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It's my dream to make movies. But it will always remain a dream if I don't act upon what I can do. I really want to go to film school, but I can't afford it. No matter how much I work, I won't be able to pay $15+ thousand for an education that doesn't even guarantee me a job. How can an Objectivist say I am economically free if I feel "trapped" in the situation I'm in? I said before that my mom is paying for my college tuition (something I'm not proud of) while I major in "Aviation Administration." First off, I don't care about airplanes. Secondly, the only type of jobs this will get me are those rotten $50K-a-year managerial jobs I wouldn't work one day of. I know I'm not going to be happy where I'm going, and I don't want to go anywhere else except for the field of filmmaking. It's not that I don't care about airplanes. I don't want to be a pilot; I'd rather tell a story about a pilot. I don't want to be a cop; I'd rather tell a story about a cop. You understand what I'm trying to say?

Yes, I can make movies on my Apple with the editing program I have, but that is not a career or a job I can make a living off of.

asked Aug 27 '12 at 21:10

Collin1's gravatar image


edited Aug 28 '12 at 09:37

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

Many independent filmmakers succeeded without such an education. (Many great businesspeople succeeded without an education.) It's up to you to make your own living. Doing so with art is very difficult, but if your independent work is truly great, you may succeed. You're free to pursue whatever you wish, but nobody said it would be easy -- it very rarely is. Be prepared to struggle, like almost everyone else.

(Aug 28 '12 at 08:27) orb85750 orb85750's gravatar image

I would love to do it by myself, but that's the catch. First off, I have to work, so that leaves little time for any actual filmmaking. Secondly, I don't know ANYONE who would want to act or help out in any part of my movie. Thirdly, I get no support or encouragement from my family. They just want me to get a degree in a major "for the money" without thinking about happiness as my primary goal.

(Aug 29 '12 at 00:42) Collin1 Collin1's gravatar image

I assume you are an adult (at least 18), and that you are not mentally incompetent. If I'm wrong, then ignore the following.

Personally I would stop accepting the handouts from my mother. You say yourself that you are not proud of this, you say yourself that you have low self-esteem (which I would guess is at least due in part on this), and you say yourself that the conditions she has placed on the money are unacceptable.

From there I'd probably take out a Stafford loan, and go to school half-time and work half-time. There are many other viable options for a mentally able adult, though.

(Sep 03 '12 at 10:16) anthony anthony's gravatar image
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Collin1 asks: "How can an Objectivist say I am economically free if I feel "trapped" in the situation I'm in?"

Economic freedom is the freedom to pursue economic opportunities. It's not freedom from encountering frustration in the achievement of your goals. And especially, it's not freedom from feeling trapped by your economic situation.

Economic freedom is the freedom to earn from others what they think you deserve for your work. It's not the freedom to somehow get more money from them than they think you deserve.

Education is a value which needs to be paid for. People who teach aren't (generally) doing it for charitable reasons. If you don't want to pay for your education, that implies you think that someone else should. Who? And why should they? On what grounds do you deserve an education on their dime?

If you are a promising student, you might be able to convince someone to lend you money for your education, on the grounds that you will succeed and pay them back more money later. But if the career is high-risk, getting a loan will be difficult.

So, the solution is to get a job, save your money, and work your way through the school you wish to attend. Rather than hoping other people will take a risk on you, you must take a risk on yourself.

To call yourself economically unfree because you face such a challenge is to declare war on everyone who works for a living, rather than hoping for one.

answered Aug 28 '12 at 09:37

John%20Paquette's gravatar image

John Paquette ♦

edited Aug 28 '12 at 10:29

I'd like to add, as sincere advice, that you don't spend a lot of money and time learning a career which you don't want. If you really want to make movies, you will find the will to face the struggle.

Even if you don't succeed as a filmmaker, the struggle to achieve what you really want will make you much more happy than to wimp out and get a "reasonable" job which you hate.

Do what you love, even if it is hard. Don't worry about failing. Your life will be much better for your effort, even if you don't end up with exactly what you first intended.

(Aug 28 '12 at 09:45) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image

Your asking the wrong rhetorical questions. I know I have to support myself and that I should pay for my own education. But I do work, and it's not nearly enough to pay for a quarter of what it costs. I have no self-esteem. Objectivism hasn't yet helped me with that. I feel useless even after all I tell my mom about striving to become independent. I feel alone. Can you tell me anything about that?

(Aug 29 '12 at 00:50) Collin1 Collin1's gravatar image

Objectivism cannot help you directly with the particulars of your life. Objectivism can tell you that it is up to you to assess your situation, and deal with it. Objectivism can tell you to act rationally and virtuously, but it cannot give you the details about what specific actions are most virtuous for you.

You say you "do work", and that "it's not nearly enough" to pay for your education. Clearly, you must save your money, and be creative about finding work which will make you more money. How to find good pay in an economy like this is not a topic for this forum.

(Aug 29 '12 at 08:55) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image

Your self-esteem will improve as you do what is necessary to achieve your goals. Stop settling for your current job and your current spending habits. Be creative about making more, and saving more.

Settling for what you are now is a self-esteem killer, so don't do that.

As for feeling alone, I don't understand how that relates to this topic.

(Aug 29 '12 at 08:58) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image

Also, realize that a film-school education might not be necessary at all. You can learn an awful lot from the Internet, and if you find a filmmaker to apprentice with, and you study as much as you can on your own, you might break into the business without the education. It's called teaching yourself. It's hard. But if going to film school is harder, then self-teaching is the right choice.

Overall, you must be creative about finding opportunities which you currently don't believe exist.

(Aug 29 '12 at 09:05) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image

It may also be helpful for you to check out the life stories of people that have faced massive adversities and poverty only to prevail. Steve Jobs was poor once and he was fired from the company he painstakingly created. He ended his life as the captain of the world's largest company. People have survived Nazi death camps and have gone one to become authors and teachers. There is a Hispanic CEO who walked barefoot to school in the hot border area between the USA and Mexico. I agree with John: be brave, be a good friend, be earnest, be curious and work freaking hard. I wish you the best.

(Aug 29 '12 at 09:56) Danneskjold_repo Danneskjold_repo's gravatar image

Danneskjold_repo is right. Often people with more adversity do better than people with less. People with only moderate adversity have, as a possible choice, to settle for their mediocre life, and they often do. If you want success, you must not settle.

People with great adversity can't tolerate their life as it is.

(Aug 29 '12 at 11:22) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image

In here somewhere is a book :-) I have often found that innovation happens more when is simply has to versus when it can This is the essence of why small, weak, "resourceless" start ups regularly kill giant corporations.

(Sep 02 '12 at 10:15) Danneskjold_repo Danneskjold_repo's gravatar image

Collin, I was going to give you specific advice about how to get an alternative education & experience for yourself in film making, but your acknowledged lack of self esteem is really the deeper issue to address and improve IMO. If you haven't solved that for yourself after a long time of trying, don't give up. It could mean you need some professional help with it. Personal reading, ruminating by yourself in your bedroom, and interacting with others on websites and bulletin boards may not be enough to increase your self esteem and that is ok, not your fault. :-)

(Sep 03 '12 at 06:22) QEDbyBrett ♦ QEDbyBrett's gravatar image

Would you consider asking your parents for help paying for a psychologist who can help you understand why you don't have the confidence and persistence to pursue your dreams? Or maybe you should save your money from your job to pursue this education first. Before you pay to learn about some particular disciplines or skills shouldn't you be comfortable, confident, and capable to use your awesome abilities within yourself first? That education and power will pay priceless dividends no matter what else you want to learn and achieve.

(Sep 03 '12 at 06:25) QEDbyBrett ♦ QEDbyBrett's gravatar image

You say "if the career is high-risk, getting a loan will be difficult."

Are you intentionally discounting Stafford loans, because you believe something is wrong with getting them?

(Sep 03 '12 at 06:50) anthony anthony's gravatar image

I don't know anything about Stafford loans. I was speaking in principle. If there are lenders out there willing to make loans which have a high risk of not getting paid back, then by all means, take advantage of them -- and pay back the loan.

(Sep 03 '12 at 09:37) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image

Any student at least half time at an eligible institution (basically all colleges) is eligible for a Stafford loan with no credit check. It generally covers tuition, room and board, books, etc.

The lender is the federal government.

(Sep 03 '12 at 09:42) anthony anthony's gravatar image

Then, by all means, take advantage of the federal government. If the money is there for the borrowing, then borrow it (and pay it back).

There is no shame in taking advantage of a government benefit, considering how much the government harms all of us.

Take the benefit, but advocate for its elimination.

(Sep 03 '12 at 09:47) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image

Regarding self-esteem and how to fix it: action after failure is the solution. Of course, having some professional guidance can help. But self-esteem is not improved, fundamentally, by talking.

Talking might motivate you to make some kind of daring attempt, but if you fail, then what?

Gaining self-esteem is about getting up after each failure and trying again. Each time you stay down, you give up some self-esteem.

Nothing guarantees success -- not thinking, not therapy.

Poor self-esteem causes fear of required action. Fight the fear, do what is required, and you'll love yourself.

(Sep 03 '12 at 09:56) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image
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Collin evidently has been wondering not only how he can do what he wants if he can't afford the education, but also what Objectivism can do to help him, and how or where Objectivism can ever be applied in practice. He has received a wealth of very good advice for his situation, but something still seems lacking in his responses.

Philosophically, the worldview expressed in the question can be summed up as follows. Life is a prison. It forces struggling young artists to work for a living, even if they can't earn a living through their art. As Ayn Rand observed in her article, "Censorship: Local and Express" (PWNI Chap. 15, near the end):

The conservatives see man as a body freely roaming the earth, building sand piles or factories—with an electronic computer inside his skull, controlled from Washington. The liberals see man as a soul freewheeling to the farthest reaches of the universe—but wearing chains from nose to toes when he crosses the street to buy a loaf of bread.

The part about "chains" seems most directly applicable to the questioner's expressed worldview. It's a view that sees life as inherently unfair to artists, preventing them from achieving contradictions, forcing them to seek financial support from others beyond whatever others might be willing to offer in trade for the art that the artists produce. It sees reality as unjust because A is A and one can't continue to have one's cake after one has eaten it. One sees oneself as oppressed by reality because one can't command nature unless one obeys it.

I have to wonder if that is the kind of universe which the questioner wants to project in his art. Why would anyone be interested in it, since everyone (artist or not) needs to work for a living? The questioner has said that he wants to be an artist, but he has actually said very little about the kind of art he wants to create, the kind of universe and human action (or inaction) he wants to project.

The struggles of artists have themselves at times been the subject of art. Ayn Rand's book, The Romantic Manifesto, ends with a short story titled, "The Simplest Thing in the World," about a fiction writer who is stopped at every turn by the thought that no one will like the kinds of stories he wants to write. What does he do? In the end, he picks up the "Help Wanted" section of the Times to find some other kind of job. (Nowadays it's possible to find job listings on the Internet.)

Another strikingly relevant artwork is the famous song, "Do You Know the Way to San Jose," by Burt Bacharach (music) and the late Hal David (lyrics), sung most famously by Dionne Warwick. A key stanza, repeated twice in the song, says:

L.A. is a great big freeway.
Put a hundred down and buy a car.
In a week, maybe two, they'll make you a star
Weeks turn into years. How quick they pass
And all the stars that never were
Are parking cars and pumping gas

And remember what Howard Roark needed to do for awhile when he ran out of new clients for the kind of architecture he wanted to create. He took a very physical job in a quarry. Ayn Rand also gave him some key experiences during that time that served to advance the story in other ways. Life is often like that in varying degrees -- things happen that may have further significance later on, if one pays attention to them.

What, then, can Objectivism do for the questioner? Well, first of all, it can help the questioner to recognize that it's the wrong question. Objectivism can say to this questioner: don't wait for Objectivism to do anything for you; go do it yourself. Do what you want, within the range of possibilities open to you. If you want to go to film school but can't afford it, then it's probably out of reach for you in the short run. You've also said you want to write stories. You can still do that in your spare time, even if you can't make movies beyond the capabilities of your Apple. Do you really have a clear vision of the kind of art you want to create, the kind of stories you'd like to project? Is your mind bursting with ideas just waiting to be set onto paper (or computer)?

You're 19 (assuming you haven't had a birthday since the last time you told us your age) and still living in your mother's home and mostly at her expense (especially for school fees). It would seem that time is swiftly running out for you. Have you ever considered formulating an "exit plan" of your own? Have you thought about where you might go if you leave home, what you might do, how you would support yourself entirely on your own? Have you checked job listings for something you might like better than "Aviation Administration" which is within your reach in relation to your skills and financial means? Are you expecting to continue living with your mother forever? Is that really what either of you wants? How much thinking did you personally really do before you and your mother decided on "Aviation Administration" for a school major? Did you need to get into it further before you could realize how much you hate it? It's not unusual for students to change their majors multiple times before they finally sort out what they really want to do. Are you letting the idea of "film school" distract you from identifying other possible alternatives to "Aviation Administration"? It sounds like film school is out of reach, but surely other possibilities are not (including the on-going pursuit of story writing in your spare time).

How can Objectivism help? It can tell you to think -- independently -- and show you how. It can tell to you think about yourself, your own life, and identify a realistic plan of action for achieving your goals as best you can within the contraints imposed by reality. It's ultimately up to you to define your own "exit strategy." Objectivism can guide the process, but you have to drive it. How or where can Objectivism be applied in practice? How about now, in your own life, on a personal level? Objectivism is not just a political philosophy, and the U.S. today is still at least semi-free. You, in particular, are legally free to leave your present home at any time, and you probably should do so sooner or later. Have you started thinking about a practical "exit plan" (without film school if it's as out of reach as you describe)? A psychologist might say: you have a problem. What are you going to do about it? Are you just going to keep on blaming others forever for supposedly holding you back, or for supposedly being unable or unwilling to solve your problem for you?

answered Sep 03 '12 at 12:09

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Ideas for Life ♦

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Asked: Aug 27 '12 at 21:10

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Last updated: Sep 03 '12 at 12:09