“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.” --Martha Graham

It's easy these days, thanks to social media and our "always on" culture, to get caught in a "grass is greener" mindset, otherwise known as "fear of missing out." This is especially prevalent in creative pursuits, when every other tweet announces someone's good fortune or creative success. 

But, as Graham notes, it's quite difficult, especially in the present tense, to determine the real value of our respective creative endeavors. Popularity ebbs and flows, and the "zeitgeist" is only as current as the latest trend piece (or celeb Instagram account), neither of which takes into consideration anything beyond the next wave of clicks, "likes," or social mentions. None of which, of course, can be used to measure "art."

From our perspective at Smarthouse Creative, Graham's quote is particularly relevant to the current marketplace for indie films. You shouldn't just create work that attempts to appeal to current audience tastes. For starters, the lag between the appearance of a trend and the premiere of your film, even with current turnaround times of digital production and distribution, will be big enough to make your trendy content feel stale when an audience finally gets its eyeballs on it. What's more, it's probably not a true expression of your art, so, no matter how many views it gets, you won't feel any more fulfilled creatively than you did before you spent (wasted?) your time making it.

Which is all to say that, whether or not it sells or people want to see it, you can only (and should only) tell that singular story that is unequivocally yours. As far as filmmaking goes, that approach worked well for directors Lizzie Borden, Ida Lupino, Lina Wertmüller, Agnès Varda, Werner Herzog, David Lynch and many many more. It might not make you rich (though maybe it will, over time), but it will certainly keep you creatively invigorated and, ultimately, satisfied.

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