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Making content from home can be freakin hard!!

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  • Roland Boyden
  • |
  • May 27, 2020
  • Roland has been at PhillyCAM as Access Facilitator since 2018 and has worked in public access in some form or other for the past 14 years.

Trying to create content from home can be freakin hard sometimes! I don’t write this to try and scare anyone away from continuing to make their shows from home—quite the opposite in fact. As a staff at PhillyCAM we've dedicated a lot of time assembling all the resources we can think of to try and help the process of creating at home be as smooth as possible. But let’s also be real about it; there are times where it just feels so difficult! Between the external concerns of a world in turmoil, the lack of resources, short supply of emotional bandwidth, and constant self-doubt—pointing a camera or webcam at ourselves and turning it into ready-to-share content is no small task. So, with that in mind, here are some of my own thoughts from the past ten weeks of trying to make content from home.

 

How productive you are isn’t who you are: For the better part of my life I’ve linked how well I’m doing, my self worth overall even, to how productive I am—particularly when it comes to matters of creative productivity. This quarantine has thrown all of our productivity into chaos though and that in turn has sparked a growing movement to try and excise our self worth from our ability to get things done. This is much much (much much) easier said than done though. I continue to find that even a day or two without any substantial creative output leaves me feeling gutted. And while I’m painfully aware of how unsustainable this approach self-care is, I'm a long way from being able to be comfortable in my own skin regardless of what I can or can’t accomplish at any given time. Here’s a link to a fantastic article from WIRED on the subject if you care to dive deeper.

Nothing helps more than setting a schedule: Having a weekly radio show or monthly TV show can feel like having an angry poltergeist breathing down your neck sometimes, but that structure of needing to produce something consistent on a regular timetable can also be a real blessing. For me personally, I’ve found it really and truly is the only way I can ever get anything creative done. I have to set myself a deadline and stick to it, regardless of what gets in the way. The moment I make an exception is the moment that one exception turns into five or six and the whole thing gets derailed. Again though, this falls in the much-easier-said-than-done category.

Experimentation is key!: This one applies no matter where you’re making content, but in a juncture of such uncertainty when so many tools and options aren't available to us, just trying things out and seeing what we do and don’t like is extra important. I found this especially true for me when deciding how to capture remote videos. I’ve changed platforms dozens of times, had my remote collaborators use every different kind of mic/headphones they own, stage themselves in all sorts of different locations in their houses, used different configurations of computers to record and so on. Ten weeks in and I still haven’t settled on anything.

It doesn’t have to be perfect: With so many of the creative projects I’ve worked on, I’ve spent literally hundreds of hours trying to make them as perfect as they can possibly be. And I told myself they weren’t even worth making in the first place unless I could make them to the absolute best of my abilities. This can be a poisonous route to go down though as that need for perfection can easily turn into simply not getting anything done at all. One the most liberating things about working during this quarantine is that there really is no way to do anything the perfect way. We’re all working with severe limitations, but the flipside of that coin is that it can free us from the pressures of our own perfectionist tendencies.

 

Whatever happens with this crisis, and with my own future work, I’m so thankful to have been a part of PhillyCAM through this. So many organizations I’ve seen have either been all doom and gloom, or have coated their optimism in a veneer of false positivity that feels more alienating than reassuring. Getting to see just how resilient our membership is, but also how willing everyone is to be real and open about their struggles has been inspiring to be a part of these past few months. As we inch toward a reopening as an organization and a recovery as a community I’m hopeful I’ll be able to preserve some of the lessons learned from this whole experience and apply them moving forward. In the meantime, what are some of the things you’ve found hardest about creating content from home? What are your favorite tips and tricks for keeping those creative juices flowing? Let us know in the forums here on the site or hit us up on our socials and continue the dialog!