it hydroponically myself. While I work, I try to imagine what someone I look up to or respect might say about the things I create. In my head, that usually looks them watching it in silence and handing my phone quietly back to say "nice, super cool" while I image what being waterboarded is like. That's top shelf shame right there. One hit could kill a pilgrim. Even so, it is hard to balance evaluating my work based on what I think is cool versus what others might think of it. I don't respect my taste enough, I don't think. And ultimately, if no one wants to watch it, saying it is "good" feels wrong in an almost mathematical way. I can rationalize that I will one day be in a stage of my career where I can trust my instincts, but it feels like I'll never know when I've finally arrived there. So if you see me on the street, let me know I suck shit out of an ass. I could really use it right now.

Writing all that made me forget about my desk. Holy shit, what a catastrophe. I know it is overkill but being this big of a slob makes me feel almost unworthy of love. Or like my car should be taken away or something. Despite all of this shame though, I never do anything about it.
For so long I've thought to myself, "I could be a clean guy. I just need to make it a priority." But that is definitely not the case. Shame doesn't always work? I guess it is different when it is something I attach my self-worth to.

Being creative is all I care to be.

And yes, I'm messy. And shitty to be around sometimes. That's it. I'm a snail and my slime trail is uber eats bags and amazon boxes. Sometimes I have to clean stuff, but ultimately I've accepted I will always be this way.

I'm okay with that now. Because when I eventually die an extremely tight dirt bike related sex-death, they will willingly dig through my mounds of garbage and hoarded items to hopefully find some things I made that really mattered. That is all I want. I think I'm allowed to feel that way.


August 8th, 2023

I've found myself in this position a lot: I've worked super hard on something, eliminated everything I felt was wrong with it, and I'm left with my final product; as well as complete indifference toward it as a feat of artistic accomplishment.

I've realized there's a crucial difference between removing flaws until I can live with something, and contributing ideas until I am happy with something. When working on any given project, it is common for me to feel like to my primary motivation to complete the job is to alleviate the anxiety associated with having committed to said job in the first place, and do right by those who rely on me to do so. That last sentence feels a bit like word salad, but the point is, I'm realizing that in order to like the shit I make, I must primarily be motivated to do the work itself, rather than accept the work and make sure it gets done for some sort of tertiary benefit or reward.

Wanting to make a commercial for a big brand makes perfect sense. It feels good to feel trusted with something delicate, that many people will see. To be chosen for your eye, to tell a story - even if only to coerce people to eat a 3000 calorie sandwich from KFC. But when working with the sole mentality that you want to do something, simply to have done it (aka, for it to exist as a finished product with your name on it), you bypass the opportunity to take on work that has a meaningful process to you. The opportunity to dedicate time and creative energy toward something that is less about having something and more about making something.

I've gotten good at occasionally tricking myself into thinking a specific project is one I'm working on with passion. Sometimes a project has the skin of a project I'd love to do, but not the flesh and bones; which is an overly literary way to explain that when you want to be a Director more than you want to direct things, you end up in a position where you collect Pokemon cards in the form of projects on your portfolio, and you really aren't that into Pokemon.

This isn't to say I don't love what I do - because I really do. Despite my admission to being good at tricking myself, I feel pretty certain about this. I'm just beginning to realize that aiming my time toward projects that contain process that I'm excited about, is ultimately what will land me in a position where I'm looking at something I just made and thinking-

"yo I kinda snapped."