Do you find yourself worrying about what others might think of your art, your life, or any of your decisions for that matter? In this episode we explore how to abandon people-pleasing and making your life and art meaningful and true to you.
This podcast is owned and sponsored by Invisible Mansion Pictures. For more resources, visit us at: www.invisiblemansion.com
Do you find yourself worrying about what others might think of your art, your life, or any of your decisions for that matter? In this episode we explore how to abandon people-pleasing and making your life and art meaningful and true to you.
This podcast is owned and sponsored by Invisible Mansion Pictures. For more resources, visit us at: www.invisiblemansion.com
Ep. 44 - Make Like Nobody's Watching
[00:00:00] Anna Thalman: [00:00:00] Hi, I'm Anna
[00:00:01] Kent Thalman: [00:00:01] and I'm Kent.
[00:00:02] Anna Thalman: [00:00:02] And this is film and family, a podcast about feature filmmaking for professionals in the film industry with families hit subscribe to never miss an episode.
[00:00:11] Kent Thalman: [00:00:11] Let's jump right in.
[00:00:13] Anna Thalman: [00:00:13] Okay. Today's episode. We want to talk about make like nobody's watching and how to create art that matters in a media saturated world. So this idea of make like nobody's watching first came to my mind, I went to a festival and Richard Dutcher's a film director who was there and he said something. I think what he actually said was you should make films. Like it's the last film you'll ever do. every film you should treat that way, which I really liked. The more I thought about it though, what was even more effective for me was to think about. Making films, like nobody's going to watch them except for me. And maybe you could combine them and say like, I'm going to make this as though I'm the only one who's going to watch [00:01:00] it. And it's the last film I'm ever going to make. I don't know, to me that puts a lot of pressure on, but if I'm the only one going to watch it, it kinda changes the way I approach filmmaking. What do you think changes if we make films this way?
[00:01:13]Kent Thalman: [00:01:13] Well, it's interesting. I know this is something that really resonates for you. So I'd like to talk about it with you . I don't know if I think of films quite that way. Not naturally. At least I could. I usually think of it much more in terms of audience. I really do. I think about not so much that I'm trying to pander to a general audience or anything like that. I just, I think a lot about like, How I'm communicating if a certain juxtaposition of shots is going to get the emotion or the idea across that I want, I think in terms of testing, maybe not typical Hollywood audience testing, but in terms of just lots of feedback and getting people's perspectives and seeing if I'm communicating. So it's, it's very much a different way of thinking about film for me. But I think the value in [00:02:00] this perspective that you. are Sharing is probably my weak spot as a filmmaker, which is I really admire filmmakers that make stuff that is either autobiographical or in some way, extremely personal. I know that Ladybird was mostly autobiographical well, I mean, at least somewhat in a lot of ways, it seems like she was trying to make a film that was very autobiographical. And I think
[00:02:24] Anna Thalman: [00:02:24] yeah she said that.
[00:02:25] Kent Thalman: [00:02:25] Yeah. And that script for me. Would be hard to write and feel like it was doing anything it does do a lot. It's very much sort of this quotidian space that she's trying to make films in, which I don't mind, but it's hard for me to be like, is this is have a powerful enough dramatic arc. Is there anything visual? That's like a real standout moment in the film, but like, it's not really that kind of movie. It's not like looking for the pizazz and stuff. I struggle with that. could I make something really about my own life? But there [00:03:00] are things in my life that I think are significant and very personal, and that are deeply meaningful to me that I might not feel like I could make a film about, because I don't think in these terms even movies like farewell also very autobiographical by Lulu Wang. I love that movie. It's so good. It's extremely autobiographical. It's almost based on a true story. It's so hot biographical. And once again, I feel like I would not. Like, how do you make a movie about something like that? Like you went through, I guess I think Lou Lang's movie, if I were just to hear that idea pitched to me, I'd be like, yeah, that's really cool. But that's because it didn't happen to me. But if I were to try and pitch something that was like extremely autobiographical for me. to myself. I think I'd just be like, yeah, no, one's going to want to watch that. You know?
[00:03:45]Anna Thalman: [00:03:45] And I don't think it has to be autobiographical to make like, no one's watching. It's just, what is it that you want to watch? And I guess I think about it, like also in terms of audience, but the, I am the first audience,
[00:03:58] Kent Thalman: [00:03:58] I guess, but my point is, is that [00:04:00] let's say that a guy named Sam. Christopher made a movie that was, you know, him just trying to express some ideas about himself and his life. And I watched it and I felt like it was an autobiography, as if I had made an autobiography and I would probably be stunned and amazed and think that this guy was being so personal, he had to be so personal and make such a film because it was so striking and personal for me, which I think is what you experienced when you watched movies like LaLaLand. Which not that you break out into song and dance and stuff, but like sort of some of the experiences that you had had, and even some of the scripts that you would try to write. We're so close to that, that you'd felt like, At least this is my impression based on what you've expressed to me, that that was like watching someone who just seemed to know you. And then you watched first man, and you were like, Damien Chazel gets me like this. Like, there's something so personal that he's gone through. That seems like it's making this deep connection with you. And I guess I love it [00:05:00] when that happens. So I would make that movie, if I was the one who was going to watch it, I would like to see something deeply personal that I say, wow, I went through almost that exact same thing. I super. relateTo these characters and this experience, I have a friend who feels deeply like he can relate to the family and tree of life. And I remember thinking of him the first time I'd seen the movie, I was like, that's just like my friend and his dad and their relationship and that general family dynamic and the mom and everything. and the younger brother, it was very much something I felt like I thought of him when I watched it. And then like a couple of years later, he was like, I watched this movie. Really impactful for me. It was like watching my family and myself on screen. So yeah, I would make, I think, good movies that I did this, there's a part of me that struggles.
[00:05:47]Anna Thalman: [00:05:47] Well, I think a part of all of us struggles when we are sharing something, we're not sure if other people will understand it. And I think about, you know, Damien Chazelle, even where he shares. [00:06:00] Something personal that a lot of people didn't understand. I think a lot of people came away from the ending of Lala land and didn't like, it,
[00:06:08] Kent Thalman: [00:06:08] it was polarizing, but a lot of people loved it.
[00:06:10] Anna Thalman: [00:06:10] A lot of people loved it, but a lot of people didn't like it. And that's kind of what happens when you share something that not, everyone's going to understand what you're saying.
[00:06:19] Kent Thalman: [00:06:19] Yeah. You talk a lot about this idea and your coaching when you mentioned. Letting people be wrong about you. I know that Jody Morris talked a lot about that. And it's this idea of when you are willing to be extremely personal and Stanford certain values or share certain personal experiences that, you know, might be hard to share. Everyone might not accept. You'll also connect with people deeply in ways that you couldn't otherwise, and it, creates this tight. Sort of connected audience.
[00:06:46] Anna Thalman: [00:06:46] Yeah. Hard to do though. It's not easy to be vulnerable. And I think that's where it can almost feel like a safe space. If you think I'm just making this movie for me, like only for me to watch. Damien Chazelle said that actually [00:07:00] about his first script that he wrote with whiplash, that that was deeply personal for him,
[00:07:05] Kent Thalman: [00:07:05] not his first script.
[00:07:06] Anna Thalman: [00:07:06] Not may be the first ever that he wrote, but he wrote that one just for him. he wasn't planning on making it. He said I hid it away in a drawer. I wasn't. I didn't want to share it because everyone who knew me would say, well, you're just writing about yourself. But in the end, he pulled that out and that launched his career.
[00:07:22] Kent Thalman: [00:07:22] Well. He said that it's becomes new litmus test almost where he's like, if I'm writing something and you're like, oh, if I make this, all my friends are gonna make fun of me and say, I just wrote this movie, all about stuff. I went through. He's like if I start to feel myself thinking that all my friends are going to make fun of me when they watch this. Cause they'll know, they'll know that I'm writing about and drawing upon so much personal stuff. He's like, that's a good sign that, that it's probably something I need to write. And that's, that's something that my friend, Ian Hawks, who's also a great writer working in Utah right now shared with me that he actually heard from Damien Chazelle firsthand, essentially, you know, in a, sort of a question panel.
[00:07:57]Anna Thalman: [00:07:57] Anyway. So it's, kind of this interesting thing [00:08:00] where we want everyone to be watching, but if you make films that way, you probably won't get personal because you're thinking about everyone watching and judging it.
[00:08:11] Kent Thalman: [00:08:11] What's the coolest, neat, fun, Smart thing I can do that everyone will think is awesome and they will all approve of me and love it.
[00:08:20] Anna Thalman: [00:08:20] We kind of want to show off when we feel like everyone's watching us.
[00:08:24]Kent Thalman: [00:08:24] It's not a good attitude I think, to come from when you're trying to create something,
[00:08:28] Anna Thalman: [00:08:28] but the irony is if you can make something as though nobody's watching, I think you're more likely to get people watching. You're sharing something that they haven't seen before or that they relate to deeply. And at this particular festival where I met Richard Dutcher and heard that from him, that was my biggest takeaway. We had a short film that was showing in the festival and watching it in front of an audience is always interesting. But as I watched it, I felt like we were pandering too [00:09:00] much to the audience. Like I wished I'd treated them. Like a more intelligent audience, because I felt like I was trying to make sure they understood and even doing that. There were some people who still didn't completely understand it.
[00:09:14] Kent Thalman: [00:09:14] And that's somewhat just a case of, of learning trial and error, you know, like I watched it and I was like, I tell so many people about this, but I'm just like it's really a sign that small technical hiccups can really teach you a lot about if you, you don't have a sufficient diopter on an anamorphic lens that has a minimum focus distance of like three yards. It's really hard to do close up on a pregnancy test and see what the result of it is. And that's really important to the plot. You know, it's like, you can't get the lens close enough. And so you've got to find solutions to that, which we, I think didn't take enough time. To do. And we tried to punch in digitally, but it still wasn't quite enough. And so we just left it on the shop for a really long time. [00:10:00] So it's like, you can see that right. It's positive. But then by then it starts to feel kind of dumb, you know, like you're treating the audience like they're dumb. So yeah, there's, there's lots of things there that we were, we were sort of realizing, oh, these are all these things and you're right. That it doesn'tfeel like a movie that at least you and I, and our personal judgments of our own work felt like it was something that wasn't treating the audience. Like it was extremely intelligent, hard balance to strike.
[00:10:27]Anna Thalman: [00:10:27] Yeah. Some of it was our own fault. Like we weren't being clear enough, there were some parts that I felt as I watched it. they get it, we can, we can move on. Yeah. I was kind of holding on like, what if they're, you know, looking at their neighbor and they miss this and then they don't understand the whole thing. And, and as I watched him, like, you know, I can treat them like, they're more intelligent than that. And if I'm the one watching it, I'm definitely not going to put in fluff because I don't like sitting through that. And so I'm not going to pander to my audience. I'm going to treat them as intellectuals. [00:11:00] And so I think it would help me do that more personally
[00:11:03] Kent Thalman: [00:11:03] totally good assumption to make, I mean, all. Audience members are intellectuals. The moment they sit down in a dark theater, it's been proven time. And again, that their IQ is like tripled the moment they collectively sit down in a dark space, they've become very, very smart and they can pick out every single, tiny little thing you've done wrong so
[00:11:21] Anna Thalman: [00:11:21] well. And unlike a real life situation, when someone sits down and they kind of turn off all their other senses and just tune into exactly. what They're watching, which isn't always how people watch, but in an ideal viewing experience, it makes sense that we're constantly getting so much sensory input in real life that we have to sort through. We don't notice a lot of things, but when you're being shown, just a limited field of view in a dark theater with no other distractions, you're going to see a lot more. So anyway, I like that perspective. Most of my favorite [00:12:00] films, not everyone will like it. I'll just say that, but those who do like it, I think will like it more
[00:12:05] Kent Thalman: [00:12:05] like what,
[00:12:06] Anna Thalman: [00:12:06] what we make when it's personal.
[00:12:07] Kent Thalman: [00:12:07] Oh yeah. I mean, you'll never make a film that everyone likes think about the most popular movies in history have tons of people that don't like them, think about how many people don't like gone with the wind. And how poorly it's aged politically and socially think about how many people don't like the Marvel movies. There are tons, by the way. I mean, they are super popular and people generally like them, but a lot of people don't, you know,
[00:12:33] Anna Thalman: [00:12:33] well, and it's just personal preference. I think for me, I don't love films that try to appeal to mass audiences. I feel like they usually are.
[00:12:42] Kent Thalman: [00:12:43] Sometimes. There are some movies that we've watched that appeal to the mass audiences that we really enjoy.
[00:12:48] Anna Thalman: [00:12:48] I mean, I'm not going to rule out yeah. All movies that appeal to mass audiences. But I feel like most of my favorites tend to be polarizing because some people don't relate to them or don't understand them. [00:13:00] And then some people do on a deeper level.
[00:13:02] Kent Thalman: [00:13:02] Yeah. LaLa Land was one example, which had a huge audience. It did vet definitely I have very few films that I've tried to mention to people that I've heard, just do not like it. a lot of people just did not like that movie. And Joe Wright. I know his Anna Karenina had a pretty polarizing effect on a lot of people or a lot of people disliked it. And we loved that movie. But those are often movies that. can be powerful, either deeply connects with someone or it shakes someone up and it challenges their paradigms in a healthy way, hopefully responsible way. So it's, it's exciting filmmaking to think about when you think of it, that way, that it can deeply connect with some people who might not feel understood, you know, in that way. And it can also help other people grow in a way that might be uncomfortable for them, but Hey, filmmaking. Shouldn't always be easy and comfortable film viewing shouldn't necessarily have to be that, thing, that easy sort of [00:14:00] you have here, we call it vanilla filmmaking.
[00:14:03] Anna Thalman: [00:14:03] I guess I just think about, you know, that phrase about vanilla ice cream, that pretty much everyone likes it, but it's usually not your favorite flavor. It's like vanilla. Kind of bland, it's an okay flavor. It's good. I like it, especially with a brownie or something, but my favorite flavor of ice cream is going to be something a lot more unique with a lot more of its own flavor that probably not everyone likes. Yeah, that's okay.
[00:14:28] Kent Thalman: [00:14:28] Peach mint or something
[00:14:32] Anna Thalman: [00:14:32] cinnamon, I think sounds good right now, cinnamon ice cream,
[00:14:35] Kent Thalman: [00:14:35] cinnamint
[00:14:36]Anna Thalman: [00:14:36] like a red cinnamon.
[00:14:37]Kent Thalman: [00:14:37] I don't know. why mint, I just feel like throwing that into every flavor. Makes it weird. I'm trying to think of something polarizing like, well, I don't, so now we're 50, 50.
[00:14:50] Anna Thalman: [00:14:50] So yeah, I guess I'm not as interested in making something that appeals to more people, but less it's less exciting. I'd rather make something that appeals to less [00:15:00] people, but the people who like it, like it deeply
[00:15:02] Kent Thalman: [00:15:02] something that a million people think is, yeah, that's good. Yeah. That's kind of, that's actually my, my greatest fear when I pitched to people, when I pitched to anyone, I feel like if I pitch a movie idea, and they go Yeah. Yeah. I kind of like it. I'm like, oh shoot, it's terrible. if someone loves it, deeply as like, wow, this was powerful. Like I want to do this movie, then it's like, oh, that's great. But even if someone reads it and they're like I am so upset at reading this and I hate it. I don't always feel bad about that. Now I have to ask them why. And if the reason why is that? They're just like,how could this thing happen? It's so sad. I'm like, oh great. they deeply emotionally connected with the story and the character. And they're really sad about what happened to that character, which is probably my intention, unless it wasn't, then I might be in trouble, but like, you know, I've had that experience and that's, that's actually exciting for me when, people have really strong reactions in both directions, [00:16:00] it helps me know that. Something's happening.
[00:16:04] Anna Thalman: [00:16:04] You're really saying something. Yeah. The people are responding to strongly one way or the other. so let's take it back to the other thing we mentioned. How do you stand out and create art that matters in a media saturated world?
[00:16:18] Kent Thalman: [00:16:18] Yeah. stand out as kind of a punky sounding phrase. But creating art that matters in a media saturated world. I guess all you have to do to create art that matters in a media saturated world is create art that, you know, matters at least to you and whatever matters means, right? That's kind of an opinion, I suppose, but, creating art that stands out, I think it goes back to this idea of make like nobody's watching it's whether you're gonna be doing the one that watches it, when it's deeply personal, it can cut through the sort of neutral. Bland flat line of, mass media that is just not really doing anything unique or [00:17:00] connecting with anyone. Maybe it's connecting with everyone in a tiny way, but it's not connecting with anyone in a deep, deep way, you know? And so these are generalized terms, but I think. That today's world is a very big populated planet. We have a lot of people on the earth and they're very, very connected in ways that have never existed in the history of the world. And I feel like that has opened up. We've seen this happen on YouTube, this remarkable opportunity that we have to connect with people and create these sort of international community. That bridge, basically every known demographic , to create groups of people that identify with very singular traits, you know? And so it might just be like, Wow. a YouTube channel, all about what it feels like to be really tall, like taller than six, six, you know? And like all the [00:18:00] unique experiences that happen, you know, for people like that. And yet, you never would have ever seen a Hollywood movie made about that in a way. That's like, oh, I'm going to connect with all those people that are over six, six. Like if that was your target market, you'd have a lot of sweaty studio executives, but you can find those audiences nowadays. And I think that even in film, like feature filmmaking, you can do that and eventually find people that resonate with what you're doing. And then you'll eventually start finding people that are even outside of that target niche or whatever it is, you know, and it doesn't have to be a very pointed niche or a target market. It could just be. You know, this is something I would really feel deeply personal about. And I believe on faith that there are lots of other people that do too. And I think it's always true if you manage to deeply communicate that personal part of yourself in an effective way, which is very hard. So you actually have to be a good artist. You have to be great craftsmen. But [00:19:00] if you do that, The personal nature of the subject matter, or the narrative is not going to be what holds you back? It's your crafts. Manship so if you can do both of those things, then you will, you, I believe anyone can make something like that and they will connect with other, people for better, for worse that share those feelings and ideas and experiences and, feelings. I said twice. Anyway.
[00:19:26]Anna Thalman: [00:19:26] Yeah, I think about Austin Kleon. I love his books. He has in his book steal like an artist. He talks about personal style and how. It's not very helpful to try to create your own personal style and say I'm going to limit myself to this kind of thing that I do. He said your style will naturally evolve because all of the things that you like that are unique to you have you as a common denominator, like you are the common denominator. And you know, when Damien Chazelle was [00:20:00] pitching Lala land, they said you should probably. Ryan Gosling's character likea wanna be guitarist in a rock and roll band. Like more people relate to that. And
[00:20:12] Kent Thalman: [00:20:12] they were trying to broaden.
[00:20:14]Anna Thalman: [00:20:14] Yeah, they're trying to spread it then, but then it's less interesting. and
[00:20:18] Kent Thalman: [00:20:18] how many movies that we've seen about aspiring rock and roll artistsand like the idea of like a jazz pianist actually resonated with me because I was a huge jazz fan as a teenager, I'm a millennial. They probably didn't think there were that many of us out there, but I think there are, I think there are a lot of us that love jazz and love. Love, not just vocal, jazz, like Michael bublé, but like straight up. Miles Davis, you know, Oscar Peterson and that kind of, challenging earth shattering sort of jazz. And like that was cool for me to watch and identify with. And he himself Chazel said that he really identified as a young teenager with that thing you do by Tom Hanks, [00:21:00] because it starred a drummer who played in a rock band but the drummer actually loved jazz. that's what he actually likes playing in his basement. And he was watching a jazz drummer in a movie as a protagonist was like this deeply unique experience for me that I'd never seen on the screen ever before. And then he made whiplash and that cause because Damien Chazelle played jazz drums. And so I just think that's really fascinating. And then he put Tom Everett, Scott in Lala land,
[00:21:31] Anna Thalman: [00:21:31] keeping it personal, but he could get behind that. That was something he felt strongly about. And I think that even, I'm not a person who was super into jazz, but I am more into it now because of your love of it and his passion for it. I think
[00:21:46]Kent Thalman: [00:21:46] you like jazz now.
[00:21:47]Anna Thalman: [00:21:47] I like Jazz now. .
[00:21:50]Kent Thalman: [00:21:50] If you haven't seen it a lot and you have no idea why that's funny, so go watch it and you'll know why it's so great or why you hate it so much.
[00:21:58] Anna Thalman: [00:21:58] So the other thing [00:22:00] that I just want to mention before I forget that came to mind about how to make art that matters or that's meaningful. I think first of all, it has to be meaningful to you. You know, it's hard to make a film and not feel like it's meaningful to you and have it be meaningful to anyone else. Hopefully if it's going to transmit any meaningfulness to your audience, it should be 10 times more meaningful to you. And then they'll probably get some degree of that through all the layers that it's going to go through. but I also think that having a meaningful life outside of your film career helps you to make meaningful art. And that's something. We talk about a lot film and family having the balance and what the benefits of balancing a meaningful, thriving, personal life with your family or whatever relationships you have with a career as a filmmaker. And I think having both lets you to tell stories about something that's meaningful to you. That's not just I dunno, [00:23:00] like if all you care about is your career, you're just gonna make films about that,
[00:23:04] Kent Thalman: [00:23:04] which is probably filmmaking,
[00:23:05] Anna Thalman: [00:23:05] which we've seen a lot of people do.
[00:23:07]Kent Thalman: [00:23:07] Now I'll clarify your point. I feel like it's necessary to clarify that there is no definition for a meaningful life. There's no prescribed actions we're suggesting.
[00:23:23] Anna Thalman: [00:23:23] There's not a right or wrong way to do it.
[00:23:25] Kent Thalman: [00:23:25] Yeah. Like this, the meaningful life. And these are not meaningful things. I have my opinions of what those things are. You'll notice what over those opinions are because they're the, what I decided to do with my life. Right. And I'm trying to live the most meaningful lifestyle I can, but they're often challenging. They're often in my opinion, things that might make it appears like. Filmmaking in a film career might seem harder when you do things that are just more than just filmmaking. when you actually engage in relationships that require time and effort and commitment and financial [00:24:00] resources and all these things that we really want to save for our films. But this idea of meaningful is also an opinion, right? And so. It's really, sometimes I think less to do with living a more meaningful life. Although you might have your ideas of what that means for you. And I would suggest that we all pursue that. If we feel like there's something that would help us feel like our life is more meaningful, we should pursue that. But regardless of what we have or haven't done it's assuming that our life is meaningful. No matter what we have or haven't done. Like, even if you spent the last 10 years in your room eating and playing video games, maybe there's something really meaningful that you've learned through that experience. And maybe as you've broken out of your bedroom and discover the world again, that could be a really meaningful experience. Right? Like, my point is, has maybe more to do with finding the meaning in your life as it is then adding or injecting some sort of "obje ctively meaningfulness." [00:25:00] into your life, which say that in quotations, because I don't think it exists this "objective meaningfulness". I think our mortal experiences, our lives themselves are objectively meaningful, no matter who you are or what you've experienced or what you've done, they're meaningful and so. Digging into that and finding what it means to you, the experiences that you've had or the life that you've lived so far is I think. Going to lead to you feeling like you've lived a more meaningful life, not just in the past, but also right in front of you, your immediate future. And that will, I think, infuse itself naturally, once you start to identify what those things are into your work.
[00:25:40] Anna Thalman: [00:25:40] Yeah. It's definitely not about your circumstances and changing things around you that are external as much as finding the meaning within. Those circumstances, whatever they are, which I think is demonstrated beautifully in Viktor Frankl's book, man's search for meaning where he talks about kind of testing this [00:26:00] theory, that what really drives us is our search for meaning. and that. Ultimately determines like our survival and our quality of life, and even in Holocaust camps, those who could find meaning in that difficult circumstance, which no one would choose as like, this is the meaningful life that I want. And yet that was a place where he proved that theory and saw that those who did find meaning in those difficult circumstances had a meaningful life that they could feel motivated to keep going.
[00:26:33] Kent Thalman: [00:26:33] Yeah. And purpose. They could feel purpose in their experiences, even though those experiences seemed meaningless, certainly the suffering and the violence seemed meaningless. and he makes that case against the sort of the the prior theories of the day, you know, and even of this day that people live for and are motivated by money or sex or power or influence over other people. You know, th these are, the key motivating. [00:27:00] Forces or survival is a big one that people are mainly motivated by survival. I think he basically says the concentration camps proved all of those things wrong. Like none of those things were sufficient to keep people alive, even survival, even the, the will to survive. He said, the number one thing is if you can maintain your will to meaning you can maintain your will to everything else including survive. And so I think that's important. There's meaning in parenthood, I think, but there's also meaning in infertility and there's meaning in single hood, you know, there's meaning in teen pregnancy, there's meaning in miscarriage. There's meaning you see how this is all kind of the same topic and they're all vastly different experiences, but they're all meaningful. It's up to us to find what those meanings are. And I think that's why. Millions and billions of people are still driven to both consume story. Like never before and to create and tell stories like never [00:28:00] before and there, seems to be An inundation of supplies. , this is a media saturated world, but the demand doesn't seem to be letting up. The more media, there is the demand is still high. People want to feel like their lives are meaningful and that's what they're looking for. And so, as artists, as creators and tellers of story, when we do tell things that are deeply personal, we're finding a few people out there that might be able to watch our movies, , experience the stories that we have to tell and say, oh my gosh, I never understood the meaning of that experience that I've had until I watched it up there on the screen and experienced it in that way.
[00:28:36] Anna Thalman: [00:28:36] And in that way art can change lives by giving meaning to the experiences that we've had, giving us greater understanding of each other's experiences. And I think that's why it has survived since the beginning of time. You know, we find cave drawings and art has always existed. Instruments have always existed. People find ways to share meaning, and even during the great depression [00:29:00] or, difficult times. There have always been people needing art, even more to make meaning of those circumstances. So yeah, meaningful life helps you make meaningful media finding the meaning in your own life. I guess the one last thing I'd like to address before we wrap this up is just, we've talked about. People pleasing a little bit making like no one's watching instead of trying to make what you think other people will like. So we've talked about that in art, but I want to talk about how that applies in general to our relationships and our life. I think that many of us have been socialized and conditioned to choose other people's happiness over our own, or as a way of creating our own happiness. I think especially the messages young women receive are often focused more on their being desirable than on owning and pursuing their desires. [00:30:00] So they are being the object of desire and men are often portrayed as the owners or givers of desire. But I also think this shows up in lots of places. Like we say to her kid about our kids, as long as they're happy, I'm happy. Right? Which sounds like such a nice thing to say, but most people are not happy when they believe that or subscribed to that,
[00:30:19] Kent Thalman: [00:30:19] or they make their happiness so dependent on their kids, that they then blame their kids for their unhappiness because they can't make their kids happy.
[00:30:28] Anna Thalman: [00:30:28] And even men receive messages like this, you know, happy wife, happy life is another example. So. What is the problem with this way of thinking?
[00:30:38] Kent Thalman: [00:30:38] You're asking me. Yeah. Oh there's no problem at all. We can not make other people happy. We can't make them happy. You can't just force them into happiness. And so we definitely can help them feel happy. And I do believe in the pursuit of other people's happiness over our own in terms of. Serving others and turning [00:31:00] outward and blessing others. That's that is a happy way to live. And it is a meaningful way to live. It's easy to find meaning in that is what I mean to say. So, I subscribed to all those ideas, however this idea of I'm not going to let myself feel happy if everyone else around me is sad, or if my kids are crying, I need to feel upset. If, if my wife is disapproves of something I'm doing. I am going to either stop everything and convince her that she's wrong, or just subscribe to whatever it is she believes about me. You might have something you feel you need to do that. Your wife, I'm saying this in response to your idiom, but it could be your spouse. You know, I'm not just talking about men that your spouse disagrees with. You might feel like it's something that is important for you to do. there's some things I'm even now in my life, sort of realizing I think I need to just do this thing and I've always not done it because I'm worried that you know, you won't like it. And, and I've realized like there are selfish things and there are things that maybe aren't [00:32:00] appropriate. Right? I'm not talking about that kind of thing, but I'm just talking about simple stuff. I'll give an example. I'll get personal. I just went on a run by myself. Maybe for the first time in years, because we've made this really wonderful marital tradition of ours to run together. And I really love it, but you are exceptionally exhausted these days and I sometimes want to run harder and I am allowing myself to feel resentment because I feel like it's your fault that I'm not running as hard as I could possibly run and getting the workout that I feel like I have needed. And yet I felt that if I ran on my own, I had somehow be doing something bad. I dunno, that'd be breaking some sort of rule or some sort of tradition or ruining something. I don't know. And so it took me a minute and I talked to you about it and I think you were like, yeah, I've always told you, you can just run on your own and run harder if you want to. And I think it's kind of liberated me a little bit. It seems silly. Maybe even listening to [00:33:00] it, but. it feltReal, like, I couldn't do it. Like I was, I was deciding things. I was making decisions based on what I thought you would think. Not based on what I felt I needed. Whereas if I was fully individualized as a human being and making my own decisions for myself as an adult, I would just go run and get a workout when I have a moment. And it's not like that's never going to happen like that moment. I mean, that opportunity and. Or that that's a bad thing or that that's going to ruin our marriage. And so I still love running together and, that can still happen. But I just, I don't know. I think that I often like to just do everything. We often like to do everything together. But at the same time, like if I feel like I need to do something, I need to do it. And I, if I needed to, you know, work a few hours in the evening after the kids go to bed, I need to do that. I need to just decide for myself. The life, what my life is going to look like. I want my family to be part of that. But sometimes that [00:34:00] just means doing some things on my own every now and then, so
[00:34:03] Anna Thalman: [00:34:03] yeah. And this is something we recently talked about and I was like, yeah, I'm glad you're being honest.
[00:34:09] Kent Thalman: [00:34:09] I was wrong. Yeah. You weren't mad about it at all. But was making the decision based on my assumption of your reaction.
[00:34:16] Anna Thalman: [00:34:16] I would rather, you feel like you can own your choices than blame me for them. If you're not happy about the way it's going. And I think for me, the big breakthrough I had in this people pleasing region of my life was when I actually first started listening to Jody Moore, who was my first life coach. And she. Used to have this intro to her podcast that said something like the best gift that you can give your children is a happy, healthy, thriving mother. And I remember thinking about that idea a lot, and that kind of changed my paradigm. I started to realize that if I was expecting my children being happy, To make [00:35:00] me happy, then I would try to control them so that I could feel better. Or like you said, blame them or feel resentment if I'm not feeling happy. Cause I say, you know, it's your fault. Cause I'm giving them this power that they don't want,
[00:35:11] Kent Thalman: [00:35:11] I'm doing everything for you. And you guys are ungrateful and not happy and blah, blah, blah. But if it's. just like Yeah, I did this thing. I gave this to you and now I'm gonna take care of myself and sleep and exercise and eat, and you can decide what you want to do with this food. If you want to throw it on the ground or throw a fit or whatever, you know, that's really up to you. I feel bad for you. It's I think it's quite good. You know, you own it, you own your own life and your own emotions in that way.
[00:35:38] Anna Thalman: [00:35:38] Yeah. So I think the problem with people pleasing is. first of all, Half the time, we're wrong about what other people think. And if we spend a lot of time worrying about what they think or what we think that they think it gets very exhausting and we're often wrong, don't really know what people are thinking. And [00:36:00] even if they say words, they might not necessarily think that. And so that's a lot of guesswork and then we're basing our emotions on someone else's mood or someone else's perceived thoughts that we think that they have when we can just decide to feel happy or to feel however we want to feel about someone giving us permission or someone liking us. We can like ourselves without someone else agreeing, or we can like what we make, even if we think other people might not like it. So I just think that that's a way of having integrity and being true to ourselves. Being honest.
[00:36:39]Kent Thalman: [00:36:39] Yeah. It's hard to do that. And I think we all do people please, quite a lot. We make decisions based on what we think other people will think or do, or what they might actually think or what they might've even told us, you know, but like making decisions based on what other people say or do and who that person is in our lives. Kind of robs us of the ability to make [00:37:00] choices based on our deep sort of principles, whatever is deeply meaningful to us. And the way we feel like our life needs to go. And it just reminds me of you know, Isaiah says CC from man who's breath is in his nostrils. This idea that like, why are you going to base your whole life around the thoughts or opinions or decisions of someone else who might not even outlive you think that might be dead before you finished living your life or. they're just, they're this very mortal thing. Even if you were born in the same day as this person, you die on the same day as this person, it's like, they're not gonna be able to determine your legacy. You've got to be the person who determines what you leave behind on this earth. And so you've got to make decisions based on things that you feel like are eternal principles, you know, principles that feel right and true to you, that you feel like you, gotta live your life the way. Truly feel is right. And you know, obviously there's a myriad of number of opinions and ethical and moral perspectives on this earth, [00:38:00] but doing something for the wrong, even if it feels like the right reason, if doing it for someone else, it will eventually lead to feeling like you're living this hollow life. I think, and even if you're wrong, even if you say like, this is what I feel like I need to do, and you do it, it actually is a big mistake. At least you own that decision. And then you can see the mistake for exactly what it is and you can learn. Yeah, you can't blame it on anyone and you can, and you can decide exactly what you're going to do about that mistake. And I think this is why we also shouldn't try and control other people's lives because we need to let our children and our spouses and our whoever's, know that. Hey, you've got a hundred percent agency and control over your life and you shouldn't do anything because of me. I'll tell you what I think my advice, hopefully that helps you, offers you a perspective, but you don't have to do what I tell you to do, because then you'll say that you did that because of me and you won't own the decision. And if you [00:39:00] don't own it, you can't really learn from it. And that's really what this life's all about is moving through experiences and decisions. Learning and growing, even if we make big mistakes and some dumb decisions, we've just got to do it and own it. And so sometimes we make movies and we own them and we just do it and make huge mistakes. People sometimes warn us against stuff and we still make those mistakes, but guess what? We can own it. And we learned a lot and we learned fast. We're not just making movies for people that we think, oh, but isn't this, the thing that everyone loves, like shouldn't, we just make cool movies with special effects and superheroes. And I dunno what everyone has their different things that they think are objective truth as to what makes movies universally, likable. But those are all just opinions based on movies that you've watched that you like, that you assume everybody else likes. And so maybe it's based on box office ticket results. I don't know. Yeah, we just on all levels really can't just live our lives for other people in that way. I do think we can live our [00:40:00] lives for other people from a place of loving other people and serving other people. But one of the best things we can do to serve other people is telling them they can make their own choices and live their own life. And that we're just gonna support them and help them through that. That's an actual love and service. Not I'm gonna. Make you happy and you're going to do everything I say, because I know it will be what makes you happiest, you know, that's
[00:40:22] Anna Thalman: [00:40:22] and also showing up as your true self so that they feel like they also have permission to show up as their true self. And I think it's the same thing as making art, like we talked about make like no one's watching, we are also creating our character, creating who we are and who we're becoming. And. We should make that like, no one's watching, you know, make, make ourselves into the people we want to be, regardless of what other people think. And I would rather be someone of the kind of character that I want and have people who don't like them. than people who really do then try to be all things to all [00:41:00] people and end up being kind of flat and boring because you know, already, so many people are getting the message that like a certain kind of person is desirable or attractive or a certain kind of body or certain kind of personality or certain kind of hobbies. The desirable thing to do or look like. And I just think that's so boring and so wrong because everyone is unique and that's what makes it so beautiful is this diversity that we bring and, and that's really letting people know and love you as who you are. If you were pretending to be something you're not, then there's always going to be that part in the back of your brain saying, well, they don't know the real me,
[00:41:40] Kent Thalman: [00:41:40] that's actually one of my favorite things about the movie lady bird is that whole paradigm that she's exploring in her autobiographical movie about this teenage girl. whoStarts to make all of our decisions based on trying to fit in with these popular kids. she gets her heart broken by this guy that she won't break up with because she knows that if she still goes to [00:42:00] prom with him, she can still be friends with that other rich girl, she eventually starts to own, like, I want to go to the dance and I like this. Like, there's a part where they say, oh, I hate the song. And she's like, yeah, I hate it too. And then she stops and says, actually I love this song. And she says, can you drop me off at this other person's house? If you guys aren't going to go to the dance because I want to go. And I said, who's that? And she said, she's my best friend. She starts to own here. So that is, yeah, that person who's not very popular. She's my best friend. And that song you don't like, I like it. And the you who are really not a very good. Influence on me or very kind to me like I don't have to be your friend or be a girlfriend or whatever. And she starts to kind of just, figure out like, nah, That's part of her growing up, you know, and, that movie also explores a lot of interesting mother-daughter themes that are related to this podcast. As we've talked about sort of unconditional love and trying to control people and what that looks like, and everyone's imperfect, and we all make this mistake. And I definitely do this [00:43:00] with my own kids who are tiny. trying to control them. And no, but this is, you're just, you're doing it so wrong. And like, your life would be way better if you just did what I say. That can be hard. and yet, we'll figure it out. I can own my parenting and can like, that's sometimes why it's nice to live far away from parents now because we don't love our parents cause we do, but you kind of have to just figure out how to parent and own, own it, own all your mistakes and own all your experiences and super hard
[00:43:29] Anna Thalman: [00:43:29] and own our own opinions. Like I think with my kids sometimes I'll say like, nobody likes. When you scream right in their ear, you know, I'll say something like that instead of, I don't like it when you scream right in my ear, like, and I'm kind of teaching, if I do that, I'm kind of teaching them. Don't do that because everyone will just like, don't do it. Yeah. If other people don't like it, when really I want them to have strong willpower to be able to do things that they won't be liked for to say no to things that are bad for them.
[00:43:57] Kent Thalman: [00:43:57] Yeah. I really love how you brought this [00:44:00] from making films that maybe people will dislike. To living a life that maybe people will dislike now because a lot of people disliked people who lived incredible lives, lives that changed the world for the better, at least in my opinion, lives like Gandhi and Jesus Christ and Martin Luther king Jr. And Abraham Lincoln, almost exactly all of those people were shot or. Crucified or killed in some way assassinated because of what they stood for in the life they lived. And yet these are the people that stand as the most influential household name, history-making people that ever walked the earth, you know? So that's pretty significant. if you want to have influence in and re. That is global. You actually probably have a better shot at it by making something that's deeply personal, as opposed to trying to make something that's vanilla as you call it or all things to all people, which yeah. I [00:45:00] have deep feelings about that phrase, all things to all people, you you cannot be all things to all people. And we should never try to make films that are all things to all people or it'd be people that are all things to all people like. we need to live for ourselves and for our convictions and for, in my case, I think about living for God and making those decisions based on what I think he thinks because he's eternal. And his relationship with me is indicative of my relationship with myself. And that doesn't mean I live life selfishly when I say live for myself or live for yourself It just means make decisions that you can own and not make them based on how you think other people will think or feel. It's a subtle difference and it can be confusing, but I don't believe in obviously being selfish. I think that's not very good, but, but I do believe in, having that strong will
[00:45:47] Anna Thalman: [00:45:47] well, and I think that can exist with and not, and be very selfless. if you decide to love somebody.
[00:45:54] Kent Thalman: [00:45:54] Even if everyone else hates them
[00:45:55]Anna Thalman: [00:45:55] like you back or that too. Yeah. It's harder when you're deciding to love, because [00:46:00] loving feels good. You're loving for your own sake and not because you're expecting something in return or because it's the popular thing to do,
[00:46:08]Kent Thalman: [00:46:08] but that's not selfish. It sounds selfish. And was the way you say it, but like it's extremely difficult. by doing that, you are deciding to do something extremely vulnerable and uncomfortable and hard. Yeah. no way is that selfish, that is selfless to love someone and to give love, even if they never accept it or feel it or choose to give it back. It's a powerful thing to make that kind of a decision. And it usually changes lives. At least it always does, in my opinion, cause it'll change yours because it requires such effort the depth of character that you receive from that will give you power to love other people that will probably accept it. Even if that. Particular person doesn't in this hypothetical sort of thing that we're painting. So,
[00:46:50] Anna Thalman: [00:46:50] yeah. Well that concludes our episode for today. I hope that it inspires you to make like, no one's watching, whether you're [00:47:00] making art or making your character, or choosing how you want to treat other people and that you won't be afraid to stand up for something and be disliked or be different. But be true to yourself.
[00:47:13]Kent Thalman: [00:47:13] Yeah, believe in yourself we should make a movie about that. Well, anyway, thanks for joining us. If you like what you're hearing on the podcast, you'll love our weekly email.
[00:47:25] Anna Thalman: [00:47:25] click subscribe in the show notes to stay up to date on the latest opportunities and resources we have available and see you there.
[00:47:34]Kent Thalman: [00:47:34] Thanks guys.
[00:47:34] Anna Thalman: [00:47:34] Bye
[00:47:35] Kent Thalman: [00:47:35] bye.