Film and Family

Ep 13 - Which Matters Most: How, Why or What?

October 28, 2020 Kent & Anna Thalman
Film and Family
Ep 13 - Which Matters Most: How, Why or What?
Film and Family
Ep 13 - Which Matters Most: How, Why or What?
Oct 28, 2020
Kent & Anna Thalman

Surprise! Kent has read at least one parenting book (statistically more than the average Dad). We discuss why is might not really matter what you do as much as why you do it in both parenting and film and the power of finding the why behind your what and how.

Show Notes Transcript

Surprise! Kent has read at least one parenting book (statistically more than the average Dad). We discuss why is might not really matter what you do as much as why you do it in both parenting and film and the power of finding the why behind your what and how.

Kent: [00:00:00] Hi, I'm Kent. And this is episode 13 of film and family, a podcast for filmmakers and professionals in the entertainment industry who want to experience deeper joy and satisfaction in their film, careers and family lives. Let's jump right in. 

Right. So we want to talk about a kind of interesting subject that is actually pretty personal for me. in the last several weeks, things that I've been thinking about and,  Anna and I have been talking about, and we think that these things apply to both making films in. Living lives in our family. 

So we're going to talk about what, how and why the what, how and why of what we do and which of those is most important. So. This is kind of coming from a place of Parenthood. First and foremost, I was noticing that parenting books, which apparently dad's on average read an average of zero parenting books. 

parenting books often introduce sort of a paradigm of strategies to do. You know, actionable things. We always want to know what to do. So I think that's actually true in most forms of film education, whether you're finding really cool programs online, sometimes even film schools, I don't think the best ones do this, but I think a lot of those schools focus on the what, what button to push, what words to write. 

parenting books are always about what should be your response to certain things that kids do or say, what is your strategy when kids behave a certain way or when infants cry at certain times of night and what are all the plans and strategies. and, I think it's common in life for us to just want, we really want someone to tell us what to do, 

Anna: [00:02:03] which is so funny because sometimes we hate when people tell us exactly what to do. 

Kent: [00:02:07] We hate 

Anna: [00:02:07] them. 

Kent: [00:02:10] That is true. Yeah. 

Anna: [00:02:12] But yeah, I think that the reason. We want this as, because we see results and it makes sense to us that our actions seem to create those results. And so we say, well, I want that result. If I just do this at the exact same thing that that person did well when I get the same result. 

But the problem with that is that those actions can look totally different depending on where you're coming from emotionally, what you believe and what your unique circumstances. And so. You know, going backwards a little farther, you start to get at the root cause of the results people have, which is the beliefs that they have, which create their feelings, which then lead to their actions. 

And create the results. And so the action is just one small part of that. It's just one other symptom of your mindset and the beliefs that you have alongside, a number of things, 

Kent: [00:03:10] right? I mean, and so that reminds me of the scene in pursuit of happiness, where he's walking by. Like the future from where he's going to work one day, but he doesn't know that yet. 

And will Smith passes a guy and getting out of a red Ferrari and he's like, Whoa, you gotta tell me what you do and how you do it. He saw the result, which is this red Ferrari. And he said, just tell me, what'd you do? And then he laughs and says, I'm a stockbroker. And then the whole rest of the movie is about will Smith trying to become a stockbroker. 

Which is funny. 

Anna: [00:03:42] It's actually I can guarantee he didn't do it the same way for our 

Kent: [00:03:46] I'm sure it was very different. And you know, what else? The why was probably very different. So we're going to get into that. So, I think strategies are helpful. They're not a bad starting point. Sometimes they help you kind of get into the groove, experimenting. 

Trying out certain things, you certainly will learn a lot, you know, so I'm not saying those are bad and I'm not saying that that's a bad education to get or bad books to read or bad things to do. They're probably very helpful and you will learn a lot. I've learned a lot in a lot of this has come from me reading and trying to do the things that it says in parenting books. 

But the problem with strategies is that they quickly become outdated. Because statistics change, specific actions take on new contexts as cultures and vocabularies and languages and habits. Those things will all evolve. And so, and even just day to day, people change 

Anna: [00:04:40] well. And I also feel like my circumstances changed. 

So when I'm trying to apply something, especially from a parenting book and it says, this is how you handle a tantrum or something. When it looks different than what was exactly outlined in the book that I'm like, if I don't understand the principle behind the technique, it's very hard for me to know how to apply it to a slightly different circumstance. 

I get easily frustrated that I'm like, well, my child is not exactly like yours. You know, this doesn't seem to work. 

Kent: [00:05:12] Yeah. I mean, it's like trying to like read a script when you're resolving like marital issues and say, well, when she's feeling upset, I should just compliment her hair. Like, it's like, Yeah. 

So, I mean, that's an extreme example, but the, these things become outdated very quickly. In fact, you can see that and sometimes in creative work where you see people who are falling trends and that works for a little while, and then once they S things start to move on and change, like those visual trends, people start to go, you know, this looks like it was shot on like, I don't know, like in the nineties and like, I don't know, like the whole tone of this feels very strange, but now that's the cool thing to do actually, because we all want to make movies that harken back to the eighties apparently, 

Anna: [00:05:57] but wait, what was 

Kent: [00:05:57] your point? 

Oh, it's the same. It's the idea of following strategy? Like if all you're doing is like, Oh, this is the cool hip thing to do. Like I'm going to shoot it with this one. Style over and over again. And I'm going to make stories about this one thing over and over again. Or, if you're just taking strategies and doing them over and over again, it might work and then they might stop working. 

But if you actually have like a compelling point of view or perspective, or why behind your work, then styles might adapt. Look at the work of, Corita I think it's Hirokazu Charita I can't remember how to say his first name. He's a Japanese film director. He's made movies like, after life, after the storm, the third murder, those are the ones I've seen. 

he's made movies called shoplifters. nobody knows. I couldn't believe after watching three of his movies, how incredibly distinct and different all three of those movies are, all three of them are superb, really, really well done. Well-made movies. And this is the person who's not just following, a recipe book. 

He's not just trying to understand the what to do a filmmaking. So anyway, getting a little tangential, but this is kind of. something I've been pondering is this idea of how I do what I do. 

Anna: [00:07:22] Oh, I just had one thought from what you said about, and I'm not trying to say this to be critical, but I definitely think we all kind of can feel the difference when you watch a film. 

That's very much trying to check off boxes. And 

Kent: [00:07:38] usually those films cost over $150 

Anna: [00:07:40] million in the film industry business. And so it makes sense that people who are business-minded and who are trying to make. I'm a prophet and that's important, are going to look and say, Oh, what, what seems to be working in there? 

Looking at the actions and like, Oh, it seems like when the characters do this, it works. And it seems like when you have this kind of an actor, it works and, and they just are not seeing the heart behind the story. As much as the literal, tangible, finished product pieces. And. You know, we just saw my lawn, which is the cool thing to do right now. 

So if you have $30 to spend on, on a movie, and it just felt like they're checking boxes the whole time. To me, it didn't feel like any. The heart or soul went into that story. It was just like, well, now we have a conversation between two females that doesn't, that's not just about a male, so we can check off the box for that. 

What is the feminine test thing that 

Kent: [00:08:41] you were stepping into? Dangerous waters side to all of our listeners who are Milan fans. And we're not, no, I'm just teasing, but, but it's true. That's how we both felt. But in the end we were kind of wondering what, what exactly is the perspective of this. Screenwriter, this film director, these actors, like what perspective on the world are they trying to share? 

Other than the one that's very clearly stated by the lines of dialogue and the character the characters say. Right. But, but that's often a yeah. A symptom of this sort of paradigm. 

Anna: [00:09:13] Yeah. I guess I just, I'm not trying to be critical or like, get into a debate about it. I just think that there is a difference when you're. 

Paying attention and you watch enough movies. You can tell which ones are just sort of like a factory cranking out stuff that typically works. It's sort of somewhat archetypal. And then when it's something that's truly unique, that is not like that little framed thing that you bought at target that. All your neighbors have on their wall, but it's like, Oh, this is something personalized that someone made themselves that they really thought 

Kent: [00:09:47] about it. 

I mean, 

Anna: [00:09:48] yeah, there's a difference. And it doesn't mean that like you can't buy the target thing and stick it on your wall. It's just like, There is a depth available 

Kent: [00:09:57] yeah. Versus high nutritive. and so, so in that, in that vein, I've been thinking a lot about with my kids. This idea kind of hit me at one point. 

And I didn't know if I totally accepted this idea, but in the more I've thought about it, I think that it's starting to prove to be more and more and more true. And here here's the idea how I do what I do with my kids matters more than what I do. Which is really hard. I think this was hard for me. I don't know if you have a personality that similar, that similar to mine, you might experience the same thing. 

w how can it be? Like, I mean, if you do that thing with your kids, that will, that will be bad. And yet I started to realize that all these parenting books suggested very specific strategies, even people will specifically. Suggest things for you to do. They'll say, Oh, this is what to do when your kid does this. 

This is what I did when I raised you. Sorry, mom and dad. and I've tried some of those things to really, really bad results. And it's because I only do what my dad did when I'm fuming Lee angry that he has some, I won't even. I won't throw him under the bus and say some of the crazy stuff that my parents did. 

But what was funny is that it totally worked for them. They're not insane people. It worked really well, but when my dad did some of those specific things, which I won't explain it, he was totally calm. But that just doesn't work for me. And so I do different things. What I do is different, but I want to do the things that I can do comfortably in the same emotional state or the same attitude as my dad. 

And so, because I thought he was a very good test. And so exceptions you'll find will disprove a lot of these quote unquote rules that we're taught. You'll see people do one thing and they'll get a result and they'll see someone do the same exact thing and look at a totally different result. And you'll say, well, what's different if they're doing the same exact thing and why are those results different? 

And I think we'll find that, statistics suggest what's, but we require some intuition and some self searching to discover the why. Of of why we do things and the how of how we can approach things. So clay Christianson goes into this on good theory and a lot of business books, 

Anna: [00:12:13] you know, we've mentioned him a lot on this podcast already, but. 

I do feel like he got down to the why instead of just looking at, Oh, is this customer, white or black or some other race or ethnicity? Are they between the ages? 26 and 32? Are they, single, married, you know, all these kinds of like arbitrary descriptors and just said, why does a person buy this thing? 

Like what. What's going on in their mind, when they purchase something. And I think that's a really important thing to do in any situation is to go a little deeper beyond the surface. 

Kent: [00:12:56] Yeah, absolutely. And so, we kind of have this idea of there's a single destination and that might be something we all share. 

A desired outcome, a desired result, a desired destination, but each of us is completely different. So we're going to try and reach that destination. And if we are successful in reaching that destination, we're going to get there. By a different route because we're all starting from different starting points. 


Anna: [00:13:26] yeah, someone wants, illustrated this for me, they drew a dot on a chalkboard and said, how many lines could you possibly draw through this dot? And it's like, infinite, right? There's like a million different ways that you could come from different directions you could come from and arrive at that same destination. 

But if you have two dots, then suddenly there's only one line that can go through both of them. And I think that can be used in a lot of contexts, but here to me, I think it's understanding where you are right now and where you want to go. That helps you have a clear path, like the, how will reveal itself once you know, those two things. 

So in the context of this conversation, You know, if I'm with my kids and I can remember my why, like, remember what is my goal as a successful parent? And 

Kent: [00:14:17] what does that mean? 

Anna: [00:14:18] Yeah. Like, how am I measuring my success? What am I trying to achieve? Am I trying to make them do the thing I want them to do? Am I trying to control their behavior or is my goal to feel love? 

Kent: [00:14:32] And that's something we've been talking about recently is, is that I think my definition of success as a parent has changed from being, the behavior of my children, to the feelings I have for my children. Yeah. So if I can feel a certain way, even if they're behaving like, you know, sporadically, they're always will, they're going to experience all the emotions almost every day. 

and yet, regardless of that circumstance of their behavior, I want to be able to say that I feel a certain way now I might fail at that maybe daily, but I think that as I improve that, and as I make that myself. Focus that my, my focus will change from the, what, the, what, of what they do and the what of what I do to the how of what I do and the way I feel when I do it and the why of what I do. 

And so, yeah, that idea of love is our definition of success. As parents, not behavior. Either of our behaviors as parents or as children. 

Anna: [00:15:35] And I think that's a great one, but it's just one example. And you have to figure out for you. What, what is your measure of success in film or in family and what does that look like? 

Cause sometimes we have these subconscious ideas of perfection that we aren't even aware that we're operating under. And so it never feels good enough and it can be good to know exactly where your goal is, what you're aiming for and remember that, but it also can be good to assess, you know, the two dots, like where am I going and where am I now? 

And. In the moment I might say, think I'm, I'm feeling really angry right now. I'm feeling resentment right now. I'm feeling bored right now. You know, whatever it is, I can figure out where I am and what my goal is. And then I usually know what to do from there. 

Kent: [00:16:26] And I think so to break this down a little bit, we've just, we've described in family that the, what is the action or the strategy. 

And that what, or action or strategy is determined by how, the, how is the attitude of the feeling. And that is determined by the why, which is your belief or your vision and the why is something you actually can choose. So let's say that again but backwards. So you can choose your why, which is your belief or your vision. 

And that will determine how you do things, the attitude, or the feeling you have as you do them. and that feeling or attitude will determine the actions or the strategies you implement. so. How does this apply to film? I was reading well, we've all read. many of us have read moviemakers masterclass by, LAR Laurent, Gerard. 

I don't know if I said his last name. Right. And man, one thing, the theme of that book in my mind, and I had a professor pointed this out and I super agree with him, is that you get this remarkable book of this guy who got to interview. Just some of the best filmmakers of all time. And he put all these interviews in one book and they all sort of spilled the beans on how they approach filmmaking and their whole philosophy, the strategies you might say of how they approach it. 

And they have their reasons why. Right. And they have all the details in these interviews and you're just like, Oh my gosh. 

Anna: [00:17:58] And they all have the result of success. 

Kent: [00:18:00] And it's like, if. If a Woody Allen had to make a movie with a Steven Spielberg, they might shoot each other. If a Clint Eastwood had to make a movie with a, with a, David Fincher or a, I dunno, one of these guys who does like a gazillion takes, they would. 

How on earth can they possibly even make movies together? And that's like the whole book, you read one guy and he has this whole philosophy toward rehearsals. And then you read the next guy and it's the exact opposite philosophy. And you're like what they do with the camera, with their actors, with their prep time, how they prepare, how they shoot, how they edit their whole approach and their even their opinions as regarding to. 

The purpose of film, totally different often polar opposites. And so how is it possible that all of these people doing completely different things are making movies that frankly, a lot of us love and I love Woody Allen films and Plenty's would films. These one take wonder guys, but I also really love, Some of these more, scrupulous directors that are a little more precise, you might say some of these, West Anderson types and many others. 

And so, how has that, how has it the case? Well, in filmmaking, The what the action or strategy is determined by the how and the, how is the process of the filmmaker? And that's determined by their belief revision, which is the why. so we really opine that the why is what matters the most and that the, how matters more than the what, and that many different whats can lead to the same. 

Or results, many different words can lead to the same results. 

Anna: [00:19:39] Hopefully we haven't confused you too much with all of these, general terms, but I think isn't it a beautiful thing that you can choose. That there is not just one secret way that you have to find out to be able to make it, but that you get to choose and you can hear other people and hear their strategies and take what's useful to you. 

But in the end, it comes down to what do I believe? What makes me feel inspired 

Kent: [00:20:06] and how do I want to feel when I make films? When I parent, how do I want to make that happen? Cause that process. Is what creates a family culture. It's also what creates, your process as a filmmaker. It's the same thing. And so, those two things are far more important than necessarily the exact strategies that are implemented in every given case. 


Anna: [00:20:32] So hope that's helpful. And. I think that's all we've got for you tonight. 

Kent: [00:20:36] Yeah. Let us know your thoughts, let us know your questions and let us know if we're totally off our right. What is it? What is the, what is the idiom there? Offer rock rockers while we are right now, we're on a futon anyway, have a wonderful evening. 

Thanks and catch you on the next episode, 

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Specifically, I've gotten great results in my clients. We have a great time and you really can't beat this offer because it is a lifetime membership. So you get the three months of private coaching, but then after that, you also get continual support and coaching within a group and you get to be part of this community. 

You get access to all the courses that we create for free. And it's a lot of fun. It's also risk-free if you don't like it and you don't think it was worth the money, you can have your money back and I've yet to have that happen. So check us forward slash film and family. I'll see you there. .