Very Independent Filmmaking – What to do when you are not filming…

It’s October and L.A. is on fire.

The Santa Anas are blowing, it’s 98 degrees and the Halloween decorations are all melting. Also, I just bought a clawfoot bathtub off Craigslist that someone painted silver and used in an Iggy Azalea music video…

So that’s my Thursday and heading into the weekend I have no filming, which is a bit of a break since it’s been back to back weekends for the past three months…all a blur of locations and wardrobe and finding our way through stories and characters.  Struggling with sound issues and food shortages, clearing broken glass piece by tiny piece from the ground where an actress had to lay dying.  There was also some poop, which I’m convinced was human, but I didn’t tell the actress.

Filmmaking is very glamorous…

This time of year we all tend to slow down.  Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year.  If you can get anything done then you are braver than I!  And yet we are actually filming in December, something quite ambitious, hence my searching Craigslist for bathtubs.  We are making 10 films in 10 months, another challenge with a very special group of people. I will dip in and out of the project in these articles.

But I wanted to talk today about what to do when you are not actually on set.

It seems like a natural place to be for a filmmaker, on set.  But what you do between filming is so important.  I don’t just mean that you have to actually create something to shoot.  I mean you have to fill your world with things that help you get to set.  You have to write, you have to watch and listen and experience, and you have to open your eyes and your heart and live…really, really well.

Living well doesn’t have to mean living expensively.  Living well to me means valuing your time, eating good food, not rushing through every experience to get to the next one.  It means making moments last, wherever you are.  You don’t have to go to the beach every day or museums or parks.  You can have valuable and creatively inspiring experiences in your own home…good lord I just manifested one by emailing a Craigslist add about a random bathtub and I now have it sitting in my living room and I met a couple of lovely guys who I will reach out to when I remodel my bathroom to put the tub in!! Once I buy a house that is!!

Meantime I have a great story about a very old bathtub that was rescued and painted and starred in a music video and then ended up being restored by someone who loves it and returned to a house that it was intended for.  Perhaps that tub will end up in the film we are shooting in December. We do need one for a scene. What an adventure!

I am suddenly inspired to write a film about an object that gets passed along somehow and takes us to different places and different people and different stories on its travels.  Lives get imprinted onto things.  I have loads of antiques and vintage stuff and it all has a story, even within my lifetime.  So now I have another project to work on.

I am also going to take this time to go through some old footage and refresh some of my past films.  I plan on putting together a website for my work and its a good place to show some of my work.  Revisiting passed work shouldn’t be a chore.  We all need to remind ourselves what we can accomplish when we put our mind to it.  Since I’ve been out of the filmmaking loop for the last few years, getting back into the groove of making a world by visiting my old ones feels like a good idea.

I also had a wonderful evening with friends out last week at Choir Choir Choir.  It’s an amazing idea.  Two Canadian guys tour the country going to clubs or theatres or under bridges in downtown L.A., which is where I saw them last year, last week it was at Bootleg Theatre, this great warehouse type space.  Anyway, one plays the guitar, the other conducts, and we all sing.  They split the crowd into sections and we harmonise, overlay like we know what we are doing and it’s amazing…check out this video

Just another way to feed your creative monster soul and remind yourself that you are part of an amazing universe full of wonderful like-minded people that yearn for exactly the same things you do…to be a part of something special, to belong to something, to sing great songs with strangers…it’s revelatory and you should go!!

Music and art and literature and film, of course, are what it’s all about, really.  Forget the wars and the politics and the oil and the coal and the darkness, that’s all a distraction from what is real.  Why do we work so hard to make money to spend on…art?  Music and film and clothes and furniture.  It’s all art and it’s all attainable and it’s all a magical road that lead filmmakers to their films.  I’m writing something and working on my feature film still, I need to finish this draft and then see if I’m ready to go into pre-production…scary…exciting.  But being off set doesn’t mean I’m off.  It just means I’m free to get ready for the next big thing….

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros
Author: Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros is a Theatre and Food Writer and Filmmaker living in Los Angeles.