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Thursday, 23 July 2009

My Self-Imposed Detachment From The Film Industry.

"The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself."
-Alan Alda, Actor.

I started out as a dreamer. My heart and mind were full of big ideas, dreams of inspiring people and saying something. And making people laugh. My early short films were full of ideas, full of energy. And they were sometimes awful, sometimes funny, always fun. They were just a front row kid running around with a camera, learning how to get his dreams on the screen.

And then people in the industry said "but the lighting is really bad" and "some of the acting is poor. Amateur." And I was like "okay okay, but did you smile?" and they'd say "the scene looks flat." And I'd say "okay, cool-- but did you like the way the characters met at the end?" and they'd say "Professional films would use a dolly, they wouldn't zoom like that."

So I met this Producer, and I was like, "here's my crazy, funny idea" and he was like "I love your crazy funny idea- let's make a feature!" So I started writing the feature, and then he said "What are you doing? That's not the story, let's make the character less sympathetic and let's make him insane," and I was all "If he's insane then he couldn't logically do the things he does in the later scenes," and the producer said "yeah but I want him to be a bit insane." It became clear that if I didn't make the changes he'd never produce my film and I'd still be sat at home not having "made it" in the industry. I made the changes and he still didn't make the movie.

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift."
-Albert Einstein

But still I'd be bursting with energy and creativity. And I'd start to look at the bulletins on ShootingPeople.org, but people would be arguing over whether actors are getting paid enough, and they'd be insulting some young writer for wanting to use a different font in his screenplay. And I would jump on mandy.com and apply for a writing job with a big company.

They'd say "We like your writing, we want to hire you,"
So I'd say "That's great!"
"But we can't pay you,"
"That's not great,"
"No it's not but we are 'big company' so you'll look good"
"Yeah but my bank account won't,"
"But we don't have the budget to pay you."
"Are you getting paid?"
"Excuse me?"

Everyone in the industry would be bound by these rules and these principles; namely how you have to do this, you will only be paid that, you can't have an idea with an elephant in it because elephants don't interest audiences.

I'd had enough. It got me down down down. I know we all know that "film is an industry, it's business." And I'd even begun to learn that and be a part of it. I produced a feature film last year; and it was fun for a while. But I realised that it's not me. It's really not me. I worked on a feature film earlier in the year, and as I plugged things in and got shouted at by the 1st AD, I decided that, no-- I really don't enjoy this. I don't enjoy the Assistant Director yelling at me just because he's the AD and thinks he's entitled. I don't believe that, just because I'm working on a film set that everyone should be assholes to each other. I'm not happy with peoples creativity being reduced to "Sorry, you can't have fruit in that scene. Fruit isn't funny," -- I'd had enough.

After a brief spell of industry-induced misery, I found myself again. I found the kid in me. It was like the beginning of Jerry Maguire. Breakdown? Breakthrough.... I set up this very blog; and rediscovered what I love about the movies;

"I DON'T REALLY CARE HOW MUCH THE LATEST SUPERHERO FILM TOOK AT THE BOX OFFICE, ALTHOUGH I'D PROBABLY KNOW IF YOU ASKED ME. WHEN I WATCH A FILM THE MAIN THING I AM LOOKING FOR IS A GOOD STORY. I LIKE IT WHEN I LOOK UP AT THE BIG SCREEN AND CAN SEE A PART OF ME STARING BACK AT ME. MORE THAN ANYTHING, I AM STILL LOOKING FOR JIMMY STEWART AND JACK LEMMON AND BILLY WILDER IN EVERY FILM I SEE."

When I put together a cast and crew for my new film-- I did it outside the confines of the industry. I only worked with people who I had a LOT of time for. I found people I was truly in-line with, creatively and personally. It was a set full of fun and enjoyment, and it felt like nothing to do with the film industry. Because what you begin to realise is that when you make a film, like when you do anything in life, you can choose to have anyone you want around you. At no point on the set did anyone moan about losing a cable, or bitch about a crew member. We just did the work, drank lots of tea, and shot a great film. Films can be wonderful. Life can be wonderful.

"The key to this business is personal relationships."
-Dicky Fox, in 'Jerry Maguire'

My point is-- I am now more of a Writer and Director than ever. And it has nothing to do with the film industry. I want to write what's in my heart-- of course, I'd love for millions to see what I do, and that's the plan--- but I want to do it without being talked down to, without being told no. Without being told I know best because I'm a proven producer. Because that means nothing to me.

Care to share?

4 comments:

  1. "I made the changes and he still didn't make the movie."

    I think we can all learn from that. People are asked to change their appearance, their work, their mind...whatever it takes for them to be MORE in someone else's eyes. The only eyes that matter are our own, yeah? Conformity sucks.

    I think you're awesome, btw. =)

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  2. This was a great post, part of the thing I'm learning right now, is that to make your own films, you gotta do it without a big producer telling you what they want, cause then you could lose the integrity of your vision, and it just becomes the movie the other people wanted to make, not yourself.

    A good thing for us though, is that you don;t need the industry anymore to make a good film, that lots of people will watch. The Internet is a beautiful thing. :)

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  3. Any chance of exploring your expression in different mediums? Novels? theatre? Painting?

    As an artist, express yourself in whatever means - even if you're not confident in the medium, just try it and expres, express, express - you never know... you sound so creative, so don't limit yourself to creating a cinematic masterpiece. I LOVE cinema - and I'd love to make any film like Danny Boyle - and I shall try, but until then, I shall express myself in paint, in writing - in every possible form because it is the expression of creativity that is the main thing. You're not limited to the film industry - and the film industry shouldn't limit you.

    Simon
    www.screeninsight.com

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  4. And you would use ShootingPeople.org? There are a lot of self-righteous assholes there. For example, how can a movie idea be "too commercial"? Surely the idea of movies is to make money. This business of show is, after all, a business. They said that, the idea was "too commercial", hinting that they want to status quo to remain and other than the founding members (Figgis et al) no one is allowed to make money in the independent film industry, they just have to make dreary, low fi babble starring fringe actors playing dull characters in profoundly average scenarios.

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