Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What Making Movies Means to Me

In 1978 I began my freshman year at college with the intention of working my way into a prominent film program--to fulfill the dream I'd nurtured all my life. That is, to continue my long-standing relationship with the big screen (as a dedicated cinema buff) by stepping out of the audience and entering the world behind the magic wall.

But, as happens to so many young artists, life had other plans for me. A couple of tours in the Army as a counterintelligence agent, marriage and kids, and, of course, the ever pressing "Legend of the Rent," as Jack Black named it in School of Rock. I saw some of the world (Korea and Berlin before the wall came down) failed at a business or two, raised my kids, moved to the mountains, and went back to college (for an education in something practical). 

But through the years, a part of my psyche was still sitting with its brand new school clothes and box of crayons, waiting for the bus to arrive and take me to film school. I became aware of this fact because the stories milling around in my head started throwing a tantrum every time I saw a particularly inspiring film. "When's it gonna be our turn?"

Still, by now the kids were teenagers and film school seemed as likely as going on a Jules Verne adventure--maybe less.

Then along came the digital revolution. It was like being Charlie in that moment when Willie Wonka hands him the keys to the chocolate factory. So many possibilities--and no more excuses. Just do it, as they say.

Of course, it isn't really that simple. To be really good at making your own movies requires a commitment to excellence and bruising hard work that puts you in something like the 99.99th percentile among overachievers (and possibly crazy people)--all with no guarantee you'll ever make a nickel or reach the fabled audience with your work. There is something truly masochistic about wrangling an all volunteer cast and crew, lining up locations on a handshake, scraping up pizza money for shoot days, and so on. And it takes some emotional guts to ignore the perception that because you never did make it to film school, you'll never be a real filmmaker.

And yet, there is that kid who is no longer waiting for the bus to arrive. That guy sits in front of the computer monitor through days upon days of post-production with a tub of popcorn and a box of Junior Mints and can't believe how lucky he is to be alive. He or she just wants to hear a story.

It is good to remember that's what it's all about--story. I hope you enjoy ours.


  1. Wow, kinda makes me glad I'm "just" writing a novel ;-) Good luck, brother!

  2. Well, I expect your characters can be just as unruly as an indie film cast and crew. Just takes less pizza.

    I look forward to seeing your words.

    Make some art!