Tuesday, May 15, 2007

It's about Passion

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I was sitting watching the series "Entourage" on HBO, and a piece of dialogue stuck with me. It was when a producer tells the main character on how he got into the business. He explains to the character that he lacked the passion others had for the craft. Earlier in the show the main character tells his manager that Hollywood is all about power and not making films. People buy scripts that they have no intention of making. I've heard of such things, and I've never really worked on a high budget film, but I've talked to a lot of directors and producers, and they do say that it's a frustrating business.

And there's the rub. I've been a crew member on several low-budget films, and a multitude of commercials. Long hours, and low pay were the norm. Some commercials payed okay, but I was part of the agency who made it, so you could say I was an agency employee on several commercials.

Passion. I know you hear about it, and talk about it when we're talking about films, or film making, but the reality of film making is that sometimes you run out of steam. Life wears you down, and the everyday minutia of living can make a person lose that spark. I don't think we admit it in public, and that a lot of us sometimes just put on that game face and go out there and try and pretend that nothing is wrong. It catches up to you eventually, and it can happen at anytime in your life, so I don't look at a people and judge them on their experience, but instead on how happy they are.

In the late 80's I had the chance to go to Hollywood and see the town up close. I was only there for a little while, but I did see what the biz is really like, and I was miserable. I was homesick, and just wanted to head home. Tired of sleeping on floors, and being treated like dirt I went home with my eyes wide open, and a bit of a chip on my shoulder.

The fundamental question I have to ask myself these days is "why?" Why do I want to make movies. Do I have illusions of being famous?, or is it financial? After all I know the score, and I know how they play it. Movie making is a crap shoot, and if you saw the odds against you you would turn tail and head back and vow never to whisper the words film making again.

So why do it? I'll tell you I've always liked movie making. I love the illusion it gives, and the stories it can un-spool on the screen. Film making to me has always been something I've revered because when the stars do align, and things come together just right a great film can be made, and that's the magic of it.

When I was a young teen I was exposed to the teachings of Roger Larson. Who is Roger Larson? He was the man who formed a film club called "Young Filmmakers" in New York city. They were located in a run down area on the lower East side. I remember going there and getting off at the Bowery street station. This was back in the late 70's and early 80's, so NYC was still a bit run down. The Bowery station was a magnet for the homeless, but I did manage to visit Larson's club, and really enjoyed it. It was the first time I met people who were interested in filmmaking and some who were closer to my own age. Because of the distance I didn't go as much as I liked, but I fell in love with 16mm there, and by doing my own thing in Super-8 I was teaching myself the fundamentals of filmmaking. It sustained me through my teenage years.

Roger Larson even wrote a book which is way out of date but still holds special memories for me. It was called "Young Filmmakers", and I checked it out more times then I can count in my high school library. From there I learned about books by Lenny Lipton, and others that were tech manuals for Super-8 film making. So you can see why film making is a special thing for me. Filmmaking is not a cry to be famous, but a need to be heard. Some write, others draw I make films, and it's what I love to do. Unfortunately making a film takes a lot of energy, money, and time. One can't really do it all, and actually make a good product. Unless you're an animator, and then time is what you have.

Right now it's about getting back to the simplicity of making a film. Gathering a few individuals and cranking out a film over a week-end or two. Impossible you say? How can anything significant or good come out of something done so quickly? Well I'm here to say it can, and I just need to get my ass in gear and start looking outward for people who share my vision. I may not be able to offer lots of money, but I can offer good story lines, and some compensation. As for now it's time to sit down and write stories and see what sticks.

I don't know if I'll be able to get it all done because the grind does have a way of catching up. There is the family, work, your health, and just plain life which moves on, and doesn't stop. I need to simply get back to enjoying the craft of filmmaking like when I was a young man and not worry about the rest. Wish me luck I'm going to need it!

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