Hoodwinked. Bamboozled. Led astray. Run a muck! Have you ever worked with someone or hired someone to do something and felt that way? It was all good just a week (or however long) ago. When they showed up at your door, in your life or on your social media feed looking like a shiny new penny. They had all of the energy and enthusiasm that you wanted to experience. They said the right things, encouraged you hard body and made you feel as if baby Jesus HIMSELF sent them to save your life...project...film...play...whatever! But alas, all that was in that bottle of miracle tonic was Flint-water and now you are sick to your stomach from drinking the lies and propaganda!
The cloak and dagger is a known situation in this creative world. There are many folks that went to bed as Clark Kent...had a dream or an idea, saw there was a need...then woke up and with a sharpie and a bed sheet, made a cape and called themselves Super Man. Mind you, they can't fly, and wouldn't know how to save the day if the damn day saved them! But they were able to talk a good game and get you to buy in, and now you've either done a crap-ton of work and are looking for that payment they have been promising forever, or you've given them run of your creative baby and now you're trying to figure out how you gave birth to an angel of a project only to be producing the creative equivalent to old Beelzebub himself.
Family, don't get got! Be smart and make sound BUSINESS decisions by vetting these folks that sound too good to be true. People will create one funky hyperbole and then they claim to be a writer; yet beyond that harmonious set of words, they couldn't write their own damn name. Or they were a manager at Friendly's and all of sudden they are now a Director...but couldn't direct traffic, let alone a film, play or web-series. And the list goes on and on.
To help you out, I am offering some perspective from a few dope creatives that I know who are not only doing awesome things, they are running monetized and operable businesses that are in the GREEN. So read on and be encouraged! #StayWoke #BusinessBeforeShow
The Checkup - Facebook can be annoying with the randoms and the event invites, BUT it is the best ever for investigating folks within common circles (and remembering a birthday because I SUCK at that). Due diligence is KEY!
Damien Jackson of Nedari Fotography says, "social media makes it easier than before to check up on people you work with. Just by checking Facebook you are bound to be connected to some of the same people. If you have questions about a person you could reach out to a mutual friend, and if you don't have mutual friends, that would send up a red flag."
The Feeling - Energy and positive vibes play well in knowing if someone is who and what they say they are, just as well as their actual work and resumes would! You don't have to be all deep and so forth to know when your spirit checks you about something or someone! But just as a "VET" has to use his or her hands to feel their way through an exam of an animal, as the animal can't and won't tell them in words what's going on, you need to "VET" potential clients, collaborators, etc. Feel it out folks.
Shola Akintobi, owner of Best Face Forward Makeup Studio recommends that you "take note of the energy a prospective vendor/partner brings to your space. If you expand (share more, talk more, smile more) around this person then they are right to work with you. If you shrink when around them (share less and feel more anxious), that's not the right fit for you." Shola also feels that "shiesters always 'warn' you about what will happen when you don't use their services. They play up the negative of not using them instead of the positives that result from working with them."
The Escape Plan - If or when you realize that you've been duped, don't sit in that thing! I'm hoping that you have a contract or at the very least a deal memo in place. And that memo should have some sort of clause about results or best efforts. If you know what's happening is not in line with what you want and/or need to make a quality piece or to progress your work...LEAVE...QUICKLY. However, do not do it in a manner that reflects negatively on you or your brand. Perception is key in this small industry and you want to be sure all exits are amicable, or at the very least civil.
Basically folks, just be aware and BEWARE! The world is not out to get you, but there are surely folks in that may be. And there are even instances when people have the best intentions ever, but they just don't possess the necessary tools to really execute things effectively. So don't believe the hype when it's sold to you, because it can leave you bereft of funds, product and/or enthusiasm about your work and world.
And if you ARE this type of person, please know that karma will find you when you least expect it and when it can be the most detrimental. Being a crappy individual garners NO forward movement for anyone in the long run. We are in business to create art and work that touches people, that connects with folks in a meaningful level. So doing things that are not morally sound is never good, especially when it's intentional.
Go forth and be great creatives. But keep your wits about you and your integrity in check.