Perhaps the most unique trait Ryan Booth has is his transparency. Sure, as a creative and commercial director, he’s built a burgeoning career on the back of his visionary style — but finding someone so talented and transparent is beyond rare.
As creatives ourselves, it makes sense that we’d make the most of it. He’s written on this blog, shared his talents to shoot our feature-length documentary, and collaborated on numerous projects with us. In our latest video, though, we turned the camera on Ryan to pick his brain and glean a little bit of wisdom from his experience.
So, check out our latest video with Ryan, our second installation in the ‘Thoughts On’ series — you can watch the first installation with Director Lauren Sick here. Afterward, stick around while we dissect some key points from the film.
Uncertainty > Insecurity.
This is a broad point, but something we’ve learned from Ryan is that there’s a big difference between uncertainty and insecurity. Namely, we can’t control the former but we can certainly control the latter. In fact, uncertainty is where creatives thrive.
When Ryan moved his family to New York to risk his future on directing, he was heaping uncertainty on himself and, in a way, betting on himself because of it. But, if you allow insecurity to creep in because of those decisions, you’re hobbling yourself out of the gate.
Now, that isn’t to say Ryan doesn’t feel that insecurity. We all do. But, it’s a matter of pushing forward in spite of and because of them, because that can be an important indicator of a decision worth making in the first place.
There’s a stack of “failures” on every shelf.
There’s a great moment in the doc when Ryan picks up a stack of papers from the shelf and says, “All of these would have been awesome, but…moving on.” In that stack are a pile of great ideas that never happened. Failed pitches. Swing and a miss.
He picks up the papers, smiles, and then sets them back on the shelf.
This is such an important part of the creative journey and one that’s been explored time and again by us and numerous others: Success comes to those who try and fail, over and over again. But, as we explore in another post, maybe we need to reframe the idea of “failure.”
If that stack of papers eventually led to where Ryan is today, then were they really failures? Maybe instead of thinking of them as failures, we should simply see them as part of the process. Every pitch that went awry teaches us a little bit about our craft, about ourselves, and can even give others a glimpse into what we’re capable of accomplishing.
Listen to the playlist Ryan created with some of his favorite tracks:
Create for others.
It’s easy to think of the creative life in a romantic sense, which is often neatly wrapped up as “creating for the sake of creating.” While that’s all nice and fun, it doesn’t pay the bills — and it also doesn’t mean you’re thinking about an audience or even your career when you’re making decisions.
Ryan said, “My goal is to create things that people are going to see,” which really stuck with us. It’s not often you hear a creative, especially a filmmaker, say they create things for other people to see.
But, maybe this is a great mindset to have as a filmmaker. The essence of a film project means that someone is going to be watching it.
So, if you’re creating from the standpoint of someone else, you can begin to consider others’ perspectives and how they connect with elements of the material. It may seem like a “commercial” mindset, but we can definitely learn a thing or two from it.
Protect your voice.
The crux of the film comes when Ryan’s speaking about a bit of advice he got from his mentor Gary Knight. He told Ryan:
“When I look at all the pictures on the ground, I can tell which ones you’ve shot without seeing your name on them…protect that at all costs from now until you die. That’s the only thing you have as a creative person.”
Your voice is as a creative is the only thing that you have. It may sound dramatic, but it’s true. There’s always going to be someone with a nicer camera. There will always be someone who’s more talented than you, more articulated, and more well-known.
But, the good news is that none of it matters. Create out of a place of authenticity and you’ll always have something that no one else can take away.
A huge thanks to Ryan for participating in this project with us. We’ll say it again: Finding a filmmaker who’s so open about his journey — all the good and bad — doesn’t happen every day. So, do what we do and listen to what this talented creative has to say.