“In light of current events. I encourage everyone to take a few minutes and check in with our community support systems. This four-part series of articles was written before the current epidemic, but for many people this may be an appropriate season for private reflection and may help us mitigate and recognize mixed feelings we may be having about changing our daily routines and interactions. Maybe this is the time to re-evaluate social systems in which we wish to pour ourselves into when we are free to be out in the world again.”
Say Goodbye to Your Community.
Now, it is time to leave. Exit Stage Left.
“To thine own self be true.”
– Hamlet, Hamlet
Seek a blessing. Seek a goodbye. Seek, do not wait to be sought.
Throw a flippin’ party. Host it. Do it. Even a small gathering at a meaningful place for a toast. Just mark your exit with an event with a meaningful person(s) so that your leaving has a point of closure in your mind. Your mind thrives on stories, you create stories in your mind to justify the actions around you and properly store information (dreams are an example of that practice). OR you create stories in your external life and tell your brain what happened for it to process and store properly. No event for a goodbye, means you are still waiting for a goodbye. Don’t wait, participate.
Send your future contact information and plans. They may change, but try. Give your email address and phone number to people who may never need or want to contact you again for any reason. Tell people where you are going so they can find you. Tell people you are leaving, but the door is open if they need you. This is a practice that is difficult in many types of circumstances, but allows for less awkwardness when communication does come up on the other side of a fractured community. You never know when the important things in life will come up (like an unexpected diagnosis, funeral, or things beyond hurt feelings through the perspective of time) and leaving yourself open and available for future contact still means you do not need to respond when communication does come up, let future-you decide such things. Future-you is much happier and healthier anyway, right?
Don’t burn bridges
I started a film distribution company this year. My independent feature film distribution company, Little Sister Entertainment, dramatically redirected some of my professional relationships. My partner, Director Marc Hampson, and I are no longer bringing our own films to the distributors with which we have garnered relationships over the decade. We also started to pursue the laborious task of taking back the rights of our films already licensed and out in the world.
“Right now everything is great, everyone is happy, everyone is in love and that is wonderful. But you gotta know that sooner or later you’re gonna be screaming at each other about who’s gonna get this dish. This eight dollar dish will cost you a thousand dollars in phone calls to the legal firm of That’s Mine, This Is Yours.”
– Harry, When Harry Met Sally
This was a touchy process. I am lucky enough to report that most of our relationships are intact even though it was a harder break for some partnerships more than others. I cannot stress enough how vital it is to a film’s journey to have an amicable and successful hand off of film rights between distributors. There are so many delicate issues, timing and contractural, to consider. It is a dialogue, on-going and collaborative. The way you split matters.
I had many long phone calls with partners and lavished them with compliments and sincere thanks. I meant it. And I know that the film industry is a marathon city and no one makes it year to year alone. And SO much changes! I require the mindset that I will work with these people again, maybe many times and in many different ways, so keeping our relationship is important to me as well as amicable breakups are more comforting to my soul.
“I just…I just woke up one day and I knew…what I was never sure of with you.”
– Summer, (500) Days of Summer
Sony recently took a huge section of their smaller distribution arm and severed that department into its own company. Those employees/duties are separate from Sony now, but they may still work together in different ways over the years. My distribution company acquired some film rights from an older distribution partner, but we may still reach out and work with that team for certain foreign rights. There are tons of relationships that have evolved over the years and I am happy to say that keeping colleagues through big, small, rough, and easy transitions is just a healthy way to operate in life. It’s not just good business, it’s good for your health.
Once you leave: Trash-talking vs. Warning
You were allowed access to private information and life stories when you were in community, but outside of community, you do not have the freedom to share those stories. You do not have permission to perpetuate a story or a life that is still in motion because you jumped off of their life story a few stops ago. Do not talk negatively about your old community members.
But what if you feel like warning someone? There is a difference between a warning and venting. Is your negative experience shared? Is your negative experience related to the safety of others? Is your experience valuable to the life choices of a peer that could be damaging? Then share your experience from your point of view. Share that you felt … and you experienced… and you understand if your peer ignores your warnings…. It is ok to share important information. But venting is reserved for one or two people in your life that do not know the subject of your venting and comes after the disclaimer, “I need to vent…” and is not followed by any other agenda. Be responsible by being truthful, always.
Good luck in leaving your community. Communicate clearly with love. You can do it. You are not being selfish, every season in life is different. You deserve what is best for you and your family.
“Just keep swimming, just keep swimming….”
– Dori, Finding Nemo
Wait, What happens next?
Reinvest in your microsystem: family, close one-on-one friends, and immediate people you see everyday. Heal. Grieve. Restructure your lifestyle so that you don’t feel an absence where that closed door community once fit. When you’re ready for the next step, you’ll know.
“We need to remember what’s important in life: friends, waffles, work. Or waffles, friends, work. Doesn’t matter, but work is third.”
– Leslie Knope, Parks & Rec