Friday, December 11, 2020

Find Your Streaming Passion

When you've been streaming for a while, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of the process. But among all the chaos and fun of building a new project from scratch, you might be holding back your true potential without even realizing it. Have you found your passion within the streaming craft? Once you've reached a certain point, it's not enough to simply love streaming in general- by looking within your streams and finding what specific things you love about them, you could tap into an even greater source of fulfillment. In this entry, we'll talk about finding your streaming passion. 


This process of finding your calling within a larger craft isn't exclusive to streaming though- it's helped people across all fields. For example, viewers and critics have been speculating for years that popular comedy actor Adam Sandler basically just shoots movies as excuses to hang out on tropical islands with his friends. And a few years ago, he's actually gone on record confirming that this is the case. On Jimmy Kimmel Live he stated explicitly, "I have done that since 50 First Dates (Sandler's comedy film from 2004). It was written in another place. I said, ‘Imagine if we did it in Hawaii, how great that movie would be.’ And they said, ‘Yeah, that’s a very artistic idea.’ I’ve been doing that ever since." 

Whether choosing to make people laugh or cry, it's
his choice.

You may only be familiar with his comedy catalogue, but Sandler is actually a world-class actor as well, and several of his dramatic roles are truly extraordinary. Still, instead of constantly chasing awards, he chooses to spend most of his time going on these studio-funded vacations to make dumb comedies. And you know what? That’s his choice. Just because other people consider prestige to be the measurement of an actor doesn't mean he has to constantly chase after it. He can still satisfy his artistic side by working with Paul Thomas Anderson and the Safdie Brothers when he chooses to, and then spend the majority of his time having fun and getting paid to do it. Sandler has found what he loves within filmmaking, and he's been smart enough to truly commit to that passion.  


For some, it's the work itself that holds so much value. Tarsem, director of the incredible 2006 film THE FALL, actually prefers to do commercial work over feature films. Most aspiring movie directors shoot music videos and commercials as stepping stones to get into Hollywood. But Tarsem has found that what he loves isn't necessarily film itself, but the process of filming. When asked by The AV Club whether he shoots commercials to pay the bills, he replied, "Almost everybody I know hates the filming process that I admire. They always like the prefiguring and the editing, and I am the only moron that just loves being on a set. I shoot more than 300 days a year, I'm on the road all the time, and I love it. So I don't know. When that passion dies, maybe I'll do more films, but I just love being on the set, and film doesn't allow that as much."

Despite the filming process being what most people think of when they imagine 'making movies,' this is an incredibly stressful and taxing ordeal for a director, despite typically being the shortest part of the moviemaking process. Most directors can't wait for this 'principal photography' stage to be over, so they can start putting the movie together in the editing room. For anyone interested to see just how dizzying the practice can be, I highly recommend the extraordinary multi-volume documentary features about the making of The Lord of the Rings. But as Tarsem mentioned, he actually likes being on set more than anything else. He too has found what he loves within filmmaking. And by doing so, he discovered an entirely different path for his career. 


It's fine to love the act of streaming. In fact, a love for streaming is pretty much required if you're going to stick with it. But by finding what specific small things you love about streaming, your eyes might be opened to an entirely new level of satisfaction with your craft. Adam Sandler and Tarsem both love making movies. But if they had just left it at that, without exploring and doubling down on the things about moviemaking that they loved, they never would have unlocked their true potential for the lifestyles they wanted. 

For myself, I've loved the act of streaming since I started. But early on, I found that I didn't necessarily love everything about the type of stream I was making. As I've mentioned in previous entries, I used to talk constantly on my shows when I started out, keeping the energy at its maximum levels at all times. I was always glancing at my viewer numbers, trying to think of ways to keep them climbing. And because of my professional background in on-camera broadcasting and social media brand building, these things were easy for me. But this wasn't work anymore- it was my own Twitch channel. And as someone who loves storytelling, I didn't find this approach satisfying. This numbers-driven, high-energy show matched with the typical streamer's aspiration of gaining a large audience as quickly as possible, but I thought I could do better for myself by exploring what I actually wanted from the craft.

Can confirm by the way, this game is still a
masterpiece 12 years later.
So I sent my shows in the opposite direction. I realized that if I stopped measuring 'success' on my channel by how many people I brought in, I'd be able to focus on what I actually liked about playing video games: the stories. Now, my shows are very sedate. I talk seldom, and when I do it's never over a cutscene or story-infused gameplay moment. Replaying the massively story-heavy Metal Gear Solid games lately, this sometimes means going an entire hour or more while a string of cutscenes plays out, without my ever saying a word. My channel grows more slowly and there are fewer people chatting at any given time, but I'm happier than I've ever been with streaming. Because for the past few years since coming to this conclusion, I've been able to stream video games in the exact way I enjoy doing it. This doesn't match with what most people want from streaming, but that doesn't really matter to me. We all have to find what we want from our craft, and pursue that personal goal.


I encourage you to try to find what you love about streaming. Whether it's the high pressure of speedrun challenges, an opportunity to get on a soapbox about your favorite pop culture franchise, the chance to show off your new outfits on camera each day, or an excuse to practice your oil painting skills, see if you can find a way to increase the prominence of that element on your shows. Even if you have to give up certain more traditionally desirable results to do so, you may find that, just like with Adam Sandler and Tarsem, the happiness you gain is much more valuable than what you've getting rid of. Because when you find your streaming passion, nothing else really matters. 

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