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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

HONEST ASSESSMENTS ON TALENT

This month marks the 25th anniversary of the U.S. Olympic Hockey team win over the Soviet's in what has become known as the "miracle on ice" and it causes one to reflect, particularly on assumptions underlying that 1980 Cinderella-story.

Minnesota hockey legend Herb Brooks is often quoted as telling his team, "Gentlemen, you don't have enough talent to win on talent alone." You might call this a Minnesota mantra on life. If you've ever taught a class or seminar on film or screenwriting, when standing in front of a class of fresh young aspiring filmmakers, Herbie Brooks words easily come to mind.

What is talent? And where does it exist?

Coach Brooks' statement could easily be applied to many aspects of human endeavor and especially in film, writing and other aesthetic pursuits. In reality, nobody has enough talent to win on talent alone. And frankly, no "filmmaker" has enough reserve of talent, imagination, vision, skill or ability to make an exceptional film.

One of the significant qualities you see emerge with filmmakers trying to find their voice and a consistent vision is their inabilities to assess their weakness and address them. It is sad to see writers and filmmakers consistently make the same mistakes over and over again, call it a style, and not be able to learn from making them. Boiling it down, it is simply an ability to make honest assessments.

Brooks wanted his players to look honestly at themselves and what they couldn't achieve with natural talent, how they could improve by playing to their strengths and use team members to make up for with synergy and team play.

I could name specific filmmakers in this region and outside this region who suffer from these errors but I won't. I'm not out to embarrass anyone. As professionals we need to find a context to close the doors, put away the pitches, stop enhancing the resume with hyped credits, and talk honestly about our strengths and weaknesses. We need to be able to tallk tough and with honesty and still build on each others skills and talent.

That is why I strongly believe in the workshop process. It is vital for the growth of individuals, our community and the industry.

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