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The Best and Worst Advice I’ve Ever Heard | SXSW 2021

Erin Lee Carr
Director of documentaries at @HBO @Netflix
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SXSW 2021
March 19, 2021, Online, Austin, USA
SXSW 2021
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About speaker

Erin Lee Carr
Director of documentaries at @HBO @Netflix

Erin Lee Carr is a New York-based director and writer known for exploring criminal justice, femininity and virality. Her four-part docuseries How to Fix a Drug Scandal was released on Netflix on April 1st 2020. The series ranked in the top ten “most watched” shows on the platform during the first week of air. Also this year, her documentary At The Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal, was the proud recipient of the Emmy’s Television Academy Honors. Currently, Erin is a consulting producer on a Michelle Carter scripted adaptation with UCP, and is developing projects with HBO. In December 2019, Forbes Magazine listed Erin as one of their All Star “30 Under 30” Alumnae.Erin directed the critically acclaimed I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth V. Michelle Carter, a two-part documentary that premiered at the 2019 SXSW film festival. The film about the texting suicide case that captured national interest is available for streaming on HBO. Variety’s David D’Addario reviewed and wrote that the film "amplifies Erin Lee Carr’s status as a young documentarian of unusual achievement.

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About the talk

While building my career as a director/producer/writer, I spent an untold amount of time meeting with industry professionals but determined that there was something even better for learning about the industry. Turns out the best advice doesn't always come from the insider you scored a meeting with but that online talk (if you are taking notes and not on your phone.) The internet has democratized advice for better or worse. I attempt to sum up some of the best and worst of them, (with some real life advice thrown in). Consider this a cheat code for you if you are into that sort of thing. #bestnworst

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An air leak are in a documentary filmmaker and I thought only lunatics were backwards baseball hats and it turns out I am correct. So I'm coming to you from some sort of secret location in thinking about what I could talk about for this Yourself by it, really was, what is the advice? And the things I've gotten from taking all the information that the internet has to offer the last couple of years. And I was doing my research, my homework, it's all documentary filmmakers and is there anything like that? Always start with a

alcohol-related terrible or something like that. So I will say that in 2013, my first-ever South by really, really hard on the Alcohol component of the festivities and it's it's less of a funny thing. And I couldn't go to the talks that I wanted to go to because I was too sick to do. So I'm going to premiere of film called Mommy dead and dearest at South by which was it was one of the greatest moments of my life and I was able to do it sober but also to all the talks and I brought,

you know, I realize that you can really learn life lessons from keep you can actually put it inside your life. Recently, I was watching a very beautiful show called, I may destroy you. I looked up the actor in the writer in the EP whose name is Mikayla Cole. And I just sort of wanted to know more about her which I'll read to you guys. It says you're always on fragile ground because it's not yours. It gives you a drive and ambition because nothing is certain there is a

resilient no person with disability can replicate. You can't forge it. There are blessings in the struggle is taped here to my wall. There's this trend towards alcohol. If it doesn't have to be this thing that defines You Makayla, Cole is a black woman You can do all sorts of things when it comes to seeing your struggle as a power, also that she made great art out of that. And I think that is at this level. We can do that, right? I think that, when she

destroy you, for those who haven't seen, it is about a young, woman's perspective, on being assaulted. And it's not just the native cuz I think throughout Cinemas really been about that. But it's all the days that follow and what is it like to have that very sensory scary experience of remembering and this is not like just a dark shadow. It's incredibly comedic and funny and quit. And, you know, I think that for her to show that salted was one of the worst moments of her life, but also that she could share that with millions of people through a platform like HBO,

it was really meaningful because it showed that it's a life-altering event. You and that you can sort of grow from it and if it does change you, if that's okay. It's just something that really really struck struck me and I wanted to think about and obviously takes the wall. So the second one and I'm going to name drop here, but it is my father. So please feel free to sort of I roll. My dad was a journalist for the New York Times. He is no longer cure. His name is David Carr, he was one of the biggest fans of South by you could imagine. And I love giving talks, he

loves listening to talks, and always ask me which ones, which talks I was going to what are the listening to figure out your schedule? And I remember after he died, I watched a YouTube video. There was this beautiful commencement speech, he did it for free school of Journalism and he said they threw the kind of person who can be Scared and courageous. At the same time, you'll probably do great things. He was talking to a group of people that just graduated high school, which is a very scary

place, like journalism as an industry has really hit a lot of rough places. I always thought that, you know, being scared and being courageous were in opposition to one another that they could not live inside the same. Venn diagram realize is that not true? I think back to my own personal experience and there have been so many times where I've been stared and try to be brave. At the same time, I make a true crime and survivorship songs for a living. My first film was about this guy was convicted of conspiring

to kidnap torture a young Somebody and eating them. I went and visited him in a prison. At, I got a small development deal from HBO to make a song about this to see what she actually ever going to kill anybody or not part of the instructions. For when you go to a prison is that you can't have any piercings in your face and at the time, I had a eyebrow piercing, I'm pretty phones. If you like can't tell piercing, I had to remove its last. Someone decide to rip it out of

my face and putting myself and I remember feeling really scared and the second I stepped foot inside the prison. Saphir did not disappear like in the stories, always like I got there and I did it. It was important for me as a professional to say that, you know, it's okay to listen to that. You should not listen to cues about safety, but to these two things can be with each other versus in conflict of. And I think, you know, there's just there's a lot of great. So you know, I encourage everybody to go see that. That's why was

2017. I got to go back in 2018 and, you know, the great works of Cinema of our time. And I got there, I got early, I again brought the notebook and I started to write down notes and one of the things that he said that, if you're under the age of 30, you should want it right now, you shouldn't expect anyone to give it to you, but you should want it right now. Of course you want it, right? People were in the Arts. Always have to want it but I think we're I'm listening to is it's not just enough

to want. You have to do it and there's all these things that you know, very strict talked about in his speech. I mean that he had to drop out of film school that he had to reorient, what his life was going to do about, what was the subject matter that he was going to to make movies about? I just remember feeling his vulnerability and sharing his story but that it wasn't, it wasn't a straight-up likes her except that there were there were Peaks and they were validated and it's okay to have failures. You don't just like you to win an Academy Award. One day when you

get up, I mean, there was so many days that should have led up to that, and I thought his speech was so beautiful and also he said, acceptance speech that he was supposed to read at the Academy Awards. They mentioned La La Land instead. Gracefully. We can all do it and do it. There's so much to learn inside that speech, and it's on YouTube and let's do it. You should go do it right now. Don't stop the talk but like he would do it after, right? You can't do a talk about advice without

mentioning. David Foster Wallace and David, Foster Wallace for those who is an American writer, he is no longer with us. He was somebody that wrote a book called Infinite, Jest, amongst many other books and he became this word of product of the intellectual. Every guy I dated in Brooklyn always prominently featured Infinite Jest, and what's going on, David Foster Wallace, thousands and thousands of thinker and speaker and he gave this talk at Kenyon College. The speech called This is water, and it's really about for the tyranny of self. And what does it mean? And the quote that I

had, one of the quotes that I love the real world makes money off your own self-interest off, automatic ways of thinking, of considering ourselves to be the center of the universe, but this is not true Freedom. We are prisoners in our own self-interest. I think that is very relatable for those in depend on it. I think that, you know, since we have all started to, you know, being our sort of little boxes, we all operate as if we are. Are, you know, the lead character Truman in The Truman Show. And I am somebody that has really struggled for many years with the

tyranny of self. And that it really know always thinking that I am through the center of the universe and what speech reminded me. I'm a small Speck of sand that is amongst thousands and millions of others back since. And my mark on this like this short life that we have, I think it's important to know that we are. We are always surrounded by others and then we were in the checkout line. Or when we're at school, or when were trying to get into the zoom room, and it's not working. It's like, boiling down. The nervousness

and anxiety, and trying to reflect on what is important about this day about this moment. I think it really has a lot to do. I am completely. I think that's in order to have some Flex artistics put down my phone, screening session, which I was in wanted by Jason thinks that it's about and connected to that person and saying you know you did a lot of work and I'm here to listen for a David Foster Wallace has a lot to teach us about what it, what Freedom means and how we

can turn him in the act that in our daily lives. I was getting ready for this talk, I got on YouTube and I typed in commencement speech and it was one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12, 13 and in the 14th person was selected to be thought leaders. I thought it was So right, that it was Beyonce because if you want a is somebody that is a true artist of our time and a trendsetter, but also she is somebody that believes in bringing up other people and you can see, I'm about to read a quote. You know, it's not just about her but about others. And her quote is

the entertainment business is still, very sexist is still very male-dominated, female role models, given the opportunity to do what I knew. I had to do to run my label and management company to direct and produce my chores ownership And so not only is it about Beyonce but it's about hiring other women to be brought up and that's something that I want to carry with me as you continue to work in Creative. Yes, I want to look at how I can do this for the rest of my life. How can I encourage India part of others and bring other people

along with me into the Shinto power, doing it? And I did not see the same thing with Marius. I saw people like Lena Dunham on girls but it was almost as if that was the exception to the rule versus the actual rule. I did not want to wait twenty years before I was making any sort of like solid creative decision. And so, while one that's like, very entitled thinking and strategic, so they go, young young, it's also kind of sad, right? I think that me to notice as a young person, the sexism

that is so prevalent in for me to make a life decision, based on that. And I, You know, I really am I from online present, I try to talk about sexism, but it's almost as if I really should have began to treat. When people say things out loud or unpopular, or are you say these things to become for the more normalized? And so, enlarged credit to her, it's very hard to volunteer on Sunday. So we're not going to go into the worst advice and I feel bad. I think it was really easy for me to find. I have so many people, but I really

struggled with that. There is some bad advice on the internet. We are putting our names in there because like I need to eat and my dog needs to eat. And so I don't remember coming across. Schartner quote, that says, don't be afraid to make an ass out of yourself. And I just said, I don't think that that is totally advice. I would say come from a place of an actor and getting to make an ass out of yourself, that's like it's kind of more accepted, but two comes from a gun from a place of privilege

or say anything to follow you around. Don't be censoring yourself about what you're saying. Still talk about sex or your experience or your struggle, but also be thoughtful about how you contextualize that trouble and how you how you message these things because it is semi-permanent. Other advice I got Don't pay back your student loans. They said you to put money towards retirement, put money towards a trip or like, literally just having rent like it. And many young people tend to have a lot of money to spare. And so I just paid the minimum and then

a couple of years ago, I finally met with someone who works in finance. And she said, yeah, you should explain two words to me that I had heard before, compound interest. And I think at this point in the talk, you might be like this lady is a straight-up dummy. She does not know how compound interest rates were. Even though she took out, loans education didn't matter how much money I would have known earlier. I don't know if I would have been able to take it because I did not have money to

spare but I really would design my financial life a little bit different. This is from my responsibilities and Are you go without taking it? You're just use your interest rates are going to try to eat you alive. I think it's funny that this is like covered so many different things. David Foster Wallace interest loans. Beyonce, welcome to my skull to talk about one of the last things that changed my life. I got feedback when I was in my mid-twenties when I was considering leaving my job from a colleague that said you should stay at your job, you should not leave. You

need health insurance, don't do that. Be careful. And I remember, you know, sort of sitting with that that night and thinking, okay, maybe I should we think that's like, you know, I shouldn't serve go out and take that leap of faith and I ended up leaving. He accompanied for another one and then working 5 to being a documentary filmmaker, which is code for hangs out in apartment a lot. I almost let this person talk me out of something. That I really wanted to do. And so do you know that's where we really have to understand. That advice is just

that it's advice coming from another person and had a listen to that. I would have been in a very different spot in my life and I think that sometimes, you know, as we're sitting here you do have to take that leap of faith and it is not always going to pay off their doors or those heard of those valleys. If you need to. I remember that time in 2017, when I was able to come back to South 5 and I premiered mommy dead and dearest I was sitting at the Alamo

and the lights were going off and everyone was her in their seat and there was this guy next to me. It was like, starting to Chomp on a giant pizza out to eat an entire Pizza. Wild watch my Cinema World and then I caught myself and I said, this is what the leaf of Faith led to that, you have a film that somebody to come see, this is a privilege and it sometimes about living in that moment and not letting all of this nervousness or anxiety or what was wrong with the dude is next to you. But just existing in the moment of this is perfect and

there is something so beautiful about this. I have been able to have any of that moment because I've seen others do it and I've watched others do it. I've watched others heard of act with braids as they give their talk, or they give that, you know, that student, that reaches out to them advice. And I think that it's really about to pay it forward. So that's all to say, please or please go see all the other talk because you never know. You're going to hear that piece of advice, that changes your life. Really a big thank you to Janet into all and every member of her team

who makes half by half and it is really really hard to pull off specifically the last couple years in particular. And so the fact that they continue to be a place that can Champion work and that for others to see it's incredible and it's so appreciated and I want to learn a lot more from all the movies so I think that's it and

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