sample artist credo written for a director’s course in screenwriting, October 2014

LOVE

There are many things in this world that I find it easy to love: the way my mom hides her smile when my dad accidentally lets out a cuss word, when my golden retriever Sam gets stuck under the table because he can’t walk backwards, the moment in every Steven Spielberg movie where the music sweeps you into satisfying ending.  Cherishing those things that are easy to love, that joy, is an integral part of my life.

“There is no remedy for love, but to love more.” – Henry David Thoreau

But love isn’t always, or even usually, sunshine and flowers, but rather something that demands hard work and sacrifice.  I believe that the greatest task given to us as human beings is to love one another, love the world, and love ourselves.  The majority of the time this will be incredibly difficult, as we are constantly faced with seemingly unlovable things in others, the world, and ourselves. 

“The proof of love is in the works.  Where love exists, it works great things.  But when it ceases to act, it ceases to exist.” -mPope St. Gregory the Great

I believe that love is not simply a feeling, but an action and a gift to be given.  We do not need to feel like we love our neighbor, we must show that we love our neighbor: treating our fellow humans with respect, kindness, and understanding.   And though love in itself is an action, it is not earned by action; it is a gift, not something that one must act in a certain way in order to deserve.  Everyone, in my opinion, is fundamentally worthy of love.

FAMILY & FRIENDS

The smartest, funniest, and most reliable people I know happen to be my parents.  That is perhaps why I place my role as a daughter, and subsequently a sister, as so important in my life.  I owe so much in my life to what my family has been able to teach me and provide for me.  Everything in this credo, all of these values, were introduced to me by my parents and my two brothers.  My father’s intellect and love of literature, my mother’s morality and Catholicism, my brothers’ humor and creativity.  I very much honor my place and relationship with my family.   

“We are all in the same boat, in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.” – G.K. Chesterton

I believe that family roles come with great joy, but also a great responsibility.  As a daughter and sister, it is my responsibility to be there and care for my family as best I can.  There’s an honesty you owe family members, a dedication of time, a loyalty that is unmatched.  Growing up and entering adulthood, my definition of family has come to include some of the adult friends that have become a big part of my life.  These friends I extend that loyalty to, as they form my adult family.  I believe that my role as a friend to them and their role as a friend to me are fundamentally important in any happiness I hope to experience. 

‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.’” – E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

KINDNESS AND HONESTY

I believe that treating people with kindness, honesty, and respect if one of the most important things you can do in life.   Before coming to film school, I struggled very much with the idea that film school was a selfish endeavor.  I figured that if I was to live true to this credo I hold about the importance of kindness, that entering the world of Hollywood (as opposed to volunteering to heal the sick in Africa) was not the way to go.   It was my dad who reminded me what Mother Theresa always taught, that by loving your life and being honest about what that means, your kind acts—even in film school—can indeed impact the world positively. 

“I’m the nicest goddamn dame that ever lived.” – Bette Davis

UNCERTAINTY

My family has always made fun of the “Maggie worried face.”  In all of our picture albums, ever since I was baby, every other picture of me is of the same worried expression.  I know the face very well, seeing it every day in the mirror, and more importantly, I know the anxiety that’s behind it all too well.  I’ve always been the person that wants to know the plan: what exactly is going to happen.  This has always irritated me about myself, not just because I’m not the fun, spontaneous person I always wanted to be, but because I’ve come to learn the rewards of uncertainty.

“The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next.” – Ursula K. Le Guinn

I believe in the humility it takes to accept uncertainty, which is also an acceptance that there are things out of our control and understanding.  I also strongly believe in the reward that comes when you take on uncertainty and challenges in your life.  Almost every largely rewarding thing in my life has come from me swallowing my anxiety and entering the unknown: visiting overseas, making movies, falling in love.

“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell

SUFFERING

Suffering is part of the human condition.  I believe suffering is of incredible and important value in understanding that human condition.  There is so much of our society that is spent pretending or trying to forget that we are all suffering and I think resisting that and really accepting how hard life is, is paramount in enjoying life.  I very much resist this constant pressure to be happy.  I don’t think you should be happy all the time.  Life sucks some times and that’s ok.  If you’re completely happy all the time, I don’t think you’re paying very much attention to the world.

“Things are never so bad, they can’t be made worse.” – Humphrey Bogart

I often wrap myself in this humoristic pessimistic attitude of “life has no meaning,” but I truly believe that just as taking on uncertainty has given me great rewards, living through my suffering has given me great learning opportunities.  I very much believe that the hardships I have gone through have made a stronger, more compassionate person. 

I believe one shouldn’t avoid suffering.  Being in film school has brought me tremendous suffering.  The first day of my editing class last year when my professor demanded an explanation for “why the fuck would you choose to start with that shot?” in front of the whole class had me in tears for almost a week.  But if I were to stay an office assistant in Corvallis, Oregon just because I didn’t want to go through some ritual humiliation and self-doubt, I wouldn’t have experienced all the joys of film school.  Or learned why one shouldn’t start with that fucking shot…

“Attack life.  It’s gonna kill you anyways.” – Stephen Colbert

EDUCATION

My dad is a college professor as was my grandfather, my mother holds two masters degrees, and my younger brother is in grad school right now studying to become an elementary education teacher.  Education was always a big deal in our family.  A focus on education growing up taught me the importance of learning from people smarter than myself—which there have been a lot of throughout history.

“Life’s hard.  It’s even harder when you’re stupid.” – John Wayne

STORYTELLING

Some of my fondest memories of my childhood are of being read aloud to from books like The Hobbit, Out of the Silent Planet, and the complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales.  I spent almost all of grade school imagining I could be Lucy from Chronicles of Narnia and that Sir Tumnus could be around any corner.

“All the word is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.” – J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

I absolutely believe in the power and magic of stories to transform our personal lives, but to also bring people together.  One only has to feel the shared energy of a packed movie theater during opening night to feel how our thirst for good stories brings us together.

MYTHOLOGY

Joseph Campbell’s idea of the hero’s journey has greatly impacted not only my understanding of storytelling, but my understanding of my own life.  Reading and learning about his understanding of mythology helped develop what it meant for me to be heroic in my own life and to overcome my own struggles.

“Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” – G.K. Chesteron

One of the most powerful ideas behind mythology is the idea of this universal shared subconscious, shown in the similarities between the symbols and structures of our stories.  I absolutely believe in the idea of the universal subconscious and have found it a powerful tool as I create my own stories. 

SPIRITUALITY

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” – C.S. Lewis

I grew up a Catholic.  And by Catholic, I mean Catholic.  My dad is a deacon and my mom a confirmation teacher.   I am a practicing Catholic today.  I am also very uncomfortable with religious language and conservatism.  Though I do believe that Jesus Christ is my personal savior, I would never word put it in so many words.  But my Christian Catholic beliefs are the basis of all the values found in this credo.   

I believe that all religions and spiritual practices are equally valid and have more commonalities than differences.  I believe that acting in a way that acknowledges that there is something out there bigger than yourself is key to creating a better world. 

EQUALITY

I believe that all people are not only created equal, but that our differences make us beautiful and unique.  I don’t think anyone should be marginalized or judged for their gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, mental state, etc.  I believe that everyone is worthy of the same love for simply being themselves.  I believe that we benefit much more from embracing our differences and learning from each other than trying to homogenize.

“Do not be too moral.  You may cheat yourself out of much life so.  Aim above morality.  Be not simply good, be good for something.” – Henry David Thoreau

ENVIRONMENT

I believe that the natural world around us is a gift that should be protected and enjoyed.  I grew up next to an old growth forest and it is an environment that I still yearn for.  There is a quietness and beauty in Nature that is invaluable.

“It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy…Let’s go exploring!” – Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes

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