It may surprise you to find that there’s no specific legal requirement for creative companies to paint motivational quotes on the wall. Nevertheless we recently joined that particular crowd. We’ve been working hard on being slightly more explicit about the company culture we do have, and how we shape it into where we want it to be. We’ve written about the importance of culture here with an example of how we help build it here. and our work with it here. This quote is a big part of that. Because I cannot for the life of me remember where I first read the quote I’ll have to resolve to come back here and update this if I ever come across it again.
Why this quote?
The reason this one stuck out, and why it has ended up on the wall, is that I can’t even begin to remember the number of times I’ve sat down with editors and directors after a shoot and it’s been explained to me why a particular choice has been made, why this shot isn’t quite as good as they wanted or why one shot cuts to this shot and not that one. Indeed, I’ve done it myself many times.
Whilst that information can sometimes be nice to have it’s of no real use because the end product, the film, must be able to stand alone. It has to exist in the wild and achieve its purpose without the creators there to explain it.
It’s one of the reasons why directors have a big propensity to be either become, or even start out as quite difficult. Every single detail is ultimately their responsibility. So, as David Fincher says “you may as well take all the credit because you’re going to get all the blame”.
Our company culture is very much one of personal responsibility, teamwork and being able to rely on each other. If everyone has done their job properly we shouldn’t have to explain to anyone why something hasn’t worked.
There were a couple of other options. One of my favourites is Antoine De Saint Exupéry’s “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the people to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea”. But aside from being lovely it’s a lot of letters to paint and it didn’t feel quite as apposite for us. It feels more aspirational and less about our particular company culture. This one did though. It doesn’t matter what we wanted a film to be to be, or why it didn’t become that. It only matters what it is.
Intention is nothing, outcome is everything.
Thanks to the wonderful Jim at Seven9 Signs for the work. It’s genuinely impressive watching someone paint something like this entirely by hand. Check out more of his work here and on instagram. Also, thank you to Tom Cullen of I Choose Birmingham for recommending Jim.