Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Becoming an Expert

No one is perfect. C'est impossible! Humans are not meant to be perfect, no matter how hard some of us try to be each day. So closely related to perfectionism is the term 'expert', a word that has always fascinated me. How can anyone be an expert? That signifies that you know ALL there is to know about any one subject. That seems like an impossible feat.

But, as my father says, everything is relative. It's not quite an impossible feat because the term expert is relative to what others know. An expert may not know ALL there is to know about a subject, but they can certainly know much more than I do about it. And, there, at that moment, the mounting pressure is relieved a bit.

It seems a great feat to position oneself as an expert, but I actually help with this feat daily at my full time job. I work with highly intelligent people, listening to their thoughts, opinions and experiences so that I can better position them as experts using my expertise in communications. And there's the word again: expert.

So, as I surround myself with people who are experts on the subject of the Montagnard people, I apply the same tactics I use at work: listen to their thoughts, opinions and experiences and soak it all in so I can learn more. The by-product? I end up learning a great deal about the subject matter as well.

And it is this part of the filmmaking process that has always attracted me, I believe. I'm one of those folks who wants to never stop learning. I am a bit of a geek in that regard (or is it dork?). I love to learn, read, explore! Most of all, I love the hunt involved in research. (And I do, in fact, blame my parents for that--in a most humble, appreciative manner.)

You hear people say they find themselves in 'uncharted territory'. I wouldn't say that's where I am at the moment, it is actually quite charted. But it is new territory to me, and that is very exciting. I have been living, breathing, studying and exploring the Vietnam War and the lives and history of the Montagnard people for months. And I find myself speaking more intelligibly about it these days.

Each conversation about the film turns from the filmmaking process to the subject matter. And it is when I am invited to talk about the Montagnard people that I really light up, I feel myself get more and more excited about it. And I find myself crafting the 'elevator speech' to quickly explain what we're working on. You only have a matter of seconds to convey the subject matter to someone who has not heard it before, and doing so succinctly and eloquently takes time and practice (which I am now getting).

Part of what I enjoy so much about social media is the spin off of conversations. One blog / vlog will lead to another conversation, which leads to another one and another one. And I think the same is truly happening with real life conversations about the film. When asked about the project, the conversation takes shape and takes different routes. And leads to other conversations with other people. And so on, and so on.

It helped Todd talk to his father about his service in Vietnam. It will help Diane now ask her friend about her dad's next book about Vietnam. And will hill help each person that is introduced to the film learn more about our allies during the war. And if that happens, then I will be pleased.

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