Follow Through: Clean Up Your Mess

Cleaning up the little leftover details of a failed project or event is just as important, I believe, as getting a bona fide project up, running and on track.

I don’t buy into a new, younger protocol that says “if you don’t hear from me, it isn’t happening”. Don’t buy that rudeness or lack of proper communication at all. Perhaps I’m just too Old School in how one interacts with a person.

Answer your emails. Return phone calls. Follow through.

Recently, I had someone from a small, prestigious university ask about my availability to speak on Third World Filmmaking at a student filmmakers seminar. I wrote back, sure, I’m available. Glad to help, let me know.

No response.

A month goes by. I email to follow-up, and get a short response from the lead professor that they were waiting to get the dean’s permission for the seminar. So sorry, back to you ASAP. (Ah, a snag – there wasn’t funding or permission to begin with. Ok.)

Never heard from them again. 6 weeks later – with the planned event growing nearer – my 2 emails & a voice mail went unreturned.

Too busy? All it takes is just 2 minutes to write back that the seminar never materialized. Sorry, another time. Thanks for being available. That’d be more than enough for most anyone, including this blogger.

A talented professor at Biola, Lisa Swain, has a good phrase: “Ask yourself, what do I know and who needs to know it?”

This is sage advice. If you cancel a project or an event fizzles, then call back those involved in a timely manner. Email, if nothing else. Heck, text!

Silence is a terrible form of communication. Ignoring someone is even worse, for your lack of response paints you as unprofessional, disorganized and uncommunicative.

Okay, I’m off the soap box…for now.

By the way, I have a killer live presentation on Third World Filmmaking now. So, there was a silver lining after all.


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