Smelly Coat of Desperation

An inspiring talk from filmmaker Ava DuVernay during the Film Independent Forum about a revolutionary idea that pushed her towards success. One thing Ava said that struck was the term of “smelly coat of desperation”. I think her advise not only can work towards aspiring filmmakers but also to anyone looking to do something with their life. Basically to paraphrase what she said, her revolutionary idea is:

“The biggest weapon you have is what you wear. Are you wearing a coat of desperation? Are you wearing your passion on your sleeve? Because one is a repellent and one is a magnet.

There is a difference between being hungry and passionate and being desperate and depressing. The only thing that moves you forward is your work. Desperation doesn’t move you forward because all the action is hinging on someone doing something for you.

Desperation reeks off you because it is not part of you. It is like a smelly coat you put on yourself. Until you take it off and free yourself from it, it’s going to be difficult to move forward. No one wants to be around a smelly coat. That is the bottom line. And some of us don’t even know we are wearing it.

A good test to know if you’re wearing a smelly coat is if you spend most of your time in any particular day thinking of what you don’t have, instead of looking at what you have and working with that; then you are acting in a desperate manner.

If you channel your desperation to what you have and coupled it with action then your desperation becomes passion. People want to be on a moving train. And all of a sudden I’m on a train called, “Yo, I’m making films”. There are different trains. You can be on the “I want to make films train”; “I wish I can make films train”; “I need help making films train”; those are not fun trains.”