“Fontana”, Samantha & Javier Ronceros, 2011, Lancaster, CA 2011
I was asked a question just recently, by someone who does not make films, or do anything particularly creative.
The question was, “Why do you make these small films that no one sees when there is so much to watch on TV or Cable or online. What is the point when everything else is so much better”
Well, after I recovered from the shock of someone being that….direct…I said something along the lines of “umm, well it’s a lot of fun!” A pretty week response indeed, but it made me think.
I thought about why it was I do make films, help others to make films, write films, talk about films, go and see films etc….and I thought about why I still do all of these things…
It’s a perfectly natural thing to be concerned about what you are creating, or rather, to be concerned that what you end up with will be worth all the effort you, and everyone you managed to rope into helping you, burned into it.
But try not to dwell on the end product too much.
With very, very independent filmmaking, it’s as much the journey that is the reward as the film.
Quite honestly I have seen many, many terrible independent films. Shorts, features, documentaries, low budget, micro budget, zero budget and student.
All splendid illustrations, you might imagine, of the glaringly obvious “you shouldn’t do a thing just because you can”.
Quite right, but it’s also very important to remember that….sometimes you don’t know if you can unless you do.
And….if you do it once and its a big pile of poop, then maybe it’s worth finding out wether or not it will be such a big pile the next time you do it…
My point is, you have to make some rubbish films before you make less rubbish films…the goal being that eventually you will make films that are not just only slightly rubbish, but hopefully, actually, really good.
This is much more than a hope, in fact, if you keep at it, keep trying new things, new people, new cameras, new stories and new techniques, and trust in the process, you will undoubtedly make something better and better.
All the great filmmakers started somewhere, and most talent comes from sheer hard work.
We are, in this particular moment in time, swimming in a delightfully warm and fragrant sea of cheap technology, free distribution and content hungry audiences.
Now is the time to fail and fail again.
It will cost you next to nothing and you will learn far more than if you surround yourself with people who help you make something thats just okay, just passable, or even, heaven forbid, “nicely shot”.
We don’t want “nice” do we?
No, we want memorable, we want strange and unique and disturbing…we want “wow, I wonder what else this twisted mind has to offer”.
And not just twisted, but brave and shocking, and raw.
Making a very, very independent film should be an experiment, it should run the risk of being rubbish because if it doesn’t then you might just as well stay at home and and watch Lion King…or something…although I do like Lion King.
But you know what I mean.
Film, especially when you don’t have money or movie stars or permits or even a car, is art, and you should expect to create bad art for a little while at least, before you can create great art. And even then, sometimes the reason something is made is more important than how technically brilliant it is.
Pablo Picasso once said,
“It took me four years to paint like Rafael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”
Get my point?
Perfection doesn’t touch us, passion does…in all its chaos and beauty.
As very independent filmmakers, with no one to challenge us, we have the opportunity to achieve something that means something, of only for us and those we choose to work with.
So don’t worry about wether or not your film, whatever the genre or length, will be any good.
Instead, decide that, regardless of whether you ever complete it or not, it will be the greatest film ever made….because it really could be and because it’s yours.
And by the way, Picasso also said,
“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it”