Today I saw The Biggest Little Farm and it reminded me how exciting this factual business is, how far it has come, and how action packed full the future is with opportunity and promise for telling amazing, beautiful, fun, useful stories. It's like we're just getting started.
If you want to see something of how awesome factual story telling can be take a look at the Biggest Little Farm trailer. It's just state of the art. The NY Post called The Biggest Little Farm” an optimistically riveting tour through their first seven years of a family farm. In a time when climate news is near-uniformly depressing, this is a nature program that pays loving and hopeful tribute to the complex web of life — and it won’t scare your kids.
For me it was a long road round to get into the TV business. When I started it was still called documentary. We now call it "factual entertainment" and the new title encompasses so many new ideas and styles. Over the years everything has gotten better; the cameras, the editing, the pacing, the storytelling, the characters, the opportunities for showing and sharing, and the business side of the thing continues to grow faster and farther than any other part of the creative screen industries.
I suppose I saw documentaries as a kid. NFB film strips in school. But it was when we got cable and I saw the original TLC network that I really paid attention. I saw something amazing...
There were three shows: Connections with James Burke and The Secret Life of Machines with Tim Hunkin, and Furniture To Go with Ed Feldman and Joe L'Erario. If these were the only TV shows ever I'd be perfectly happy with TV. Through these shows I learned about history, humour, beauty, creativity, great thinkers, economics, machines and technology, art, literature, music, and more. Everything I should have got in a 13 year education I either learned here or was inspired to learn on my own.
I put some links in above, but in watching the show clips it's difficult to understand how awesome, new, fast, fun, and inspiring it all was. That's because things have just continued to get better and better, and better. There really is something for everyone now with so many styles and topics and platforms. And with demand continuing to increase through binge watching the future is looking even more awesome as the brightest and smartest creative people in the world hunt for new stories and new ways to tell the stories we all love.
Reflecting on our work here at Arcadia we noticed recently that there are about 40 people working here full time. Men and women between the ages to 20 and 60. Very few of them imagined this as a career; traveling the world, meeting the most interesting people, telling stories. In part that's because not one of us has the recollection of a high school guidance councilor, teacher or anyone in our lives who could have even imagined or conceived of the work we do. This might have made sense 25 years ago when this creative industry was in its infancy, but today that kind of failure of imagination is just irresponsible. And I'm sure it's the same across other industries on the frontline of the changing nature of work.
The biggest problem I face in business is finding the creative talent, and competent leaders to make the shows.
Please share this story!
If you'd like to do Nova Scotia a favour, talk to any young people you know. Heck talk to anyone you know who's considering a career change or maybe hasn't yet found their vocation. Tell them about work as Editors, Shooters, Directors, Writers, and Producers of content. Tell them how much work there is and how low the barriers to entry are for creative people able to demonstrate an ability to put forth effort, and shoulder responsibility. Yes, there's training, skill, and experience required, but none of it takes any kind of degree or formal training. For those with a genuine interest, their passion is all the schooling required. The internet has for nearly-free all the latest resources and training required. The equipment and technology is readily available. The truth is the equipment, software, and processes are changing so fast that no school could keep up. The skill that's required is really just the ability to think critically, learn and adapt in complex and uncertain situations. And that, as far as I've experienced, is still not taught in the modern educational system.
What's that Job?
We have the tools and opportunity. At Arcadia we could double the size of our business if we could find that creative workers to employ. It would be funny to say money is not an object, but creative work, where the wage market is set by a highly mobile global market is above the Nova Scotia average household income. More importantly, it's a place where people find vocation that gives purpose to life. In a real sense, what matters is not so much whether we make a lot of money, hold a prestigious job, or whether we don't; what matters is that we become people who seek out others with knowledge and enthusiasm - that's what this business is really good at.
People who study entrepreneurship have long recognized that new businesses and products succeed when they solve a problem for customers. In truth, that's what work is. That's what a job is. You get paid to help solve a problem. Work is nothing more than a series of problems to be solved. I believe the most interesting work comes about when solving those problems requires creativity.
My creed in work has developed from lots of ideas but none more so than the writing of Adm. H G Rickover, USN who wrote,
"The deepest joy in life is to be creative. To find an undeveloped situation, to see the possibilities, to decide upon a course of action, and then devote the whole of one's resources to carrying it out, even if it means battling against the stream of contemporary opinion, is a satisfaction in comparison with which superficial pleasures are trivial. But to create, you must care."
In work caring manifests itself in putting forward more effort than most would imagine possible and being willing, eager even, to take up responsibility.
If you know anyone who might travel this path I'm happy to talk to them and share all that details I have.
Writing about life, citizenship, and Nova Scotia.