We are told that the best little boys and girls are the most successful in this world. We are taught that a perfect body and gobs of money will make you happy. We are indoctrinated that anything less than perfect is worthless.
As a child I listened intently to that narrative. And over the course of time Little Nick grew not only to believe this, but to depend on it. He became the best little boy in the entire world at everything. If he wasn’t good at something, he wouldn’t do it. As Little Nick became big Nick, his creative life suffered because of this behavior.
I wanted to know how to do everything before I had ever tried it. If I didn’t know, I would “fake it until I made it”. This gave people confidence in my abilities. My Peacock persona was out in full force, but internally I was struggling. I was scared that I wasn’t the best or special. I had not fully developed a sense of adventure and play. I was scared of it being discovered that I was a fraud.
When I made my first narrative short film I showed up at the farmhouse film set with peacock feathers erect. I was the next Martin Scorsese or Paul Thomas Anderson. I had bravado but nothing to back it up. I hadn’t gone to film school or even taken a class. I had read a few books and I had been directing in the theater for nearly two decades. How hard could this film thing be?
The first day I was lost. I didn’t know what the crew or even I was supposed to do. I knew to say the obvious “Action!” and “Cut!” And I kept reminding myself to look into the monitor screen and not actually at the actors as we do in theater. I was in my head and a mess. I was furious with myself. Little Nick was screaming inside.
When we concluded the long day, I knew the material we shot was terrible and unusable. I laid in my bed and listened to the sounds of crickets at the farm house and attempted to sleep. I was scared and depressed. The next morning, bleary eyed, I flung myself on my yoga mat before our very early call time. I practiced asana and then sat in meditation. In the silence I heard, “Be okay in the unknown.” I knew what I had to do. I had to admit I did not know.
I spent the entire second day asking everyone how they did their jobs so I could do mine. Without fail everyone was happy to explain their position. They were probably relieved. Day two I was out of my head and present. I was even beginning to enjoy myself. It wasn’t easy to look at everyone and say, “I don’t know” but it was incredibly powerful.
The best little boy in me is still a novice in filmmaking. I have learned that my worth is more than my perfection and that my honesty is actually perfect.