Time magazine cited in a recent poll that 71 percent of adults think millennials (ages 18-29) are “entitled,” and New York’s CBS local published an article calling millennials the “selfie-obsessed, self-obsessed” generation.
As the peer group that developed into adults alongside the boom of the Internet, smart phones, and social networking sites, it seems like more of a chicken-and-egg phenomenon to us. Are we selfie-obsessed because we are entitled, or are we the by-products of the advancements of our time? Are we simply getting the short end of the stick? Or do we make unprecedented use of the tools we have been given during a time that has not provided us with the easy transition into adulthood experienced by the generation before us?
We are the first generation to be poorer than our parents and are the inheritors of crippling student debt. We attend school for more years and work longer hours in jobs that have not adjusted their pay scales to meet the demands of inflation. In a time when accountability has been taken out of the job application equation, millennial resumes have become lost in the abyss of the interweb, and getting a job can often feel more like the luck of the draw than something based on skill and hard work.
As a new series here on 20something, we want to introduce you to your peers who are breaking down the stereotype of entitlement, and in many ways are using current circumstances and technology to pursue their dreams with unforeseen ferocity. These are the millennial minds that have taken the lemons society has dealt them, and not only made lemonade, but more like lemon merengue pie. We invite you to be inspired by their stories, and maybe get some advice in your own journey climbing the corporate ladder, navigating creative industries, or becoming your own badass boss.
For this first installment, we would like to introduce you to 25-year-old filmmaker Nicole Groton. Nicole has spent every spare dollar she has earned working as a production assistant and creative executive at Intuition Productions to write, produce and direct her own feature length documentaries and films. Her first project, The Melting Family, a passionately intimate portrait of her own family history, recently premiered at DOC NYC, the largest documentary film festival in the United States. Nicole is now in pre-production for her second work, Marrying Kinds, after raising over $60,000 in a wildly successful KickStarter Campaign.
Nicole has not only defied the stereotypes of the selfie-generation with the relentless pursuit of her creative vision, but she has used social media to help catapult that vision to the next level. She dished advice on breaking into a tough-to-crack industry, where getting your work on the public radar involves not only time and dedication but money that most millennials simply don’t have.
Nicole noted that one of the toughest things to break away from as a millennial is sustaining your life with a 9 to 5 desk job in the day and then pursuing your true career goals at night. She relies heavily on nights and weekends to get her work done and says this as one of the biggest but most necessary sacrifices for creative hopefuls.
Another hard sacrifice is saving all of her spare cash to dump into her work. Whether it’s shooting equipment or film festival fees, Nicole forfeited a lot of the experiences that many millennials spend their cash on (like happy hour, for example) in order to create and gain exposure for her work. She instead sought out free events to enjoy with like-minded creatives in L.A. (which she now calls home), and dedicated all of her spare time to pushing her goals to fruition. Easier said than done, this is simply part of “making it” in 2015.
When push comes to shove, Nicole says that social media is one of the most impactful ways to expand your audience and stretch the reach of your career. Social media makes it possible for her to maintain a networking contact via Facebook, fundraise through the platforms that led to her Kickstarter and share her work on YouTube.
Nicole’s biggest advice to aspiring filmmakers is to simply start making the film.
And in regards to the bad rep of the people of her age group her retort is diplomatic:
I certainly think that our generation gets a bad reputation for being social media-obsessed, but social media can be a huge help in maintaining relationships and furthering careers. As a filmmaker, it helps me find an audience and keep them engaged in not only my film, but myself. It truly is a huge help to indie filmmakers as we’re able to avoid the studio protocol by going directly to our key demographic and inviting them to follow our process and get involved. It truly is a win-win.
Nicole developed her skills by working on film and television sets, but it was the determination that she exhibited in her off hours to which she owes her cinematic success. Nicole calls the true marker of success “Getting paid to do what you love.” This is a mindset to which most millennials can relate.
Nicole is only one of the millennial minds that are kicking ass in her respective field. You can check out and support her work here.
If you or someone you know is doing great or inspiring work you think other millennials should know about it, please contact: [email protected]