Karen and I received quite a jolt yesterday. While checking our @FilmCourage Twitter, I saw a Tweet from @TomCruise. My first thought was who is this impostor pretending to be Tom? I clicked on the page for more information. From there I saw that it was a verified account with over 400,000 Followers. Now while I do not believe it was Tom himself, but rather someone who works as a social media strategist for his brand. I was still puzzled by why Tom Cruise would tweet about our small radio show.
There is a great lesson we can learn from what many would consider a miniscule gesture on Tom’s part. Before I write my thoughts, please allow me to share this story which will help me illustrate my point.
The Difference Between Heaven and Hell.
A holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day and said,
‘Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like.’
The Lord led the holy man to two doors.
He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew, which smelled delicious and made the holy man’s mouth water.
The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles that were strapped to their arms and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful. But because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths.
The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering.
The Lord said, ‘You have seen Hell.’
They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the holy man’s mouth water. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking.
The holy man said, ‘I don’t understand.’
‘It is simple,’ said the Lord. ‘It requires but one skill. You see they have learned to feed each other, while the greedy think only of themselves.’
I have long been a fan of this story. I am almost embarrassed to return to my ideas as I just love this anecdote so much.
Let’s break down Tom Cruise and his Twitter account. How effective would he be if all he did was Twitter about himself and his projects? Sure he would reach his hardcore fans but it doesn’t take long for this method to get stale. Even diehard fans will get tired of it.
Being wise, Tom Cruise doesn’t make it all about himself. Or at least his social media strategist is wise enough to not make it all about Tom. You would be surprised how many people (celebrities and unknowns) always make their promotions, tweets, messages, etc. all about themselves. I wonder how many of you reading this blog fall into this category. Are you an independent filmmaker, artist, business person who doesn’t back the work of your peers, the work of your community? As we learn in the spiritual example above, this path will leave you famished and miserable.
On the other side of the coin, let’s look at what Tom Cruise receives because he takes one minute to Tweet about an unknown radio show. He has received countless tweets and retweets from the Film Courage network. Think of all of the exposure he has gotten in our circles. I have told my share of people about this Tom Cruise tweet while others have brought it up to me wanting to hear more about it. All this attention goes back to Tom Cruise. It has also forced me to write this blog which will also be circulated in the Twitter universe. Look at all the goodwill he has received because of his one minute gesture.
The lesson that Tom Cruise reminds us about.
Promote others and you promote yourself.
I would like to include some additional thoughts.
You want to know what is better than promoting your own work? When others promote your work for you. How does this happen? It happens when you spend as much time promoting others as you do promoting yourself. (Look at Tom’s Twitter and you will see that he spends more time tweeting about others than he does his own work) This is a concept I find myself embracing more and more everyday. And what am I discovering? There are more and more people spreading the word of my projects.
This is a monster concept that I do not see enough of. This is a core principle that independent filmmakers need to embrace. We need to build our collective audience, build the appetite for smaller films and we will see more independent filmmakers reach sustainability.
There are parameters to this principle. You must be genuine and you must care. Do not promote work that you do not genuinely care about.
This is a magical concept and it will be magical for you. I could list countless examples of how this principle has impacted me. But I would rather hear of your stories and how this concept has worked for you. Please share.
Let’s test the magic of this idea. Let’s get the guy who inspired this blog to guest on Film Courage. His next film Knight and Day releases on July 2nd, 2010. No reason to believe that he cannot appear on our show in the weeks prior to that date.
I know this is an insane idea and I know we have a 1% chance of making it happen. It is likely to fail. It's not practical for perhaps the biggest brand acting has ever seen to appear on our radio show. Or is it? Would you view it as a positive for Tom Cruise to come on a show like Film Courage?
We are not building Film COURAGE to be meek. We would like to push the boundaries of what is possible. We do our show so we can learn and we do it so we can inspire others.
We have no way of making this happen alone. The only way Tom Cruise will come on our show is if we make it happen collectively. Will you help campaign for us? Tom’s appearance on our show would not just be a victory for Karen and I. It would be a victory for independent film, a victory for the underdog, and a victory for you. All the while proving the value of promoting others. All you have to do is Tweet (and retweet) @TomCruise that he needs to appear on Film Courage to discuss acting, how he has built his career, and Knight and Day. Use the hash tag #moviedreams. You can also Tweet this blog.
PS - Do not mean to harass you Tom, but you have sparked a fire with your Tweet. Very few have thrived in this industry at your level. There is so much we can all gain from you. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org