Take your story seriously…. exploring your creative universe.
It’s sometimes so hard to find something…anything…
When we create stories, we are searching for a meaning in the scrambled mess that is all around us.
We need the chaos on some level to force us out of our comfort and into an awkward space that will ignite some itch we need to scratch. But there does need to be a balance.
All chaos is just too…well…chaotic.
I think the most life-changing piece of advice I could give any artist, and something I’ve taken quite a while to discover on my own, whether they are filmmakers, musicians, painters or anything else, is that whatever story you are telling and in whatever form you chose to tell it, take it seriously.
And by that I don’t mean to make everything dark or sad or not funny. What I mean is you have to make this story short, long, big or small, the most important thing in your life at that moment.
Zia Reservation, New Mexico, 2015
When you write it, when you develop it, when you shoot it, rehearse it, edit it, market it…when you love it and when you hate it…take it as seriously as you could take the most important moment in your life.
Because if you really do make it that important it will take on a magical life of its own. It will call to you when you least expect it, it will grow and find purpose all on its own, in the farthest reaches of your mind. And when you are not even consciously thinking about it, there it will suddenly be, in all its unfinished glory, and then you can create something amazing.
My husband just gave me a book. It was our wedding anniversary and he asked me what I would like and without thinking about it really I said, “a book.” I don’t think I have sat down and read a book in years…and I have hundreds of them scattered about the house in piles and book cases and under lamps to make them taller. I use to read voraciously, but who has the time these days? Too many emails to send and pictures to like. But it was the perfect gift, a gift of quiet time.
We all need to read. And we all need to look and to walk and to be silent and then sometimes to talk and be loud and to run around. We need to give ourselves the time and the space we all need as creative beings to allow our minds to play.
Without this holiday from our repetitive and sadly necessary daily lives it becomes more and more difficult to do anything authentic, and as very, very independent filmmakers, we need to be authentic more than we need to be good in many ways. Not that I’m suggesting that you be deliberately bad…although that in its own way might chuck up something wonderful.
I think the most successful film is one that makes you notice, very closely, the connections between people, I mean really notice them. When a camera holds on a moment and holds and holds until you can almost feel the actor’s breath on your skin and you really know them, that is when cinema is at its most powerful and when you don’t even notice you are holding your breath until you simply have to take one.
We can make that, we penniless and under-equipped filmmakers. We can capture that magic just as any other filmmaker with bigger money and a bigger crew can…we just have to believe that the story we are telling is the most important one we will ever tell…every time…for every movie and every story.
If we believe it, then the actors will and the audience will.
So chose your stories well, take your time with them, allow them to come to you even, and never, never try to make anything that isn’t the most important and necessary story you have ever known…until the next most important story you have ever known comes along that is.
Without that passion to tell it, it won’t be given the attention it deserves, and I know, I have made some half-hearted attempts at films myself and been surprised somehow that they didn’t turn out better…silly me.
But the films that I turn to time and time again, when people sometimes ask “can I see anything you’ve done” are the films I totally committed to and was passionate about and that, in turn, everyone involved was just as inspired to make and that I took very, very seriously.
Take it one day at a time. We all have other things and people and jobs, but make this story, this film for some or several moments during every single day, important. More important than kids, or bills, or boyfriends or anything…if only for just a moment, but every day. If you do this, you will feed it and it will feed you and it will happen.