Two Steps Forward…
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about progress. I’ve been making movies for over twenty years now. Not very many of them were good movies, but you have to start somewhere. Right? For the longest time I tried to get to a point where I could pay the cast and crew, have proper meals on set, shoot with better cameras and lenses and equipment. Once we finally got there, I was so happy and relieved to have finally achieved that goal that I never wanted to go back to the old way of doing things. I didn’t want to go backwards from there. We’d worked so hard to get where we were.
That was three years ago. I haven’t made anything since then. I’ve tried to get things going, but it’s been really hard to wag the dog. I have been trying to put bigger, more solid, more professional productions together the entire time and I’ve just had to come to terms with the fact that it’s just not the right time for those projects. I just need to adapt. Time to stop spinning wheels and not getting anything done. Time to quit blaming circumstances and playing the victim.
I’ve never intentionally given myself permission to fail, but it’s really easy to find yourself in a rut. How many times have you been in a funk and not felt like doing anything to get yourself out of it? It compounds and consumes you. It swallows you up and you start to feed off of it. Sometimes it feels good to know that no matter what happens, you have your disappointments to keep you company along the way. You know you can rely on them to always be there for you and it’s comforting to know you have a friend along for the ride.
But just like high school, you are who you hang out with. Some friends are just a bad influence and should be kicked to the curb. Just like in life, you are what you eat and if you are on a diet of excuses and negative thinking, nothing will ever come out of it. These things are cancers. These things are bottomless pits of despair. These things will eat you alive from the inside out. They do not care about you. They only want to exists and take out as many of us as they can in the process.
The thing is, you’re only going to get to make a film if you go out there and make a film. It will never happen if you don’t do it. No one else will do it for you. The script won’t write itself. The actors won’t cast themselves (though I’m sure they’d love to if they had the chance). Scenes won’t break themselves down. Locations won’t find themselves. You have to do it. And to be honest you’re never going to get it done with that piss-poor attitude of nobody cares. Don’t talk yourself out of it before you even get started.
I am trying to remind myself that filmmaking is the thing. Not bigger budgets. Not paying crew. Not having that SAG actor from LA that you really want to work with. Not shooting on the RED. All of those things are great and I want them too, but they are not filmmaking. Filmmaking is an art and a craft and to do so, we only need a camera, some lights and our imaginations. Work with the best people you can find and tell a story that you care about and in the end you’ll have a film and if it’s good very few people will care about how it was made.
I think it’s normal to want progress. I think it’s normal to want to emulate those filmmakers that came before us and made us want to make movies in the first place. My main example is always Martin Scorsese. He was the first filmmaker I ever fell in love with and I still respect and admire his craft and longevity. I know if I was in the same room with him, I would stammer and stutter and try to figure out what to say. But when I was setting out to make movies, I wanted to be Martin Scorsese. The fact of the matter is that I am not Martin Scorsese and I never will be. On top of that, I should never try to be him and I certainly shouldn’t try to make a Martin Scorsese film on a Michael Bekemeyer budget. And I should always aim to make a Michael Bekemeyer film, no matter what the budget is. You don’t see Scorsese out there trying to make somebody else’s film. Why would he?
The point is, go make a movie. Use what you have to help you. Use the limitations of budget and resources to help you tell a story that is as completely original and unique as possible. I’m not saying to stop trying to move the ball further down the field with every attempt. I’m just saying don’t let holding on to an idea of what a film production should be keep you from doing the thing you want to do.
This is the goal of the next couple of years for us, starting this summer. We hope to find some balance between our ultimate aspirations and a scraping the bottom of the barrel, DIY project so we can just tell a story we believe in. It’s time to quit making excuses and allowing petty circumstances keep up away from the thing that burns inside of us and keeps us up at night. But there will be more on that later. What about you? What are you doing these days to help you reach your creative goals?
Talk soon. Until next time, be well and have fun.