Director’s Thoughts #1

Although his skin blended well with the dark waters, he was 
careful not to lift his arms too high…” — Toni MorrisonTar Baby

I’m the least bit excited about producing (more like writer-director/producer/co-editor) my first short film. If anything, I’m at peace.

I feel like life has prepared me for it:

Being poor. My life since birth had been put at risk. Extremely dangerous neighborhood. Crumby education. Bad diet. Violence on top of violence. To alter this cycle so I didn’t have to continue living this way involved me taking a lot of risks, certain kinds of risk. “Risks” I’m not sure at this point will end up in my memoir.

So ideally being a filmmaker involves taking risks. The subject matter of my short film is quite risky. The pivotal scene has a man tied to a bed post; his genitals are then removed via hacksaw. Very risky! On top of other things like self-financing and adapting someone else’s work.

–Again. Being poor. My mother had to make miracles happen and I’m still making them happen. Rent money is one of them. I’ve always said, ‘Poor people are the best with money.’ We can’t depend on the little that’s coming in, so we have to be creative in how it all gets spent.

You guessed correctly if you’re wondering if I had to stretch my dollars–I am!

Being a terrible dater. I laughingly call them interviews. You get dressed up to talk a little about yourself and why you would be right for the “job” (boyfriend). You’re then told that there are others applying and that isn’t necessarily you but “other factors” on why you didn’t get the job. That’s to say if you get a call back in the first place about not getting it. In my case, I end up calling and calling to see what’s going on… I’ll quit here, you get the point. [side note: I no longer practice the modern day society exercise known as dating.]

Filmmaking should be categorized under relationships. If done properly, you’ll build relationships with other filmmakers that are for life. But before you get to that point, it involves you having to sit down with a lot of people and getting said people excited about something you wrote at4 a.m.on a Tuesday night in the dark with only the glow from your laptop illuminating the room. The large majority will say “no”. Sort of like dating… *wide smiling grin covers my face* It hurts less and less the more you hear it–the word “no”–and becomes fun and a game all in itself eventually. But like I always say, ‘One yes is equal to a thousand No’s.’ That’s the breakthrough point we all strive for.

Reading. Thankfully I got in the habit early of picking up a book from time to time.

I heard somewhere that screenwriters of yesteryear read authors so therefore the transition into films was easier on them. In passing they would mention their favorite film reminded them of their favorite book. Not so much the case often times today. Screenwriters of today research by watching other films in the genre specific to the one they’re writing. I’m not at all interested in how someone else would’ve filmed an alien invasion. I would prefer to stretch my mind a little on how something like that would look like. Hence me enjoying books more than movies–still!, even though I want to make movies professionally. Books were there for me when boredom crept in and they have also helped keep my imagination vibrant.

Listening. Sometimes it’s just best to shut up.

It might sound odd, I’m sure. But for those who understand what I’m writing, listening means absolutely everything to understanding the world and your own imprint on it. I’ve gained so much knowledge by listening. It goes hand in hand with filmmaking, especially me being a novice to it all…

Decision-making. My job now involves me having to think fast on my feet–literally.

When you’re working long days, especially the amount of hours it goes into making a film, the last thing you need is someone who’s supposed to be your commander-in-chief clueless about what to do next or uncertain about how the lighting and blocking of a shot should look.

————–

And since I’m at peace, that also means I’m a step closer to fully understanding how this organism works. Because filmmaking is an organism. It lives. It breathes. It adapts. It grows. Ideas come, then they go, then come again, hang around for a while, then leave again. I’ve been making changes to this project since March and I’m sure they’ll change again soon. And let me just say here before I go on in the next passage that filmmaking is easy. My one true difficulty has been LOCATION. Location, location, location! It’s like opening a damn restaurant. It’s an issue I’ve already worked out for my next film. I’m turning my living room into a studio, an all white studio. See how easy I make the decision-making process look.

Moving forward…

Me making a short film, and it’s looking like my next work will be a feature, should hopefully demystifies the movie business and/or filmmaking experience. By no stretch of my imagination did I envision myself doing this when I was a child. My imagination was wild, but not that wild! But now that I’m getting ready to take my first crack at it, I can’t help but feel that I belong, that this is what what’s right for me.

I have the actors that I want, the crew that I want and the right mind frame I need to be in. For now, I keep my giggles to myself and am enjoying the ride…

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