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There is a belief that we have carried intrinsically to our society for centuries: the artist has to go through hunger and need and suffering to be an artist. Well, at least to be a good artist. After all, how can he make a real Art, an Art that moves and transforms the viewer, if he doesn’t pass a certain difficulty in life?
This belief, crazy but real, it never had scientific foundations. But artists have always had to “get by” in order to produce and transmit their works. For a long time there were prejudices against artists considered “professionals”. Both from colleagues who did not achieve the desired fame or recognition, and from all sides of society.
Several people from different backgrounds believe that the artistic work is a little lower in the professional hierarchy. In addition, it is very common to hear doctors, professors, critics, fans and even other artists, also call those successful artists “false artists” or accuse them of selling themselves out.
The importance of having an entrepreneurial soul
However, luckily, it has been shown for artists the importance of having an entrepreneurial soul. Because, in reality, we all want recognition and success in our professional areas. And there is no reason to be ashamed of it.
Throughout the course of history, artists had to be entrepreneurs to produce and perpetuate their art. It is possible to say that one of the most successful examples in history was Shakespeare; the English playwright had his theatrical company, where he produced the plays he really wanted, with the profit obtained from sales with the plays ordered by royalty.
José Mojica Marins
Another strong and more recent example is the Brazilian filmmaker José Mojica Marins. In his long career – which started at the age of 12 – the artist has more than 30 films made. The director, producer, actor and, above all, Brazilian entrepreneur Mojica (died in February 2020 at the age of 84), had to be creative and improvise a lot to achieve the desired effects and scares in his works.
I never took money from the government to finance my productions. […] I never had a direct sponsor. […]
About the material to make, I got the leftover film rolls from other productions – 10 meters, 15, sometimes up to 30 meters, and I made my films with that. Because I had the patience to assemble the pieces, and nobody did. Instead of taking a 20-meter take, I did it in two out of ten. […]
When I started I had to invent the effects myself, I was a pioneer.(MARINS in MACÁRIO, 2011)1.
Creative tricks to reduce the budget
To compensate for budget limits and being self-taught, Mojica used creative tricks. As well as the reuse of resources and technical staff and cast, to guarantee and affirm his style.
When he had to show Terezinha’s decomposing body inside the coffin, Mojica used a trick he had invented in the days of the toy movie […]: in a bowl, mixed bread crumbs, milk and a bunch of live guava bugs and rubbed the goop on the actress’s face.
The dough, after drying, became white and brittle. When the animals started to move, they seemed to be piercing the corpse’s skin. […]
There are two scenes in the film that are a masterpiece of inventiveness and improvisation: one is the procession of the dead shown in negative. To achieve this effect, Mojica filmed a procession and had the film copied in negative. Thus, blacks became white and vice versa. […]
The other scene, even more spectacular, is that of […] the encounter between Joe Coffin and Antônio’s spirit. […]
There is a halo around the spirit, a bright line. […] Using a thin brush, […] Mojica he spread glue around Antônio’s image, on the negative itself, and glued glitter. After, […] ordered the lab to copy the scene again, from this adulterated negative.(BARCINSKI and FINOTTI, 1998)2
The right meeting changes your life
In 1963, José Mojica Marins had an encounter with what would become his biggest and most famous character, practically his alterego: Josefel Zanatas or Joe Coffin. And it was for Joe, as well as for his creativity and artistic independence, that Mojica became a mythical and world-renowned figure in the cinematographic universe of Terror. Nowadays his works, like the artist himself, are seen as cult, classic and genius by critics/experts and fans of the genre.
It is clear that by believing and investing in himself, Mojica became an important filmmaker creating a cinema with its own laws, in its own way.
More contemporary entrepreneurs
If we want, we can also mention more contemporary and equally entrepreneurial names: Michaela Coel and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. The TV series that made them world famous, “Chewing Gum” and “Fleabag” respectively, were inspired by the theatrical plays of the same name where Coel and Bridge were the screenwriters, directors, actresses and producers.
They both brilliantly transposed their arts to the audiovisual. Adding that to the worldwide recognition and knowing their value, the entrepreneurial side of the two artists was recently exposed publicly: Coel refused a millionaire contract3 with Netflix, because she would have to give up her rights as the creator of the final work. Work that would later become “I May Destroy You”, a TV show produced by HBO and widely regarded by critics as the best TV series of 2020. And, as is more commonly known, Phoebe Waller-Bridge not only will be the screenwriter for the next James Bond film, but also has signed a millionaire contract with Amazon Prime4.
Self-promote yourself to conquer new worlds
We could not just stick to the few wonderful names mentioned here; there are so many other amazing examples but that would require turning the article into a huge encyclopedia. So the big question is: if we have so many great and varied examples of entrepreneurship in art, what are you missing, dear artist who is reading this article right now, to be more entrepreneurial to reach and conquer new worlds?
1 MACÁRIO, Carolina. Interview: José Mojica Marins, Joe Coffin, talks about his habits and remembers the past.News of the day. Florianópolis, 2011. Available in: http://ndonline.com.br/florianopolis/plural/19965-entrevista-jose-mojica-marins-o-ze-do-caixao-fala-de-seus-habitos-e-relembra-o-passado.html
2 BARCINSKI, André; FINOTTI, Ivan. Damned: the life and cinema of José Mojica Marins, Joe Coffin. Publisher 34: São Paulo, 1998. Available in: https://books.google.pt/books?id=wKg2u0U9NToC&pg=PA406&lpg=PA406&dq=jos%C3%A9+mojica+marins+como+produtor&source=bl&ots=4v_GqRm5MQ&sig=x_537jeaByq5UMta3zHotMqgNtw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiZqOXr7cLKAhUKWBoKHS_0BXAQ6AEIMjAC#v=onepage&q=efeitos%20especiais&f=false
3 Available in: https://www.buzzfeed.com/morganmurrell/michaela-coel-turned-down-1-million-dollar-netflix-deal
4 Available in: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/24/phoebe-waller-bridge-scores-20-million-a-year-deal-with-amazon.html