Film and Family

Ep. 12 - Quantity Creates Quality

October 23, 2020 Kent & Anna Thalman
Film and Family
Ep. 12 - Quantity Creates Quality
Film and Family
Ep. 12 - Quantity Creates Quality
Oct 23, 2020
Kent & Anna Thalman

You've heard the age old debate... which is more important?  Quantity or quality? We make an argument for BOTH and our belief that quantity actually creates quality. In fact focusing too much on quality can be crippling, especially if you are a perfectionist!

We talk about how doing just a little bit every day grows exponentially over time and give you some examples of successful individuals who are living proof of that principle. We mentioned James Mangold and fogot his here it is in the show notes. Whoops!

As always, if you want to apply everything you are learning on the podcast to your own life, you can join the Film and Family Program, where you'll get in depth personalized coaching, training on all these tools, and lifetime support at

Show Notes Transcript

You've heard the age old debate... which is more important?  Quantity or quality? We make an argument for BOTH and our belief that quantity actually creates quality. In fact focusing too much on quality can be crippling, especially if you are a perfectionist!

We talk about how doing just a little bit every day grows exponentially over time and give you some examples of successful individuals who are living proof of that principle. We mentioned James Mangold and fogot his here it is in the show notes. Whoops!

As always, if you want to apply everything you are learning on the podcast to your own life, you can join the Film and Family Program, where you'll get in depth personalized coaching, training on all these tools, and lifetime support at



[00:00:00] Anna: Hi, I'm Anna 

Kent: And I'm wearing my pajamas. This is episode 12 

Anna: of film and family. A Podcast for filmmakers and people in the entertainment industries as well, who are seeking for greater joy and satisfaction in both their film career and family life. 

Kent: Let's jump right in. 

Anna: We want to talk about quantity versus quality, but what we believe is quantity creates quality. 

Kent: Yeah.   mean, this is an obnoxiously old debate, right? Oh, you know, is, do we just want to make a lot of something or do we need to make something really high quality? And I think sometimes there's this sense of, Oh, you know, pumping tons of product out is very businessy. Like that's, that's what business people do, you know? But [00:01:00] art is about creating like Magnum opuses. Is that the correct plural of that? It's about creating Mona Lisas, you know, it's this idea that we have to create, like the thing that will be our legacy right now. 

So I think that actually is a debilitating sort of. Related to perfectionism sort of idea. 

Anna: Yeah, definitely. I felt that when I feel a lot of pressure on an assignment or on a project I don't 

Kent: Yeah.  And it's something we observed in, we've mentioned this on the podcast before and student work, the capstones were the worst, but brilliance would sometimes happen and like the mad rushed weekly assignments. 

 So we'd be like, wow, that could, you know, be inserted in anything.  And you shot that on a DSLR with two people and it's, it, it costs $0, you know? And you did it with some, like your friend and this random acting student, and it was brilliant. And then you [00:02:00] throw a bunch of budget into this major capstone film with a big crew and it's terrible 

Anna: but too afraid to experiment 

Kent: to afraid to take risks, too afraid to do anything. 

And what is meant to be a big quality piece turns into a terrible piece. So, so yeah. so let's just talk about this and why, why it is, and just explore this idea. So we want to address this in terms of family and. Family culture and family habits as well as film, but there's a person named David. 

I Bednar, I think I actually may have mentioned him before on this podcast as well. He says in my office is a beautiful painting of a wheat field. The painting is a vast collection of individual brushstrokes. None of which in isolation is very interesting. Or impressive. In fact, if you stand close to the canvas, all you can see is a massive seemingly unrelated [00:03:00] and unattractive streaks of yellow and gold and Brown paint. 

However, as you gradually move away from the canvas, All of the individual brush strokes combined together and produce a magnificent landscape of a wheat field, many ordinary individual brush strokes, work together to create a captivating and beautiful painting. He continues to, to explain the in our families, quote, no one event may appear to be very impressive or memorable, but just as the yellow and gold and Brown strokes of paint, compliment each other. 

And produce an impressive masterpiece. So our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant results. Consistency is a key principle as we lay the foundation of work in our individual lives. And as we become more diligent and concerned, In our own homes. So [00:04:00] I want to talk about the power of habit, and this idea of habit being something that we just do over and over again. 

Anna: Well, I just had this thought after hearing that I love that analogy of the painting, and it's a little comforting to think, you know, one little messed up brush stroke here is like not going to ruin the whole painting and, I thought of this story that I always loved growing up, which was of a grandma who was cross-stitching. 

And if you've ever seen cross stitching, it's kind of crazy looking on the bottom. It looks like, at least when I used to try to do it, it looked like a rat's nest on the bottom. It was really messy. And so there's this story of this grandma. Who's always cross-stitching and her. Granddaughters on the floor looking up and she's like, what is grandma working on? 

It looks so awful. It's just this big tangle of strings. And then eventually she asks, grandma, what are you doing? And her grandma lifts her up onto her lap to [00:05:00] show her, the cross-stitch from her perspective. And she's able to see how all the darks and all the lights and all the different colors combined together to create this. 

Beautiful. Picture that from a different perspective, looks like this big ugly mess, but from kind of the divine higher perspective has a plan and is orchestrated and turns into something beautiful. So even though, you know, when I thought of that wheat field painting, and I think about my own life as a parent, I'm like, Oh man, what if I had a lot of. 

Missed brushstrokes. I think that would still show, you know, in the big picture, but I also think that our perspective will change and, 

Kent: and then it won't show. Yeah. 

Anna: Like that it, 

Kent: I don't think you'll see those in the big picture. 

Anna: Well, but you kind of need to have the darks and the lights to create beauty. 

Kent: Like those aren't necessarily mistakes. It's just. [00:06:00] You know, there's, there's so many thousands of brushstrokes. Anyway. 

Anna: I don't know. I just think it's, it's interesting to think about how it adds depth and dimension and yeah. And also how a perspective change can completely change what you're looking at. 

Kent: Yeah. 

Anna: You know, and same thing with like, if you're very close to the painting, versus if you step away having that bigger picture perspective, those things don't matter as much. 

Kent: Yeah. And I think that, When I think about this in terms of our family, try and think about the things that matter the most and what are the habits? 

Not the, I think sometimes we're like, Oh, you know, like once a year, we'll go on like a huge vacation to Disney world and that'll make us a happy family, you know? And it's like, what are the actual habits that are going to create a deep bonding relationships? And, and those are gonna be more quotidian than when we get into the topic of like even filmmaking. 

Although I think there are sort of daily habits that are very [00:07:00] important in filmmaking careers, filmmakers, but in family, especially it's really those small quiet things that just combine over an enormous amount of time that create that. Powerful force that's, you know, it's the same thing as like what kind of a powerful force would it take to crack a giant piece of cement in half? 

And, one example of a really powerful force that would crack a giant piece of cement. And half is a tiny tree root that moves infant Tessa mumbly little everyday, today over the course of a few years and cracks the whole thing in half. You know, a little bit of water that freezes every winter inside that crack, and then it widens it even more. 

And so, you know, We're not going to explain super superfunds strategies and stuff that you can go into. But I think it's important to think about what is the person you want to be, who is the person you want to become and what are the habits that are going to lead to that over a long time. And that's the long game that I think it's important to play. 

What kind of a family do we want? What's the long game [00:08:00] way to play that. And what are the habits that we're going to make super consistent and. And then, you know, same with filmmaking. 

Anna: Yeah. We'll just one. We're not on family. If you don't mind. I have a lot of parenting books having to do with like very young children, something that does stand out in their memories and creates bonding even more than the trip to Disney world or whatever, like you're saying is the caretaking moments. 

And I think those are often the moments that are portrayed in the media as being. Like the parts we don't like about Parenthood, like changing diapers and having to clean up messes 

Kent: and 

Anna: all the things that make children not independent and needing our help. But those are actually where they are the most vulnerable. 

And they feel the most connection with a parent when. You're taking care of them when you're feeding them, when you're putting them to bed, when you're changing their diapers and clothes and, [00:09:00] and doing those things that only the caretaker does that is like deeply intimate and bonding with a child. And so. 

I think those are kind of an interesting example of small seeming brush strokes. 

Kent: Hmm. Yeah, that's really, that's a great example, I think. and obviously children will need plenty of taking care of and caring for, but as they get older, they'll need less. And so it becomes more and more imperative that we, we find ways, not just in children, but we're talking about families and that includes marriages, finding ways to, just cultivate. 

Those things I often reflect on, on the thought of the difference a date night every week, over the course of a handful of years so far has made on our marriage and what that will do over the next 50. Years for our marriage, a date night every week. It's not a big thing. It really isn't easily skippable, but what kind of an impact will that have over the course of an extremely long time? [00:10:00] 

yeah, I think that's interesting. And I think that's something that we try and do with our kids is just even something as. purposeful and intentional is what we call special time. I'm just popping into my mind is that we almost daily, we try and just take 15 minutes to really listen and. And interact with each kid. 

just so that it it's, it's surprising how many days can go by and where you go. When was the last time I just sat and listened and stared and put my phone away and just played one-on-one with this person and really developed an individual relationship. and yeah. Even if you're spending all day with those kids, you might find that you haven't done it in days. 

And so let me just speak for myself, I guess, but that is definitely the case. So anyway, 

Anna: yeah, those are the small things that add up over time and it's easy to laugh at and be like, Oh, I think my younger self would have been like a date a week. That's easy, [00:11:00] but it's really. Easy to miss as well. 

Kent: Yeah. If it's at all, if it's easy to do, it's easy not to do. 

Yeah. And those are often the most important things. So a little bit of a different way of looking at this in filmmaking, right? What is the small and simple and little thing it's making feature films. And that sounds ridiculous. Right? Cause the date night compared to making a feature film, I mean, making a feature film is a colossal effort. 

They're often expensive. They don't have to be there often. They often require hundreds of thousands of man hours and huge infrastructure. And yet let's look at how many feature films, some of our favorite filmmakers. Made man, I didn't put John Ford on this list. Someone look up and tell me how many feature films did John Ford make? 

He probably blows all of these out of the water that I have on this list. John Ford made a lot of movies. let's see, I've got, Clint Eastwood has directed, not just active, but directed [00:12:00] 39 feature films. Steven Spielberg directed five shorts before he started making features. And then he made 35 feature films, up to date to date, obviously, Alfred, well, let's go first to Woody. 

Allen has made at least 68 and for a long time, he's made one every year. And, obviously he's averaged more than one a year because unless he started making movies and he was like, I don't know, eight or something. and, Alfred Hitchcock. So listen closely to this one. He made 46 feature films before coming to Hollywood in 1940. 

And directing Rebecca, which is like the first film he made in the United States. And it won an Oscar for best picture. It was totally remarkable movie. If you haven't seen Rebecca by Alfred Hitchcock, man, it blows all the other stuff out of the water. but then from, from there, after that is when he made the man, he made the remake of the man who knew [00:13:00] too much, he made, dial him for murder. 

Vertigo, psycho rear window. 

Anna: You guys know the rest, 

Kent: all the huge classic ones. They all happened after his 46 feature films that he made in, in, in Britain. And so I remember when I heard that I was like, well, I'll be really pleased with myself. If I can just make. 46. And like it was after that, that he started making the massive international hits, but he had really learned how to make movies before he came to the United States. 

It wasn't like he was some young spring chicken, 

Anna: and then you've got Fred Rogers. 

Kent: Okay. So Fred Rogers made over 800 episodes of television, 30 minute episodes. I think it was like 816 or something. And these were really simple pieces of simple, cheap sets. He did a lot of the puppetry [00:14:00] himself in this. He wrote the songs himself. 

He wrote the scripts himself. These weren't big crews. even though some people went on to do interestingly large things like, Oh, Michael Keaton worked on, on set with Fred Rogers. And then of course he went on to become an Oscar winning actor. but Fred Rogers life is an example of. A bunch of very small things. 

He really cared about the people he worked with. He cared about the work he did. He did the same thing. He took the jacket off and put a new one on, took his shoes off, put a new one on sing the same songs. And he did that for 40 years and he won a primetime, Emmy, a lifetime achievement, Emmy, And he more important than those awards left, this really impactful legacy that is still, I feel like reaching new people, new generations of children and having resurgences in, in our current, sort of zeitgeisty pop culture ness. 

So yeah, [00:15:00] but Fred Rogers, all of these, all of these examples, incredibly prolific. filmmakers were the ones that are making the truly. Sort of classic timeless films. 

Anna: Yeah. Well, and there's this, on the same topic story of a class who did an, an experiment, actually two classes, at a college and these were art students. 

So one class was given the assignment to make one painting. And they would be graded on the quality, is that right? 

Kent: Yup. 

Anna: And then the other class was given the assignment to make as many paintings as they could. And they were graded on the weight of the paintings. Like 

Kent: put it on a scale. 

Anna: Yeah. If they could make enough of them, it didn't matter what the quality was like. 

And in the end, the results of the experiment were so interesting because. All of the students who were graded on the weight and made tons of paintings, had [00:16:00] paintings that were way better. Then these masterpieces that the other students had, you know, masterpieces that they had tried all semester to create this one, 

Kent: too. 

Perfect. Yeah, they, they were engaged all semester long in the act of seeking perfection. Whereas the other class was in engaged in output and practice, and that actually created higher quality results than, Then, focus on perfecting something. that reminds me of, I actually took a drawing class in college. 

I took it twice. I was a pre animation major for awhile before I switched to film. And, it was a wonderful experience and it was a figure drawing class. And I remember this, you know, I went to a sort of, I went to a university on by religious institution. I went to BYU. And I was a little surprised to hear one of the professors in this art class say none of this is sacred. 

And I was like, I was expecting me [00:17:00] to be some sort of a spiritual metaphor. Like, you know, this is like, you know, something really important. And he's actually, he was his point was the opposite. This stuff, isn't sacred, it's it's paper, and you're going to throw most of these drawings away. So it's kind of liberating, right? 

He just says, this is an exercise. What you should be trying to do is take as many risks and play as much as you can. And design, design, design. Don't try and finish because if you try and finish, you're forgetting the process. And so. Just, just practice and pump tons, you know, move your arm, keep moving it all three hours long while you're sitting on this very uncomfortable wooden bench in this very hot room and just keep moving your arm. 

Keep drawing, keep flipping the page and get through the pipeline that hit each step and practice, practice, practice. And man, you you'd go through crayon after crayon page after page stack of newsprint after stack of newsprint. And it was. [00:18:00] It was pretty grueling. And yet he was right. This sort of stuff. 

Is this art that we're working on films, they're not sacred. We don't have to act like they're these precious sort of needing to be flawless things. They. They are all practice in the end. They are all expressions of real life, but they're not real life. And so we need to make mistakes. I think that's true in life too. 

We need to be allowed. We need to allow ourselves to make those mistakes. 

Anna: Yeah, it makes me think of learning a language again, that art is well on film is a language that we're communicating through and if you're trying. To wait until you can say things perfectly to practice speaking. You just become that person who listens and never says anything. 

And all the people who learn another language have to say ridiculous things say embarrassing things that they're learning because. You just practice by speaking and making mistakes. And so, 

Kent: yeah, Burke Istio talks about [00:19:00] even like seeking failure. We should be aiming to fail bigger because that's really what this is about. 

It's not about flawlessness. It's about how big can you fail? And those are the people that, you know, those are the people that become Michael Jordan. Those are the people that, you know, just sort of revolutionize what it is 

Anna: they're doing. Makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint, that our brains would. 

Try to avoid failure because you know, in the early days of the earth, 

Kent: if you slip on the rock, 

Anna: if you fail to avoid the cliff, if you failed to escape the tiger, if you fail to, eat the right Berry, you know, that could be death 

Kent: daily choices. They're both blue. 

Anna: Now we live in a world where that's the opposite actually. 

Failure is. A key ingredient in success. And so we need to seek it out or we, or we will. Caused the death of our, our dreams, 

Kent: I [00:20:00] suppose. Yeah. So quality versus quantity. Obviously our opinion is very clear, but I just want to boil it down into three words. Here's our opinion, qual, smart. our opinion on this is quantity creates quality. 

And the more quantity, the higher, the quality. So don't ever think I have to wait to make a feature film until I got the right funding or I've got the right team, or I've got the right, whatever I've got to wait to act or write or do things, just make it make stuff. And, and same and family, I think in families, just think about like, what are the things we're going to do over and over and over again, and start doing them now. 

You know, it's a little obvious in family context started going on date nights now. And you know, that's something you feel like you want to do. same with films. If you're wanting to make features or write features or act and stuff, start auditioning every day. [00:21:00] Now start writing everyday now, start shooting, practicing, creating. 

And outputting sharing, putting it out there. Don't just put it in a folder and, you know, hide it away forever. quantity creates quality. So I want to finish off with this quote. we're gonna finish off with this quote. 

Anna: Yeah, I can read it. So this is creativity will always look after itself. If you are prolific in production, which means starting off by turning out masses of work that is relatively unoriginal and imitative. 

When productivity has become second nature, you will find that you have acquired a freedom in which your particular and personal individuality emerges. It's own accord and quilt. 

Kent: Hey, it's just a great quote. again, that's Alexander mackendrick director of such films as the man in the white suit. Which is awesome. 

Alec Guinness, young [00:22:00] Alec Guinness, and an early role inventing an indestructible cloth and he makes a suit out of it. And then everyone decides they don't want him to have made something that's indestructible. man, that's a good movie. one of his proteges, in fact, she's teachers' assistant was a man help me out here. 

See look at this, I put myself in these situations and then I just have to face the consequences I failed. I messed up. I keep wanting to say Lee Hancock, but that's not it. How's the, I did say to mr. Banks. 

Anna: Well, he wrote on filmmaking, which 

Kent: is a great book. Alexander mackendrick wrote that book. Yes. And yeah. Check out his book on filmmaking. 

Anna: He's a famous teacher. He's had many successful students. 

Kent: And  before that he was an awesome film director. 

Yeah. Oh, I'm going to beat myself up for this. We'll put it in the description, but he directed Logan Ford versus Ferrari walked the line, you know, and no good movies. that's the [00:23:00] TA for Alexander mackendrick. So, now it's gonna bother me. Oh yes. So quantity creates quality. We hope you guys found this helpful and we hope we can. 

Keep hearing from you. Keep reaching out You can email us if you have podcast ideas or questions, you'd like to ask that we can address on the podcast, or if you just like to drop a line and make us aware of your existence. So 

Anna:  if you like what you're hearing and you're ready to take these tools to the next level, I want to invite you to join our film and family program where you'll get one-on-one coaching with me for three months. Every week. And then once you've learned these tools and you're pretty independent on them, you'll get to be part of our community, have access to any courses we make for free as well as continued support from does in the community and within the group doing group coaching.  

So it's a great opportunity and you can check it that forward slash film and family. [00:24:00]