How engrossed are you in the world of your story?
Are you a maven of old films, of shooting techniques, of directors, actors, or schools of filmmaking thought? Do you know your classics from your 1970s indie to your epics? Moreover, do you know how all these older films intersect with your story world of the present? Can you apply those lessons learned to your filmmaking craft today?
I bet you Christopher Nolan can.
I was going through the most recent edition of EMPIRE Magazine, you know, the one with the Special Batman Trilogy Feature with Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne/Caped Crusader on the cover, and during the several sit-downs Nolan graciously gave for the magazine, the breadth of that man’s knowledge on display was just extraordinary. Nearly every cast member and crew person to a man had glowing things to say about the British filmmaker’s methodology and about his command of a set. The manner in which he takes charge of the unit and the encyclopedic knowledge he has for epic reference films, and how Batman’s Gotham is modeled very much upon Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, which is obvious. But what you won’t know if you don’t read the interview is that more than 30% of TDKR was shot on IMAX and Nolan eschewed all digital and 3D formats, even going so old school as to cut his own negative! Savvy!
EMPIRE went on to explain how in nearly interview after interview over the course of the several days they were on-set, regardless of how long Nolan had been awake pounding away or how many people he’d spoken to prior, it was the electricity of TDKR and the pleasure he’d had in writing and producing it which powered him forward for yet another session. The sheer enjoyment he had in being in total command of his story world and its various offshoots were what fired him up.
So does this describe you?
Well if this isn’t what your story is doing to you, maybe time to find another story?
If you’re not totally infatuated with the process of making your movie, not only is it going to be hard to convince others to get excited about the journey or even involved, but you won’t withstand the competitive pressures weighing heavily upon the untried, untested indie filmmaker. There are just too many indie films (over 45,000 in 2011 alone) being shot and cut today just in the US to even contemplate going down this road this without near-religious fervor for the entire process. The deluge of “no’s” and the comparative number of filmmakers who will be, in fact, aglow with the thought of seeing their stories on-screen will simply bury you.
I’m a huge proponent of it.
Can you visualize yourself standing atop a raucously-successful post-screening Q&A stage, fielding audience questions about your process? Can you visualize yourself being interviewed by a queued-up scrum of movie journos who all want first dibs on the interview with the amazing phenom (insert your name here) about (interview your film here) and what s/he imagines their next steps to be? Can you visualize full inboxes, phones ringing off the hook, and offers from larger production companies to possibility shoot the scripts they have in their pipeline, all thanks to the success of the current picture you’re working right now?
If you can’t, you’re not making the right movie. This isn’t the right script and it certainly isn’t the right time. Before you dig your heels in any deeper for naught, seriously reconsider what you’re doing and the possible debt you’ll be sinking yourself into before you carry on further.
I’ll do you one better…imagine your film as a kind of long-term relationship: if you can’t see yourself sustaining one of those – or if you haven’t demonstrated success in this area before – expect an extremely tough go of it with this current picture.
There will be swoons. There will be countless letdowns. There will also be wicked highs and euphoric phases. If you know what a sine or cosine wave looks like (think back to high school trig), you’ll have a better depiction of what making your movie will be like. But there are no consistent days. Your film will be a dynamic living thing. An organism unto itself. You won’t be able to predict what’s coming next and like the old saw says: “If shit can happen, better believe that it will. So prepare for it today.”
You know and have met other filmmakers who are crazy about their movie, just about the only thing which occupies their thoughts where everything else falls by the wayside. They neglect sleep, eating, other menial tasks, and – quite possibly – their personal hygiene (hopefully not!) with all rockets directed towards getting their film out of the stratosphere. They’ll sleep on a floor for a month if that’s the sacrifice being called for. We’ve all met filmmakers like this. Filmmakers who just seem to know everything there is to know about their story. Its insides and outsides. They can answer questions backwards and forwards, in their sleep, during a drunken bender, or at the crack of dawn over a cuppajoe within minutes of waking up, always talking your ear off. Their motivations are in the right place and no obstacle stands in their way.
Again, I ask, does this describe you?
Because if it doesn’t, then your heart’s not in it and not in the right place. Stop what you’re doing right now. Let everyone down easy. And, most importantly, wait.
Wait until you do, in fact, find that story which deserves all your attention, because anything else is just a damn pose.
Adam Daniel Mezei, PMD | Producer of Marketing and Distribution
Indie Audience Engagement Services for Independent Feature Films and Documentaries
LIKE PMD-For-Hire at:
TWEET PMD-For-Hire at:
ADD US to your G+ circles:
JOIN PMD-For-Hire on LinkedIn:
EMAIL PMD-For-Hire at:
SUBSCRIBE to PMD-For-Hire’s YouTube channel:
SUBSCRIBE to PMD-For-Hire’s Vimeo channel:
SUBSCRIBE ON FLICKR: