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Learn everything you can
Then forget it
The thing that makes you unique as a person
Is the very thing that will make your art original
Protect your own point of view
It’s all we have
To separate us
From the journeymen and the hacks
Many will tempt you with compromises
Promises of rewards
And attempt to kill you
With fake praise
It will not be easy to resist seduction
But when was anything worth achieving
Tell your stories
Your way
And as long as there is truth
At the heart of them
People will respond
We live in a world where the public seldom get to see
Or hear the truth
So if you tell your story
with honesty
And don’t cloud it with phony “how to write a saleable script’ formulas
and performances that don’t ring true
You have a chance to make a mark
Don’t let your craven need for ego-driven success
Get in the way of your destination
Those who are only in it for the money
Or the praise
Or the girls
Or the boys
Or the parties
Or the power
May get what they want
But they won’t be remembered
Concentrate on one thing
And one thing only
Do great work
Work that makes you proud
That, in itself, is its own reward
Be true to your gift
Lest it be taken from you
Like anything it needs to be nurtured
And respected by oneself
Once you sell your integrity
You don’t get it back
Harden everything but your heart
To the slings of ridicule and belittlement
In some circles, sadly, you will measure your success
By the level of resentment that targets you
Ignore the praise and the criticism
Both are liars
Designed to derail your work and journey
Critics write from the head
You write from the guts
You are probably destined to never understand each other
I have lived
And worked
and battled
And lost
in the fields of wonder
And won again
I am the old guard now
A weary soldier that hopefully made
Some headway or impression
For those outsiders or mavericks that follow
But as I look around
My heart is warmed
By you
The young
The gifted
and the brave
and no one is more proud of your achievements
Than I
For you are the future
What you make today
Becomes the legacy for tomorrow
And those that will follow you
I salute you
I honour you
And I respect your commitment
And guts to go forward
Give nothing but the best of yourself
Don’t let the system make you feel ashamed
For being original
Or being truthful
Or being you
There is no one like you in the world
We are all unique
Let that be reflected in your work
Yes, find your own voice
And don’t let anyone take it from you
Life is a long time to live with regret
Believe in yourself
As much as I believe in you.
(Speech delivered at the 15th. Melbourne Underground Film Festival opening.)
(c) Frank Howson 2014


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