Thursday, 28 January 2016 16:44

I haven't Made a Film in How Long? Or, The Sublime Art of Not Getting Distracted.

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 ‘The Miller Prediction’; On Location, New Mexico, 2015 ‘The Miller Prediction’; On Location, New Mexico, 2015

It's a fallacy that writers have to shut themselves up in their ivory towers to write. I have all these interruptions, three of which I gave birth to. If I was thrown for a loop every time I was distracted, I could never get anything done.

Jodi Picoult

Well she’s written a lot of books….so maybe she knows what she’s talking about.

But of course she doesn't have my distractions, or yours….

Sometimes I think I distract myself deliberately in order to avoid working on “the big project”, in fact I absolutely know I do…

There is nothing more terrifying than starting something and not being able to finish it.

So it’s better to avoid it altogether, I find that far less embarrassing for everyone involved.

But then that is completely ridiculous of “so where does that leave us?”

I have found that the older I get the more easily distracted I become.
I remember being able to read a book cover to cover with nary a thought of anyone or anything else until it was finished, but these days I can hardly get through a Facebook article, and forget it if a page doesn’t load in less than 4 seconds.

But blaming the march of time and the invention of the interweb is as pathetic as I feel writing this article at two in the morning because I have spent the last four hours and thirty-seven minutes watching animal videos and reading yet more political blarney.

I totally understand why novelists retreat to the Ozark's or remote islands to get anything done.

I have two grownish children needing rides and validation, friends of theirs calling out “Hi!” every other minute as they traipse in and out of the house. Four dogs who insist on howling at every emergency siren, and in North Hollywood there are a lot of those I can tell you, and neighbors up at all hours rattling around in their homes.

Add to that bills and commitments and work and the election and family and the blessed interweb again and most days seem to fly by in a blur of “what the hell did I accomplish todayness”.

And here I am in January 2016 and I just realized that I haven’t made a film in 4 years….

To be fair I have worked on many other projects belonging to other people. I have co-written a brilliantly funny feature with two excellent friends/writers, shot tons of things, editing a few more and been “on hand” for several others.

But I haven’t written, produced, directed and generally pulled together my own material in four bloody years…

I flick through endless facebook posts about everyone else’s stuff, some of which I am happy for, some confused by and all of which make me feel more guilty for not doing my own work.

I know we all fall behind; we all get on paths we had no intention of taking. We all have…you know…something, but in the end it’s all one big giant excuse, for all of us.

Even writing this article, on distractions….is a distraction from the real work.

So what to do?

Well they last way I well and truly conquered my tendency to avoid was to create a project that I couldn’t retreat from, mostly because I made an announcement to the universe and also because I surrounded myself with like-minded people and had two wonderful partners who were just as committed and much less easily distracted.

If my biggest weakness is ‘distraction’, which blossoms beautifully into procrastination, frustration and panic, accepting that about myself leaves me with two choices…

Give up and never accomplish anything of substance or… find a way around it….and, at my best, I can find a way around pretty much anything…60 plus 0 budget shorts films are a testimony to that…

So, around it we must go!

And as I stumble over dogs, laundry, squeaking offspring and other uncompleted tasks I will also remind myself that it is often on the edge of chaos that the most beautiful creations …. oh wait, I just got an email…

Forgive me, and forgive yourself. The world is fully of unfinished novels, half painted walls and minimized dreams.

But if you truly want to make a film, if it’s the first thought you have when you open your eyes, and you find yourself actually distracted by it and from everything else in your life, then shuffle off that warm blanket that is procrastination. Shove your feet into the slippers of invention and pull on the bathrobe of success…

Be bold, be stubborn, be ridiculous and just get on with it…

My husband is working on the project that wouldn’t let him sleep, and the light of his ipad blinking with inspiration certainly kept me up nights too.

These are the only ones worth the effort after all. I am helping of course, but I see the joy of creation in his eyes and waves of envy wash over me…good lord I need to write something!!!

The thing about filmmaking is that it’s not an isolationist art form. You just can’t do it on your own and I think that can be a big part of why it can feel a little daunting. You are actually asking other people to help you, and that can be a problem in and of itself. They can say no for a start, or say yes and wish they hadn’t or not show up or be terrible or break something, or any number of other potentially destructive things.

But life is all about risk and nothing worthwhile is without it…

So I am resolved to stop my procrastination, as much as I enjoy typing the word, and get on with my “passion project”.

Which involves writing a sci-fi feature script, and then actually making it…before I turn fifty, which is next year as it turns out…I always forget how old I am!

So wish me luck and be inspired yourselves and get in touch if you fancy a leap into the future in my little big film…

Stop making excuses, I’ve heard them all…I’ve said them all…

 

Read 2325 times Last modified on Thursday, 28 January 2016 16:54
Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros is a British writer, director, filmmaker living in Los Angeles. She co-created the unprecedented project 52 Films/52 Weeks: A Year in Filmmaking, where she and her partners, wrote, directed, produced and edited a film a week for an entire year. She currently has several independent film projects at various stages of development.  

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