The Midwest Independent Film Festival is a film festival with a twist. Instead of running for a week with an insane schedule of movies to try to see, it runs once a month and focuses on films either shot in the Midwest or made by folks from the 7 states included. The presentation this month was a series of shorts done by people from the advertising community. Before the films are shown there’s always a producers panel that talks about the film to be shown and how they were able to get it made. This time the panel was made up of judges from the selection committee for that evenings program. The 3 gentlemen were all from ad agencies around the city.
One of the judges was a guy named Dennis Ryan. He’s the Chief Creative Officer at Element 79, which used to be DDBNeedham a lifetime ago. Dennis writes a blog about the ad business called Brands Are Opinions. I like reading it not only because I was a part of that world for so long, but also because it’s well written and it makes me think. He wrote a posting recently that really struck a nerve. It was about the subtle distinction of being noteworthy versus just being noticed. Dennis was talking about the ad agency world but I took it far more personally. That stopped me for a minute. Lately it seems like there really is no such thing as bad publicity. Being mentioned, no matter what for or why now, is the ultimate goal. In today’s media savvy culture that craves more and more content, staying in the headlines seems to be the goal many are chasing. And the work you did to get noticed and become noteworthy gets shunted aside in the quest to feed the publicity monster.
I think at some point every person unconsciously decides what kind of career they want. Do they want to do good work over and over again and have their body of work be their most noteworthy item? Or do they want to be in the tabloids coming out clubs at all hours or getting thrown off of sets? This decision is usually not made with any deliberate thought. It seems to be made as circumstances sweep a person along with the tide. And by the time one becomes aware of what kind of career one has, it’s usually too late to make a change.
Dennis’s post made me thing about what kind of career I wanted to have. While I will admit I want to be in US Magazine at some point on the red carpet INSIDE the ropes posing in some fabby gown (hey, I can dream!), I decided I want to craft a career that consistently does good work. One that is far more noteworthy that noticed or notorious. I can handle a photo or two of me taking out the trash with no makeup on, but I want to be known for quality not crap.