I was greatly saddened to hear about the death of 83-year-old children’s author, Maurice Sendak, this morning. I’ve always held a special place in my heart for the creativity that comes to life in children’s literature, and Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are certainly finds itself in the elite of that genre. As a child I loved the story for its spontaneous stream of consciousness and its relatability. As an adult, I appreciate the subtle life lessons it teaches and admirable whimsy that Sendak was able to conceive even though he wrote it in his adult years. So as I sit here listening to the soundtrack from the Spike Jonze theatrical interpretation of Sendak’s greatest work, I’ve decided to reflect on the lessons that little Max can teach us video editors.
1. Take something bad and turn it into something good.
If you’re not familiar with the story Where the Wild Things Are, the entire plot is based on a little boy named Max who is sent to his room without dinner because he yelled at his mom. Max, being an imaginative young boy, decides he is going to go on a wild adventure while sitting in his room. Instead of pouting and being angry, he makes the best of it by imagining a new world.
Think of how many times you’ve been assigned a project that you’re not so keen on doing, or a client that has been difficult to work with. Did you get frustrated and complain? Sendak’s character would tell you this is the perfect time to challenge yourself and expand your horizons. Find the positive in the situation and don’t let go!
2. Create something out of nothing.
Like most children, Max has the imagination necessary to turn his bedroom into a whole new world filled with fascinating creatures, culture and a beautiful landscape.
Isn’t that what we as editors should always strive to do? It is our job to take even the most mundane footage and turn it into a story all its own. Follow Max’s example and you’ll begin to wow your clients and coworkers with your creativity.
3. Take control and take risks.
One of the most famous lines from the book comes from when Max decides to be courageous and confront the wild monsters: “…til Max said ‘BE STILL’ and tamed them with the magic trick of staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once. They were frightened and called him the most wild thing of all, and made him king of all wild things.”
As editors, we need to take control sometimes, too. Pleasing your boss and pleasing a client are certainly requirements of the job, but we shouldn’t be afraid to let our professional experience drive a project. Next time you see an editing project heading south, be like Max and take control. Look your boss in the eye and let them know you have another idea that is worth trying. You never know…he may make you the king of the project!
4. Have some fun!
Upon becoming the king of the wild things, Max shouts, “LET THE WILD RUMPUS START!”
Have a wild rumpus of your own! Whether that means adding a few unnecessary, yet delightfully gratifying star wipes to your next project, or stepping away from your editing bay to go outside and have some fun, doing something everyday to make you happy with reflect in your projects. A happy editor is a good editor.
5. Don’t be lonely.
When adults read Sendak’s book to their kids, they often find themselves lingering on this line:
“And Max the king of the wild things was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all.”
It is easy for us to get in a rut of always working alone. Especially in today’s Internet society, many of us are actually working remotely, always alone. Never lose sight of the importance of camaraderie and collaboration. Working with others teaches us so much, and it will also help you find confidence in your strengths as an editor. If you find yourself working alone often, take some time to get feedback from a colleague. Join an online forum to give and receive advice. No man is an island, and neither is a video editor.
So, Mr. Sendak. Thank you for the great book and great life lessons. As someone out there on the Internet has already said, “Maurice Sendak has left us for the land of the wild things. May he carry on adventuring.”
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